March 22, 2008

The Beauty of Ambiguity (Mystery)

I am back in the warmth of the cabin, watching through the window as early spring rains drench the surrounding landscape, low hanging clouds darkening the day. A late snow is coming, but not quite yet. Even though the fire crackles and snaps as it eats through its main course, I still snuggle deeper into the heaviness of the quilt that Papa left for me. She is soon back with a cup of tea, something that smells of wood and mint and a hint of jasmine. I grin. She knows me best, and whatever it is that she is handing me, I trust. 

“Rough week, eh?” she asks, as if she doesn’t already know.

I take a sip. It’s very hot, just the way I like it, and the flavor is perfect for the dreary day and for my mood. I swallow the warmth and can feel it fall inside and reach fingers of comfort into even the hidden places.

“Yeah,” I respond.

“Want to talk about it?” she coaxes, sitting down with her own cup of something that I can smell is at least part coffee. 

“Nope…and yes.” I don’t really know where to start and she’s patient. I love just being with Papa, knowing that he knows, even before I say anything and yet respectful as she waits. I still don’t know where to start and finally she helps me with a little verbal push.

“The book seems to be doing well?” I look up and she is grinning. Papa is talking about The Shack, the little fiction story that I wrote for my children.

“Not because of anything I’m doing,” I grunt. “It’s doing it all on its own.”

“Nothing or no one does anything on its own, not even me.” The statement makes me smile and I am comforted in the knowledge that Jesus and Sarayu are also present though unseen. Her observation is one of those invitations to go deeper, but I decline and go another direction.

“Of course you know that people are writing and saying all kinds of things about me…and some of it is simply not true. They make assumptions about my beliefs and motives and character as if they know me, and some of them are my friends.”

“Hah,” she chuckles. “I know exactly how you feel.”
That makes me smile. “I suppose you do.”

“I take it,” she continues, “that you aren’t so much bothered by the good stuff they’re writing and saying. Very complimentary, some of that.”

This time I laugh. “I get your point. Lots of that isn’t true either. I’m not that brilliant for sure. But even though compliments are a little hard to receive, they are definitely easier than the negative stuff.”

“Such as…?” she is leading me, but I am more than ready to follow.

“You know, there a few that are saying that I have a subversive agenda to destroy orthodoxy…”

“Destroy?” she interrupts. “That’s a little overstated don’t you think?”

“Maybe, but have you read some of those articles and blogs…of course you have, and the emails where people think that I should burn in hell.”

“Well, if it’s any comfort, it’s often true that the way people positively or negatively respond to a story tells you something of where they are at, more than about you.”

I pause and take another sip of tea. “Yeah, that helps some. I know that the overwhelming majority are wonderfully positive; folks whose lives you are touching, people taking significant steps in their healing process.”

“As wonderful as that is, it doesn’t mean that the vocal minority are not valuable and important…they matter to me.”

Whatever reserve I thought I had, she had just punched a hole it. “See, there you go…being all loving n stuff. Sometimes I would like you to just be on my side. People are saying that I believe all kinds of things that I don’t and sometimes they are just mean. Why don’t you do something about it? Why can’t you protect me better?” My emotional flurry ends and I am not even looking at her but at the floor. Some old patterns take time to break. 

I have come to know Papa well enough to know that my little tantrums are never anything that divides us. It’s like ‘open up the window, let the bad air out’. Anyway, thoughts harbored inside always seem more justifiable and brilliant than when exposed; then they often look like the silly little rascals that they are. But she never shames me, even in this.

“Child, I am always on your side.” She shifts toward me and I look up into her teasing smile. “Would you like me to smite them, would that make you feel better?”

I laugh and begin to cry at the same time. “Yeah, a little smiting would be good…with a touch of wrath…yeah I think that might help. Isn’t that always what we self righteous people want?”

“Way too often,” she states, and hands me a tissue to blow my nose.  “It’s always a good thing to know that you’re still in a process of healing, isn’t it? Like I said, I know exactly how you feel. But emotions don’t always tell you the truth. They tend to point you in the direction of what you perceive and believe.” She pauses and then continues, “So, tell me what in particular is being said that’s bothering you.”

“Let’s see,” I begin, running through my mental list, “Uh… that I am a universalist that I am an adherent of various religions, that I hate the Church…” I continue until I have exhausted everything I can think of. When I am done, Papa adds a few items that I’d forgotten or hadn’t even heard yet.

“Thanks, that makes me feel better,” I respond a little sarcastically.

“No problem. I just figured if you are going to make a list, you might as well put everything on it. Do you want me to tell you some of the stuff they’ll come up with in the future?

“Uh, no thanks. Misery might like company, but not that kind.”
“So are you a universalist?” Papa asks, taking a sip of whatever it is she is drinking.

“You know that I’m not. I know that faith in Jesus is the only way into your embrace; that only what you did on that cross saves us.”

“So let me ask you this. I take it that it wouldn’t bother you if I decided to save every human being that ever lived?”

“Nope. I actually hope that you’ve figured a way to do just that.”

“It would have bothered you in the past.”

“Yeah, because I used to think that I was better than other people and that I needed to be rewarded for my efforts. I used to think that if I had to resist the ‘pleasures of sin’ then it wouldn’t be fair if you saved those people who got to do what I wasn’t allowed to. That was before I realized how hurtful and enslaving those ‘pleasures’ really are and how all my ‘religious’ efforts were ineffective at actually changing me.”

“Okay, then let me ask you this. Would it bother you if it’s my purpose to allow the majority of the human race to experience a place in which they will be tormented for infinite duration?”

I think carefully before speaking. “Emotionally, yes. Sorry, but the very idea troubles me a great deal. You’re talking about people that are precious to me, and people I know ‘you are especially fond of’…so yes it would bother me a lot… if I had my way no one would end up in hell for eternity.”

“But, what if that’s exactly what I am purposing to do, to allow people because of their ongoing choice of independence to experience and be lost in that independence forever with no possibility of escape? Would you trust me in that?”

I am silent for a while as I wrestle with the question. “Yeah, as much as I wouldn’t understand it, I do know that I can trust you and I am convinced about your character. Our only and final hope is that you are Good and that you are involved and loving. So if that is your intention and purpose, as hard as it is for me to understand or emotionally comprehend, I know that it’s motivated by both your goodness and love. I still don’t like it, but I do trust you.”

We both pause to take a sip of our drinks, steam lazily rising from the rims. I am thinking about what I have just said and it has sparked a new question.

“I guess here is my real question in all this…why couldn’t you have made things clear? People go to the Bible and find all these ways to disagree with each other, even or especially theologians. Everybody seems to want to acquire their little piece of doctrinal territory and put fences around it so only those with the secret handshake can get in. Some find support for Universal Reconciliation; some find proofs for eternal torment in hell, and some find it just easier to annihilate everyone who doesn’t make it.” Now I am ranting, but can’t seem to help myself. “The Calvinists find all their verses to debate the Armenians, who find their list. Then there are the ones who believe in eternal security fighting with the ones that don’t.  Every silly idea of eschatology finds its own proof texts and in the middle of all these debates it seems that love is all that gets left behind. We even find ways to fight about grace and love. Couldn’t you have just made it simple and clear; unambiguous?”

I look up and Papa has a big grin on her face, but I don’t return the smile. Without really understanding why, this question is suddenly important to me and I can sense that it has threads connecting many of my internal conflicts.

Papa simply let me tread water in my rant for a while, until some of the emotional residue subsides. “Do you think that all this has surprised me?” she asks gently? “Do you think that I thought, ‘There, they now have the scriptures; they will totally get this’?   Human beings are very creative. They have an incredible facility to take some of the simplest and most obvious truths and make them ambiguous. If I didn’t know better, it would surprise even me.”

“But,” I am struggling to keep my question from becoming an accusation, “Why couldn’t you have made it clearer? How hard would it have been to just have one of the writers put truth down in such a way that there would be no confusion?”

I look up and she is still grinning, obviously enjoying the conversation more than I am. “Like a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) at the back of the Bible?” I roll my eyes, even though part of me thinks that might have been a good idea. Papa pauses to take another sip of her steaming whatever. “Have you ever thought that ambiguity, that mystery, might have purpose?” she posed.

The question actually surprises me and I begin to feel the uneasiness that usually precedes my paradigms being challenged. “Nope. I’ve never thought about that at all. I’ve spent most of my life so focused on certainty, that ambiguity and mystery have always been, sort of…the enemy. Are you telling me that ambiguity is a good thing?”

“Just think about it.  I have embedded ambiguity in everything, even physics? Do you really think that was a mistake? Do you really think that you humans have caught me off guard; that I am wringing my hands in heaven because some of your theologians have managed to misunderstand so much of what I have revealed? Do you think that your propensity to find ways to fight with each other is shocking to me? Could I have written scripture outside of a story, in bullet point outline, or had the prophets produce a massive FAQ? When Paul was killed by stoning and ascended into the spiritual dimension and I showed him things that for him would no longer be ambiguous, when I returned him to his body to finish the purposes we were working out together, why did I require that he not speak of what he saw? When John heard the thunders speak in Revelation, why was he forbidden to write what he heard?”


Papa opened her arms wide, “Because I delight in ambiguity. I relish what mystery brings to the table. It’s not that I don’t delight in clarity; after all, the Scriptures themselves are about revealing me so that you can know me.  But part of that revelation is that I am completely different than you and you will never completely comprehend me or my ways.”

I am still at a loss and struggling for some ground that is firm. “I’m sorry but I don’t get it. What exactly is the value and purpose of ambiguity?” 

“For one, it reveals the heart of the individual.  In fact, mystery is at the center of both relationship and faith.”

“Are you saying,” I am stunned and struggle for the words, “you introduced all this ambiguity… on purpose?”

“Of course! I didn’t want you to become ‘people of the book’, in the sense that everything is reduced to some form of performance as mandated by written words, where you would end up in the seats of the judges to mete out retribution on all those who failed to live up to those words. I didn’t want you to replace tablets of stone for tablets of paper.”

“But doesn’t truth matter?” I ask.

“Of course he does. But you cannot separate him from love. For anyone to stand up on my behalf to protect me or defend me, and not express love inside the embrace of Truth, it is better they remain silent.”

I sit back a little stunned. I want to argue but can’t find anything that counters the simplicity and elegance of Papa’s words.  “Okay, I think I get what you’re telling me; that we aren’t very good at loving, but a lot better at defending our turf.”

“See, another great reason for mystery. The ambiguity of belief, of doctrine, reveals the motives and the dark places of the heart…the places that need to be healed. Religious self righteousness and intellectual snobbery are kissing cousins. Intelligence was never created as a justification for the absence of kindness and respect and love. Do you remember the community of faith at Ephesus. I wrote a letter to them in which I commended their ‘orthodoxy’, that they wouldn’t put up with the Nicolaitans…”

“Yeah,” I interrupt, “I have been meaning to ask about them…”

“Not important right now, “ she cuts me off and continues. “The point is that they were all about theology and doctrine, but I removed their light, their influence, their very life; not because of doctrine but because they no longer knew how to express the love who is Truth that indwelt them. Ambiguity and mystery constantly raise real questions. In the face of uncertainty and differences of idea and belief, will we stop loving? Will I descend to the acquisition and defense of territory and turf? Will I even stop loving my enemy, let alone my brother or my sister?”

“How come I haven’t understood this?” I shake my head.

“Like you stated yourself, it is because love doesn’t come naturally to you. The closest you have is how you love your own children but even that is only a reflection of what love truly is. Turf and territory have always been about independence, while love is only present in dependence.” 

We are silent for a few minutes while I try to organize the jumble of thoughts crashing around inside my paradigm. Papa, aware of my struggle, speaks first.

“Not everything is ambiguous or a mystery. There is much that is clear and evident. I even wrote it down for you. Very clear, very unambiguous. It is all over the scriptures. Start with I Corinthians 13…clear as the nose on your face. The question is why have you turned the clarity of love into something ambiguous?”

Again I am silent for minutes, allowing the words to penetrate in some deep and special places. “I still don’t like being lied about,” is all I can finally say.

“Ah…” Papa leans back, “The ambiguity of human existence. Not knowing everything or having all the answers. Now you might begin to understand that mystery is not only the center of relationship but also of faith. Faith grows in its embrace of the certainty of my character in the face of the uncertainty of existence.”

“Okay, I am beginning to understand why you love mystery and ambiguity. But I still find it unsettling.”

That is such a wonderful place to be.” She pauses long enough for me to understand and then adds, “If it helps a bit, you do realize that no one can do anything to you unless I allow it?”

I nod, albeit a bit reluctantly.

“And if I allow it, I already have purposes that will work these matters out in the best and most loving way, for all involved. Are you alright with that?”

I again finally nod as I submit to Papa’s love and hug. I hadn’t even heard her approach. “Anyway,” she whispers, wrapping me up in her tender but firm embrace, “the presence of pain doesn’t indicate the absence of love. Often pain is present because of love.  I also don’t remember promising anyone that there would be no crosses to bear. But don’t let that concern you either. I’m good with crosses.   Together we can do this.”


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219 Comments on The Beauty of Ambiguity (Mystery) »

March 22, 2008

Doug H. @ 2:48 pm:

Whoa. Paul, you have cracked open a weighty area. I, too, have been a little troubled by some of the comments I’ve seen about the book. I’ve heard your some of your interviews, especially with Wayne and Brad, and I can tell from listening to you that these accusations are off-base. This ‘ambiguity’ that Papa seems to enjoy is sure troubling for us certainty types that enjoy staking out our positions so we can have something to hold on to (and judge others with).

I admit that my first reading of The Shack was done with my antenna up, the radar searching, being careful that there wasn’t some heresy. But the truth kept wringing true in my heart through the story. I would read with my head cocked to one side, squinting, then put the book down, say something to my wife, and conclude, “yep, that’s right” even though my paradigms and were being shaken. Papa has been taking me on a journey for the last couple of years to show me how much he loves me. Your book has been another chapter along the way.

I thank Father for using this story to help me grow in his love. We’ve shared it with scores of others who are also seeing his love.
He dances over me, while I am unaware. He sings all around me, and I never hear a sound. I am amazed by you, Father, how you love me.

Diane Muir @ 3:34 pm:

To tell you that I’m sorry you have to put up with the very vocal, very nasty criticism that is coming your way when you have shared such a tender part of your heart is probably a bit … well … lame. But I am.

I’m also grateful for your relationship with Papa that allows you the space to be as raw and as open as you need to be and to recognize that love reigns supremely, especially when it comes down from heaven. Sometimes all we have to do is stand under the flow, sometimes we have to open our arms and allow it to flow out from us.

And Doug H. is right when he says that the truth kept ringing true. Because that’s what truth does.

Leanne @ 3:46 pm:

I love you, Paul. Dinner for you and yours with me and mine anytime.

Sue @ 5:36 pm:

There is so much in here, dear Paul, that I don’t even know where to begin.

But gee, I say this, bro - your courage spurs me on. I love how you keep moving on, moving forward, willing to set aside or even outright discard what needs discarding, sitting in the paradoxes even while you want to sometimes scream at them. It is the safest place to be, which makes no sense. It also makes me laugh out loud (when I’m not screaming about it ;) Will the paradoxes never end? (I guess the appropriate answer would be something like, yes, they will. But on the other hand … ;)

I’m not surprised at the backlash. It was always gonna come. Tsunamis after earthquakes. Thank you for posting this lovely insight into your heart, Paul. I’m sure it must have been rather vulnerablefying to do so, but I’m sure you also know the benefits that flow out to the Body and which come back to you, too.

Barb @ 7:27 pm:

In the midst of all that you hear, know this. If it weren’t for your sharing of the Shack, my daughter who has been so wounded by the institution and life would have never been introduced to a Papa that loves her. If she is in a relationship with God at all today it is because of your story. Let the nay-sayers say what they will. They would never love my daughter anyway.

lee @ 7:54 pm:

amazing, this spoke right into the painful abuse i experienced as a child,love was present.I just realized I loved my grandfather.

Chad @ 11:25 pm:

I grinned as I read the opening paragraphs, especially when I realized that it was Paul having coffee with Papa instead of Mack.

It isn’t that I didn’t appreciate the direction of the story about mystery and ambiguity; I did need a gentle push in these areas. But what I really needed today was the sense of Papa sitting down with me and dialoguing about the conflict I am facing right now. In fact, I sensed Him calling out to me so I put the story down and we went and had our own conversation.

Now I am glad that I had a chance to come back and finish the story tonight. It is good food to digest. It was also good for putting Jamie to sleep as I read out loud to her. Of course, it was not the content that did that, but the peace of the message and my soothing voice…

Paul, thank you for sharing your journey in this way. It is told in a manner that is inviting for us to participate with. It is easy to find our way into Papa’s cabin. the directions you provide are not ambiguous at all.

Thank you also for responding back in the way that you are to the critics. This isn’t your fight. It’s His.

Much love from Boise!

March 23, 2008

Peggy @ 9:24 am:

This is so timely to what Papa and I have been processing, Paul. Thanks so much for sharing — and in this manner! 8)

I love the imagery you have added to my already broad respect for embracing ambiguity. I will definitely be posting a link to this post on my blog — where, by the way, The Shack has been my recommended book during Lent ;) — because there are way too many important points to even begin to mention them here.

