Wednesday, 11 January 2012

An evening or two with the author of The Shack

It had been in my diary for some time that William P Young or Paul as he is known, was going to be speaking at a Church in Taupo this week. Paul is the author of the world best seller The Shack. Something like 17 million copies sold to date.

What I hadn't realized was that he would be coming to dinner at the Eden Centre, where we live, for a couple of evenings.  So there we were sitting around the table chatting with the man.  What a privilege.

I have read the reviews on the internet. I have read what some very eminent and influential theologians have said about the Shack. I have wondered why some members of the faith community can become so filled with vitriolic and why they love to strain at gnats.  But that is not new and sadly blights the Christian church and the way we are perceived by the wider world.

 But, I have read The Shack. I read it on a plane flying to the UK from New Zealand a few years ago.  It was difficult because I kept getting odd looks from the stewards and one even asked if everything was okay? This was because I kept wiping my eyes.  It is a profound and life changing book, not just for me but for millions of people around the world.  Millions have discovered that God the Father,  who in the parable that is The Shack, is represented by a black American woman who loves to cook, and here is the point, is actually really fond of us.  Many find it easier to see God being like Gandalf with a bad attitude than a loving Papa who is extremely fond of us.

Paul Young describes his book as a parable. Various  parts represent aspects of Paul's life.  So for example the death of Missy in the story represents Paul's stolen or "murdered" childhood. So what does he mean by a parable?

He said that a parable is not a true story but it uses a story to slip by our defenses and brings truth to our battened down and wounded hearts. This is one of the most significant things about The Shack. It is a parable to our age, to each reader, who like Mack in the book struggles to come to terms with our own great sadness.

The Shack itself represents  the place on the inside of each of us where we hide all our addictions, sadness, pain and secrets.  We hate it. It is a place of devastation for us. When Papa enters our Shack it becomes a place of life, forgiveness, joy, freedom, hope and unconditional acceptance by the One who loves us and has no expectations of us.

It is a book filled with life. It is a book about a loving God who is filled with hope, who really loves all his children.  We are all children who need to know that we are loved unconditionally.

Paul said to us, "I don't care who doesn't like The Shack. My son read it and it transformed his life. That's all that matters". That is just one of millions who have been transformed and have entered into a dynamic, authentic relationship with their true Papa as a result.

I'm looking forward to the next book he is working on. In the meantime I'm carrying on having fun with the Three, Father,Son and Holy Spirit.