Thursday, July 2, 2009

Our Shacks

This week, author Wm PAUL Young came to give a talk to folks interested in his record breaking book, The Shack.
An 'unassuming' man, at 5' 6" we were eye to eye, a relucatant author - after years of 'prodding,' his wife Kim convinced him to write this book 'for our children,' to explain some of his pain, & his healing, a humorous, kind man, Paul is a delightful speaker.
Several years ago, riding MAX in & out Gresham (OR) for one of his three jobs, he finally began jotting down ideas, first on paper, eventually on a computer. & finally had a 'finished product' to run off - at Kinko's, 15 copies - for their 6 kids. Mission accomplished, project finished . . .

Except . . .

They gave some of those copies to friends, & people kept wanting to give it to thier friends, . . .
& somewhere along the way, Paul gave a copy to the only 'real author' he knew, who had some friends in LA (movie folk) . . . who became interested, & flew Paul down . . . . ehem, Paul flew himself down, to talk about 'movie' possibilities . . . slight problem.
For a book to become a movie, the producers would like to see 100,000 copies sold. Now, most books, even good books, only sell ~ 5000 copies. A really good book, one that becomes a 'best seller' sells ~ 7500 copies, . . . & he didn't even have a publisher at this point.
So (after being turned down by 'secular press' as 'no nitch, & too much Jesus,' & Faith based press as 'no nitch, for it, it's too 'edge-y' . . . a couple of friends ('Windblown press') put together a publishing company, & they did their first run of 10,000 books (only the printer sent 11,000), set up an ordering website, & they were in business.

After several runs, selling 1.2 million books out of Brad's garage, with < $300 spent on marketing, & folks calling Barnes & Noble & Amazon wanting it - but since it was 'self' published, no one had copies to sell . . . & a major company finally picked it up.
It's now sold > 4 million copies.

What's so special about 'the Shack'??

A story about 'Mack' (told from his perspective - through a 'friend') who has had a 'great sadness' & is invited by God (whom his wife calls 'papa') to come to a shack in the remote Wallowa mountains . . . where he meets Papa, Jesus & Serayu (Se rrra u - Iranian for 'Wind'), & begins a journey of inner healing.

Paul's own 'great saddness' experiences, a overtly 'religious,' & angry, missionary father, spending his early years raised by tribal New Guinea tribespeople, the Dani, & being molessted by them, going to boarding school at 6, where the 'big boys' come in & molest the little kids the first night, . . . (u-tube clip on this)
He spent 11 years coming thru his saddness, visiting the shack, walking down railroad tracks at night, screaming into the wind, . . . .

& came out the other side cleansed, with humor, with a great love for the human condition, & a sense that we're loved by Papa & the rest beyond our wildest imaginings. His stories about people touched by the Shack, & their own journies of reconcilliation (which Archbishop Tutu also bespoke) are inspiring, heart rending. You can read his blog, or watch him on u-tube & again. (I love this 3 part series - with an interviewer in Atlanta).
You'll also notice some 'stay OUT of the Shack!' clips - Paul comments that his most public of these critics hasn't read the book!

An 85 year old man, who called the 'office' (Windblown press - his friend's garage in CA) from Australia - & broke down in tears. 6 phone calls, & many tears later, he got out his request - he was on pension, he didn't have a bank acount nor e-mail (necessary, at that time, to order books from the web-site), the book had brought him so much healing, he wanted to order books to give others. They helped him set up both account & e-mail, & - at 85 - he took up 'odd jobs' to earn money to buy books . . . .

He spoke of the unexpected response among perpetrators - the woman in a WA state prison, (20 - now 40 - copies were circulating among the inmates) who asked Paul after a talk, if he thought 'Papa' really cared about her . . . he whispered 'Papa's especially fond of you' & the tears cascaded down.

From Paul: What has really resonated in people - people are tired of 'working their way into God's heart' systems - people are tired of that!' He talks of folks' idea of God often being 'Gandalf with an attitude!' Paul sets out to change this image for others, reflecting how it changed for him.

Personally, I've felt more connected to Goddess traditions, Original Blessing, & a sense of being cherished by that essence, this isn't 'new news,' but there's such power in these 'group conscious' raising books!

A decade + ago, Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield was particularly powerful for me. Also personally published, this book & it's sequels offer ways of looking at our own control dramas, & shifting into a higher way of relating to each other.

Another Year (quoted with permission)
In the dawnbreak stillness
Two steps past dew lights fading
She wonders at the First Born’s kindness
And at the world’s parading

What will become of mice and men?
Why does an inch of growth take years?
Who will remember unsaid longings?
Who’s close enough to wipe these tears?

Another year, somewhere past noon
And in the quiet breathing
It’s Grace that fills the largest wounds
And brings us back to being.

-William P Young

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