Blessings to you on this day when we celebrate The Great Eucatastrophe!

jewlsntexas @ 10:17 am:

I struggle with this too - while I have broken away from the ideas about faith and spirituality I used to hold for dear life, I struggle with putting myself out there for fear of criticism, lack of understanding, or even their stance of needing to save me from heresy.
Thank you for putting yourself out there. In spite of the criticisms, it has profoundly affected many. It’s all in Papa’s hands. For better or worse.

annette @ 2:19 pm:

oh, thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your relationship w/ Papa. it’s a blessing.

Lin @ 5:03 pm:

This is great. God is great! The Shack is an amazing book. I’ve read it twice (slower the second time) and keep continuing to pick it up. The conversations bless me so much! This post on The Beauty of Ambiguity rings so true. Papa…I love Him! Thank you for the joy! Keep listening, keep sharing. Papa bless you abundantly!

GaryFPatton @ 6:23 pm:

Hey Willie;

I’m sorry, lame as it sounds, for the flack you’re taking from so-called loving Christians (sic)!

Hopefully, you will take additional comfort, from that provided by Holy Spirit, from the wisdom of Roy H. Williams, aka ‘The Wizard of Ads’, on negative comments.(And can you imagine the reaction that Mr. Williams, a Follower of Jesus also, gets from some quarters of the Church (sic) by calling himself ‘The Wizard of Ads’?)

Mr. Williams, an internationally acclaimed advertising consultant, says that you can tell that an ad will work wonders if the first responses you get are negative. This is because:
o People buy for emotional reasons, not logical ones.
o To strike a strong emotional cord, your message must be provocative.
o Life is a Normal Curve, so you’ll get just as many negative responses to a provocative message as you will positive responses.
o The people who hate your message almost always speak up first.

What applies to successful ads probably applies to successful books.

Now, if there was just wisdom for you on how to develop a thick skin to protect your soft heart. Wait, that’s an oxymoron! And too ambiguous!! :-)

Thanks for your great book!

In Christ,

WiredForStereo @ 9:48 pm:

I know these things are pretty taxing on you, I got quite a bit of negativity from my review of the book on my blog. But the whole thing was worth it when you left a comment and told me that I had gotten the point of the book.

I am glad you have begun to answer the accusations, and I am especially glad you have done so in the form of story, it seems to be something that works well for you. It will now be easier for me to answer questions that people have about the book directly from your words instead of trying to straighten people’s misunderstandings from the book.

One of the things your book and blog have helped to cement in my mind is that those mysteries and ambiguities are to be embraced, because God works in mysterious ways and we really should believe it, not just say it when we don’t understand things.


March 24, 2008

Gary Lackey @ 4:43 am:

I’ve been mulling over the question,”What constitutes a healthy, intimate relationship with God?” The element of ambiguity & mystery was not on my list. Being a male however, I’ve known a little of that mystery in relating to my sweety for the last 30 years. But your conversational/relational sharing of your relationship with Papa’s intentional ambiguity sounds as a very clear note, an aspect of knowing Him that’s real and wonderful. Even the switching back and forth referring to he then she strikes me. I enjoy the place it leaves me when I consider your sharings. Obviously, not everyone does, which is still a bit of a mystery to me, as well as not surprising. I suspect the element of pain that it puts you through in sharing these vulnerable/valuable encounters is also an element of a healthy, intimate relationship with Papa.
Thanks for sharing

Kate LeBoeuf @ 10:24 am:

I love continuing the story with you (and the others). After walking through The Shack with my husband, I am now feasting on it with my 12-yr-old daughter.

I’m shifting from trying to defend your incredible writing, to just sharing it. The Beauty of Ambiguity brought me back where I needed to be…breathing deeply again.

Keep it coming!

Marilyn Coleman @ 12:21 pm:

I absolutely loved the way the author continued his conversation with “Papa” regarding the criticisms. He said what was in my heart. “The Shack” was a very difficult book for me to get through, as it was impossible to read through teary eyes. I had to put it down many times, ponder, and then pick it up again. Many people have called to ask me if I had heard of this book, and these are friends who are either still searching or those who don’t have a fellowship in a Church. They all want to discuss it with me, but in the positive way that touched their lives. I’ve thought of getting a few intimate friends together and discussing how the book touched their hearts. This week I will be meeting with one of my special friends, and we will do just that. Needless to say, I am looking forward to it. I think by discussing it with those you love and trust would give you true insight in why it made each of us feel as we did. All different depending on our past and our belief system. It would be a great group therapy session.

As for the negative responses, there will always people who cannot find the simple joy in anything, and for those, I feel very sorry. I guess they just find the need to spread their negativity and try to bring others down as well. These people will always try to be in control. I also have to remember that for some, hurt goes too deep to be reminded. God is in charge of how fast each of us grow, although I know fear is the greatest factor in keeping us from it. Once we grasp the concept of “Papa”, the fear is lessoned.
Thank you again for the great book.
Marilyn Coleman

Glenn F @ 1:29 pm:

Listening in on another conversation with Papa…

AHHhhhh, it is always a great way to see how small we try to make our Lord, and how big and loving Father really is. Thank you for once again for being transparent about your hurts and fears Paul… and giving us a chanch to step back and realize that our “wisdom” is foolishness and God’s love is powerful.

March 25, 2008

TCS @ 9:03 am:

I saw this post this weekend on my bloglines feed but just read it today (25th). This morning I was asking ‘papa’ what to read, what he wanted to say to me. And John 2 came up. I thought, “well I know that chapter well” But at the end is this part about Jesus not taking the testimony of men. I think implying that it was “Papa’s” testimony that mattered.

I have to admit there is something in me that wants to go read the protesting comments. But I will resist as I have heard nothing but good and it will not do me any good to hear the negative.

I do know this. Mystery crumbles a lot of walls that people have built up and it is seen as a great treat. That all has to do with certainty not faith.

Michael J. @ 1:40 pm:

Hey brother I love you and your family very much. This is timely cause in ephesians the phrase ‘fellowship of the mystery’ has been stiring up inside for a couple months now. It is still quite amazing the wisdom that Papa pours into the world through you. A brother of mine in corvallis have talked about this and how that whatever people say it doesn’t change what Sarayu is deciding to do in the people that read the book. That change is what is important, when I think about it one thing comes to mind; how many times when all Papa asks is just to bring what we have, even if all it is is some bread and a couple fish. Not much, but for some reason He uses it. You have been a blessing in my life, thanks for your love and time.

[…] March 25, 2008 Here’s a link to Shack author Paul Young’s latest blog post: The Beauty of Ambiguity (Mystery). It’s like another a little dose of the book. And what I liked most about this post is that […]

March 26, 2008

Amy B. @ 3:12 pm:

Thank you.

Cait Needham @ 8:25 pm:

Love the book. Absolutely loved it. I read it in one evening and then a hour in the morning. I’ve come to know Papa much better now and after this last year it’s a welcomed relief.
Again, Thank You
In His Mighty Grip
Cait Needham

March 27, 2008

Michelle @ 9:07 am:

wow… thank you so much for sharing this.

I loved the book but feel the sting of criticism myself, from my fundamental concerned friends.. and not just because I like your book. :) It’s not fun to feel on the defensive.

These words from papa are going to be chewed on quite a bit… thank you so much. And thanks for being brave!

March 28, 2008

Ronny @ 10:21 pm:

Mercy brother, what an incredible adventure full of so many surprises and some hilarious nerve racking oppotunities to open up to embrace Papa on His terms and not mine.He is giving me an entirely new perspective to repentance, rethinking His ability/desire to love others in the depth of their messes in and through my own; the line about the presence of pain doesn’t indicate the absence of love really nails me, in the best of ways(grin). I have heard of Jesus all of my life yet I ‘ve never experienced His affection for me as I have in the last 8-10 months and my appreciation for Him (and you) continues to grow. I love you both to little bits.

March 29, 2008

William @ 6:50 am:

Aren’t we intrigued with what we don’t understand? And don’t we get bored with what we do understand? This might not be universally true [I love the simplicity of beef and cheese nachos, for example], but even the mystery of why the combination of spices, beef, cheese, chips, and salsa taste so amazing is, in large part, a key component of the joy of eating at my favorite Mexican joint.

If my wife gave me an outline of exactly how to love her, then I’d be thankful to know which buttons to push make her happy, but the problem would be I’d be pushing buttons. It would be like checking into work every day and filling my quota. Job well done, but where’s the relationship? Where’s the excitement? Where’s the mystery?

Love seems to only be necessary when the unknown is present. If we were only “pushing buttons” then I’d just need my brain to tell my finger which buttons to push. Love enters in when there is uncertainty, loss, joy, expectations [uh, oh, there’s that word], disappointment, pleasure, and pain.

Thanks, Paul, for another revelation into the heart of relationship. As I’ve leared what relationship really is and that relationship is all He created us for, I’ve really enjoyed experiecing this “relationship thing” with Papa and others around me. Now I’ll look forward to the mysteries:)

Ivy Gauvin @ 11:57 am:

Thank you for this latest update. I appreciate being on your email list, receiving the latest. May you continually be aware of how “especially fond” Papa is of you. Peace.

March 30, 2008

Amada, Australia @ 7:46 am:

The Shack has made me think and love before I judge someone now, especially those who still feel Christians have to control Christians and who feel a moral obligation to impose guilt and rules as part of my faith. No more. I follow Papa closer out of love and not out of duty, like a child following Papa in a beautiful, peaceful garden. For the first time in my Christian life I know what it is like to live with absolute peace. After reading a very extensive, unfair and vicious criticism I realised that in the past I would have formulated a strong response but instead I realised that the writer was in a ministry that requires controlling people and secondly I heard something like: “I am fond of him…”

Lorie @ 5:53 pm:


I appreciated the continuation of the dialog between you and Papa. After I read The Shack, my first thought was, “Now what? I want more!”. I can’t begin to tell you, like many, of the incredible changes that have been brought into my life because of your…. at times brain straining…. understanding of the Trinity…..our Creator….and the essence of why & who we are!… But, as others, even reading it with caution it always felt ‘Right’….’True’….and while I unfolded the pages of words into a knowledge of my own….God became more real to ‘ME’and healing took place…..and continues to.

I have also read some harsh criticisms and I am sorry for the pain you have to journey through because of it. When ‘truth’ is presented there are always those that want to continue on in their own darkness and will fight for it to remain so. But, for those who seek ‘truth’ they will recognize it and/or find it.

Thank you so much for sharing your amazing understanding of who God is.

April 1, 2008

Joshua @ 8:58 pm:

I was asked to read this book along side a couple of others that had been brought to the attention of the church I’m on staff with. We were concerned about some of the rumors surrounding the book and wanted to see it for ourselves. Since I handle adult education I usually get the call, this was no exception.

I began the book with my guard up and my heretic radar at full capacity……. and then I was changed. I wept for hours on end staining the pages with my tears, as I read one of the most profound and bibliclly accurate sumations of God I have ever encountered. Years of intellectualism and tradition faded away as I began to hear the voice of God speak to me again after so many years of what seemed like scilence. I thank God for this book.

April 2, 2008

Kelli @ 7:29 am:

I just finished reading your book last night through many tears. I had been searching for some deeper spirit understanding for a long time and found it by reading your book! Thank you for your wonderful insight and I have been sharing this with everyone that I know!! I to like many have been wanting more and I hope that someday you will write another book and share your continued relationship with PAPA so that we can continue to understand and grow as well. For now though I will continue to read your blogs that you post here on the website!

W. Smith @ 1:52 pm:

God is desiring deeper relationships with His ekklesia. Those who desire Him will find Him! I read your book. It was a breath of fresh air!

Your March blog is outstanding. Be encouraged, your message is resonating with those that have and are going through similar things that bring us face to face with reality in Christ. Love relationship says it all.


Kay @ 2:50 pm:

Thank you again for sharing some of the deep and vulnerable parts of your beautiful heart with all of us. Your book is so edifying, so uplifting that part of me finds it hard to understand the criticism. Our church/community has had several groups that have journeyed through and discussed your book in the last year. While we each had our own pet paradigms shifted and rocked, every one of us came away more in love with Papa, ourselves, eachother, and the world around us. (And I think that most of us bought at least 1-2 more copies to pass along to loved ones, too!!)

Be encouraged! While there will always be those who cling to and violently defend their brand of certainty with all their might, there will also be those who have let go of the chains (some of us with great apprehension :) and are looking for others who will help them feel their way through the mystery. We need you to help remind us why we’re here and the ever-increasing depths of Papa’s love we’re journey towards.

April 3, 2008

Susan Ramey Cleveland @ 2:21 pm:

Mr. Young, thank you for writing this book. Through it, I’ve found some of he answers I’ve been searching for all my life. I’ve written a brief review of The Shack and posted it on my blog. If you’d like to see what I wronte, go to Again, thank you so much for The Shack.

April 6, 2008

Sandy @ 10:30 am:

Dear Paul, Here I am again, your friend Sandy.

I have walked a long way with Papa since I first read the shack and wrote to you. (back May? 2007) Your March writing showed pain and I understand pain very well, I have lost a lot of ‘Christian companions’ since I left the MCC (managed Christian community)to seek Papa in all faces and all forms. I have been accused of being apostate. But I have found a contentment of spirit, , a safe place, a true place, where like you, I can take my pain and my questions and come away comforted. Like you, many of my questions remain unanswered, but I trust Papa so much more than I ever did before I read the Shack.

I have read a lot of other writings since then, I have listened to Brad and Wayne, I have read my Bible with new eyes and have wondered at my blindness to such embracing Love. Any person who cannot want such unconditional love to fill this hurting world, must carry terrible anger inside of them. Not knowing THIS Papa must be in and of itself a form of Hell. I will always hold you, Wayne and Brad close to my heart. Is Jesus the only way, for me, Yes, Yes, Yes. The rest I leave, gratefully and trustfully, to Papa, Jesus, Sarayu.

If you are ever in Seattle, I would be honored to have you in my home.

Your friend, Sandy

April 8, 2008

Byron J. Ball @ 1:22 pm:

Mr. Young, I just finished watching your 2nd interview with Dr. Feazell of WCG and enjoyed the dialog even more than the first interview. Although I have not yet read “The Shack”, I determined from your conversation with Mike
what its content must consist. I look forward to reading it.

We indeed have a God of such immense love and compassion for his children that he includes us in that wonderful relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and it appears that the Holy Spirit is working much these days in bringing the Church to a deeper understanding of what that real love and relationship are about.

Mike may have already revealed to you a web site that may interest you. If not, take a look at

Sincerely appreciate your thoughts,


April 9, 2008

Jeff Goins @ 8:13 pm:

Wow, great treatment of facing criticism and bringing it to the Father. I loved the Shack and am sharing it with my friends. In a “Christian” culture that esteems getting all the practices right, the book was fresh wind for my sails of creativity that sent me straight towards the Living God. Blessings.

April 10, 2008

Richard J. Doscher @ 12:15 pm:

One of my best friends handed me the book with a tear in her eye. Her only comment, “Please read it.” It opened a part of my heart and soul that needed some airing out :)

Thank you for a glimps of what relationship means. I will nbow give the book to a friend with moisture in my eye and the comment, “Please read it.”

Thank you Paul.

Bonnie Lacy @ 2:21 pm:

Just finished the book. So much of it paralleled my life and recent experiences with Jesus. Makes me think that I ain’t crazy! The color, and imagery. Makes me explode with joy!

Kelli Young @ 5:28 pm:

Mr. Young
Besides the Bible directly, there have been three books in my life that have made a profound impact on my life until today. I read your book and it became number four. I can’t tell you what an incredible confirmation it was to me and what Abba has been personally teaching and speaking to you over the past five years. It took me a lot deeper in understanding the personification of God that He has been trying to teach me. I loved how this book takes C-5 to the religious spirit of our day in regards to the church’s perception of God. He is so real and wants people to know that more than ever. Your book does just that!!! Yay Papa!!

Kelli Young @ 5:37 pm:

*whoops meant to say “speaking to me” over the past five years. C-5 = explosive

April 11, 2008

Heather Thomson @ 1:29 pm:

Thank you so much for this book. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear and know the things that you wrote. My nephew passed away at 19 months due to a genetic disorder and I have huge trust issues with Papa. I know that because of your book, I have a better understanding of Papa and why things happen. I know that I will have to re-read this book so that I can gain more insights, but I am so thankful that you wrote it!

I’m sorry that people are criticizing you and being so cruel. Papa is reaching so many people through you.

I am just “down the road” from you in the Columbia River Gorge. I also loved that the story takes place in Oregon.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that your book has touched me.

Thanks again. Heather

April 12, 2008

Toni @ 12:09 pm:

Forgive those who say negative things, they just don’t get it. Maybe with a little prayer they will. I loved this book so much, I am giving a copy to all of my friends and family for christmas. So they will feel the warmth and comfort I did when I read it. THANK YOU!!!!!!!GROUP HUG

Bete @ 2:50 pm:

I have just finished reading “The Shack” and then went to your website and read “The Beauty of Ambiguity”. I want to thank you for being honest in your writing. Like many other readers, I was brought to tears many times while reading it. I tend to be a black and white kind of person and through reading your book, and doing the “3:16″ study (Max Lucado) our church just finished, I am learning to live with more ambiguity and actually enjoying life more. Your book was right on the mark with what God showed me in the 3:16 study. I love how you call God “Papa”. My children call my husband “Papa”, and since I was raised Jewish and asked Jesus to live in my heart when I was 29, I like to call him “Abba”. Please be encouraged that you are doing the will of “Abba”, and that your gifts are setting many people free to love the Lord more and have a more personal relationship with him in a way they have always dreamed.

