Are Our Suspicions Well Placed?

THE SHACK will reach 23 different translations in the next couple of months, expanding the audience for that little book. Most of the publishers overseas are secular publishers, many of them doing books about other philosophies and religions. When many of our overseas friends find that out, they write us concerned that a company that doesn’t believe in the message will alter the translation to fit their own objectives. I’ve answered this so many times for people that I thought I’d address it publicly here.

I can appreciate the concern, but it seems to fall into a bit of the Christian paranoia that the world is always out to get us and to intentionally distort our message. In the early translations of THE SHACK, we have not found that to be the case. Believers we know in those countries, who were concerned as well that the translations wouldn’t stay true to the book, have since written to tell us that the books are remarkably accurate to the spirit and content of the story.

And why wouldn’t they? Publishers have a vested interest in getting the story right. If they unfaithfully translate books, they will get caught by the many readers who can and will read both translations. If they change a book’s content their credibility and future sales will suffer in irreparable ways.

Why didn’t we stick with Christian publishers? We wanted this book to get into places Christian books don’t normally go. And we’ve had wonderful results from early translations that have been done by secular companies. Even those that had fears a nonChristian publishing company would water down the book or change its meaning, admitted later that the translation was far better than they expected. But no one agrees on every detail. Translation is more an art than a science, since many phrases and words do not have exact counterparts in other languages. Some interpretation is essential to the process, but we have been pleased to hear that translators have been faithful to keep as close to the original as possible.

It has been said that just because people are paranoid doesn’t mean there aren’t others out to get them. Maybe it’s also true that just because people disagree with us, doesn’t mean they are going to distort our words to further their agenda, especially when it is in their financial interest not to do so. I find many believers by and large live with far too many suspicions of other people. They’d prefer to live inside of those fears, then let circumstances play out and see if there is in fact a problem.

I think Jesus said it best. Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Keep your eyes open, but don’t live to speculation when reality will always unfold on its own. That we can be kind and gracious to all, but not be played as a fool by those who are truly malicious.

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14 Comments
  1. kent February 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    “They’d prefer to live inside of those fears, then let circumstances play out and see if there is in fact a problem.”

    Wayne, when I read this that you said it seemed to line up with the quote below from Richard Rohr I had just earlier in the day posted on my blog.

    “Love is always about giving up control, and people are trained to think of taking control—even of God. In my experience, most people would sooner be afraid and in control than in love and out of control.”

  2. kent February 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    “They’d prefer to live inside of those fears, then let circumstances play out and see if there is in fact a problem.”

    Wayne, when I read this that you said it seemed to line up with the quote below from Richard Rohr I had just earlier in the day posted on my blog.

    “Love is always about giving up control, and people are trained to think of taking control—even of God. In my experience, most people would sooner be afraid and in control than in love and out of control.”

  3. exdroid February 14, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I finally finished reading The Shack a few weeks ago, and to me their is a huge weakness in the major premise of the book that i haven’t heard anyone raise yet. The book attempts to answer ‘how does tragedy and questions of justice get resolved by God’ – or at least suggests that it will give peace to that dilemma….But how does it do it?! By using a small child as the object of tragedy. Now the thing with this is that almost no one would ever say that a child would go to hell (ie the rarely spoken about idea known as the “Age of Accountability”), so of course Mack is going to see Missy again and a book that says that he won’t would be so horrible that it wouldn’t be popular. So for me this just causes the resolve i thought the book was promising to just fall apart like a house of cards.

    I wonder what would have happened if the character of Missy was a 22 yr old woman who was a drug addict or prostitute or was a 78 yr old stubborn old man who etc……? I don’t think the book would have achieved major release cos if Missy was a grown up person the author would have had to go 2 ways most likely – Universal Salvation or plainly say that she went to hell, but trust God anyway cos He’s good no matter what.

    I’m no saying these things to deliberately be a thorn or anything, but simply to raise an issue that i have seen after reading the book. And a few friends of mine have seen the same thing too.

  4. Bill February 14, 2009 at 8:34 am

    It occurs to me that even with a Christian publishing house you would have had to worry about a translator changing the content. Maybe even more so.

  5. exdroid February 14, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I finally finished reading The Shack a few weeks ago, and to me their is a huge weakness in the major premise of the book that i haven’t heard anyone raise yet. The book attempts to answer ‘how does tragedy and questions of justice get resolved by God’ – or at least suggests that it will give peace to that dilemma….But how does it do it?! By using a small child as the object of tragedy. Now the thing with this is that almost no one would ever say that a child would go to hell (ie the rarely spoken about idea known as the “Age of Accountability”), so of course Mack is going to see Missy again and a book that says that he won’t would be so horrible that it wouldn’t be popular. So for me this just causes the resolve i thought the book was promising to just fall apart like a house of cards.

