If you’ve read The Shack or, really, encountered any of Paul’s teaching, you know that his thoughts can ruffle feathers. Sometimes, it’ll be something deep and complex, like the power of pain in our lives. Sometimes, it’ll be something as simple as depicting God as a woman. Either way, it makes some people uncomfortable—angry, even.
We asked him a little about his feelings on controversy, and what he thinks is really going on behind the tension
Anytime that there’s a child around who states some things that are obvious, there’s controversy.
It’s not that I’m looking for that. I’m not a person who wants to become someone who divides people. But there is a way to bring the narrative to the forefront where we can have a conversation that’s unifying.
The thing is, this controversy itself often takes place in our own heads. We have a paradigm through which we see our history and interpret the world around us. At some point, if we’re going to learn, those paradigms have to be questioned. So controversy isn’t necessarily something that has to be external in people’s hearts and minds. Many times, it’s something that’s going on inside of us.
If I can participate in raising legitimate questions that will challenge those paradigms, I’m for that, as uncomfortable as it is. For me to challenge my presuppositions, that has not always been a comfortable process. I don’t think it is for anybody. I think, ‘Yes, this will raise questions. It will tamper with the power systems and structures and an accepted narrative.
So next time you feel like something is controversial, ask yourself: Am I feeling this way because it’s disrupting something in me I’ve never really considered before? There’s nothing wrong with controversy, as long as we don’t let it divide us from others.
How do you respond to new, challenging ideas? What things in your own life have caused controversy with yourself or others? What are some preconceived ideas you’ve had about life, God and the world around us that you’ve had challenged or maybe changed by others?