April 13, 2008

hank @ 3:25 pm:

i awoke yesterday from a nightmare… words resounded w/in the dream… ‘read the shack’. i had been given the book 2 weeks ago and started it but got busy and so it gathered dust. busying myself in the morning, a very random text came through about 10:30 saying, ‘have you read the shack yet?’ dumbfounded i wondered what in the world was going on. then the electricity went out. with nothing to do, i figured i had better follow through w/ these strange invitations to read so i sat down and began a journey that would be monumental. at points laughing outloud at the banter between the characters and other points — many, many of them — i would have to set the book down as i wept and wept through heaving sobs.

through years of being a christian, serving as a missionary, and now an associate pastor i had begun to question everything i knew to be true. everything. and sad to say, i have been teetering on the decision to completely walk away from the God i love…

this book was a lifeline. having drank deeply from the cup of shame and regret throughout my life, it came at the most critical moment. years of training and conferences and bible study have numbed the reality and the ‘wonder’ of who God really is… and something w/in my spirit was reawakened.

thank you.
i look forward to laying in the grass on our backs w/ Jesus and looking at the stars as the comfortable silence between us simply states, ‘it’s okay. i’m here.’

April 14, 2008

GES @ 6:43 am:

The Shack gets more profound every time I read it! A well known speaker recently talked about how Jesus, in relating to his disciples, would “offend the mind to reveal the heart” to help them see earthly things from heaven’s perspective. Through books like The Shack, He is still doing that today. Thank you for making this book available!

Kathleen Langridge @ 5:49 pm:

So much, just so much of who you are, what you say is Papa. I have so long believed that fiction is his way past the walls, the barriers into his joyful ambiguity. I experience such joy and energy when you express Papa. Thank you. I have just finished my first reading of the book and want to rush into the streets and hand it out while letting Papa’s love penetrate, (no soak into my soul) and continue my own healing. What a gift you have given to the world at a momenteous time. There is just too much to say and as I wrote to the Bishop of York, we’ll probably have to wait until heaven to sit down to tea and a face to face.

I have known for a while now that the main, (perhaps even only) purpose of the Bible is to reveal the reality that is Papa. I have known of his intended purposes for equal relationship between the genders and that together we more accurately reveal Pappa. I have known this and so much more through relationship with him and I have attempted to communicate to others through preaching and gossiping the gospel but I have also known that I didn’t know his love, didn’t know Love. There has been past healing but something was always not quite complete. Now reading the Shack has opened doors I didn’t know I had shut, bolted and barred.The doors are opening and the Three in One the I am is here to welcome the healing. Now I know why my story was not ready to come out.

Thank you from an American in Papa’s service in England and the Anglican Church, owch.

April 15, 2008

just James @ 11:48 pm:

I really and honestly can’t say a positive thing about the book. The way that our age succumbs to emotional gobbledygook is terrifying and tells the truth that Truth, real Truth, has been locked up and forgotten on a reservation and left to rot.

Remember when it mattered? Now what do we have left? Emotional “weeping” and what’s next? “Gnashing of Teeth”?

I don’t hope you “hugs and kisses” like so many here, fawning, but I do hope you return to the Truth.

Viz: God portrayed as a woman (2 out of 3 persons of the Trinity?).

Viz: Your confusing statements on gender, roles, and hierarchy (ultimate egalitarianism is NOT Biblical nor to be found in the roles of God the Father, Son and Spirit. Patripassionism was denounced as heresy ages ago.)

Viz: Your appeal to a relationship with “Papa” or “god” without drawing readers and pointing them to the Book the Spirit of God wrote. Rather, your book is focused on an existential experience and good feeling…

The whole thing, at root, utterly lacks discernment.

I’m praying the Emergent Church movement goes the away like the Bubonic Plague, but knowing people and the utter lack of discernment in this age, I won’t hold my breath.


And: Please, write another book. Call it, “My Retraction of the Fallacies I Taught at the Shack.”

April 18, 2008

Jerome @ 11:52 am:

Thank you for exploring the ambiguity and mystery that is inherent in the Christian walk. I, too, have faced criticism from other Christians for not following their form of orthodoxy. In the past, I would refute them with my own set of points and proof texts. I found that it always led to strained, if not broken relationships. I have (pretty much!) stopped doing that! Understanding that the Trinity shows us that the fundamental truth of God is relationship, it is important that we approach our defense of the gospel with people in mind - life, and Christianity is not about who is right and who wins. We watched one of your interviews with Mike Feazell at Wednesday night Bible study here in Big Sandy, TX, and we were really touched. Hang in there, brother, and thrive in Papa’s embrace!

Theresa @ 1:22 pm:

No profound words from me, just a word of thanks. This book reached a place in me that no bible story had, it allowed me to realize that our father loves unconditionally.
How sad that the “James” above my post chooses to only see fault and find no good in the great thing that you have done for so many……
Keep writting and reaching out to his people
And reminding all of your readers that we have to love or have a great fondness for all of the “James’” in our world : )

Sylvie @ 2:22 pm:

Paul, I have read your book a couple of months back, since then bought about 30 copies and cannot keep myself from giving them away to anyone searching and/or questionning the purpose of life. Yet I had not made it to your blog before today. I am totally crushed, I have not finished meditating on the book and here you are giving even more to think, meditate, pray and delight in. After reading this, I simply want to enjoy even more the present and discover more of my Daddy. Thank you for your obedience because this is so much more than you…. God uses you to touch his children. As for the negative comments; simply keep in mind that “One day every tongue will acknowledge He is God and every knees will bow down..” Thank you!

Mike & Brooke M. @ 8:41 pm:

To our brother Paul, we have both been incredibly blessed by the sharing of your heart’s story. I am thankful that you shared the pages of your yellow legal pad, the receipts, etc. !I am not interested in getting involved in all the people who rant and rave about discernment, destroying the Church or whatever. Through Papa God you have done a great thing Willie! It is he who gave you the ability to write and you have changed the hearts of this young couple. We are sharing The Shack with our friends and family and invite you and your family to our home for coffee and hot chai tea anytime!

April 19, 2008

Gladys Blyth @ 3:26 pm:

Hello Paul

Many members of our family are in cliff-hanging excitement re The Shack. Excitement is hardly the word.

In writing The Shack you have put your finger (I mean pen or keyboard) on that exact sensisitivity of what God and his purposes for humanity are really all about. Keep right on not backing up in what you are trying to get across to the masses.

I love you and my prayers are with you all the way.

Your Auntie in British Columbia, Canada.

April 21, 2008

Lucky and/or Sarah @ 8:43 am:

Mr. Young,

Thank you so much for your willingness to write such a beautiful depiction of our Father’s love for us. This book has touched me and those I know that have read it in such a profound way. For the past 6-7 years I have been saddened by the direction that churches are going. All about performance, cliques, rules, etc. I, too was caught up in all this for so long thinking that that was how I grew in my relationship with the Lord. All that time, I was getting farther and farther from Him because I could never measure up as far as the church (building and those in it) were concerned.
I knew deep down inside that I was missing something. Something that I had when I first came to know Him. It was intimacy. I lost that somewhere along the way. So, I left “church” and began to seek a closer and more intimate relationship with the one I met 30 plus years ago. I’m so glad I did. Because I have come to know the One that loves me more than I can grasp. Your book brought all that into perspective for me. Speaking to my heart what I had been trying to hear for so long.
I know now that no matter what I do, what mistakes I make, where I am in life, HE LOVES ME! HE HEARS ME! HE IS ESPECIALLY FOND OF ME! And I can take your book and give it to people and tell them that if they read this it truly will change their lives and know that it’s true.
It’s hard, I know because I have experienced negativity toward me in my life for what I now know is true because I broke all their rules, but don’t get too discouraged by what these people are saying about you. Remember what they said about Jesus. That he was possesed by the devil. That’s pretty bad. So, you and all those who know what’s true are in good company, ya think?
Thank you again for sharing such a beautiful story.
When you came to speak at the church in Powell Butte, OR, I was there and we had a small conversation. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came to hear you speak because I hadn’t read your book yet but I was struck by the absolute love that shown in your eyes for everyone that came to speak to you and that can only come from spending time with Love itself.
I have printed out your writings on Future Tripping and the others that you have written and sent them to family and friends. No comments yet but it should be good for some family discussions, hmm?
Well, I certainly have gone on long enough.
Again, thank you for writing this book. It has been and continues to be a wonderful journey.

Papa’ full blessings on you and your family.

Steven M. Dodd @ 2:52 pm:

I told a friend that nothing I have ever read or heard describes my relationship with Abba (Papa) as perfectly as this story. My journey has taken twenty some years not over a weekend but the result is the same. I have only one thing to add…He taught me to never close my prayers. Do say amen to end a prayer like hanging up the phone. Instead talk to Jesus everyday about everything no matter how small. Papa is concerned about every detail, ask Him how to cut your hair. Ask him how to stay on your diet, ask Him for directions when you get lost in traffic. Relying on Him for little things excercises your spiritual muscle. When the big things come along you will be able to hear Him.

You will be able to here him just like Mack only you will be awake!

April 22, 2008

oregon writer @ 1:24 pm:

great way to handle public criticism and rumors.

love how this humble book is inspiring many people of all ages towards a more meaningful friendship with God.
“Fiction is the lie that tells the truth truer,” I heard a novelist once say. Yes, The Shack is fiction which is telling the truth truer about God than many sermons are today.

Thank you to Paul and the Young family for sharing this story beyond the boundaries of yourselves…

April 23, 2008

Melvin Oakes @ 11:34 am:

Thanks for one of the greatest books of my experience. I knew that when Eugene Peterson recommended it, it would be tops. It amazes me that anyone can condemn it. On its most elementary level, it reinforces the Bible in that it teaches that one CAN have an experience with God. Check out Moses, Balaam, Peter, Paul, etc. All of these were different. You have shown us that we can have one, too, and I would expect it to be different. (In fact, mine was.) And this post shows that it can happen more than once! I am looking forward to seeing you at Catalyst later this year. I will re-read your masterpiece and check back here many times. Thanks!

Kathleen Langridge @ 3:31 pm:

I referred to the book in my sermon on Sunday and I had a request for further information from a lady who speaks of God and Mummy & Papa. This was not in my church but I gave her my card and I hope to hear from her. I am trying to read it again inbetween my husband reading it as I am featuring it in a presntation tomorrow evening in my Reader Training class on suffering. I’ve sent a copy to a missionary friend in Latvia, recommended it in my yahoo group, on face book and Amazon. I talk about The Shack in most every conversation, about the deep healing God has done leaving me with such a sense of cleaness and wholeness. I have had many intimate encounters with God but out dialogue prompted by the book heads the list.

If people decry this book it says more about their pain than the value and importance of this powerful work. When we see a disparaging comment lets hold the person up before Papa and ask that Sarayo surround them with singing, dancing and her dazzling colours while the reality of Jesus presence sweeps them away. Remember these are ones that he is especially fond of.

April 24, 2008

Scott Larson @ 7:26 am:

I received The Shack as a gift from my sister over Christmas and didn’t pick it up until 2 weeks ago. We decided to read it aloud (my wife Christen is pregnant and the story telling lulls her to sleep and the Baby likes it too). But I must say, that this is one the most compelling books I’ve read in a long while. The only complaint was that it didn’t read “aloud” as well as I thought it could be.
Papa, Sarayu, Jesus and Mack most certainly captivated us every evening as we read just a chapter at a time, allowing for discussion the following day about what had transpired. It’s a parable worth sharing with others, whom I’ll gladly give a copy of this book to. Many thanks on a job well done, and I look forward to my own conversations and relationship with Papa,Jesus and Sarayu.

God Bless
Scott Larson
Kansas City

Stacy Thorn @ 7:01 pm:

Wow. I just finished this incredible book. One of the Vice Presidents in my business refered this book to me, after she read it she had a 180 on her attitude toward people. I had to read it just because of the positive change it had made in her life. What a huge impact you have made in so many lives! It has affected me in a totally as impactful but different way. The way Papa was portrayed just shattered my preconcieved ideas of God…as I read the book I just cried and sometimes I didn’t even know why. My favorite part of the whole book is on page 182 where it reads,”I will travel any road to find you.” This book has given me a connection with God that I always wondered to be possible… I get it. The good news is just that. The good news…and maybe when Jesus died to save us, he did just that. He saved us. Thank you for writing this book!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! - Stacy Thorn, Bixby, OK

April 29, 2008

Stutz @ 2:58 am:

Papa has allowed so much ambiguity in this world that it is certainly legitimate for one to conclude, based on the evidence, that he probably does not even exist. While the answers in the book to the common questions of those struggling with faith are enticing, there’s not much reason to think that any of it is true outside of our own minds — the product of centuries of tradition and mythology, fueled by complex psychological needs.

The Shack’s theology is smart and sophisticated. I liked the book. I wanted it to be true. But I can’t bring myself to buy that the author has figured out the right answers to questions that centuries of philosophical and religious thinkers have struggled with. When the hardest questions arise (such as why billions of humans, especially the ones who lived before Jesus, will spend eternity in hell just for being raised with the incorrect belief system, or why all available evidence indicates that the universe is billions of years old), saying that ambiguity is important feels woefully inadequate.

To paraphrase Papa, once you take care of the head stuff, the heart stuff comes much easier. Ambiguity doesn’t take care of the head stuff for me. I can’t be convinced of God’s character or even his existence if it means that eternal torture exists too.

Hopefully that’s not too critical. I did like the book much more than I expected to, and I’m glad it was written. My beef is with bigger things…

Rebecca @ 4:26 am:

The Shack has just arrived to our international school in Moscow, Russia, and is starting to make the rounds. I am just beginning my journey with it and look forward to discussing it with my 15 year old daughter who is so moved by this book.

The Beauty of Ambiguity gives me a lot to think about and especially resonates with me in this land of Russian Orthodox who think any other Christian believer is a heretic or part of a sect. This sentence is profound: “Faith grows in its embrace of the certainty of my character in the face of the uncertainty of existence.”

One unfortunate misunderstanding is perpetuated by your article, however; one I’ve grown weary of over the years when sincere but ignorant people have confused my ethnicity with a theological belief. About halfway through you write, “The Calvinists find all their verses to debate the Armenians, who find their list.” Being ethnically ArmEnian does not automatically mean one has anything to do with ArmInian theology attributed to the Dutch Jacob Arminius.

The above gripe aside, thank you for allowing God to use you to challenge us!

God bless

corinne kohler @ 5:22 pm:

Thank you for beautiful minds eye visions of Papa, Jesus and Sarayu as well as your words that soothed my soul. I will have to buy copies of this book for my children as I want to keep my copy for rereading

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April 30, 2008

Pete Norman @ 7:52 am:

Thank you for showing me a REAL God that I can actually believe loves me and really does care. Those who criticize this work are quite possibly dealing with the very religious spirits God came to set us free from. What is amazing about this book is how it challenges the “box” religion puts God in. The book has definitely rubbed some folks the wrong way because it shows God as very REAL and wanting REAL relationship and some people see that as too familiar…they want Him to be Holy Holy Holy on a throne and unapproachable I guess. Can’t He be holy and real and approachable? Just a thought. The book also shows the Trinity in the most awesome way. Parts of the book will challenge traditional “church” teaching, but that isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. “The Church” offers more relgion then relationship a lot of times. Everyone should read The Shack and see for themselves. All I know is that in reading it, I was able to see bits and pieces of my life in it, was able to deal with forgiveness, bitterness, resentment from my past hurts, and I have such a REAL desire to know God on a more personal level then ever before. If a good tree bears good fruit, then The Shack is an amazingly good tree.

May 2, 2008

Cait Needham @ 12:51 pm:

Are you a “Believer”?

May 3, 2008

Byron J. Ball @ 8:51 am:

As I mentioned in my first post on April 8, I had not yet read “The Shack.” I have now completed it and was totally captivated by the story. The dialogue between Mack and God illustrates so beautifully the real peace and joy that proceeds from such an open and honest relationship with our Father. Paul, your thoughts are so well defined in your story, touching all of our emotions. I cried, laughed out loud, and simply smiled while fully engaged as if I were inside of Mack’s skin. What a wonderful service you have done for the Christian community - no, for the whole world!

My Pastor has read the book also and we agreed to purchase books for our entire congregation and are planning a six weeks discussion of it in the Sunday school class I facilitate. For weeks now, we have been studying the nature of the Triune God and what Jesus reveals himself and the Father to be. It all boils down to love and relationship and “The Shack” will enhance our study, providing for much discussion of that very subject.

And to the Stutz posting on:
April 29, 2008
Stutz @ 2:58 am:

You seem like a nice fella and are asking the right questions. I suggest that you don’t listen too much to the “scare” tactics of religion; rather, listen to the “love” tactics of Jesus. The “heart stuff” is how Papa can work with “the head stuff.” Just be patient and think of the consequences of love.

Paul, continue your good talk/walk/talk/walk …

Chad Estes @ 5:06 pm:

on May 2, 2008
Cait Needham wrote,

Are you a “Believer”?

