Those of you that know me know that I am not one of the ‘faithful’. I have no religion I adhere to, I have no theology that I believe, no dogma to follow. I do however find religion, theology, myth and legend all incredibly fascinating. So it’s with great pleasure that I can share an interview I recently conducted with Christian author of the huge bestseller ‘The Shack‘ – WM Paul Young as he launches his next book ‘Cross Roads‘ TODAY!
I wanted to find out what’s behind the author, his own faith and upbringing. The answers to my questions were both revealing and poignant. Enjoy…
[SPECIAL OFFER AT END OF INTERVIEW]
Q: Hi Paul, please briefly explain your own faith and its origins.
A: I have a strong religious background. My parents were Protestant, Evangelical missionaries and I grew up in the midst of everything that entails. I also have a theological education, including an undergraduate degree in Theology/Religion, and attended Seminary before the presence of children required the finances. All of this framed my faith journey, as did all the questions that I struggled with, trying to integrate belief and behavior. Add to that deep losses and sadnesses such as a difficult relationship with an angry father, sexual abuse within the culture in which I was raised and then at boarding school, and it is a miracle of sorts that I have emerged with a sense of God’s goodness and the fundamental necessity of learning to trust such goodness. After excursions into other faith cultures and heritages I am settled in the centrality of the person of Jesus, and the Father and Holy Spirit revealed in Jesus. But all of this is fundamentally relational, not religious and I suppose that is, in part, why what I write has impacted the affective side of people as well as the rational. Overall, I am grateful for my heritage, recognizing that it was the crucible in which my faith was forged.
Q: ‘The Shack‘ was apparently a morality tale for your children, why was that important to you and what morals does the book deal with?
A: I am not an agenda driven writer. I am more an exploratory writer who is investigating questions that matter to me and hopefully to those I care about, my family and friends predominantly. If it turns out to fit the parameters of a morality tale, then so be it, but there was no such intention in the background. I suppose it depends upon your definition of morality in terms of behavior or belief and the space in between the two. Truth matters to me, deeply. I think we are floundering if all is believed to be relative and what is prudent is determined by what is most advantageous or logical.
Q: Your new novel ‘Cross Roads‘ is based on your own heart-wrenching spiritual journey, can you tell us more about that?
A: There are many layers to that question, so I will choose one and go there. I was deeply formed and influenced by a multi-cultural childhood, which has been both a blessing and a difficulty. Being raised a Third-Culture Kid (TCK), outside the heritage of my parent’s cultural history, gave me an ability to see things from ‘outside the box’, which is a gift. However, one of the common struggles for TCK-ers, is that we don’t know where we belong. The hardest question we can be asked is, “Where are you from?” We don’t know exactly what we are being asked. The main character in Cross Roads has a deep issue of belonging. He was raised in the foster care system, along with a brother, which tries to meet the needs of children who have lost or never have had a family. My experience is that for those like me, unless in the course of our lives we find ‘some one’ to belong to, we will never belong ‘any where’.
Q: What life lessons can the reader take away from ‘Cross Roads‘?
A: Again, I never set out with any sort of agenda such as ‘life lessons’. I would rather create space, or push out the walls of existing space and make room for others to hear within that landscape whatever it is that God might want to communicate. Having said that, there are certainly themes in what I write, such as the value of each individual person, of a God who is good all the time regardless of our perception of the character and nature of that God, and that God is involved inside the details of our lives with great respect and affection independent of our ability to perform to religious creed or requirement.
Q: Is having faith important for the reader’s enjoyment of the book?
A: It takes a measure of faith to sit on a chair, but I suspect your question has to do with the background of a person being influenced by a faith journey and culture. The simple answer is no, the book is a very human story and therefore can be enjoyed regardless of the faith or spiritual affection of the reader. The questions involved are also very human in the sense that we all are involved on the spectrum between belief and unbelief. I personally do not see ‘believer’ as a category of person but rather an activity, and like the man who said to Jesus, “I believe, but please help my unbelief,” we find ourselves at different places on the journey. The point is that we are all on it, whether we admit it or not, or like it or not. There may be some places in Cross Roads where the reader who has no ‘Christian’ experience or background might find the concepts and dialogue challenging, but as I think about it there will be places that the person with a religious background would also find their paradigm a little at risk. Such is the wonder of creative fiction and the expansion of space to allow for the questions in the first place.
I appreciated Young’s openness and candor and encourage any of you reading this to take a look at both books, I certainly will be!
On to the giveaway mentioned above… I have been kindly given 2 copies of ‘The Shack‘ and 3 copies of ‘Cross Roads‘ to give away to the next 5 buyers of my own book ‘How To Change Your Life One Day At A Time‘ – I’ll even cover the extra postage!
These will all make excellent Christmas gifts to loved ones, click here now! First come, first served!
PS: Please share this post with fans you might know of WM Paul Young or ‘The Shack‘ – I’m sure they’d appreciate it. 🙂