Tag Archives: the shack

Working under the street

A friend asked today if I had written here today.

I told him no, that I’m down to two or three post a week here because of the challenge of writing every day at 300wordsaday.com. I also told him about a couple writing projects I’m working on for here.

I don’t know about you, however, but the phrase “working on” can mean “thinking about.” So I’m going to tell you what’s coming as a way of helping me think.

1. The Shack

As of this week, The Shack has been on the trade paperback bestsellers list for 52 weeks. Over fifty-two weeks it’s average position on this list is  1.94. At Amazon right now, it is number 7 among books.

If you want to find controversy within the Christian community (a vague phrase, I know), search for this book. You will find people who love it and people who hate it. It is the best book ever and it is the worst heresy ever. Of course, there are many people who wonder what the fuss is. They read it and think, “So?” Others read it and say “that’s really bad writing” or “I don’t understand.”  Still others aren’t interested because they don’t read fiction or they’ve heard it’s religious or someone told them not to read it.

So a friend and I decided to do a discussion group about the book at our church. We didn’t take sides at the outset and finished the study last week still not taking sides but wanting to provide context for any recommendation we made about the book (The fact that she’s the senior pastor’s wife and I’m the executive pastor responsible for spiritual formation made us particularly unwilling to jump to any particular position, I think.)

I want to spend some time writing about how we approached the book. I think that it will provide some insight into how to approach any book that evokes strong emotional responses.

But it will take some time to sort out. I’ll get to it soon.

2. Deliberate Practice

If you have been reading here this year, you know that one of my phrases for the year is “deliberate practice“. A couple months ago, I decided to find out what other people are saying about that phrase so I set up a google alert for “deliberate practice.” Every day I get an email listing the blog posts mentioning that phrase. There are 2-3 every day.

Some are reviews of two recent books talking about it: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (here’s my review). Some are summaries of the concepts. Some are application of the idea to various disciplines (culinary arts, public speaking, kickboxing, film, and free throws.) (To see a list of the posts, I’m working on tagging them at delicio.us/jnswanson/dp-march).

What I want to do is a better review of what people are saying and not saying. I have a feeling, for example, that most of us are just skimming, quoting Colvin or Gladwell or Ericsson. I have a sense that we aren’t taking the time to dig deeper and say, “here is what that looks like day after day for 10,000 hours.”

But that may be because I’m not taking the time.

Which is what this second writing project is about.

3. Passion

This actually isn’t a writing project at all. It’s a thinking project that is related to deliberate practice.

One of the posts I came across is called “Passion – the crucial ingredient that precedes ‘getting really good’ at something.” Randy writes

So — here is the question that we each need to ask: What do I care deeply enough about that I am willing to put in significant time, over the long haul, to get better at it? Even if the time I put in is not necessarily fun.

So: What are you passionate about?

That is a huge question. It comes before deliberate practice. It is related to focus. It is a question that I’m reviewing and rethinking and renewing.

But that takes time, too.


There you have it. I’ll be working on these projects in the background and bringing out pieces from time to time. I’ll be asking for your feedback. I think it will be fun.

Sound good?


help me think about the shack

Sometimes books divide.

Many books people like or not. Many books people recommend or not. Many books people acknowledge or not.

But sometimes books divide. Your reaction to that book determines someone’s reaction to you: “How could anyone in their right mind love/not love that book?”

The Shack is one of those books.

I know people who regard it as the book, other than the Bible, that has most touched their life. I know people who regard is as the book most dangerous to the Bible.

As a result, I’m curious.

  • I want to know how many people have never heard of it.
  • I want to know how many people have heard of it, but haven’t paid any attention to it.
  • I want to know how many people have read it and thought, “okay, that’s interesting, but what’s the big deal?”
  • I want to know how many people have read it and thought, “what exactly does that mean?”

Why am I curious? Because this week at our church, two of us are starting a three-week discussion of The Shack and we’re wanting to talk calmly and thoughtfully about it.

If you come here regularly and are in one of those four bullet point categories, I’d appreciate your comments. (If you love it or hate it, that’s fine, but I know how those two groups think about it. )

If you would feel more comfortable writing to me at jnswanson [at] gmail [dot] com, I’d understand that, too.