Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Shack, pt. I

This is not an academic post. If you read Verily Verily for the scholarly things I write—if you're one of the three people who fit that description—you can stop here.

This afternoon I started reading William Paul Young's book, The Shack. After reading the Foreword and the first four chapters, and I'm not sure how to react to this book. The one thing I cannot bring myself to say is that I like it. I don't like it. In fact, I hate it. Maybe I could like it if its story couldn't be true. If evil and death and sadness and brokenness and emptiness and guilt and loneliness were alien guests in the minds of storytellers. If parents didn't lose children and no one had to deal with losing a sibling. If this book were no nearer reality than Gene Roddenberry's tribbles or J. J. Abrams's . . . well, than J. J. Abrams's anything.

Two days ago I had a very difficult day, and I spent half of it crying in my office. Sometimes I can keep the full weight of the reality of my sister's loss out of mind. But not two days ago. Sometimes I can wrap myself in the warmth of my faith and trust that God has a plan, even if I cannot see it. But not two days ago. Sometimes I can strengthen my knees and my back to support the people around me, especially those who experience this loss as their own. But not two days ago. Two days ago I had a very difficult day.

And then my Dad called. It was good to hear his voice. It's good to talk to someone who feels the same pain I feel (though it hurts to know that he feels more of it). And it is good to have someone know the soothing comfort of that pain. Life shouldn't be normal. Not yet. So this pain makes me feel . . . I dunno, human, I guess. Talking with Dad feels the way I imagine war veterans feel when they talk with one another. Other people sympathize. Hell, everyone sympathizes. No one understands. But Dad does. And that makes it easier for me to let him shoulder my burden, and to try to help him lift his. So it was good to hear his voice.

He told me that someone at work gave him The Shack and that he started reading it. He hadn't got very far, and he didn't really know what it was about. But this someone-at-work had been through something himself, and The Shack had apparently been helpful for him. So Dad was reading The Shack. I had heard of it. I think Andrea had even read it, back when the book was everywhere, like frogs in Egypt. But I didn't know anything about it. Dad didn't ask me to read it. But the idea of reading it with him—really, of reading any book with him—struck me as appropriate therapeutic. So yesterday I dropped two quarters on a used copy at McKay's. And now I'm reading The Shack, too.

And I don't think I can put it down. I don't want to describe the plot, especially if the two people who read Verily Verily happen to also be the two people who haven't read The Shack yet. But let me say, I'm reading this book not primarily as someone who has lost his sister. I'm reading it mostly as someone in love with a man who has lost his daughter, and as someone who has two daughters of his own. I'm reading it as a man who wants desperately to believe that he can keep all of this . . . this mess, this hurt, this filth, this pain, this . . . this sin away from his little girls. I'm scared that this book will make me face the fact of my powerlessness, of my impotence (and that's a rare word for a man to use of himself!).

So, no. I don't like this book. But I can't put it down. Because I don't want to avoid thinking about the things this book wants to make me think about. And because I don't want my Dad to read this book alone. And because I find myself thinking about my sister when I read it.

And because I want to believe that God still writes notes.


  1. You know how at Crossings, we're encouraged to enter into a Bible story as if it were the first time we'd heard it? I have a really hard time doing that. Those stories are so ingrained in me. But when I read The Shack, it was like reading the Bible for the first time. It completely shook my world. Besides the Bible, it's the most important book I've ever read. I fought with God all the way through that book, and I came out on the other side trusting him more.
    I look forward to reading your "pt. II." Part I had me teary-eyed.

  2. Mmmm... the blessings of people who truly understand. I know this. I also know the days where tears continue unwelcome... the feeling that I should be over or past or through THIS. But I think I will always have days where it hits me, even years down the road. And I think that will be as it should be because these things do break us a bit or a lot.

  3. I was very pleased to find this website. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff on your blog.

  4. Mr. Rodriguez,

    I noticed you support James Holding in his legal defense.

    I am Christian Doscher, Plaintiff who filed that lawsuit.

    Objective people don't try to get Plaintiff's side of the story solely from the defendant. They get it from the Plaintiff.

    Mr. Holding has chosen to avoid seeking dismissal of this case on the merits, and has allowed it to drag on for 7 months now and at a cost which is currently around $8,000. Something should tell you my lawsuit against him is not quite as frivolous as he trumpeted it to be on Tweb back in 2015.

    If you email me at, I will be glad to answer any questions you might have. The fact that I am an atheist and Holding a Christian does not automatically justify the deduction that Holding is a Pope Innocent and the lawsuit surely frivolous. Christians are quite capable of violating secular laws that God is responsible for putting in place (Romans 13:1).

    Are you interested in getting the other side of the story?

  5. Here are a few facts about Christian Behrend Doscher.

    The lawsuit referred to ended in September 2016 with a judgment against him and the court ordering him to pay me $21,494.95 in attorney fees.

    When he sued me, he already owed more than ninety thousand dollars in debt. Some sixty five thousand of that was from other legal debts he has incurred over the past several years due to losses in court.

    He will not be paying me back any time soon because he is long term unemployed, on disability, and indigent. He lives off disability checks and food stamps.

    Near the end of the hearing to award fees, the judge says, “It’s my finding that Mr. Doscher has abused the court process to go after somebody from out of state, hale them into court in this state.”

    I will be sharing this and other facts and documents at

    I also have a collection of quotes by attorneys who have opposed Doscher in the past. Among them:

    "..the court in the present case should not allow Mr. Doscher to abuse the judicial process. He is continually granted orders of indigency and continually wastes mine and the court's time with repetitive motions in which he regurgitates much of what has been previously stated at least once. Since by his own admission he labors under a mental disability, it is inappropriate for his mental disability to determine the course of litigation in light of the willingness of the court to overlook, in some instances, his being pro se...I believe the court should recognize the inappropriate - if not bad faith - actions of Mr. Doscher in conducting the litigation.”

    “…Mr. Doscher’s vexatious litigation goes beyond the mere filing of improper, invalid, or likely invalid lawsuits, but goes to the process of litigation itself. Specifically…Mr. Doscher freely admitted to me that he would take a long time in deposition of my previous client, [Mrs. T], which deposition would ‘likely take [Mr. Doscher] several days’ to complete…”

    “[X] County Superior Court and the [State] Supreme Court have both recognized that Mr. Doscher’s requests for indigency in other of his vexatious litigation should be denied, and [Y] County should do the same.”

    [Doscher is a] “pro se litigant well-known to this Court” [and his motion to strike “not only lacks merit, but was plainly filed in a further and entirely improper effort to harass Defendant…[it is] just the latest installment in his ill-conceived ploy to avoid litigating the merits of his claim, a strategy that smacks of desperation because, according to Plaintiff’s sworn affidavit, he supposedly lost vital evidence when his backpack was allegedly stolen from his unlocked car. Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike is yet another shameless attempt to manipulate the legal system, and in any event, is not cognizable under the narrow grounds afforded by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure…”

    [Doscher is a] "serial pro se litigant" [and a] "known vexatious litigant who intimidates his adversaries in the hope of squeezing money out of them to 'make him go away.' “ [He is] “simply untrustworthy and lacks any credibility whatsoever."