I’m having a problem with all the shrill religious condemnation of The Shack. In general, I hoped like heck that I would not have to go. The problem is that when I got to choose a movie a few weeks ago, my son-in-law and I picked Logan. I sad because it was not X-Men and I was very disappointed. The only entertaining part was the end credits that listed all the extras in the movie. You know, all the guys Logan sliced and diced with his malfunctioning claws.
So, here there I was, with my beautiful bride asking me to go with her to The Shack. I could not say, ‘No.’ Like Pontius Pilot, the weight of my sins put me in a position where I had to go. Walking in the theater door, I expected to drown in an ocean of estrogen. Sorry, ladies, but that was the thought pinging between both brain cells in the cavern between my ears.
Time to get serious. I’m an author with six titles on sale at Amazon. Someday, maybe a best seller, but that is out there somewhere along with using my POF-308 assault rifle to blow away unicorns.
Last week in our Church’s daily bible reading schedule, we did John Chpts 6 thru 10. Jesus has to manhandle (Son-of-God handle) the Pharisees. The ultra-religious types. Saturday night, I was drug to The Shack. Not quite kicking and screaming. Yet, I quickly saw two things – First is the comparison between Pharisees and those with so many vitriolic comments about The Shack. Second – I saw clearly the 100 year choir of generation cycles and how each generation uniquely worships, hears, and gives the Gospel. In that condemnation from the religious types who live somewhere between legalistic and clueless (including me), I saw a message for each generation.
At first, I put on my Science Fiction Author hat in order to give an honest assessment. I had not read the book and generally kept my mouth shut. My surprise was discovering The Shack is a very entertaining movie with excellent character development, an engaging story, and tackles that father wound so many have to take on. I was blessed with a great dad so that was not my issue. My issue is that I’m like Nichodemus. A legalist supreme wondering what it means to be born again. Then I’m like Pontius Pilot asking, “What is Truth?”… With Truth standing right in front of me.
Yep. That defines me at too many moments in life, somewhere between Legalistic and Clueless.
Seeing the vitriol from so many of my Bible believing companions in Christ who are serious students of the Bible, my guess is that I’m not alone in being somewhere between legalistic and clueless. In the great 100 year choir, Boomer Prophet types sing about God (looking up), hard nosed Gen X nomads sing with God (shoulder to shoulder), Millennial Heroes sing to God (face to face)… And suddenly you have it. The Shack opens the curtain on a practical, hard nosed Gen X Nomad man who needs to learn to sing With God. Too many Boomer-Prophet elders have told him About God (with little impact) and he has no clue how to tell his Millennial kids how to sing To God.
Yea – I was a skeptic walking in but I got a lot out of this movie. I’m sure some of you will get on a religious high horse to criticize me for enjoying The Shack. Ya’ll make me roll my eyes… Remember – I already confessed I am somewhere between legalist and clueless. You don’t have to remind me. I have to wonder how many ‘religious’ people criticized the fictionalized accounts of faith, creation, temptation, and salvation in the Tales of Narnia. I loved how C.S. Lewis depicted God as Aslan. In my teens, I went to sleep at night dreaming of Narnia.
The Shack has multiple depictions of God, the Trinity, Lady Wisdom, Heaven, a path to walk… That I know the religious people who live somewhere between legalist and clueless will find uncomfortable. I also understand how hard it is to write a time warping story that entertains without confusing. Sometimes, as I re-read one of the eight or so manuscripts I am pounding on now, I confuse myself in the stories I write about Adjacent Possibilities… Time, Quantum Spaces, star travel, and combat.
Here is the challenge I lay before my faith companions in church and life… Don’t disagree with a fiction novel because you are uncomfortable or the author does not go to a church with a sign out front that is like the sign in front of your church. Instead, use Imagination and Innovation framed in Revelation to discern the excellent things to take away vs the things you leave behind. Use the grace we all received from the One who saves us. As we walk with the 100 year choir from Boomer to Xer to Millennial to 18 year olds and younger, we just might discover something new in our walk across the old old story.
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