    I wonder what would have happened if the character of Missy was a 22 yr old woman who was a drug addict or prostitute or was a 78 yr old stubborn old man who etc……? I don’t think the book would have achieved major release cos if Missy was a grown up person the author would have had to go 2 ways most likely – Universal Salvation or plainly say that she went to hell, but trust God anyway cos He’s good no matter what.

    I’m no saying these things to deliberately be a thorn or anything, but simply to raise an issue that i have seen after reading the book. And a few friends of mine have seen the same thing too.

  6. Bill February 14, 2009 at 11:34 am

    It occurs to me that even with a Christian publishing house you would have had to worry about a translator changing the content. Maybe even more so.

  7. Janna February 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I wanted to leave two brief-ish comments; one relating to your blog entry, Wayne, and one in response to “Exdroid” if I could…

    Firstly, I was thinking that the wisdom that we need in dealing with everyday decisions is only going to come from Father. And that wisdom will always seem foolish and will dumbfound our common sense. I think if we are asking for His guidance, we can trust Him with our precious commodities. We don’t need to guard His reputation or the Shack for that matter ;o)

    Secondly, Exdroid, I hear your question. What a painful question it is, particularly for anyone who has been touched by such tragedy. For me, in reading the Shack, followed by He Loves Me, I had this question answered quite profoundly. I’m not sure this will be easy to hear but I will give it a shot. There is no cost too great for us to know Him as He is. Even the loss of a precious child. If in the end I will know Him and His fierce and fiery love for me, I choose yes. All that we hold dear on this earth is so temporal. A short and choppy answer to a long and deep question, I know. I pray it opens a door for you.

  8. Janna February 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I wanted to leave two brief-ish comments; one relating to your blog entry, Wayne, and one in response to “Exdroid” if I could…

    Firstly, I was thinking that the wisdom that we need in dealing with everyday decisions is only going to come from Father. And that wisdom will always seem foolish and will dumbfound our common sense. I think if we are asking for His guidance, we can trust Him with our precious commodities. We don’t need to guard His reputation or the Shack for that matter ;o)

    Secondly, Exdroid, I hear your question. What a painful question it is, particularly for anyone who has been touched by such tragedy. For me, in reading the Shack, followed by He Loves Me, I had this question answered quite profoundly. I’m not sure this will be easy to hear but I will give it a shot. There is no cost too great for us to know Him as He is. Even the loss of a precious child. If in the end I will know Him and His fierce and fiery love for me, I choose yes. All that we hold dear on this earth is so temporal. A short and choppy answer to a long and deep question, I know. I pray it opens a door for you.

  9. Paul Wilkinson February 22, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I know a guy in Switzerland who read the French version of the first book in the Left Behind series, and said it was terrible; so I know that even a Christian publisher can lose the rhythm or cadence of an English book.

    However, my main reason for writing this is that I’m hoping you will post the list of the translations and publishers for those of us who want to track them down for interested individuals (and basic curiosity!).

  10. Wayne February 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Paul, I thought the English version was terrible too, so what are you going to do? But I know that makes a different point than the one you’re making… 😉

    Anyway, we do have a web page listing the new editions of THE SHACK: http://windblownmedia.com/foreigntranslations.html

    Wayne

  11. Paul Wilkinson February 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I know a guy in Switzerland who read the French version of the first book in the Left Behind series, and said it was terrible; so I know that even a Christian publisher can lose the rhythm or cadence of an English book.

    However, my main reason for writing this is that I’m hoping you will post the list of the translations and publishers for those of us who want to track them down for interested individuals (and basic curiosity!).

  12. Wayne February 22, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Paul, I thought the English version was terrible too, so what are you going to do? But I know that makes a different point than the one you’re making… 😉

    Anyway, we do have a web page listing the new editions of THE SHACK: http://windblownmedia.com/foreigntranslations.html

    Wayne

  13. Espen March 25, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Saw a half page publicity for The Shack (La Cabane) translated into french in one of the most read free newspapers here in Paris. That’s awesome.

  14. Espen March 25, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Saw a half page publicity for The Shack (La Cabane) translated into french in one of the most read free newspapers here in Paris. That’s awesome.

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