Hi Cait,

Last night I listened to a radio interview where Paul shares a lot of stories about his life and his journey to where he is today. I think you might get some more clarity to your question if you had a chance to listen to it. Here is a link:

May 10, 2008

Troy @ 1:15 am:

Hmmmm…. so along with your obvious talent as a wordsmith, your are also telepathic…
How else could you have so succinctly, accurately, poetically have taken the ethereal, concepts floating in my mind and articulated them.

The stuff about colors, scents and food were good too, don’t get me wrong, it’s your characterization or the three Persons that really got me.

My Granddaughter succumbed to liver cancer at 3 years, 9 months 7 and 1/2 days. I’m still pissed at Pappa about that, but we’re working thru it. Your book is helping, I will re-read it after my wife is through. My heretic radar was on (like so many other readers) and nary a blip.

Our church book store will soon have a rack of your.

Stay humble (your wife and kids will help with that) and don’t give out your street address, as this becomes huge, and it will, the crazies…. never mind, you know. Just remember that even after a weekend with the Three, drunks can run red lights, so look both ways.

Yolande @ 12:46 pm:

Absolutely LOVED the book!

Papa have been preparing me, breaking down the strongholds of religious ideas over some time in my life, and breaking open the incredible truth of Christ in us, the hope of glory! This book came at a time that I was so absolutely ripe and ready for it.

Those of us who are ready to receive and celebrate the book and the wonderful warmth and depth disclosed in this book as well as this latest conversation about mystery…let us be thankful with grateful hearts for His grace that have worked in us such that we can receive it. And for those weaker brothers, who are still so stuck in the claws of organised religious ideas, which leads them to judge, criticise, condem and act aggresively out of their own fear, towards any ideas or people that threatens their current beliefs, let us be patient with them…for love covers up and is patient and eager to believe the best of every person.

Paul may feel the effect of their fearful aggressive outbursts of criticism towards him and the book…but when we grow in understanding, of their desperate fear to cling on to those things and ideas on which their entire lives and sense of identity are founded and built, one can actually start to feel deep compassion for them.

If there is one thing the book has spoken to me so strongly about once again, it is not to judge…it is our expectation of people to love and embrace everything that we find valuable, that leads to disappointment, that leads to offense, which fuels pain in us. But being perfected in love, we can grow in love, in Him, to where we do not take offense any more.

Yolande @ 12:49 pm:

I include a link to Christ life fellowship, with free magazine downloads, which underlines what Papa was teaching in ‘the Shack’ book.

May 11, 2008

cecilia hamill @ 8:44 pm:

ambiguity and mystery are fascinating but i’ve met people that are so ambiguous they’ll drive you absolutely nutty! Thankfully, God is not one (not to that degree anyway!) Nonetheless, i do run into multiple scenarios whereby i find my perception and understanding of God to be different than others, and certainly than the portrayal given in this book.

The portrayal of God in this book is all about infinite grace, grace for a murderer who is, at least by the closing, non-repentant. I love the book because it stretched me, like a gumby, a very stretchable rubber band. However, i can’t help but think of various passages in the New Testament that speak not only of grace but of judgement. (”cast him out in to utter darkness where there is gnashing of teeth”) i’ve spoken to so many people that say the New Testament is all a/b grace. So many times it seems people pick the passages they want to pick (usually the happy, jolly ones) and me, who struggles with the glass half empty syndrome, sees all the passages that ARE IN THE BIBLE that noone else either sees or wants to talk about.

Your book gives such a warm, fuzzy albeit all-knowing, omniscient portrayal of God. I see God as a judge EVEN in the New Testament. And i also see myself as one who is very angry with God at times. Not that i don’t see my own failures and foibles because surely i do, even when i get angry and short circuit and point the finger. I know God is loving for , “Why”, Nicole Nordeman’s portrayal and every other out there shouts the reminder. But still, it seems that God and some of God’s would be elect pass judgement just as readily as showering grace.

Ambiguity and mystery
fascinating companions
Double dutch jumping
Spinning and twirling
But never revealing the path, the direction, not even the next step.

But if God’s the light upon our path
Why can’t we see? Where is the understanding?
Does He want us to understand?
I know His ways are not ours.

But HE says pray for wisdom and understanding and knowledge.
That’s what HE says. HE SAYS He’ll be the light unto our path and yet i can’t see. So why does the ambiguity have to be so overwhelmingly extreme so much of the time?!

Yes, it IS FRUSTRATING! And NO, I DON’T TRUST GOD to keep me safe. No, I absolutely do NOT! It’s true that HE knows everything that’s going to happen but that makes me trust HIM even less. What that really means is i can’t trust anyone. I sure as hell can’t trust people and now, knowing that God allows everything to happen and does NOT intervene, I guess i can’t trust HIM either.

I know that is not the purpose of this book. I also want to say that I’ve felt this way for a VERY long, long time; Long before i read this book. I trust God with my salvation but I don’t trust HIM in general with everyday life. I do NOT and i probably never will again!

If HE knows everything that’s going to happen i do think HE should intervene and not just for the children whose mommy’s and daddy’s sit around and pray over them and draw the bloodline of JESUS around their little kids, and raise them with a silver spoon and dedicate them to the Lord. I think the LORD should be true to HIS word. HE says HE is a Father to the Fatherless. i don’t SEE it. He says He is there for the widow. i don’t see it. He says a lot of things that I just don’t see.

I know i’m sinning in speaking from my heart, which obviously is wicked. But i’ve seen too much in all of my years. And it seems that only the good little christian boys and girls who were spoiled and pampered and grew up in their perfect little christian worlds get prayers. And all the kids in the lock down facilities who were sent their by their jack ass parents have no future. (I know the plans i have for you .. .) Where are their futures? In jail because they weren’t fortunate enough to be given the right set of parents.

Don’t get me wrong i know we all sin and fall short; i’m chief among sinners. I just don’t see God helping those who are already bludgeoned. The only part i see happening is a/b the sins of the parents to 4th and 5th generations (i may not be quoting that exactly correctly).

anyway, I’m glad for this book inspite of my open frustrations. It has helped me because i have been wrestling with a lot of questions for a very long time. I still wrestle although i have periods of absolute peace. Usually it’s when i’m listening to music, running and worshipping and not looking at the things of this earth. Therefore i don’t watch the news and i do try to keep my head in the sand just as much as i am able to do so. I think this book is wonderful! And i don’t want my questions, nor position to taint it’s message and it’s value. It may have been written for the multitude of people that wrestle with some of these same questions.

It definitely is food for thought. And it definitely has provided comfort, like a warm cup of chai tea.

Chai Tea ROCKS!

May 12, 2008

Sheila Q. @ 8:42 am:

Well, the world is a little better for your wonderful book. I think a layer of “church routine-religion ladden motions” have been wiped away. There is a clearer view, although it is still difficult. I love, loved, and will continue to love this book. It lives. No, it is not my bible, nor replaces the scripture. But it is definitely a reference tool to remind me that I, nor any of us, have all the answers - only God. He is beyond our complete understanding but what joy there is the journey of trying. Thank you for taking the risk.

May 14, 2008

David Van Diest @ 11:51 am:


Before you came to Remond last week for your chat, I didn’t even know your name. Oh, had read the book and it was evidence that what God was working on in me wasn’t just my own made up theology. The truths you communicated were so affirming and so clearly communicated.

It was so good to talk to you and I would love to have coffee we talked about either when I’m in your area … or when you’re back in mine.

By the way, I had been hearing of your book for months from my industry cronies but hadn’t shelled out the coin to purchase it. Well, I was looking through the books at a garage sale and found my copy there. One buck and well worth every penny.

Most impactful fiction book I’ve read. Close second was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers … and I don’t like fiction.


May 16, 2008

Kathy D @ 1:11 am:


I wish I could give you the biggest hug! The Shack has been a friend to me for almost a month now, since my first reading. I have read it 3 times now and highlighting the parts that jump out at me, or more like slap me in the face. :)

Coming from a background of the strictist legalism, I thought I was free, but thats what I get for thinking! I
find that Papa has more to free me from, most of all, myself.

In fact, he has already freed me, I just have to realize it.

The Shack has done that for me, for my family, and they are many, and several of my friends to whom I have given a copy.

The naysayers can say “nay” all they want. It doesn’t change Papa at all. We can pray one day that Papa will touch their hearts like he has touched yours, mine, and those who have read the beautiful whisperings of Papa through The Shack. Thank you so much for being so open and obedient to the Three in One…or One in Three. :)

Hmmm…I hope you post more of your conversations with Papa.

I do have a wondering…and I don’t really know how to put my question into words. Maybe I should discuss it more with Papa. :)

Love to you and your family…


Lucy @ 6:26 am:

Hi there!

I’m a 28 year old girl in Australia and my sister sent me this book, saying it had changed her life. I read it in about 2 days, putting it down often as I couldnt read with the tears in my eyes…
I am still processing what I read. Although its a fictional novel, I think that its possibly the most life changing fiction I’ve ever read! To see ‘God’ as ‘Papa’ and all that it entails is blowing my mind. This book has changed me.
It breaks my heart SO MUCH to know that there are Christians out there slamming this book. No wonder people stare in amusement of christians and are turned away from the church because of the hypocrisy! Where is the love? I am so so so saddened that this has hurt you Willie. But the wonderful thing is that the people who read the book and dont like it, just put it down and move on in life, however the people that LOVE IT and are changed by it, well they move onwards and upwards!!!
I just want to thank you for writing this amazing novel. I am off to buy as many copies as I can for my friends. It is life changing.

Thank you so much!

Julie @ 11:47 am:

I absolutely LOVED this blog post. I spent many many years in the church trying to “figure out God”…. But thanks be to Him He wouldn’t let me. The mystery is seeking and Him finding me.., not me figuring Him out. I LOVE that about Him.

I heard it said a few years ago. God is unpredictable but consistent. You can’t trust in what He’s doing cause He’s unpredictable in what He does. You can only trust in who He is. I have found that so true and that He often goes the opposite way of what I would expect Him to do. He’s after my heart….

Last year at some point I felt Him nudging me to find a personal name to call Him in my times with Him. Daddy was too reminiscent of my earthly dad. Father was too “out there” so He moved on me through a movie “A Little Princess” with the name Papa. I knew it was a fit. I have loved it ever since.

When I found your book it just made it even more special. As I read what you wrote I realized as I read that Papa had been showing me many of the things that you wrote about. He has been removing me from the mind of “religion” into the beauty of relationship, deep, intimate relationship. He truly is my Papa.

Thanks for this. By the way we loved the book. We read it first to our kids (ages 10-20) nightly and then I reread it by myself. It is one of my all-time favorite books.


May 18, 2008

Carin @ 11:52 am:

I was given The Shack by a studentin my public high school. He told me that I would be blown away. I read it in one day and it has change me. Oprah talks about “aha” moments, and throughout my reading of your book I repeatedly received those. Once I was finished reading your book I called my sister to have her read it, and unbeknownst to me she had just finished it! I just wanted to say thank you for sharing! Words cannot express the peace The Shack has brought me!

May 19, 2008

Erin Katie L. @ 10:55 am:

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds.” - Albert Einstein

[…] like to more fully appreciate what I have written here about love and grace, I would recommend you click this link and read the post. Here’s a taste: I sit back a little stunned. I want to argue but can’t […]

May 23, 2008

Bill Westphal @ 12:19 am:

If you want to read a non-fiction book about God’s grace that is very similar to The Shack, I encourage you to read TrueFaced by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol. Google it to learn more. It will “rock your world”.

Bart Breen @ 5:27 am:

Paul ( I was going to say William, but apparently you go by your middle name.)

I’ve only read your blog and your book but I think in doing that I detect a kindred spirit. Thank you for your book. It touched me.

I’m one of those theologians who can enter into any conversation and without a lot of effort raise questions such as those being raised of you and your book. In fact, probably a few years ago I might have been in the thick of things.

Books like yours for some are simply an opportunity for exposure and power. If someone has a desire to be important and lacks an audience, (because let’s face it, who would want to listen to their negativity on its own merit?) the best thing is for them to attach themself in opposition to something that is already getting strong attention. I’d like to tell you it will get better, but the more successful your book becomes, and it will, the more attention and controversy it is going to generate. Critics will flock like flies to share in that attention for their own purposes, even if some of them may think they’re doing it for “God.”

I love this blog entry on Mystery. The more I mature, and I’m trying, the more I’m learning that the head stuff is important, but it is not where God wants us to live. There is so much more and yes there is mystery. There has to be. God is Bigger than me and I can’t take Him all in at once and when I divide him up, I lose sight of some things.

So, please know that the impact of your book in my life, a former pastor with wounds and questions at times as to the love of God, has been positive and very welcome.

Let the critics come. Maybe there’s a few jewels hidden in the dung they throw. If so, listen and take positive criticism where it is. Most of it however, is not about you. It’s about them and their seeking for attention and power that they can’t generate for themselves so they have to attach like a remora on a shark to get what they’re looing for.

Keep up the good fight. God’s using you and that never goes without opposition.


May 24, 2008

shelly kelly @ 10:17 pm:

Thank you so much for your book! I will never think of God … Papa … in the same way again. I sobbed and sobbed as I read this book. Further transformation took place in my life as a result of your book. Thank you!

May 25, 2008

Angelika Weiss @ 8:09 pm:

Thanks for writing….coming to the book signing in kelowna b.c.

May 26, 2008

Chris Laffranchi @ 5:11 pm:

Wow - as many have said - Thank You! I NEVER post replies on blogs, and this is my second on yours! I’ve been praying for years for God to revive me and/or restore my soul. The Shack has begun that for me…it has given me a glimpse of Papa that filled a void in me! It was like returning to a hallowed watering hole at the point of desperation. Phrases like “Significance has never been about behavior” and “I am especially fond of you” have rung SO true with my heart. It was as if Papa was speaking to ME, to MY heart and soul and need.
The naysayers who are criticizing you are to be pitied and prayed for, for they are missing Papa’s message through you. I really don’t understand what they could be upset about…I didn’t see anything heretical in your story. In fact, the opposite, it explained God’s BEING (trinity) better than anything I’ve ever read.
What a wonderful gift to us is your book.

May 30, 2008

Jimmiesue Combs @ 10:09 am:

Thank you for writing this book. You have put so much of my life into words for me. Learning to forgive and the real freedom received in exchange is a life changeing expierence. Forgiving a parent, a step dad for unspeakable pain, then praying for him for many years and at the time I thought was to no avail. Then when my dad was on his last days on earth God showed up in a very real and powerful way and used me to lead him to Papa! Your book has more reality of God’s presence than most people have never expierenced. Again, I thank you!

Samantha @ 10:43 am:

I’ve always heard that God will find a way to get his message to you. If he has to remove the “distractions” to do it, then so be it. I dont know that I have ever been so touched by a story before in my life. I am still welling up at the extreme love in this story. I do believe, Thank you so much Mack for letting all of us share in your wonderful expirience with our great God! Thank you God for giving Mack the expirience to share with us. I have truly been touched.

Adam Woods @ 12:06 pm:



May 31, 2008

kathy b @ 10:21 pm:

I have just started reading the book and haven’t really heard any of the talk that you are commenting on, but I also have been in a desert time of my life, and praying for revival of my heart. Your book has brought me back into conversations with Papa that I have needed, but I am still holding onto something. How I would so love to spend time with Papa and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but to truly experience that I need to let go.
Thank you for baring your soul to your children and then letting us also see into the deepest parts of who you are. This has allowed me to stop and rethink my relationship with Papa and work on my personal relationship with Him. I can’t wait to finish the book now to see where it will take me on my journey in my relationship with Jesus. How I would love to sit outside and watch the stars with Him! Thank you again for sharing yourself, your struggles, and your heart with all of us!

June 1, 2008

Jennifer @ 6:38 am:

Thank you for sharing your struggle with us. It helps to know that others have the same questions and problems that I do. Regarding the people’s hateful comments to you it is as Papa said, it is more about them than it is about you. Some people find it so hard to let go of control that they will attack anyone or anything that threatens their false perception of being able to control their destiny. It is one of the big lies that humanity tends to believe. I struggle with this often but it is about trusting Papa. Without the rules set down to follow how can they know what to do? This perception allows them to be in control. Grace is something that eludes many.

June 2, 2008

Carl Whitlock @ 3:51 am:

I have read this book, and I dont know if its fiction or not. perhaps I didnt read it well enough. It sounds like it could be true to me, but I think I need, and definately want to, read it again. I feel that God can communicate anything he wants to, and in any way he wants to. He knows what he is doing. I also believe that this is our training/learning ground that were learning in right now and every decision we make no matter how bad or good the results, are all to teach us that our way doesnt work, and a relationshipo with God does. and if were going to live with him for eternity its probably good to have already walked through our sins, realised they dont work, and not want to repeat it while living eternally. Also in walking through sin we see the aloneness away from God that accompanies it and the difference there is in walking with God and feeling at one with God and everyone else, living in harmony and not alone at all. But hey, I could be wrong. But I really think this book is Gods heart in print. Surrenduring my will to God (Papa) was realy hard for me and it took a long time of him working with me to get to that point and he still has alot of work to do with me. But I’m so glad I read this book, I feel alot closer to him now, or at least trust him more.

