|The Shack: A "Christian" Novel? Or God as a Jolly African American Woman Named "Papa"|
|Written by Sherry|
|Tuesday, 24 June 2008 08:29|
The new stealth religious best-seller, "the Shack" has made it to the pages of the New York Times.
Stealth no more.
The Shack is the sort of book that makes conservative Catholics and evangelicals crazy. An enormously popular blockbuster that is regarded as "Christian" but plays around with many of the basics of the faith. The plot? A grieving father who meets God in the form of a jolly African-American woman.
"Early in the novel the young daughter of the protagonist, Mack, is abducted. Four years later he visits the shack where evidence of the girl’s murder was discovered. He spends a weekend there in a kind of spiritual therapy session with God, who calls herself “Papa”; Jesus, who appears as a Jewish workman; and Sarayu, an indeterminately Asian woman who incarnates the Holy Spirit.
The Times refers to "The Shack" as a 'Christian' novel.
Sales have been fueled partly by a whiff of controversy. Some conservative Christian leaders and bloggers have attacked “The Shack” as heresy. The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, devoted most of a radio show to the book, calling it “deeply troubling” and asserting that it undermined orthodox Christianity. Others have said the book’s approach to theology is too breezy to be taken seriously.
But it has obviously hit a chord:
Brad Cummings, a former pastor and the president of Windblown, said the company, which first shipped books out of his garage, spent about $300 in marketing. Word of the book ripped through the Christian blogosphere, talk radio and pulpits across the country.
Love the $300 marketing effort. .
“Everybody that I know has bought at least 10 copies,” Mr. Nowak said. “There’s definitely something about the book that makes people want to share it.”
Thousands of readers like Mr. Nowak, a regular churchgoer, have helped propel “The Shack,” written by William P. Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk in Gresham, Ore., and privately published by a pair of former pastors near Los Angeles, into a surprise best seller. It is the most compelling recent example of how a 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.
Just over a year after it was originally published as a paperback, “The Shack” had its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best-seller list on June 8 and has stayed there ever since. It is No. 1 on Borders Group’s trade paperback fiction list, and at Barnes & Noble it has been No. 1 on the trade paperback list since the end of May, outselling even Mr. Tolle’s spiritual guide “A New Earth,” selected by Ms. Winfrey’s book club in January.
Have you read the book? What did you think? What is so compelling about "The Shack" that Christians are buying in in huge quantities despite its obvious flaws?