Author William Paul Young was in town last week to sign copies of his new book. Young is the man responsible for The Shack, the runaway bestseller about a man who spends a weekend in the woods with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Before Young hit it big, he cleaned toilets for a living, he told the local press. Always interesting, where writers get their inspiration.
In The Shack, God is a large black woman, Jesus is a laid-back white dude with a hooked nose (“I am Jewish,” he explains), the third member of the Bog Three is an Asian woman. The equal-opportunity casting offended many church people, but the real crime perpetrated by the novel is against good prose, dialogue, and plot.
The cover of my paperback copy of The Shack says that there are three million copies in print, but even in this the Land of the Fatuous, it’s hard to imagine that so many readers bought into the concept. God as Aunt Jemima? (“Sho ‘nuff,” she actually says at one point, and then a couple of pages later, “Them greens can give you the trots.”) When The Shack’s protagonist first meets this version of the Almighty, a little bird flies in the window of the kitchen where she is whipping up some vittles and begins to eat out of her hand. The hero and the Holy Trinity spend the weekend eating, laughing, bantering and explaining themselves, and he, the mortal among them, is simply amazed at how down-to-earth his hosts are.
It all could be a Disney movie, except for the part about the slain daughter and the demented serial killer.
A bio-blurb on my The Shack reveals that Wm. Paul Young “suffered great loss as a child and young adult.” If The Shack was meant to be autobiographical, the title has one too many letters.
A letter in today’s local paper urges the teaching of creationism right along with the teaching of evolution. “We should present both views and let our children make their own decision,” the writer says.
Oh, by all means. Education should be a smorgasbord, from which kids can pick out their favorite dishes. The story about God creating everything in six days is bound to be a popular one, and it can prepare children for reading books like The Shack when they grow up.