Sheridan's Interviews

The Shack Interview

William ‘Paul’ Young’s book The Shack has been a publishing phenomenon. Originally written for his kids, the book went viral and has since sold millions. Its tale of Mack losing his daughter Missy and meeting God to discover an answer to suffering has been hailed by many as life-changing. The book has also caused much debate.

Paul’s description of God is creative: Father, Son and Holy Spirit are presented as ‘Papa’ (an African American woman), ‘Jesus’ (a Middle Eastern carpenter) and ‘Sarayu’ (a misty, colourful Asian girl). This and other ideas in The Shack have seen some label the books as heresy.

I spoke to Paul about the personal story behind The Shack on Open House in 2008 and put the criticisms to him. It was a fascinating discussion. In this 5-part video series you’ll see Paul and talk about:

The full transcript, including additional material not shown here, is available in Open House Volume 2.


Q: Have you read The Shack? What did you make of it?

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  • Sue

    Just finished listening to the Wm P Young interviews… hmmm. I really enjoyed The Shack when I read it a few years ago, bought several copies and passed them round … however the interviews cast a different light on his philosophies and themes… things I missed when reading it as a novel. So my thoughts now are…

    Firstly, the biggest benefit of the Shack may be that it represents the view that the arms of God are open wide… a good message for those who have not experienced a warm welcome mat in church circles. Perhaps as a ‘way in’ it has good value.

    However, I was actually a bit disturbed by some of the (minor?) themes as revealed by the interviews and found the author quite obtuse… almost slippery at times, certainly defensive and the line ‘theologians aren’t disturbed by that’ bypasses Sheridan’s genuine questions.

    It’s very tempting to make God who we want Him to be, rather than seeing Him as He is. Who is He? The mistake the Shack makes is giving permission to our need to visualise and quantify and package God, rather than recognising the great Mystery that He is. Well, that’s my 2 minute philosopher spot, anyway!

    • Thanks Sue. People have either loved The Shack or loathed it. Your comments thoughtfully reflect the reasons for both reactions. People in pain have found a soothing portrayal of God’s welcome embrace. People with an eye for biblical truth have wondered if this portrayal of God is perhaps a bit too soft.

  • Athe

    No . But I have read Michael Parenti’s “God and his Demons” . 

    • Took a look at Parenti’s book. Looks like it’s firmly placed on the Dawkins / Hitchens / Dennett shelf.

  • Dlibrarian2

    I certainly enjoyed hearing the author’s interview. The book is outstanding. As a “preacher’s kid”, I can relate to some of his background. Regardless of your impressions, beliefs, etc. of God. As long as it makes you live a better life with respect for all–that’s what its all about.

    • I think that note of pain is what has really touched a cord in so many. Thanks for the comment.

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  • Kathie

    I loved it.  I was given it as a birthday gift, just 2 weeks after we’d lost a daughter. I related to the main character and could immerse myself and my grief into his world for awhile. I came out of the book feeling comforted and ready to start facing my world again. All the while aware of the fact that God knew my pain and was with me, no matter what.

    • Oh wow, Kathie. I can only imagine your pain (actually, no, having never experienced anything like it, I probably cannot). 

      I was sitting next to a couple at a dinner party once with a very similar story to yours. And in exactly the same way, The Shack had helped them through their grief and helped them see that God was both with them through it and not untouched by their plight.

      I pray you’re on the road to rebuilding your life now, with the God who cares.

      • Kathie

         Thanks Sheridan. We’re now just over 3 years down the track. Each year gets a little easier but the hole is still big.  We have 4 other daughters and we’ve drawn much closer to them and now have a grandson too. Life has moved on and yet for a long time it didn’t feel that way for us.  I really did enjoy that book very much and it was needed at the time it was given to me.