Wednesday, I participated in a blogger conference call with William P. Young, the author of The Shack. This is greatly abridged; it’s just the notes I typed as quickly as I could. I tried to capture the highlights, and I hope that you can get a part of Paul’s (as he is called) personality. He is incredibly smart and humble, very charming. If you would like to hear the entire interview, go here for Jill Hart’s podcast of it.
I was very impressed with his heart and where he’s coming from. I’m over halfway through the book…once you get past the first 80 page and into the conversations with the three persons of God, I’m enjoying the book. As he says, he’s an accidental author — and it shows in some of the mechanics of the book. However, the content is intriguing. My Mom, sister Janna, and I were talking about it late last week. We all took different things from it, but it’s challenged us to consider what boxes we’ve put God in.
I have a copy of the book to giveaway, so be sure to leave a comment.
Blogger Conference Call with William P. Young 7/30/08 NoonET/9AM PT
Featured guest: Paul Young, author of THE SHACK
Moderator: Miriam Parker
Christy Lockstein: http://christysbookblog.blogspot.com/
Jill Hart: http://www.cwahm.com/
Leslie Sowell: http://footprintsinthesand.us/blog
Nicole Petrino-Salter: http://hopeofglory.typepad.com/into_the_fire/
Patti Chadwick: http://bookbargainsandpreviews.com/blog/
Patrick Sullivan, Jr.: http://editweapon.com/
Shawnee Goodnight: www.readinginappalchia.blogspot.com/
Tammy Marcelain: http://tammymarcelain.blogspot.com/
Ted Reyes: http://www.poptimesagazine.com/
Gretchen Geyer: http://dreamwriter07.blogspot.com/
Joe Wikert: http://jwikert.typepad.com/
Cara Putman: http://carasmusings.blogspot.com/
Caleb Newell: http://reviewsplus.blogspot.com/
Natalie Nyquist: http://www.ylcf.org/
Nicole Petrino-Salter: If I’m not mistaken, you’ve said you wrote this book for your children. Why? Wrote for children. Accidental author. Didn’t take classes. Always written as gift for friends and family. Kim (wife) encouraged to put in one place where you think because it’s outside the box…get to local printers by Dec. 2005 – first run 15 copies. 7 to Kim and kids, rest to friends and relatives …got feedback…and that’s the first time I thought about publishing something. Vague idea though.
Ted Reyes: There are two perspectives when it comes to suffering: One is that it is a gift from God, and the other is that it is a punishment from God. Which of these two do you think would make modern 21st century people develop a closer relationship with God– suffering as a reward, or as punishment?
There’s a third perspective that suffering is neither…that God utilizes both to accomplish his purposes. Not that discipline…when we think of punishment or other terms, we have to define them. What is punishment? Gift? Suffering isn’t necessary for maturity. Most suffering is at my own hands. Choices I made or other people made. As child sexually abused. That’s not gift or suffering — Blind man in John 9 – this is an opportunity for God to be glorified. If God is responsible for suffering, then He’s the enemy. Suffering comes from living in a fallen world but not from Hand of God.
Shawnee Goodnight: A statement from a critic I found fascinating to say the least and would love to hear your opinion on “The Shack deliberately suggests we don’t take the Bible seriously but instead rely on our own thoughts and understanding- that is the threat!” some of the controversy comes from individuals who raise questions but haven’t read the book. The angriest people haven’t read the book. That’s not a bad thing…the controversy brings the questions to the forefront. With regard to scripture, that’s not happened. It moves people back to Scripture. What about the bible have we been unable to hear it anymore. Message written to put scripture in format that broke through the intellectual paradigms that were resistant to hear. This accusation is founded on a particular fear that isn’t happening. Nobody would seriously think this is not a flawed book. It’s fiction, a story, not systematic theology.
Leslie Sowell: I became interested in The Shack because of the controversy surrounding it. Unlike most people I know, I totally understand the Abba side of God, and so some of the things you say in your novel are easy for me to wrap my mind around – however other things – like that there is no hierarchy in the Trinity was a little more than mind-blowing. Please give theological evidence for this theory. Absolutely believe there is no hierarchy. That’s the orthodox position. Community 101: “the notion of such a notion of …content teaches the opposite.” There is mutual submission within the Trinity. Hierarchy in the Trinity is not the orthodox position.
Patrick Sullivan: What was your inspiration to make God a black woman when YHWH first shows up? Have you gotten pushback from religious leaders for this? Couple things. I’m writing this for my six kids. Not writing for the masses. I can do pretty much anything I want. Missionary kid – used this imagery because I don’t want my kids stuck in a paradigm where God is a white male. Female is as inadequate as male because He’s spirit. Can portray God as a male, female, burning bush, big eye, nostril. Wanted it outside the existing paradigm. Fits the story. Mackenzie’s issue is with his dad, so he’s very resistant to the male imagery of God. He is in the shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the 1.
Patti Chadwick: Was the author really the Ghost writer of this Mackenzie Phillips? Was this written based on a true story? The ghost writer…writing his story for his kids…author is Mackenzie and Missy. People miffed that even though sold as fiction, people believe it’s non-fiction. The process is real, the conversation is real. There is no physical shack. The roads are real. The book is a parable: fiction where truth is embedded…gets past intellectual resistance. A metaphor: the shack represents the human soul much like the garden. Store secrets, lies, addictions. It’s you but what you hide. For author: 38 years building the shack (a house of shame); took 11 years in the shack to deal with the stuff.
Christy Lockstein Where were you when you found out that you had made the NYT Bestseller list? How did that feel? In Honolulu…there to do a series on Romans. Got the phone call that made the list and made #1. How impossible is this? A not for real author who gave a gift to kids, friends who don’t know the publishing industry that well. Put together something for print that nobody would take, less than $300 spent on marketing. This is a God thing. It did everything I wanted it to do when I gave it to my kids. Thrilled to be a Rudy and carry the bags. Shake my head and wonder what God’s up to. I sure don’t understand. But it’s been thrilling.
Sarayu: Hindi…means wind…this is the common wind that catches you by surprise. So hot you think you’ll die and the wind comes out of nowhere and cools you off and changes everything.
What tip to accidental authors: publishing was never a target, no identity as an author. I am proof that if God wants to do something He can use a donkey or a bush. When you have something, give it as a gift. Give it to 10 people who love you and 10 people who don’t know you. Get different feedback from the groups. Then hear. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you. Don’t presume the purposes are to become known and famous…God is good at disrupting our idolatry…let it unfold…it all comes down to hearing…what’s He saying?