Andrea @ 11:26 am:

I had not heard anything about your book. I live in my own little world most of the time. :) I saw it at Sam’s and bought it. I believe I was led to the book and was meant to read it. I can’t wait to tell others about it and suggest that they read it. Please don’t let listen to the na sayers or let others make you doubt your faith or your understanding of the scripture. Just keep listening to His spirit and be at home in Him. You are doing just fine! Your children are so blessed to have an earthly father that cares enough about them to write this story for them and I am so glad that someone else listened to His spirit and insisted you let them publish this book. So that now my children can be blessed by it also! Thank you!

June 4, 2008

Doni Brinkman @ 1:24 pm:

This weekend I read The Shack while camping with my family. From page 100 on I don’t think I ever quit crying. This book was so moving and inspiring and really prompted me into long talks with God about what it really means to let Him be in the center of my life as opposed to me trying to “prioritize” Him and facing my constant failure. At one point over the weekend I had to ask Him why He couldn’t have made things simpler, why He didn’t just make it all very plain and clear…why we have to wonder about what is “right” in so many circumstances. I had to laugh when I read this post. God used it to answer my question. If I had all the answers I would indeed use them to beat someone else over the head. Fact is, in the flesh, I love legalism and hate grace. My self righteous nature dictates performance and reward even though I KNOW BETTER! I simply could not be trusted with that much truth at the moment. Ouch. Thank you for compelling me to ask the deep hard questions. Thank you for letting your gift be a gift to others.

Sue Theoret @ 8:28 pm:

I can’t stop talking about your book! A friend from my Bible study group lent me her copy to read she said it made her think of me when she read it. (It seems she feels I ask a lot of hard questions.)
Tomorrow I plan on buying 5 or 6 copies to give to friends. On then again next month. I want to keep a copy with me to be able to hand to anyone I see in pain.
I have NEVER had a book touch me as yours has.

June 5, 2008

Larry McGarr @ 7:25 am:

Some Christians are miserable people who need rules to make them feel acceptable by God. Jesus called the Pharisees. I’d rather be a Missy, or at least a Mackinzie who’s open to a God who isn’t overwhelmed by the chaos in His Creation.

The greatest test of whether something is true or not is whether Sarayu confirms it in our hearts. If coming to know God better and loving Him more by that understanding - then The Shack is every bit the truth as scripture.

I’ve found that it is easier to love others, easier to see others through God’s eyes and understand why He is especially fond of each of us since reading this book.

The Shack needs to be made into a movie - but not those cheap Christian productions that have been turned out in the past - the sort you find on John Hagee’s website. This needs the hand of Mel Gibson and the talents of the artists who produced Harry Potter and Narnia. It needs to be grand, other-worldly. People need to see the way Mackenzie saw the children and his father as God sees them - colors and all. The power of The Passion of the Christ was in the visual imagery of Christ’s crucifixion. The same power in The Shack will change lives forever.

June 8, 2008

Bob Fromm @ 7:05 pm:


We see through a glass darkly and the best we can do to embrace God with our words is metaphor and second best is to reduce Him by anthropomorphisms. One ignorant criticism about “The Shack” is that it teaches a female new age deity. Besides the obvious problem with that criticism being the speaker not having read the whole book, the Old Testament has some rather dramatic metaphors for God. “Under His wings you will trust” doesn’t mean He is a chicken. Neither does “El Shaddai” mean he is a woman though “El Shaddai” means “the breasted one.”

God is so beyond our understanding, metaphor is able to impress us with what words cannot instruct.

Thank you for listening to your wife :-)

Bob Fromm

June 9, 2008

Susan @ 8:10 am:

I love where your heart goes and that your mind can track it!

Kim Myers @ 12:52 pm:

I just finished The Shack that I am reading to discuss with a bible study group next week. Awesome doesn’t even quite cover how I feel about this book! I laughed and cried my way to the end. I will be giving this to several of my friends to read. What a joy!!!

Fred Waters @ 3:50 pm:

I have shared on my blog the impact your writing has had upon me and my thinking. I am not disappointed by the critque of your work, that’s healthy. But in the midst of all that I can tell you that you have sent me into my own study of God and the question: Is God good?

Our understanding is limited, and your insights have challenged me! Thank you for letting me be caught up in the emotion of the story and in doing so be caught up in the emotion of God’s love.

June 11, 2008

Aaron L @ 11:12 pm:

I just finished the book a few hours ago. Quite a gift this has been to me. Wish I knew what to say. Just wow.

Paul, from what you have written here, I think you have a good insight in how to handle the criticisms. It would be good to remember that YOU are valuable to God because of your insights, or your contribution, or even your writing ability. Those could all be flawed (but they’re not), and Papa still delights in you for his own sake, and yours. He delights in you, and is pleased with you. There will be people who are unpleased with your take on things, unpleased with your contribution, and heck, they may even try to get personal. Just remember that the merit of your ideas stand independent of your merit to Papa. Keep your ’self’ seperate from your ‘work’ and you will be able to take it in stride…

Jesus told truths in stories. The Shack is a ‘true’ story in the same way. And I think there is a good reason for this. We need to experience the truth, and understand the experience as well. A story is one of the few places that a human being gets to do both at the same time…

To think, to abstract, is to categorize and classify, and to frame a thing. It gives us a handle to grab it with, and in a way, to conquer it. But conceptualizing, studying love, joy, courage, surrender, charity, hope, is only a starting point, its only cognitive. But to ‘know’ something, and to know a person is experiential… God is a verb?

Theology’s merit is when it is used to lead us into experience with a better understanding of what is then HAPPENING. Theology’s doom is when we attempt to use it to ‘master’ a cognitive understanding of God, like we would master Calculus or Proust. This is a Western sickness- we relate to our world by studying then mastering, reducing reality to measured data, and then calling it a day,thinking we ‘know’ the nature of our world.

The majority of our church history has not been this way in our practices. We are mystics with a Book. We need to recognize our underlying assumptions before we can be freed from them.. And that is what many of the critics may be wrestling with

I do not think that God is ambiguous on purpose though, I think that it is only logical that you can’t fit 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack. He gives us what we can take. The rest remains a mystery to us. The reason, in my own case, for an obsession with full cognitive and theological comprehension of the truth, has been a desire to ‘get a handle’ on God. Well, bottom line, I’m not equipped, and he doesn’t need any help with QC… I cant control myself, and I ought not try my hand on Him.

I do want to say one other thing though, for what it’s worth to those reading. I can personally attest for Mack’s story being true. God really still does stuff like this,when he chooses. He pulls back the veil. This book is not a fanciful wish-fulfillment. In 2005 I spent a week in Oxford, and something happened that I cannot explain. It is no help or confirmation to you to see me post this, but God intercepted me and while it was not a visual experience, it was physical . It was the most real thing I have ever expereinced. It was June 25th 2005, I haven’t been the same, and I get the hair standing up on the back on my neck just thinking about it.

It was the heavy presence of God, and it was the defining moment of my life, so far. If you’re interested, look for more stories of this, Blaise Pascal’s story is one of my favorites.

This book allowed me to know that Im not crazy, and to reminisce the moment when I started becoming fully human. Thank you Paul.

June 13, 2008

Brenda ~"aunty b" or "the Mom" @ 3:49 pm:

Hi Paul, WOW! What an awesome, open, thought provoking book! I really enjoyed it and hope many of my friends and family will read it. I LOVE the ambiguity blog. Wouldn’t life be horridly boring if we never got to explore & discover things? I love adventure of all kinds. I know heaven will be Full of new discoveries that will only lead to More discoveries etc. Can anyone imagine getting to heaven, “knowing everything” and then spending eternity w/ nothing to do????? :-) Thank you for sharing your book with all of us. I sense that you have genuinely healed from some very deep hurt. GOD BLESS YOU & YOUR FAMILY.

June 14, 2008

Missy @ 2:33 pm:

Thank you so much for your honesty in your conversations with Papa. Sometimes I am afraid to be honest with the One who knows everything anyways. I am afraid that He will be upset with me. Thank you for breaking through that separation. I truly enjoyed The Shack and I am so glad that you and your team wrote it. I am very thankful for Espiritu Santo and His work in our lives. I am very thankful for the other Two as well. They make quite a team, don’t they?

Marie KIWI @ 11:50 pm:

With most of the Christians,we major on having tidy,clean
doctories,that are explained same as they taught on Sunday.
Which is fine and needed,too.At least on occasions.But,when you visit with a friend,the doctorines and packages have to stay at the back door.They simply wont listen to them.They want someone who understands them and comes to their level.
Church people are famous for losing folks for reason of talking too high….so the book and the message,maybe was not to everyone’s liking in terms of theological explanations on Christian doctorine…but the point is…it was not meant to be a theological explanation.It was meant to show that God is real,He is amazing,He is full of mercy and most of all…He is fun and full of love and kindness.He is very intresting and amazing person and sometimes we forget that.IF the book gave that message…good.For me,it did.Reminded me,that God is more real than things we see.That is good.If some folks receive comfort from doctorines…maybe in the next edition of the same book…add plan of salvation to the back of the book and they everyone is happy.


June 17, 2008

Amy N. @ 9:45 pm:

I want to thank you for this book. I’ve been so hungry lately and felt lost. I knew I needed to be found again and soon, if not for my own sake, but especially for that of my three children, whom I homeschool. I felt pulled to your book when at Barnes & Noble just yesterday afternoon and I finished the book not one hour ago. And I have so much in my mind, as Mack did after his visit to the shack, I know not how or when to get it all “organized.” How I thrive to organize my thougts even when they’re not expected to be by Papa. I never would have thought to call God “Papa.” I am so
engulfed in my generation, “dad” is all I’ve ever mustered when thinking of any father figure in my life. Maybe it’s because of some of the pain I’ve endured from my father, though I feel blessed it was not much and all is well between him and I now.
Anyways, I think this is the second book in my life that I will ever be able to I’ve read more than once. Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis) has been the only title to hold that for me….but The Shack is just….wow…..I will be reading it again and all sorts of highlights will plague it. Also, I will recommend and buy this book when and however I can.

God is so good to have used you to reach people. You have a beautiful gift that I can’t help but feel somewhat envious of as a human being whose ambition has been to write and publish. Maybe now it will just be a prayer He decides to oneday use me, too.

June 24, 2008

Mike Tillema @ 8:57 am:


A wonderful book! I get a bit miffed at the way the Christian community can be critical of a book from one of its own. The response to them is always love and grace (easier said than done). I have read your book and I loved it. I have heard of countless others that have been touched by God’s love through this slim but robust novel. Keep on writing!

Tualatin, Oregon

Jeff Delbridge @ 6:05 pm:


Great book! The most unique book I have read to date that confronts the character of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I love how you chose to write it as a fictional story. Dialogue is a great way of exploring the hidden answers to the questions of the heart.

I echo the other postings that said that I am not surprised at the backlash you have received. As your blog hits on, mystery is something that people are afraid to enter into…we are afraid at what we might find. Maybe that’s why this is causing people to ask so many questions because it confronts everyone’s preconceived notions about the character of God.

I couldn’t agree with you more on this posting about mystery. I think especially in media and the arts- mystery is the thing that is so special this form of communication. Mystery is the place that God can speak to us in very profound ways. It is what is missing in a lot of books, movies, and music these days. I think that’s what sets your book apart from a lot of books that I have read- you embrace mystery. These days, that is what my goal is now in my songwriting- to embrace mystery. Thank you for writing this book. It re-confirms a lot of what the Spirit has told me and I plan to share it with my friends and family.

-Jeff Delbridge

June 25, 2008

Gerry Blumberg @ 2:10 pm:

I knew absolutely nothing about your book when it was given to me. My interest was piqued because the person who had it was giving it back to another friend in disgust. I asked her about it and my friend gave it to me. I read it on the plane and tears slid steadily down my cheeks as each chapter passed before my blurry eyes. I come from a very dogmatic, evangelical background and the concept of God that you portrayed expanded my thinking in so many ways. Pain, confusion, and anger over so many years of legalism were washed away with those tears as the gentle hand of Papa, Jesus and Sarayu touched my heart. Thank you.

June 28, 2008

Bettie Patterson @ 1:31 am:

WOW! I just read your book, couldn’t put it down til I finished it. My sister in law brought it with her to visit us last weekend. Their Sunday School Class is all reading it. I had to go buy a copy to give away. Anyway this week all I’ve thought about is the Love of Papa and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I never had a father in my life. and never realized how much hurt there is that needs healing. Thanks for writing this book. bp

Linda @ 4:10 pm:

Just my thought! Christmas presents for all my family and friends! :-)
In Christ,

June 29, 2008

Kimberley @ 6:32 pm:

Unbelievable. It is hard to put in words the way this book moved me. I am an avid reader, I read everything I can put my hands on. I am a counselor for children, and read much to try to help me figure out how to help them, but I realize that the best thing I can do for them is to pray for them– and listen to them. A friend recommended this book and I could not put it down. I have handed it over to my thirteen year old daughter, who also reads constantly. I am interested to see if it will catch her interest, or if it will be too “deep” for her to understand. Nonetheless, it will make for great discussions with her! In this book my two favorite things were the name “Papa” for God, and the way God shows himself in so many ways– like a wise “grandma- like” woman. Thank you, Mr. Young for this reading experience. It answers a lot of questions that we all have- like why do bad things happen to innocent people. Maybe we really know the answers, but it helps us to sort them out and make sense of them. Thanks!

July 1, 2008

Chris @ 7:15 am:

This book was given to me by dear friends. I can’t thank them enough. It took me much longer to read the book than I wanted it to but I had to fight back tears. This book taught me so much understanding,and hoping it will for my daughter. I am a forgiver but my daughter is not, so hoping she reads this, will shed a little light. Thank you for a beautiful book. I cannot wait for a movie of it.

Wind_Dancer @ 10:41 am:

I ran across an article in the newspaper about “The Shack” and how Pastors were telling their congregation NOT to read it. So, when I ran across it in the airpaort, of course I had to pick it up and see what all the fuss was about.

Now I see why the negative…The Shack illustrates the direct path to our true selves through our direct, working relationship with the Trinity. Leaving out churches limts control by religious leaders. Of course they will verbally bash you Paul and your book.

Good job in bringing faith back to the masses, especially the unchurched.

July 2, 2008

C. Brent Wilmoth @ 6:30 pm:

I have so enjoyed the book that I have bought 12 copies and gave them out and even had our youth group read it. I do have one question? Is sophia representative of wisdom?

July 5, 2008

Christie A. @ 11:20 pm:

Dear Brother Paul,

I met you tonite at Mariners. Thank you so much for your hug and I feel so much that your book and writings are being used by Father, Son and Holy Spirit to prepare us, His Bride, for the wedding feast about to come. An adornment that begins on the inside/out. Holy, and blameless hearts, filled with Sarayu and faith. Don’t worry about the criticism, or flattery, just keep having cofee with Papa, stay close to Him. The Bride says come!

July 6, 2008

Heather S @ 5:45 pm:

All other comments pretty much sum up what I feel about this book. Thank you, thank you for this. Pg 145,last paragraph really hit home. It has brought light to my past ideas on relationships, and what they are really all about.

Thank you, thank you, I cannot say it enough.
How beautiful. I will remember to forgive. Its so important.

Paul, thank you.

b @ 6:45 pm:

just so you know im jealous of you. not in a bad way. but in a totally good way. keep writing. you are setting people free and helping them understand what a beautiful God we have and that He wants true relationship with us in a very real way!

July 8, 2008

Amanda T. @ 9:51 pm:

I loved your book it touched my heart.

July 19, 2008

gabrielle @ 10:47 am:

thank you, you have validated several thoughts and opinions i had about “papa”. I also see where my judgemnts have led me astray. this is too good not to be shared.

July 22, 2008

Johnny T @ 6:07 pm:

Thank you for the book. It has helped me to understand that I have been wrong about the nature of God for so long. I am making my way back to my shack.

July 25, 2008

Jo Ries @ 12:23 am:

Dear Papa, thanks for this book. I have never cried so much while reading a book. I cried ’cause for the first time I could “see” your love and hear your voice inside of me. So much questions about You, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been answered. I love you very much, Papa. Please bless your boy, Paul, with more wisdom about you, and with wealth and with more of your pure love.

July 26, 2008

Gay @ 3:30 pm:

Dear Paul
I am reading your book again starting from the scene at the shack because it is so easy to forget how we are loved by Father,Son and Holy Spirit. And yesterday in search of wanting to find out more about you, I found this and your other site. This is the first blog i read…on ambiguity and i cried and cried from the line when Papa handed you a tissue till the end. At this stage, I am not sure what part of my heart is being touched except that the presence of pain doesnt mean the absence of love is a truth I am drinkly of deeply. I have a friend who has the countenance, humour, love and conversations with me like papa has with you and I had to lend her the book. It made me think that perhaps we have papa’s in our lives so we get to have glimpses of Him - she always gives me unexpected responses to questions I ask and questions I dont ask. I dont know what else to say except that God has touched places in my heart that I have only allowed Him to come in through you, your book and now this site.
Wanting to be completely His

July 29, 2008

vicki @ 10:11 pm:

Just wanted to thank you so much for this book! We have a ministry where we ask God to use us as a vessel to help bring health and wholeness to families, which always leads them to a deeper relationship with the Trinity. Your writing along with Larry Crabb’s writings have helped me tremendously in my journey. The love of my life of 32 years went to be with the Lord on March 5 so we are walking out one of the most painful experiences of our lives. Your book came at such an opportune time. Look forward to future writings the Lord gives to you,

Your sister in Christ,


August 2, 2008

Ozzie @ 11:25 pm:

When I read your book I hit a snag and had to tell myself to keep an open mind. I knew all would become clear. I have seen these things you wrote about in The Shack, in Papa’s Word for several years, but any mention of them brought the wrath down on me.
Thank you for showing me the God of Love more clearly than I was seeing before. I have pondered the concepts in the book and these are things that I can validate in Papa’s word. I desire a relationship like you describe. If I can see through the tears I will absorb your book for third time.

