Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Controversy over The Shack


From the Christian E-Tailing Newsletter:
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As surprise hit The Shack makes the New York Times best-seller lists, the newspaper notes that its million-plus sales have been "fueled partly by a whiff of controversy."

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler has joined the list of critics of William P. Young's novel, calling it "deeply troubling" and warning that it undermines orthodox Christianity, said the newspaper this week.

But as well as a subject of sharp debate, The Shack is "the most compelling recent example of how word-of-mouth phenomenon can explode into a blockbuster when the momentum hits chain bookstores, and the marketing and distribution power of a major commercial publisher is thrown behind it."

Kathryn Popoff, vice president for merchandising of adult trade books at Borders, told the Times that the book was appealing to audiences beyond Christian readers. But not everyone agrees. Vivien Jennings, owner of Rainy Day Books, an independent store near Kansas City, Mo., said she had sold only nine copies in four months.

"The buzz never made it here," Jennings told the Times. "What it tells me is that it is still pretty much restricted to the Christian audience."

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You can read my review of The Shack in an earlier post here. I don't agree with Mohler's quote, above. I think there's a lot of good stuff in The Shack. It doesn't contain the entire orthodoxy of Christianity, but that's not its focus. Its message is of God's love, and it is, in the end, a novel. However, there certainly is some controversy, although the naysayers are far outweighed in number. I do recommend reading the book because so many people are talking about it. It's not fair to voice opinions without reading the thing.

8 comments:

Cara Putman said...

I just got this in the mail yesterday. Am interested to read it -- folks I respect have really enjoyed it, but I'm reserving opinion until I get a chance to read it. Sure has been a phenomenon though!

Jenny said...

I hear (or did I read it on the back cover?) that this book could be the Pilgrim's Promise of our generation. I want to attribute that quote to Robin Wood but I'm not sure he said it. He is however a great advocate for the book so with that endorsement, our book club will be reading The Shack for August. Your quotes from the book, Brandilyn, only make me want to read it sooner. Thanks!
Abundant blessings,
Jenny

Ane Mulligan said...

The Shack is after all a novel. Well said, Brandilyn. I enjoyed the book immensely. :) Especially since it wasn't scary. :D

Sean said...

It's amazing that I haven't heard about this book until reading your blog yesterday. Then I go to teach my college class last night and one of my students has the book on her desk. I asked her about it and she talked about how amazing it was. Even though she had 200 pages to read for class, she couldn't put THE SHACK down, and she doesn't normally read fiction. Now I'm going to have to read it so I can speak intelligently about the book.

wilsonwriter said...

I loved many things about the book. Not great writing, but a beautiful picture of God's love and grace.

Of course, the images presented are expectedly controversial, though they really shouldn't be to anyone who knows how much bigger God is than our conventions and preconceptions.

The author, in a recent interview, also made it clear that he is not a universalist. He was merely trying to show a side of God often missed in stale religion.

Timothy Fish said...

After reading your comments, I went and listen to Albert Mohler's comments on The Shack. All I can say is, Wow! What a blessing! Every author of Christian fiction needs to listen to what Dr. Mohler said in his program. He has a lot to say about properly handling the word of God. I had identified some issues with the book, but after listening to Dr. Mohler I realized why he is a seminary professor and I am not.

Anonymous said...

I am in the middle of THE SCHACK as I type this note. I love the book so far and am dissapointed that I had to come to work today, because now I have to wait until I get home to finish it!

I think the way he humanizes the Trinity is brilliant! When you are going through greif, you need a human God to be there with you to feel as though you are not alone. When you think of God as a heavenly host, you have a hard time feeling as though he is with you that you are not alone. By bringing God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit into characters that are relateable is genious.

I watched the video of the auther on the 700 club and I found the most interesting thing he said was concening the WWJD-What Would Jesus Do, his kids would say What Will Jesus Do. Jesus is not in the past he is in the present. We should not just focus on what He did but what He will do.

Anonymous said...

If you like “The Shack” and “The Secret” You will love this New and upcoming books making a stir. The best one I have heard about and I pre-ordered it already is a book by a unknown author titled THE TRUTH “The Illumination of Conscience” the title itself stirs up a sense of intrigue. The one chapter that the author has available on his website http://www.thetruthbooksite.com seems very thought provoking and gives you a profound sense of understanding of how our world works. I look forward to getting the book and reading the rest. In anycase it is well worth checking out for yourself.