Where is God in a world filled with such unspeakable pain?
When the character Mackenzie Philips broaches this subject with “God” in the New York Times best-seller The Shack the answers he receives challenge his beliefs about God’s character, power, mercy, and grace, as well as his perception of what it means to be loved by God.
Author Paul Young spoke to 800 people Feb. 17 at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill.
Young describes his wildly popular self-published work of fiction as “somewhat autobiographical.” He said the story draws on his life experiences—from staggering losses to transformational healing—and was written for his six children, with no intention to publish.
How sales grew to 1 million copies in the space of a few years is explained by Young as “a God thing, not a Paul thing.”
Throughout the evening, Young shared several stories, which elicited uproarious laughter and even tears from the audience.
Young also addressed some of the “push back” he has experienced from those who question his theology and his portrayal of God the Father as a gregarious African American woman.
“All imagery created to represent God is inadequate,” he said. “God doesn’t fit into our categorical boxes.”
Young graduated summa cum laude from Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore., with a degree in religion. Currently he works as a general manager, janitor, and salesman for a small manufacturer’s rep company in Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Kim.
Young said he has always been a writer and has written stories and poems over the years to give as gifts to family and friends. “I’m not a real author,” he said. “I’m an accidental one.”