Thank you for sharing your heart Willie.

PS. I knew there would be those who would condemn you. I pray that Papa wraps His arms around them, and maybe they can crawl up in His lap like I used to do. I need to do that again.

August 3, 2008

Sheri Roome @ 5:44 pm:

Thank you for your unabashed, wonderful, raw, grace filled book, ‘The Shack’! It touched me deeply and I know that many lives will experience more of the Truth of who God is because of this writing. Bless you Paul!

August 4, 2008

JMurphy @ 6:19 pm:

This is a WOW. I read and reread and underlined and wrote notes in back of book. There is so much I need. I don’t want to let the love go that came to me through this book from PaPa. I have been profoundly affected today and feel that I will continue to learn and grow each day forward as a result of PaPa’s messages to me. They were sent directly to me!!!! My favorites are that God will never abandon me and forgivness is a miracle. I’ve known this but never really felt it down deep until I finished the book.
Thanks to you William P. Young. You’ve started something good.

August 7, 2008

Josh Hughes @ 12:08 am:

First of all… This is an amazing book! I love it! (and this is coming from a person who doesn’t actually like to read!)

I bring you a little encouragement from a little(ish) town (population of approximately 9000) in Ontario, Canada. The Shack has been circulating my community of friends at quite a rapid pace over the past couple of weeks and I must say it has had a huge impact so far. Funny thing is… Even though there are so many pastors and other Christians bashing the book, there are still so many who see the truth in it. This past Sunday service my pastor publicly recommended The Shack to the congregation as a reminder and a ‘challenge’ to know and experience the love of God and to develop a real relationship with Him/Her.

Just thought I’d let ya know not every pastor out there is against ya. :D

Oh yeah! And thanks for allowing Papa to work in and through your writing.

August 8, 2008

Patty Warner @ 8:55 pm:

Hi! This is my first “blog”.
First I want to comment on the remark from Josh (above). My Pastor LOVES you, too! You probobly don’t need anyone else telling you how amazing your book is or how great it was to find this space, where I could continue to hear Papa’s thots (thru you). Oh well, I’m gonna do it anyway! I am part of our Church’s women’s ministry team. We all read “The Shack” and can’t stop talking about it, sharing it and using it for examples of our Papa’s unconditional love!
I must say that while reading down the blogs I was blessed to hear so many of the things that I wanted to say. However…as I read the ONE negative blog, and might I add SAD remarks of John, I can understand why those negative, religious (and I say that lovingly) remarks stick out to you. I even remembered his name!!
Anyway, I need to tell you that your book played a huge part in the Revival our church is now experiencing!(God TV helped,too).
We have decided that we are doing an entire retreat called “The Shack”. As we met to prepare for it we were excited and it sparked so much discussion and so many “Papa” led ideas! Our desire is that all of the women come to experience the very “Heart of God” and to receive a better understanding of who THEY truly are! Someone Papa is especially fond of!!!! Big Hugs from Montana and may Papa,Sarayu and our precious Jesus continue to inspire truth and life thru your writings. Patty

August 9, 2008

Lisa @ 12:14 pm:

Hey Paul,
I was wondering, you may have said this elsewhere, but do you have any siblings?

August 11, 2008

Karen @ 7:55 pm:

Leave the naysayers in the dust where they belong. The critical reviews were reminiscent of the legalists of Christs time. I embraced and fully understood your presentation and believe it to be one of the singular most sources in reconciling a good and just God with tragedy. We cannot comprehend or know in totality the grand scheme of things. We do, however, intimately know our own pain.

I am fully convinced the Holy Spirit spoke through the words in your book. That some ears are deaf to them, that is not your concern…. it is biblically accounted for and to be expected. Many have hardened their hearts to all but their own understanding of things.

God Bless you for writing and sharing what will move many towards God in a way that regimented religion will not.

August 12, 2008

Lisa @ 3:25 pm:

I was interested in your comment about ambiguity being embedded in physics, and was wondering if you could discuss this further.

August 13, 2008

Norma @ 3:42 pm:

I am thanking God for you and the Book “THE SHACK”. You have made Pappa even more real to me. Our bible study group will begin tonight discussing the book.

August 16, 2008

D.Y. @ 10:28 pm:

This may not be the right place for this message… All of the above writers have said all the same things that I have felt, too. The best part is that your writing is BRILLIANT. One blogger said it when he stated that you have put us “in Mack’s skin.” The flow of the story and your imagery makes reading it so smooth, it is no wonder we can all relate to it.

And Larry McGarr’s (June 5) suggestion that The Shack be made into a movie in the same caliber with The Passion of the Christ is right on! Why not?! It would reach so many more people with this spectacular, simple message of God’s love.

Personally, as a voracious reader, I love your use of language and your descriptions that bring each sentence to life. It is like watching a movie in your own mind.

Will you ever write a sequel? You might pick up with the trial of Missy’s killer… Actually, I just hope you continue to write, no matter the subject! What a wonderful author! Even if it wasn’t about God, anything you write would be worth reading, because you express it so beautifully. Go ahead and write about polishing shoes - I would read it gladly! Just keep writing, because I will be looking for your name on the bestseller lists again.

August 17, 2008

Michael Traber @ 3:14 pm:

Who in their right mind would not want to interact with God in such an intimate way as Mack did? There were many occassions during my reading when I would begin sobbing and asking Papa for a relationship like I was reading about.

Through this book, God touched me on so many levels. It has redefined my relationship with Him, my wife, my children, and everyone around me. Please know that, I for one, am thankful for your ability to hear God’s voice in such a noisey world.

August 19, 2008

Lisa @ 8:39 am:

Trying to pin down how metaphor plays into the Shack. You said that the depiction of God the father was a “mixed metaphor”…could you explain that?
Also, do you attempt to use metaphor to produce clarity or ambiguity?

Jessica Mercer @ 6:12 pm:

I just finished the Shack last week and truly I can’t stop thinking about it or telling people about it. It’s a VIRUS!! As I read it I just kept saying, YES, YES!! Because this is exactly what my mother taught me to believe since I was a child. We refer to ourselves as “Christians” but I’ve never liked that label because I don’t like my relationship with God to be lumped in with everyone elses. It’s UNIQUE and special and I want to keep it that way. So people ask me, what is your religion? and I say, “I don’t believe in religion, I believe in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, for he is the only way to the FATHER (PAPA). It scares people, but then again, I think I enjoy ruffling feathers. Anyway, it’s great to finally feel validated and great to know others are having similar experiences with him. Papa bless you Paul!

August 20, 2008

An Engineer @ 3:16 pm:

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderfully beautiful book with the world. You have a remarkable ability to convey God’s love in writing. I am eternally thankful that you have written this book and deeply saddened that people have said such negative things about you and your book.

August 21, 2008

Steve Spillman @ 2:29 pm:


Thanks for listening to the Spirit and thanks for THE SHACK. We’ve featured it in this week’s “Purpose Weekly” and on the website.

Thanks again, you’re doing good. Don’t pay too much attention to the critics, no one else does.

In Him,

Stefani @ 10:07 pm:

How can I begin to thank you for this book? For opening up to me the possibility of forgiveness. I might be able to forgive? What a novel concept! And here I thought I knew Gd. Not like this I didn’t and now I want everyone to know Papa like I do. What a gift He gave to you to share this and perhaps reach someone, even if its just one someone (which obviously already its been way more), with the truth and the REALNESS and the LOVE that cant be described. Dont stop.

August 27, 2008

Tracy @ 4:56 pm:

I don’t even know where to begin. I just finished The Shack and I can’t wait to read it again and then again. Let me say I thank God for giving you this story, and thank you for being open to Him. I have been a Christian for a long time and for the first time ever, I am able to see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a whole new way. A way that is so freeing, exciting, uplifting, encouraging, etc etc..I can hardly contain my feelings. I am excited about the new relationship I will have with our truly amazing and almighty God. I can’t wait to reading through Papas word with new eyes and Sarayu leading the way.
Papa sent this book my way during a time when I really needed to feel His presence. It touched me and feel in love with Abba all over again. Something that I had lost sometime ago. Like Mack I had put Him into a box. I had made Him out to be something that He isn’t. I thank Him for opening my eyes and allowing me to see who He truly is.
Thank you again for sharing this beautiful story,and You can count on me to recommend this book to everyone I know and even those I don’t.

God bless you and your family,


August 29, 2008

Matthew @ 11:06 pm:

I like this post in so many ways, especially the element of warmth i.e. ‘coffee with God’ that is such a necessary part of the prayer life.

I don’t like the way ‘mystery’ is being defined here, as being synonymous with ambiguity, because I don’t think it’s the way the Bible talks about mystery. Mystery according to the Bible is the unfolding revelation of God’s plan that spites the best-laid plans of men. The proclamation of the mystery of God is loud and clear, resounding with, e.g., the cry “He is risen!”; it just so happens that the gospel exposes the muddledness of men because we are ambiguated creatures. God’s plans are not ambiguous. We are clouded creatures, like Plato’s cavemen, who can’t bear the light.

I don’t think it’s true that God likes fuzziness, i.e. fuzzy lines, no clear distinctions in things, no clear explanations of reality. God sees each thing as it truly is; God sees each thing in relation to every other thing. Basically it is simple. Every thing that exists is broken, and like Dostoevsky says, every person is guilty in front of everyone and everything for every evil, because every thing is connected to every other thing. But this interconnectivity makes a web, not a mud puddle.

September 3, 2008

Taytum @ 3:34 am:

Can i tell you something Paul…. well thats not really a question because i am going to anyway :D I love writing in my journal and i often record the conversations i have with Pappa… if you read it you would probably think you wrote it!!, i relly relate to the way you realte to Him. im telling you this just to confirm that it is Him and that whatever people say you know and i know and many others know too that it was Pappa working through you and all you did was put what He has done in your heart on paper. i hope i get the opportunity one day to do that too… write a book i mean, about all that He has done, is doing, will do. stand in His love. Fix your eyes on Jesus, walk on the water, that way the storm will fade in its existance… all you will see is Him

September 14, 2008

El Duane @ 10:01 pm:

I have not even seen the book. One of our daughters has gotten so excited about this book, The Shack, that she keeps talking about it to her mother and me. She sends me emails quoting from the book.

But I read the excerpt, about ambiguity, in this email, from our daughter, and then read some of the comments. With the daughter being this excited, and reading some of the comments, I am going to have to read that book.

To me, religion becomes complicated when it gets into the hands of human beings, which it invaribly does. But the faith of Jesus of Nazareth was not complicated, nor ambiguous. It was, and is, simple. It has only three or four suggestions, or so. Love God, Love your neighbor as you love your self, and love yourself. Then, to go help people, because you love them. That is simple, and that is what some call Christianity. I have to get that book, The Shack.

September 17, 2008

Elisha @ 8:37 am:

I hate that such ugly words come from people sometimes. Why can’t we all love with the love of Christ? But, through it all, if you can reach even 1 person to share the awesomeness of God’s love, isn’t it worth it? That is what God did when he sent His son. He would have sent Jesus, if only for 1 person to know his awesomeness! I think you are doing a great thing and I absolutely love your book. God is using you to change the heart and lives of so many people. I mean, just look how this book and the messge has been spread, just by word of mouth. Thanks for what you do and keep doing it! I look forward to more!

September 21, 2008

Kathy @ 9:54 am:

To say thank you for writing this book seems so inadequate. I finally got around to reading it yesterday, three weeks after I bought it. It brought forth cascading emotions and epiphanies that I wasn’t prepared for. When I finally put the book down, I was left with the “What now?” feeling. There was, and is, the feeling that everything is changed and I can’t ever go back to that comfortable, if confining, place in my walk. My world has been turned upside down and I love it! Like so many others, I can’t wait to buy extra copies of this book and share it with others.

September 22, 2008

tara @ 7:18 pm:

I just finished the book and was sad when I’d turned the last page. The Shack was recommended to me by two different friends as I’d confessed my own anger toward God and my inability to move past it. This book has been a stepping stone in my own healing and has left me yearning for the relationship with my “Papa” that I once had. I believe that I came to your book by His purpose and can say that my life will be changed by that one stepping stone. Nevermind the nay-sayers out there. There is more good being done because of your book, and more positive comments and feedback than negative. Afterall, it’s all worth it if you touch even only one person right?

October 5, 2008

muscle max @ 6:09 am (Trackback)

muscle max…

Alpha lactalbumin also has higher biological value than both whey and casein proteins. Whey protein is digested and absorbed rapidly,…

Agnieszka @ 5:59 pm:

This book has taken me on a super natural adventure with the one and only Most High God! I couldn’t put the book down nor could I stop the tears of healing, love, joy, and longing from flowing down my cheeks and into my lap.

But as I wept I thought of Sarayu collecting all my tears just like she did for “Mack” during the burial for “Missy”.

This book, even though you, WPY, intended it for your family, I beleive it was supernaturally written by the Holy Spirit within you, or should I say Sarayu =)…

I thank you for your obedience to write this, even though it was in your lesuire time and not really for publishing.

I am also thankful to our God who loves us so much that HE can take such peircing pain and hurt and turn it around for MILLIONS around the world to use it as an avenue for healing and to gain close intamcy with our Maker, as HE originally intended it to be.

Thank you and God Bless,
Agnieszka Klinski, IL

October 9, 2008

Sheridan @ 6:33 pm:

All I can say is Wow! Papa has used The Shack to reach the deepest, most intimate areas of my heart. I have read the book over and over and over and am now listening to it on cd. I know Papa the way you have described Him in this book, so I know that you know Him very personally because fiction or not, it would be impossible for you to describe Him as you have without a personal relationship in which to draw from. :)

Kudos Paul! The single most amazing book I have ever read. I recommend it to everyone I know or meet.

Fiona L Cooper @ 7:25 pm:

I LOVE your conversations with Papa, both here and in The Shack; they open up new ways of looking at things and they just GLOW with the Truth.

The bit in your book about relationships not being about expectations was the bit that really affected me the most. Ever since reading that, I’ve been challenged to let go of my pride in new ways.

So thank you. A lot.

I heard a radio interview with you on the internet and you talked about the value of authenticity. I had never put it into words, but that is exactly how I feel. I have written about some personal stuff on my blog because I think it can be so valuable to others to know there’s someone else who’s gone through it and understands. I don’t see the point in hiding behind anonymity or being secretive about important stuff. Truth and authenticity, that’s what it should all be about. Oh, and most importantly, love.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

October 13, 2008

Dawn @ 5:14 pm:

Please explain to me how you can make a statement in the ‘conversation’ I just read that contradicts what was in your book? The following is a quote from ‘The Beauty of Ambiguity’ ….“That is such a wonderful place to be.” She pauses long enough for me to understand and then adds, “If it helps a bit, you do realize that no one can do anything to you unless I allow it?”
Okay, if that was the truth then it seems to negate the fact that ‘what happens to us’ is not God’s intention?…can you explain that one?!?

