Saturday, March 18, 2017
Sifting through the Shack
With our culture's penchant towards entertainment that's immersed in violence, greed, or perversion, there seems to be little room left at the theaters for faith-based movies. Most faith-based movies have been prejudged as second rate, they are known for utilizing b-rated actors, and these movies are considered low-budget. So my guess is, the Shack will have its work cut out to draw much of an audience.
We watched the screen adaptation today. I read the book several years ago. So yes, I'm familiar with the story. I resisted reading the book for quite some time after it first was released, after I started it I put it down for about 6 months. It was only at the urging of an older couple who lost their daughter to cancer when she was college age that I returned to the book. I wasn't really looking forward to the movie, based on my perception of most faith-based movies. My reservations aren't theological, though I take issue with the plot. I have a strong distaste over the use of the (implied) rape and slaughter of a preadolescence aged girl to move a plot forward.
But let's dig into the theological scandal that too many Christians seem to be offended by. Can we portray God the Father as a black woman? If your faith is that fragile, that you can't handle God being portrayed as a black woman, then you have deeper issues to contend with. Most church-goers I meet have a difficult time simply articulating the doctrine of the Trinity, so it's no wonder they are upset over this notion God could be revealing Himself as a woman, a black woman "Papa," and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman...
The bigger issue that the story dredges up falls under the scope of theodicy, which is the defense of why God allows pain & suffering, If you are turning to the Shack to find fulfilling or complete answers as to why an all-powerful & all-knowing God would allow pain and suffering to happen, you'll be sorely disappointed. How do you explain away a grizzly torturous murder of an innocent grade schooler? You wouldn't. But, I don't think that's really the point the author wanted to communicate, but he did open himself up to some criticism by choosing such a graphic backdrop to his story.
Is there anything redeeming in The Shack? Yes, absolutely, 100%!
Of course I'm going to say the book was better than the movie, that's a no-brainier. Either way, whether you read the story or watch the movie, I see it as a positive. Do I agree with all of the theology or propositions of the story? It doesn't matter what I think there. What matters is, books/movies like this get us thinking through tough questions about God, and they get us talking about what we believe with other people.
Call it a springboard or whatever you will, we need sparks like the Shack to ignite godly conversations, we need fuel for the fire, and thank God for any opportunity that comes our way to engage others in conversations that cover eternal, spiritual topics. So I do hope you'll read the story or watch the movie, and more so, I hope you'll take the time to talk to others about it.