Thinking Out Loud

May 4, 2009

Monday Links — Christian News Update

Shack Publisher To Launch Music Division

Christian Retailing — a bookstore trade magazine published by the same people who publish Charisma magazine — is announcing that “The publishing newcomers behind Christian fiction phenomenon The Shack are hoping for a repeat success in the music world. Windblown Records, a new division of Windblown Media–the company formed to publish William P. Young’s novel after it was turned down by more than 20 established publishers–has released My Beautiful One. The 12-track CD features instrumental arrangements of worship songs by Chris DuPré.” …Continue reading the whole story here.

Adam Gregory To Star in WWJD Movie

The website Country Standard Time is reporting that Adam Gregory will star in a movie based on the book that inspired the whole WWJD phenomenon a few years ago. “…The upcoming film “WWJD” [is] based on one of the best-selling Christian books of all-time… Gregory’s original song What Would Jesus Do from his recent Canadian release “Crazy Days” will also be featured in the film. The song was co-written by Keith Follese and Billy Yates. …Filming on the project begins this week in Los Angeles.” The book referred to is In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. …Read the entire story here.

Jesus More Popular Than Beatles

John Lennon may have once suggested that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, but at the first ever auction in the 44-year history of the Hollywood Wax Museum, the wax figures of the Beatles fetched only $13,000; compared to $15,000 for Jesus and His disciples at The Last Supper. To read the short report at the Starpulse Entertainment site, link here.

Afghan Official Calls for Bible Distribution Probe

“A former Afghan official says an investigation should be conducted into U.S. soldiers allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.” So begins a report from United Press International (UPI) in which a former Afghan Prime Minister suggests that what the soldiers are doing is outside the limits of the U.S.’ own constitution. Continue reading the UPI story here.

December 20, 2008

Critique of The Shack to Release in February

findinggodintheshackWell, you knew it was bound to happen, but this is the first book about the popular novel that I am aware of, and you can bet it won’t be the last.  Finding God in The Shack is by Randal Rauser, associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminar, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.   He writes on theology, apologetics and popular culture.   The book is releasing in February through Paternoster Press, a division of the worldwide STL organization.

The publisher marketing for the book (see below) appears to indicate a response to the book that is supportive of the The Shack‘s theological treatment.   That could upset people who are looking for ammunition to criticize the book, especially those who have been outspoken critics without actually reading it.   No doubt those titles will follow.

I am always skeptical as to whether or not books like this are written to allow further conversation on the themes in other popular Christian literature — I’m aware of at least six critiques of the Left Behind series — or if they are written from an opportunist vantage, trying to capitalize on the popularity of something else.   I know that’s unfair; nor are we to judge the motives of someone else; but as a bookseller, it’s easy to all that skepticism to creep in.

That said though, I do actually hope this is the first of many such titles, because there is so much discussion taking place now on theological matters that it would be healthy and beneficial to allow those dialogs to continue, especially among those who have never considered weightier theological matters before.   The Shack has brought many new people to the theological roundtable.   One other Canadian who would be good to hear from on this would be John Stackhouse of Regent College, whose debrief of the book is the third of three radio interviews available online from the Haven Today radio program*.   Plus, I’m sure a number of American, British or Australian writers would be itching to weigh in on this.

Here is the publisher marketing for Finding God in The Shack:

What would it be like to lose your youngest child to a serial killer? And then to have God invite you out for a conversation at the very shack where the terrible deed took place? And then imagine that the door to that shack of horrors opened . . . and before you knew it you had been swept up in the motherly embrace of a large African American woman? This most unlikely of stories, as told in William Young’s The Shack, has become a runaway bestseller and it is easy to see why. The book brings us on a redemptive journey through the shacks of deepest pain and suffering in our lives, guided by the triune God of Christian faith. But even as lives have been transformed through this book, other readers have sternly denounced it as a hodgepodge of serious theological error, even heresy. With one pastor urging his congregation to read it and another forbidding his congregation to, many Christians have simply been left confused.

Aware both of the excitement and uncertainty generated by The Shack, theologian Randal Rauser takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the pages of the story. In successive chapters he explores many of the books complex and controversial issues. Thus he explains why God the Father is revealed as an African American woman, he defends the books theology of the Trinity against charges of heresy and he considers its provocative denial of a Trinitarian hierarchy. But at its heart The Shack is a response to evil and so Rauser spends the final three chapters considering the books explanation for why God allows evil, how the atoning work of Christ offers new hope for a suffering world and ultimately how this hope extends to all of creation. Through these chapters Rauseroffers an honest and illuminating discussion which opens up a new depth to the conversation while providing the reader with new opportunities for Finding God in The Shack.

*For the earlier two programs with the author of the book itself, use the same link and modify the last four digits to program 1661 and 1662.   See also our post on this topic a few days ago with the link to an Australian radio show podcast.

December 18, 2008

An Even Better Interview with Shack Author Paul Young

Filed under: books, Christianity, theology — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:36 pm

sheridan-voseyshack-promoI thought I’d heard some good stuff from Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack on Drew Marshall’s various interviews with him, but Australian Sheridan Voysey, host of Open House on Hope 103.2* contains some great clarification on those issues in the books which have caused controversy.   Voysey clearly doesn’t buy-in entirely on every aspect of the popular title, but is also very affirming on most of the book’s content.   On his part, Young is clearly at home paul-young1on this interview and gives solid scripture background for elements of the story.   This is one of the few downloads I listened to twice.

You can download the podcast or listen online here.

Upper Photo: Author, speaker and broadcaster Sheridan Voysey explores life, faith and culture from a Christian perspective. Sheridan Voysey is author of Unseen Footprints: Encountering the Divine Along the Journey of Life (Scripture Union, 2005). Visit Sheridan’s personal website The Thought Factory. Lower Photo: Shack author William “Paul” Young

*103.2?  That last number is even, not odd.   Does Australia use a different FM frequency spacing than we do in North America?   That can’t be right; because we listen to 96.5 in Brisbane online.  That’s an odd number in the decimal place.  What’s their system?

NOTE: The article Paul Young refers to in the interview, “The Beauty of Ambiguity (Mystery)” is available on his webpage, (American spelling of rumor) and can be linked here.

December 16, 2008

He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen – a remix of 05/03/08

Filed under: books, Christianity, Faith, theology — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:21 pm

he-loves-meWith all the excitement over The Shack, I’m always amazed at the number of people who don’t know about the other two books from the same publisher.   I actually read the books in a different order; I started with So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman first.  (On some copies these authors names are mashed as Jake Colsen.)  Then I read Wayne Jacobsen’s excellent book He Loves Me. I actually read The Shack last.

One of my memorable ‘takeaways’ from He Loves Me is the section concerning what happened at the cross.

Wayne suggests that we tend to look at the Father and the Son as a kind of “Good cop / bad cop” situation where the Father’s wrath is poured out on the Son.   He suggests instead we look at the solution to our sin problem being resolved “in God.”   This fits well with other teaching in the book that relates Calvary to the events in Eden.

Wayne compares the transgression of Adam and Eve as similar to the story of the prodigal son.  He says the father in that story was not unwilling to grant the son’s request if it meant that he would eventually reach the end of himself, and return.   This is not unlike God’s position in Eden; He is already working out that Adam, Eve and their descendants — us — will get to that point where we reach the end of ourselves and seek reconciliation with the Father.

As I mentioned previously, this book is published by the same group that does phenomenal bestseller The Shack, and Wayne Jacobsen is half of the writing team behind So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore. Unlike the other two books, this one isn’t composed as fiction and appears in the more familiar “Christian living” format.   However, if you enjoyed The Shack…

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