October 14, 2008

lisette cole @ 6:10 pm:

dependency… as i read this blog entry i kept thinking of my shadow of doubt that sometimes hangs around.
‘knowing’ truth vs. the ‘unknown’ truth.. my tug-of-war starts.. logic vs. sovereign…
1 kings 17 has been a scripture that i have leaned on since my soul awakened to a living god when i was a teen. 3 times the prophet elijah cried out for the son of the widow to return to life. since the son had died, and the widow thought she was being punished for her sins, i would have been, like.. this is terrible, but that’s the way it sometimes goes.. patted her on the back, reassured her that god is good, and bad stuff happens,, ya da ya da…
but elijah depended on his source, the relationship with god, and his years of knowing the unknown/faith in this amazing mysterious god.
man, am i really glad that the boy came back to life! that always gives me hope when i read that! actually, they experienced several major miracles in a short amount of time. having food, when there was a famine..
sometimes i feel like the widow, other times the son.. and very very very few times, the prophet.
i long to depend on the ‘unknown’, even in my deepest, darkest trials, because when i truly lean and obey/listen to god like those 3 folks long long ago, i just may see and feel and know that same ambiguity or mystery today.
depending on faith,
lisette cole

lisette cole @ 6:11 pm:

oh btw.. you go paul young!!! ;-)

October 15, 2008

Donna Fraser @ 11:35 am:

Dearest Paul. Thankyou so much for the most awesome book I have read to date.I love the story,it had to of come straight from Papa Himself.I am a changed person because of it,God knows this is what I have been ready for and I would love some more.Rock on Paul.I LOVE YOU Donna

Chelsea Brown @ 3:10 pm:

I love how interesting and LOVELY you made God appear in your book… It made me fall in love with my Father -or Papa -all over again! It helped me see that it really is all about love and relationships -not about proving whos view of the Bible is correct. And, I like you, struggle with the uncorrect picture of the God of wrath in my mind’s eye. The God who stops at nothing and seems delighted to damn people to hell. NO, that’s not the God we worship, however there IS so much mystery surrounding him.
I really love how you portrayed Sarayu in jeans! I was born into a very religious family and jeans are not an option. But your book let me see chrystal clear that we are special to God not because of what we wear or believe but because of who we are -his extra special child. So, where does that leave me? I don’t know. Maybe I should stop asking God where He wants me to go and just start focusing on showing and receiving his love in the lives of the extra special people around me!
A thousand thanks for sharing your “journey” with me and for reigniting the passion of love and ambiguity in my life!
P.S. Until I read your blog, I was hard core believing that your story was factual truth. I was a little disappointed when I found it was fiction, but then again some truths are bound in stories aren’t they? Consider yourself a parable teller…

October 18, 2008

Bill Billard @ 6:44 am:

Dearest Brother in Christ,
Everything I have read so far from you is the essence of the first half of 2corinthians 10:5 NIV “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (Papa).
Christ through the Holy Spirit is leading us through the journey of restoration and wholeness, as mystery confronts us with ways to accomplish the doing part in the second half of the verse “and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”
We are His Bride, Is the preparation of the “Wedding Chamber” complete. Only Papa knows. It is evident he is surely preparing His Bride”
Thank you so much for being obedient to your heart in having the courage to help us in the preparation.
Papa’s richest blessings to you and your family,
Bill Billard

October 21, 2008

Angela @ 8:15 pm:

Thank you so much for continuing your wonderful conversations with Papa. This is the Papa I have always longed to have a relationship with…the truth I wanted to be true (if that makes sense). My heart has been filled with His love this year, and The Shack was a wonderful book to enhance what I have been feeling. I absolutely loved The Shack, and didn’t want it to end. Please, keep sharing your conversations, for I unfortunately do not recieve letters or notes from Papa, and I thoroughly enjoy getting to know Him more intimately through your dialogue. God Bless you and all you do!

Paul @ 9:42 pm:


Isn’t it amazing how arrogant we can be? To assume that Papa would reveal everything to us in black and white? To think that we may actually find the final answers to some of life’s biggest questions?

What we don’t like is when the answer to our biggest questions is another big question. Causing us to depend more on the only real answer.

Wow! What a twisted, jumbled, glorious mess.

I love it!

October 22, 2008

Karisa @ 6:08 am:

I don’t know why people get so angry about ideas of grace and love. I do know that your book has truly touched me. I take away an idea of a warm and fuzzy God but an amazing infinite God that I cannot begin to comprehend, who has many facets but only one goal to love. “Da Judge” blew my mind… to think that God did not rejoice in the idea of judgement but want so desperately to make a way of redemption and escape that it grieves Him that He will have to judge some to eternity apart from Him…well that turned my world upside down and I found myself humbly, oh so humbly on my knees and in awe of Him. You don’t take away from God. You have helped to illuminate the One already sent to represent fully. I don’t know why people are angry at you. I don’t even understand some of the religious terms they use against you. I saw Christ. I saw God. I saw the Holy Spirit. Your book has been a catapulte for me. I run to the Word with fresh eyes and ears. I know God is justice but that’s the point. Only He is. Why do we want so badly to control His justice? I see your heart. I see Christ’s heart. They hated my Jesus. He took away all ideas of religious power and control. He brought freedom and was despised for it. Be encouraged. I am sorry you suffer but I know that you are rejoicing to be counted among those who suffer for His sake. I love you and wish you every joy!

John Hagerty @ 10:58 am:

These conversations all make sense. Ambiguity is not chaos it is unclear, yes a mystery. The fundamental message is to rest in Christ. That is not easy. Life is very messy. Relationships are very messy. There are no ” rules of engagement”. One must trudge through life not knowing what is going happen next. God is a good God all the time. We may not like the circumstances that he has put us in and we may not like the answers he gives us but he is good. He is not safe but he is good. Don’t you just love him?!!!

October 23, 2008

Bell @ 3:14 am:

why is it that ‘christians’ are the first to judge and abuse??? I thank God for such an amazing book. Stand strong and be proud of the work that God has done through you.

October 25, 2008

Cindy in Florida @ 4:30 pm:

It never ceases to amaze me how Papa will use the media to spread the truth of his love. “The Shack” is simply His latest way of speaking truth into my heart when I needed it most. Thank you, William, for being sensitive to God’s voice, and placing yourself in a position of vulnerability so that those who are wandering can catch a glimpse of the light.
This year I followed God’s call into a “shack” in my life. After 18 years of teaching regular education students at the middle school level, God called me to teach a class of autistic and profoundly disabled students at the elementary level. Some days I feel terribly lost and inadequate, wondering what in the world God is up to. I guess it is the ambiguity, the desire to find out what God is up to, that keeps me going. I know that I am where God wants me to be, and your book has helped to remind me that Papa is right there with me every step of the way.
For another glimpse of God’s grace, I also highly recommend the movie “Facing the Giants.” It, too, is about putting your trust in God…the ONE who is ALWAYS in control! Thank you again for being obedient!
-Teacher in Florida

October 30, 2008

linda @ 6:26 am:

Don’t worry about criticism. It’s borne of blind fear. Just remember Someone Else who faced a lot of criticism–then have another cup of that jasmine tea.

Here’s the deal: I see the beautiful, spiritual, warm Queen Latifah playing Papa in the film. Please invite her to that!

December 9, 2008

Jill @ 4:02 pm:

Paul, The beauty of ambiguity . . . in some ways more beautifully rich than the book . . . because it represents your ongoing conversations with Papa. I am forever changed. Can you believe we have small groups in our mega church that is part of a “religion” who are reading and studying the Shack . . . to His glory.

I am lost in time in His love along with you. . . how do I ever want to hang out with people again (let alone go to work) after spending this much time with Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu?

December 11, 2008

Ron Frentz @ 1:28 pm:

Reading the ‘Shack’ was an incredibly emotional thing for me. I found Papa had much to say to me personally and it was all so encouraging and comforting, and educating.

You have written a masterpiece. God be praised for guiding you as you wrote. I pray that many will come to a new realization of how much they are loved by God, through reading your book.

Ron Frentz
Tacoma, Wa.

Josh @ 11:09 pm:

I love your book! I found The Shack through a friendship that began by email with Wayne Jacobsen. When I read the crapnet and the rumors about your theology I take it personally, as if I wrote the book and these people are attacking me. Sometimes I find myself defending you - through email, or forums, or blogs… but I think I am done worring about what others say - I think the reaction really does reveal more about the reader than it reveals about the author.

Thank you for sharing… !!!

December 12, 2008

Steve Mitchell @ 8:00 am:

I love the pun in this passage from Doug H’s comment:

“But the truth kept wringing true in my heart…”

He captured EXACTLY how your writing effects me. And in such a delightful way!

[…] 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 20, 2008

rusty eskew @ 12:50 pm:

I found myself so involved in worship while reading I had to remind myself it is fiction. Not Biblical. While based on faith, not to be forgotten it is fiction. There is one quote a friend of mine and I find concerns us. Page 182. I understand “Christian” is only a word describing our faith and not of real importance; what about those coming from other faiths? “Were” is the operative word, right? Our concern is that anyone is excepted regardless of current belief. I think you are suggesting they WERE of these other faiths before coming to faith in God thru Jesus. Am I right?

December 29, 2008

Toni Ewing @ 1:32 pm:

I read the book because my daughter told me it was the only thing that gave her comfort after the unexplained stillbirth she experienced in September. Three weeks before a perfectly healthy baby boy was to be born, she was told that he was gone. No explanation, no problems during the pregnancy…no answers. The book is very thought-provoking and many times I had to put it down and digest what I just read. My question is the universal one…do we have to experience pain and suffering to become closer to God?

January 5, 2009

Larry McGarr @ 6:58 am:

I’ve read The Shack four times and listened to the audio version on a trip this weekend. The audio is fantastic - to hear Papa, Jesus and Sarayu speak as one to Mack’s questions is very powerful.

Someone asked if it’s necessary for people to experience pain and suffering in order to come closer to God. I think the answer is that pain and suffering are a matter of fact, regardless of whether one believes in God or not. Certainly those who don’t know God respond differently to suffering than those who know Him do. Perhaps they think that faith (religion) is a crutch for those who can’t deal with reality; but as Willie points out, what is truly real? Our perceptions are based on our experiences and none of us ever see the bigger picture. Unless one has been touched by God, and unless they’ve been honest enough to admit that encounter was actually God, they will never experience the peace and hope that knowing God provides when we go through tough times.

The Shack is a living, relevant, and God-breathed story from God to mankind. Some believers won’t accept a new move of God, but it’s real nontheless. Thank you Papa for loving us enough to send us this story. I’ve come to love You more because of it.

Alma Pieters @ 11:54 am:

This is the most religious book I have read. It is also the most unreligious book I have read! It has touched my heart and also helped many of my freinds. It explains the unexplainable so simply and so wonderfully.
Thank you

January 17, 2009

Gardener @ 2:34 pm:

Without mystery and ambiguity there would be no happy surprises, no moments of unexpected joy, no personal revelation. Everyone’s experiences would be like everyone else’s.

Thanks for the book it’s made me think. Passages made me hungry, and others renewed my joy in gardening. It made me a little more comfortable with being who I am.

January 18, 2009

CO0NRAD HEROLD @ 1:54 am:


February 4, 2009

Cathy Calamas @ 7:03 am:

Beautiful, simple truth! This book has changed my life, my daughter’s life and my husband is reading it next. I am including a link so that you may read what my daughter is saying about this book on her blog:
I couldn’t put it any better than her.
Much LOVE,
Outside the Box for Jesus

hw robertson @ 11:23 am:

This is a lesson I’ve had to learn as I’ve tried to present the understanding that PAPA ISN’T ALL ABOUT LAWS AND LAW KEEPING IN OUR MENS SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS.I was meet with anger ,near unto hate for speack out.Many thanks for you throughs!I’ll always be glade that I had the chance to see and film you in Richmond.You and Dr.Kruger are quite the double header.May the light shine on you and through you as PAPA teachs all how to love.

February 14, 2009

Matt Gravenish @ 8:10 pm:

May God continue to bless you with an insightful heart. You have the key that so many are afraid to touch; a heart that is open to God’s Holy Spirit. Which means you are vulnerable and there will be times of pain, but also exceeding joy. That’s all part of what the Circle of Love entails. Thank you for your fearless sharing and touching many hearts as a result.

February 17, 2009

Clare Harb inson @ 11:18 pm:

Thank you Paul for being brave enough to honestly share and expose your heartto us all. I did not expectto enjoy The Shack as I usually find much talked of books donot appeal to my conservative soul!
But it thrilled my soul .It took me backto the thrill of studying theology some 45 years ago ! An ex missionary of
somewhat conservative backgouond , 77 yearold Aussie , not the type to usually write I am sure.
You made me question, do I judge God ? Am I committed or living in a vital relation ship?
I am about to advise all my contacts to borrow ,buy or beg a copy but do READ it.
My prayers will continue to be with you for Gods blessing on your ministry and your family.

February 19, 2009

angelika weiss @ 9:05 pm:

Still giving away copies of the book as I find people in pain even in our neighbourhood. Thanks for writing your story in fiction form. Say the book is on chapters sellers list makes it easy to share the message with those who don’t know Papa yet. I have promised myself a Re: read soon. It easy to forget the fathers’s love for us all; yet when I take the time to be quiet and listen he is so amazing. When I doubt his voice; he is even gracious enough to lead me to a scripture to confirm. Angelika w.

February 28, 2009

Dr. Anne Swanson-Leadbetter @ 7:54 pm:

I am doing a workshop on The Shack at the Soul Restoration Project weekend on March 6/7th in Los Angeles. I am anticipating naysayers and critics. I take courage from your speaking the truth you know and continuing to speak despite what anyone else is saying!

Thank you for all the lives you have touched through your storytelling.


March 1, 2009

Adele Giovannetti @ 9:29 pm:

How lovely. You have put into words what has always been in my heart. Thank you, Adele

March 2, 2009

Bev @ 5:38 pm:

Mr. Young - first of all, THANK YOU for having the courage to write this book and follow through with publishing it (and making the movie!!!). I’ve been in spiritual turmoil for several years now, and recently I’ve had– how shall I put this– “messages” coming to me during quiet times. I feel like I need to put them out there for everyone to see, because they may be helpful to others in similar situations. This project of getting them all on paper has been sporadic at best, but after reading “The Shack” I’m beginning to feel more confident in moving forward with it. I have been told that I (and others like me) will be ridiculed in the beginning, but once others begin to see for themselves, they will remember our words. Part of your book verified what’s been going on with me, the “you will hear us in your thoughts” part. Now I know I need to speak out and pass along what’s being shown to me. God bless you, and all your future endeavors… and I really wish I could be of some service to the movie production! Bev, in TN

jim @ 7:20 pm:

very well said,William.Continue to let the LORD lead you.I feel you are going to be a blessing to many.God bless you brother….will see you face to face one day. Your brother in CHRIST,jim.

March 8, 2009

Don @ 5:28 am:

After scanning the comments here, I’m struck by the notion we should be thankful for the so-called nay-sayers. I felt as I read The Shack some people are not going to like this. I’d already heard about some of the rumblings. That’s why I picked it up in the first place, to see for myself what the fuss was about.

As many have mentioned here I found nothing that would cause me concern about where you stood on the basics of Christian faith. I’m not a pastor, but I have studied theology and the Bible carefully over the years and am confident that, even as fiction, the book is true to the teachings of God’s Word.

The good news is others have been motivated, as I was, to check it out for themselves and that is a good thing. It’s amazing how God can take anything, even opposition and turn it around for His glory. I agree with what you have said in interviews and appearances, this really is a ‘God thing’. As such there is nothing and no one that the enemy can use to hinder it in the long run.

May Papa continue to strengthen you and use you as part of what He is doing in the world today.

God Bless

March 10, 2009

Cornelia Becker Seigneur @ 1:36 pm:

This speaks to me as we are such people of planning and yet, I love adventure and is this not what mystery is all about. it is finding out as we go…along the way of the journey.

-great meeting you at the OCW conference Feb. 28 -

cornelia seigneur
west linn oregon

March 25, 2009

Candice @ 2:37 pm:

I am so blessed to know that there is another that has been touched by the realness of God..To know its HIS LIFE in us is a wonderful thing..the struggles you share have encouraged me and I want to say that I thank our father for you being an obedient servant to express the true heart of the one who knows us best. His love is amazing but oh how we box him up. Thanks again for sharing what i believe to be our fathers heartbeat.

March 27, 2009

Janet @ 6:13 pm:

Paul — You’ve given me much to think about again. Through the years the Spirit (Sarayu) has led me to realize that because we are each created unique there cannot be one and only one truth. Because we are each different we each relate to our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer in different ways. Therefore, for each of us our personal spiritual relationships will be a little different. I am grateful for that “truth!” There are no words for me to describe my Creator nor the LOVE Papa has for me. (Several years ago I met an African-American woman who has become a good friend. From the moment I met her I have thought of her whenever I think of the maternal side of my Creator.)

May you continue to live as Papa leads you to live. There will always be naysayers. You are the one you have to go to bed with at night!!

March 30, 2009

Jeannie Fritz @ 8:15 am:

Dear Paul,
Thank you for your journey and connection and gift of sharing Papa with so many of us. Thank GOD for you and the ability through you to convey so much truth and wisdom from Papa, JESUS and The Holy Spirit.
Paul I have worked hard this past year or two in connecting with GOD. I long to hear his voice and recieve real answers to my own questions from GOD.
I am learning to know HIS voices from many places and directions and one is your stories and articles.
Lately I have had a few people , who are good Christians, and show love , until I dare say how I feel and they become angry and judegmental and quickly try to set me right.
I too believe LOVE is what JESUS came to teach. He is what he lived and showed and gave with all his life.
There are so many versions of religion and beliefs, that I turned back to study the ONE I can and do Trust, JESUS.
I love your writting and your gift to all of us. I am very grateful for your gifts. They indeed answer so many of my questions to Papa.
Tahnk you !!! LOVE Jeannie.

Jeannie Fritz @ 10:20 am:

Dear Paul,
Thank you for your journey and connection and gift of sharing Papa with so many of us. Thank GOD for you and the ability through you to convey so much truth and wisdom from Papa, JESUS and The Holy Spirit.
Paul I have worked hard this past year or two in connecting with GOD. I long to hear his voice and recieve real answers to my own questions from GOD.
I am learning to know HIS voices from many places and directions and one is your stories and articles.
Lately I have had a few people , who are good Christians, and show love , until I dare say how I feel and they become angry and judegmental and quickly try to set me right.
I too believe LOVE is what JESUS came to teach. Love is what he lived and showed and gave with all his life.
There are so many versions of religion and beliefs, that I turned back to study the only ONE I can and do Trust, JESUS.
I love your writting and your gift to all of us. I am very grateful for your gifts. They indeed answer so many of my questions to Papa.
Thank you !!! LOVE Jeannie.

