It took me 3 attempts to read The Shack. Don’t get me wrong, I found it very powerful when I did eventually finish it, but I’ve never put down and picked back up a book as much.
So I chose Adrian Plass’ allegorical fiction The Shadow Doctor a little apprehensively, knowing that I had to finish it in a month or less.
However, I am happy to say The Shadow Doctor is an easier read. While it deals with similar themes to The Shack: darkness, healing, distance from God. There is a lightheartedness that feels less like wading in mud.
The characters are people I instantly recognised from my day-to-day life. A slightly kooky grandma who adores her grandson but also recognises his flaws and limitations. The Shadow Doctor who is in equal parts magnetising and mesmerising as he is frustrating and elusive. Then of course, there’s Jack.
Jack works in ministry. Jack is a fully paid-up (sometimes literally) member of his Church. He’s following all the rules. He doesn’t really drink, he tithes his 10% as soon as he receives any sort of income. He never misses an opportunity to mention God in a conversation, just in case. He can’t see any grey area when it comes to right and wrong. And of course, he ministers to those around them, providing them with prayer, comfort and answers. Why then does his Grandma not seem interested in his great passion? And Why does God feel so distant?
It’s a tale that many will recognise and perhaps relate to. Yet through the words of the doc (who, by the way, doesn’t exactly have it all figured out himself) and working alongside him, Jack begins to glimpse God in the mundane. He begins to see every interaction, with every person as very important and comes to understand that God is perhaps not caught up in the rules and regulations set forth by a Church council, but instead he can be found in vulnerability, service and everyday interactions.
Adrian Plass writes with an raw astuteness, bringing in aspects of poetry, his previous work and other works of fiction (there is a stunning extract from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair which made me quite emotional). His work is down-to-earth and relatable, so reading The Shadow Doctor feels like a healing chat with a friend where situations you hadn’t quite admitted to, come to the forefront to be dealt with delicately.
February 27th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Laura White