News | Greta Sowles
William Paul Young, author of The Shack, spoke at chapel on Monday, Nov. 18. Young stressed the idea of reformation in addition to reconciliation. | Photo for The Clarion by Kristine Schmidt
“Others centered self-giving has always been the definition of agape. And God is agape,” Canadian author William Paul Young addressed the chapel body in Benson Great Hall on Monday, Nov. 18. Young, author of the New York Times best selling novel The Shack, joined the Bethel community in a discussion on reconciliation.
Young also spent a few extra hours at a luncheon following the chapel service, where he expanded on some of the thoughts shortened during chapel.
Young originally intended The Shack as a shorter story for his children, mentioning that he would have been content with the 15 copies that he printed for close family and friends. It turned into a nationwide bestseller, resting at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for 49 weeks.
Young began his chapel talking about a red tail hawk that sat on a post outside his home, notoriously visiting when someone Young knew had died; it visited three times last February. “We live in a world of great sadness,” Young said, concluding the story of the third death.
“Our damage comes primarily through relationships. Our healing comes primarily through relationships,” he added. In order to heal completely, Young suggested praying for reformation rather than just reconciliation, noting specifically that for reconciliation to happen, the “very forms of our existence have to change.”
Young also connected The Shack to reconciliation by comparing "the shack" to the reader’s heart and the many things that tear it down. In The Shack, the main character, Mackenzie Philips, experiences God in a weekend. Young compared this to 11 years of his life and explained that his young life was filled with extreme heartache. “It’s unbelievable how much you can twist the heart of a child."
Chief Diversity Officer Leon Rodrigues was pleased with the chapel, saying that the message was well received. Commenting on Young’s statement that Jesus had to be the center of reconciliation, Rodrigues said, “[Jesus] loves us no matter what we think of ourselves. We never have to think that we must be better humans before God will love us; he loves us in spite of what we do.”
According to Young and Rodrigues, reconciliation would only be an idea if it were not lived out. “[Reconciliation] includes justice and imitates the others-centered self-giving nature of God,” Rodrigues said, quoting Young’s overarching message. Young concluded by focusing on agape love, saying that belief in God is an activity and not a category and requires a significant amount of trust.
More information about The Shack and Cross Roads, Young’s newest novel, is available at www.wmpaulyoung.com.