April 2, 2009

Chuck Nelson @ 3:46 pm:

Thank you for sharing the Shack with each of us. I am beginning a weekly book study night on Monday, March 6th at our church, and our first book is the Shack. I have to work hard on metaphor, and your writings do help me in this area.
Chuck Nelson

April 5, 2009

Don Prue @ 5:49 pm:

Any time a story brings us to the place in which we can recognize the very worst in ourselves, the very best in ourselves, and all of the places in between, there is no doubt in my mind that God had something to do with the writing of it. “The Shack” brought me to all of those places, oftentimes to my chagrin, occassionally to my delight, but always to my edification in Christ.
Whatever we take from this experience, in all of its “ambiguity,” may we be motivated to live as Christ so un-ambiguously stated in Matthew 5:1-16, Matthew 22:37-40, and Matthew 28:18-20. Blessings to you brother Paul, for accepting God’s invitation to be His vessel.

April 12, 2009

Laura Castleberry @ 10:39 am:

Even though you have thousands of people telling you pretty much the same thing, I wanted to be counted among those who thanked you for allowing God to work through you as you wrote this amazing book. I saw it on my hair stylist’s desk a couple of days prior and she was telling me what a great book it was. I picked it up yesterday and finished it last night and I must say it swept me off my feet. I have been a Christian since the age of 12, but grew up in a very “legalistic” Christian home. Growing up, I’ve attempted to shed those judgemental roots, however some ideas seem to be almost engrained in ones’ psyche. This book showed me a side of “Papa” I never thought about…so loving, so relaxed..Today at Easter services I imagined him smiling as I sung in the choir and crying with tears of joy as people came to the altar to ‘re-turn’ to Him. I am sharing your work with all those I know in hopes their faith will be taken to a deeper level as mine has. Thanks again for allowing God to use you in such a marvelous way..

Rob @ 11:55 am:

Someone once told me that there is nothing more irresistable than an idea whose time has come. It seems to me this pertains to The Shack. The fact that so many are reading it and talking about it tells me traditional religion no longer meets the need. Or maybe there’s an emerging passion for a deep experience with “Papa” that church simply doesn’t provide. Is God revealing him/herself through the book and the conversations it generates?

On another topic, Paul suggests he is not a Universalist, but reading The Shack reinforced to me the idea that God is “especially fond” of everyone. It seems to me God intends on acting upon this fondness and will ultimately bring us all into relationship with him.

April 16, 2009

linda kranz @ 1:04 pm:

I am so in awe of you. I have gotten lost in every page you wrote. I love Papa and Jesus and Sarayu. I want more than anything to be able to experience all that your story expresses. To feel so loved, it is the ultimate feeling. Truly a gift from Papa through you to all of us.
Bless you,
Linda Kranz

April 18, 2009

lowrie @ 11:58 am:


Thanks having the courage to be misunderstood. Too much harm has been done to the truth by church people who have ‘played it safe’ in expressing who God is, especially in works of art…

I, aaaahhhh…wish I could say I have never been one of those myself…

love in Christ,


April 21, 2009

Joyce Bringle @ 2:51 pm:

Your book has touched places in my heart that I didn’t know existed. To know that Papa loves me so much makes me cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow that I have not understood that for so long. I did not want the book to end. I wanted to stay with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu in The Shack forever. Thank you for this book. It really has changed my life. Papa bless you real good!!!

April 28, 2009

Temple Jones @ 6:51 am:

I read The Shack in one sitting a couple of days ago, no small task for a mother of 5. But I just couldn’t put it down. All my life I have struggled with the idea of being loved by Almighty God. I loved, but had no idea how to be loved. Now I realize that until I learned to accept love I couldn’t really love at all! I am on a journey now with Abba to learn just that. It has been a 3-year, sometimes painful, and continuing process to unlearn all that I have learned in my 30 plus years of “church”, and it has been wonderful. Your book came along just at the right time for me in that process. Thank you so much for writing it for your children and for sharing it with us. By the way, my children are the ones I have learned the most from about the love of DADDY. Again, thanks.

In love,

May 7, 2009

Susan @ 8:43 pm:

I just saw you speak again in Harrisonburg, VA, on Monday and I have one important question I really wished I could have asked you that night. I was wondering how that letter that you shared from the missionary board - the one where they acknowledge and apologized for the forced parental seperation and for the abuse - impacted you. I’m wondering if it had a positive or negative effect on you?? I mean, was it healing and helpful to you to hear them admit this? Did it mean something to you? Are you better off for their having sent it? Or was it just hurtful and made you angry or sad because it struck you as far too little that was far too late? As a middle school counselor who deals with lots of sexual assault survivors, I’m just always looking to understand what sorts of things help and heal and what sorts of things don’t. If you’d like to share about this, I’d really appreciate it. You are an amazing man and hearing you share your life journey has helped me so much! Thank you!


May 17, 2009

Joshua Palma @ 8:11 am:

Hi Paul,

You’re really awesome!

It’s fun to listen to some negative comments, in fact quite disappointing to get so few. Papa is truly right to stress their validity, say for example the emotionalism that exploded after reading The Shack is a personal concern of mine because the effect has the tendency to numb and render me passive unless the shot I get is as strong as that of your book. How will the ordinary impact me then? Help me please, Sarayu!

I am concerned that if The Shack is made into a movie even by the likes of Mel Gibson, our power of imagination would be contained and the Beauty of Ambiguity (Mystery) is no more.


joe @ 10:36 am:

Great question:why all the ambiguity? I’ve had the same question. Trying to live a life in Christ but why is it so hard to understand? This from a Catholic school boy who feels like I haven’t learned anything in my 45 yrs on earth.(my fault ,not blaming Catholic schools)I’ve just been blind to it all too long! Thank you for making some things clearer for me.You have a gift for writing. I passed along “The Shack” to friends with the highest recommendations.

May 18, 2009

katrina @ 8:24 pm:

Hi Paul, It saddens me to hear that you are recieving negative comments. I just started reading The Shack three days ago and actually only have 1 chapter left. The characters really speak to me, and has really made me think about my own relationship with Papa. I am so glad that Papa gave you such talent. Keeep your head up Paul and be blessed:) Katrina

May 29, 2009

Jeri McDonald @ 6:04 pm:

My heart is so overflowing right now that I hardly know where to begin…the emotions that are arising inside of me are tumbling and churning so deeply inside that all I can do is weep. So I come to the website because I am hungry for more… more of a chance to share and receive with others of like mind and I discover that there are those out there picking apart an ensemble of words that do nothing but show the heart of God. I don’t know who their God is but my God is a God of love, mercy and compassion. My God forgives without conditions and is so much grander and mightier than doctrine and theology. The Trinity is a an astounding and awe inspiring reality that our human minds can only slightly begin to comprehend! I, for one, thank all those involved in this project for bringing to life for me… El Roi, The God Who Sees ME(!), in a new and living way. As Mack learns, we are all on our journey to eternity with our Bridegroom…where we have the honor to dance in the arms of our Beloved… To the critics… all I can say is that perhaps it is time that you look inside yourself and spend a little time with Poppa… ask yourself if the words you speak are guided by the Holy Spirit and if you would speak them in the presence of Jehovah… Just food for thougt. To all my brothers and sisters in Christ that are out there… Let us continue in the understanding that He knows that plans that He has for us… even though we ourselves may not comprehend… Poppa said it best to Mack when he told him to trust in Him and to escentially walk in the Faith that He has given us. Love to All… Jeri McDonald of Tacoma, WA

June 8, 2009

Diana Lister @ 7:07 am:

hi. just gotta say that you say it so right. “Papa” has been taking me on a journey for over the past several years of knowing Him more personally in a Love Relationship. He had to bring me and my family from everything we know, from everyone we have built Godly relationships…well what “we thought” were Godly relationships, to a place of not knowing anyone or being familiar with the land and terrain around us, including culture as we thought we knew it. Over the past 11 mos. we have gone from Broken and “forming” into Beautiful for the furtherance of His Kingdom…this is not an easy road for us and our children. It is not easy being lonely and “without”, but when “Papa” fills moments of the day with His presence even in the times we don’t actually seek Him out, He is just SO Amazing!!! Thank you for writing The Shack. Thank you for your raw emotions portrayed through what is fiction yet so real. God has opened my eyes while reading your book (i am only half way) into a deeper Love Relationship with Him.

June 19, 2009

Adele Hoofnagle @ 2:45 pm:

I read the book. As my daughter said “My mother is bouncing off the walls” over this book.

Now I have read the ambiguity letter.

Just know that we should never be afraid to hear the negativity. It allows us to voice our opinion one more time. When people are in “the relationship with Pappa” they are not afraid of any kind of knowledge. It does not detract from the relationship. It reinforces the relationship. I love talking to people about the book.

June 23, 2009

susan @ 12:26 pm:

Ijust love this dialogue. I just love your “Papa”….How I wish I could BELIEVE in a GOD who was THIS PERSONAL!

July 15, 2009

Michael Thelander @ 5:04 pm:

Susan, I know what you mean.

I’ve struggled endlessly with a desire to “believe” in this kind God, to overlook the seeming absence of a personal touch like the one Young describes between Mac and Papa. I’ve got nothing much to offer that would help reconcile that.


Truth, I’ve come to see, transcends “believing.” If the relationships described in The Shack seem inherently, unalterably, unchangingly true… then “belief” isn’t even required, really. Belief is something we do with our minds. What we’re looking for is something we do with our hearts.

Maybe that’s what’s meant when we hear “Be still and know that I am God.”

“Belief” is action and power in our current cultural context. But I’ve heard the Hebrew word used here (”still” = “raphah”) means “weak.”

Don’t worry about believing. Be weak and know that He is God. And yes he cares for you — and all of us — as personally and as intently as Young describes.

July 16, 2009

Corey K. @ 11:13 am:

I could never put into “words” what his book has done for my life. The best I can do, is to just say this, thank you for taking the time to “listen” to God, rather than just “talk” to him!! You provided “space” for God to enter and speak through you, we cannot thank you enough for that.

July 19, 2009

sandra strickler @ 6:31 am:

I loved this book.I spoke with a few that had read it and some got caught up about Papa being portrayed by a black woman and stopped reading it . I never got stuck there because God is ALL, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING!!!!!I feel they stopped short of the big message. Our PAPA loves us regardless of who we are or where we are, or what ever weve done to cause separation from HIM!!of course i know it is fiction but i do indeed believe God uses whatever tools He can to reach us. This is one of the better ones. i hadnt even heard of the book nor the controvery related so i wasnt jaded as to its message. im thankful my dr. just shared the fact that he was reading it, after i shared another book with him. he is an orthopedic so i thought he was talking about the “Shaq” i laugh now when i think about that. i was at a book store 3 days later when i passed a display of the book and thought nah im not spending that kind of money on a book. but something in me(perhaps PAPA?) told me to buy the book. what an incredible read!!! ive always had trouble with relationships and now i know why. i was one with “expectations”! this book portrayed to me the simplicity of who God is and what He is. we make things so complicated and life becomes unclear. this makes it crystal clear. i had always heard to pray to God as if you are talking to your earthly father. the conversations that mack had were just that. i think that is what makes the book so good. God is available,not far way sitting on some throne where we have to behave in a certain way to gain access to Him.Thank you sir for your profound book. the naysayers will always attack because their world is clouded. Papa will make things crystal clear someday. perhaps they will be in right relationship with Papa and see the message then thanks sandra

Lias @ 10:16 pm:

Paul, it took me a while to get through reading The Shack. I was traveling a few months ago and saw your book, not know what it was about but I felt that I had to buy it. I read the first four chapters which was painful. I had to stop reading a number of times because I was crying. I’ve read sad stories before and as a social worker I have seen very graphic things in my life. But the differences is that I had the opportunity to walk through this tragedy through eyes of a loving Father. I thank my Father for the gift that He has given you to speak to the deepest areas of the human heart. You have helped me tremendously with my view of my Father. I know it is hard for those of us who have God figured out but your writing have open up my heart to want more of my Father in the simplest ways. May your days be filled with His wonder!!!


Bowie Maryland

July 20, 2009

Paul McNaughton @ 2:34 pm:

Hi Paul

Thanks for setting up this site. Thanks for your book, helped me break down some of my false notions of God. Love the previous comment about taking the time to listen to God, thanks for leading me into a deeper understanding of what that is like and helping me on the journey to deeper relationship with God. Your breakdown of the persons of God was highly insightful and brings a greater awareness of the personal side to God. I love your portrayal of Sarayu, for me that is where we are led into more mystery as we go on an adventure led by Sarayu, never quite sure what comes next, think of Philip whisked away to meet the Eunuch. I think part of the mystery is to break conventional/worldly wisdom 1 Cor 1:18-2:15 We have the creator of the universe as our friend.
One thing i have become more aware of is the Holiness of God and the purity that entering his presence brings, think of the Holy of Holys where high priests were attached to a rope. Closeness to God requires commitment but the journey is amazing, and the adventure, sensational. one other random thought, God gives and he takes away, but he always draws us closer, he wants us to enter into relationship in a deeper way and if we enter a desert the best thing we can do is sunbathe, ie be joyful in all circumstances, not easy but bringing a sacrifice of praise brings more breakthrough, can help to combine with fasting.
Waiting lifts us up, rise like the eagles, soar over the mountains bringing us Gods perspective, faith like a mustard seed, thats what to ask for and God is a good God who wants to give good things.

July 21, 2009

Joyce Bringle @ 12:46 pm:

As usual, you get me right square in the center of my heart. Your book has given me the blessed assurance that I am His, that I belong to Him, and that He loves me and nothing will ever change that. I can trust Him wholly, fully, truly, forever, and how I need to just cling to that truth. Thank you for your honesty. Please keep writing. It blesses all of us so much and helps us in our journey with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu!!

Joyce Bringle @ 1:53 pm:

I am comforted to know I am not the only one who sobbed while reading The Shack. I have read it 3 times now, and I sob each time I read it to think that Papa loves me so much, and I feel so at home with Him now, that I can talk to Him and listen for His answers to my problems. I love Him so and I would stay in The Shack forever just to be with Him every day!!!

August 12, 2009

Diana Huizinga @ 7:17 pm:

Hi Paul,
My husband (the universalist!) and I met you just tonite at the Bethany Christian Services event in Grand Rapids, MI. I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to meet you and hear you speak/share. God is generous with His love and grace as you write in your book.
Many blessings to you.
ps We picked up our two copies of your autographed book but neither was signed. ;-( Makes my husband bummed that he won’t be able to sell his copy on ebay (his humor, not mine), but maybe that is God’s humor, too. :-)
Tom and Diana Huizinga

August 16, 2009

Armonia @ 7:17 am:

Paul, a friend told me about your book and I was intrigued for your conception of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I will tell you that were some moments when your ideas were not easy to understand about forgive or forgiveness on a big tragedy like the one of Mack. The world is full of tragedies, small and big. But your book made me reflex about the power of forgiveness but not to forget.
I grew up and was educated in a non religious family but there we had the goodness, forgiveness, joy of life that you explain in your book.
I think man can have all this inside if he belives in the human kind.
Sorry, my first lenguage is spanish not english.
Armonia (Harmony)

August 24, 2009

Notes on The Shack « Stumbling Christian @ 9:01 am (Pingback)

[…] to at least one of the books of the Bible. So I’m biased. But I found great insight in this blog post from, William P Young’s web site. And great comments from readers. Check […]

August 26, 2009

David Foreman @ 10:32 am:

Simply one of the best and most important books I have ever read. Yes, religion will hate it. Religion always hates truth and freedom. You’ll have that.

Kerri OConnor @ 7:42 pm:

I heard about your book via word of mouth and thanks to the person who told me about it and to you who wrote it. I can’t imagine someone not being able to relate to your book - it spoke to me from every page. What I most admired and strive for is the dialogue with God (Papa), the ability to disagree and question - something I don’t do very well but am striving to learn. How can you have a relationship with anyone, even God, if you are not real and vulnerable wtih how you are actually responding, thinking, feeling? It defeats the purpose of “relating” if you are not this vulnerable. What a great book… I will reread it many times I am sure to absorb it more deeply. Thank you so much for writing this book (and thanks to your children for being the inspiration or motivating force for it).


September 7, 2009

Melly @ 7:45 pm:

Why do people expect a book, especially a novel, to be the all encompassing truth? Surely if they did not have this expectation then there would be no need to “book and author bash”. Your book has spoken into my life and present circumstanced in a real and powerful way. That does not mean that I am going to treat it as the bible and the answer to all of life’s questions. But it is powerful, it is real and it is thought provoking. It opened my toughened heart to ideas and thoughts and repentance, it is a great tool and I thank you for writing it.

September 10, 2009

Mary Lee @ 8:19 pm:

Yo sweetie, why do you find it so difficult to believe there is a God or not God? Who created you? Do you think your parents created you? Think about it! Open yourself up. Don’t be so hard hearted and hard headed. Look around you! Look at the birds-keep your eye out for the Bald Eagles. I have seen more than a dozen in the last 7 months. They are absolutely beyond description. Who, but God, could create something so beautiful beyond words. Someone made this green/blue orb. It wasn’t always here.

I’ll certainly remember you in my morning and evening conversations and prayers with Daddy. God loves you anyway.

Mary Lee @ 9:06 pm:

Hey toots he explained it to Mac when God said she was just a metaphor-look it up it in the dictionary. God has no gender, at least that’s what Mac said. So God appeared to Mac as a she. Everyone I know makes reference to God as father (he). Therefore, your metaphor he/she-same meaning.

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