Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Shack in NYC

One of the great things about NYC is the incredibly talented people here in such abundance and the wonderful little serindipitous connections you make.
My good friend had been telling me about the Shack and so I went to Barnes and Nobles to read the first half a few weeks ago, and then got to the second half the other day at a different B&N.
The book really touched me and I started hearing more of the phenomenon it's becoming and I have been really thrilled that so many people are seeing a side of God that hasn't been seen as much, and of the implications it says that people are wonderfully comfortable with the image of God as a black woman, which I think has got to be the best press God has gotten in a long time - and could do much to heal racial injustice - and of course the typical cluelessness of those who have come out against it is just another sign of the bankrupt religious culture we are happily emerging from.
Anyways, so the day after I finish the Shack, I'm at a little internet cafe in El Barrio - Spanish Harlem, my neighborhood, and I meet this great guy, Danny Serrano, around my age that appears to be a writer from what I overhear him saying to someone else and so we start talking and he tells me about his book, Gunmetal Black which is being published by Hachette in September, and the thrill of getting signed to a publisher and all that.
So I tell him a little about myself, that I'm writing a book, and it was cool because I happened to have Pete Rollins two books with me in a package that were just sent to me by his publisher because I'm hosting him here for a conference and some other stuff in November - and so I felt kinda cool like I'm connected to writing and publishing too!
Then he says, "Have you heard about this new book, the Shack"? And I'm, "Yeah, I just finished reading it yesterday". And so he goes on to tell me that last week he was at his publisher's office for the first time for his author's tour, where they take you around show you the place, introduce you to everyone who will be working on your book - and it's a big fancy NYC publisher Hachette right on Park Avenue. And he says that William P. Young the author of the Shack was also there for his publisher's tour, which was a considerably bigger event than Danny's with champagne and such, and so they take him over to meet him.
And here's the deal - inside the publishers very secure building where the public is not allowed, there was a line winding through the office to get a chance to meet William P. Young and have him sign your book - and it was all employees of the publisher! Now you have to understand the wonder of this story - this is hip Park Avenue NYC publishing people - the kind's of people you see in Sex in the City and in cool joints around town - and here's the kicker - he says, "the amazing thing is how many of them, when they got to the front of the line to meet Mr. Young, were compelled to reach over and hug him".
These hip NYC literati had all read his book and been deeply touched by it. My friends... after living in NYC for 12 years and experiencing the very European kind of detached attitude toward religion of this crew of people, and longing to know how to reach them, spending years of my life grappling with how to speak to them of God - this blew my mind. How wonderful.
And so apparently The Shack folks have hooked up with Hachette to expand their audience. Check out my new friend Danny's book - he's not a professed member of Christianity, but a lover of Jesus and feels the story is his way of telling the message of Jesus.


Cindy said...

jeff- you've been on my mind a lot lately! good to hear from you. great post- encouraging!

Tim said...

ok, ok, I'll think about adding the Shack to the reading list.
Cool story btw.

Mike Morrell said...

Wow, that's awesome! Paul's an amazing guy - he really radiates Jesus. I'm not surprised they responded in this way.