Should You See “The Shack”?


the shack

Dear Reader:

I did my best to not put any spoilers in this post, but you will learn a bit about the plot of the story. Full disclosure.

My friend Karen and I just returned from seeing “The Shack.” Well, that’s not altogether true: we had to go have healing pasta first. You didn’t know pasta was healing? Oh, dear one. You have much to learn.

Back to the topic at hand: I cried about five gallons of tears in this movie. I may need i.v. fluid in order to properly rehydrate.

This is a real thing. Mostly, i.v.’s are used to rehydrate sick people, or in “Grey’s Anatomy”, to sober up surgeons after a bus crash. I’m just saying, there could be other uses.

Another note: I barely touched my popcorn, and I didn’t even come close to finishing my Hot Tamales. This alone bears recording.

But I know you are reading this because you aren’t sure if you should see the movie or not. Here are my thoughts.

There’s been so much controversy about this book, and now about the film, both in favor and against.

Some people say it’s heresy, and anti-Christian, because of the unconventional way Paul Wm. Young represents the Trinity. Some believe it to be “sub-biblical” and “dangerous.” Others take exception with Young’s treatment of God’s wrath and judgement.

On the other hand, many people LOVE it, believing it’s a ministry. Brenda Elliot of CBN gave the movie a glowing review, and did not mind at all Young’s portrait of the Trinity. The very elements that bothered some were appealing to others. Some call it the new Pilgrim’s Progress. I can see that, to an extent. It did pop in my head.

A movie that makes us think about God, helps us to talk about God and dissect his scripture, probably has some merit.

I didn’t mind the representation of the Trinity. I don’t see it that way, but I don’t mind an unusual point of view. Because the Bible is meant to be discussed, picked apart, thought about God’s word will hold up to scrutiny, because it’s the truth. I love to go to the movies, and I really will go see almost anything. However, I didn’t really consider seeing this one, at first. I wouldn’t have gone to see it had I not been invited.

This is partially because I’ve read the book and thought I knew what I was in for, and partially because, I’m sorry to say this, but most Christian-oriented films are terrible. I WANT them to be good, but most of the time, they just aren’t. Sometimes, the writing isn’t very good  for example: I’m Not Ashamed. The story (which is quite true) is washed out by bad writing and so-so acting.

Another example is”God’s Not Dead” (and the subsequent “God’s Not Dead 2, and soon to be 3”, because God is still alive and we need to be reminded, while taking our bucks?). I know a whole lot of people LOVE this movie, and it’s not because of the stellar acting. It’s because they believe the farce that it is based on a true story, one in which an evil college professor pressures his young and naive class into saying, well, that God’s dead. There’s so much wrong with this, but the main problem is that it’s NOT a true story. Saying this is a true story is much like saying Buttered Popcorn Jellybellies are the same as real popcorn. If you want to read more about this, see my post: God’s Not Dead.

Anyway, getting back to The Shack, also claims it’s a true story. The author does get around to admitting at the end, it’s not. I didn’t think it was; again, I am a discerning reader.  Many authors use this technique to add intrigue (think Edgar Allan Poe), I know that many people will believe this actually happened.

It’s a good story, but it didn’t REALLY happen.

They will want to give this story the attention they gave the Left Behind series. I’m okay with these books as long as we agree that it’s just one guy’s interpretation, not the Gospel.

If you read The Shack, or watch the movie, go in knowing it’s just a story. It’s not a sermon. It’s not theological fact. It’s not claiming to be. It’s just one guy’s idea regarding God and the afterlife. If you are able to make this distinction, and you don’t mind super sad movies where terrible things happen for no reason, then you will probably like this movie.

If you have the idea that the only true way to view God is the way you view Him, then you probably should not see the film. You will be offended, and will feel as if you wasted $10.

Another thing I want to tell you is this: if seeing/discussing/thinking about children being hurt or worse bothers you or is a trigger somehow, you will want to skip this movie.

If seeing Tim McGraw without his black cowboy hat will bother you, skip this movie.

If you are like me, and will go to see most movies, and are not embarrassed to cry like a starving infant in public, then you will be okay. I sobbed, my friend. I began crying five minutes in, and did not stop until the credits rolled.

You have been warned.

Sidenote: bring tissues. LOTS of tissues.



What Bothers Me About The Movie “God’s Not Dead”

In this trailer, a bitter reporter tries to entrap Duck Dynasty people.


I have to talk about the box-office sensation “God’s Not Dead” which I just watched over the weekend with my sweet Aunt Sandi who has been raving about this movie since its debut.The arguments presesented in favor of Creationism were well done. Still, from practically the very first scene, I was worried.

I believe that those behind this film have only the best of intentions. But somehow, there is the least bit of deception illustrated here. It’s similar to what I felt after reading “The Shack.” Was this a wonderful book? Yes. Did it bring people to Jesus? I’m sure that God can use anything to his glory. But the same thing that bothered me about “God’s Not Dead” bothered me about “The Shack.”

Both stories are presented as being true (or at least a compilation of truth) when in fact they are both fiction. 

According to the Christian Post, the only true part of the story was when one of the minor characters in the film, a Chinese student, was based on a real person named Wing Mang was actually witnessed to by a college professor who led him to Jesus: In the film, he becomes a Christian as well, but not because of his professor–in spite of his professor.

At the end of the film, there’s a list of court cases that are supposed to be roughly representative of the plot of the film.

None of them really are. This is so disappointing.

I think one of the things that bothered me most is the fact that I am a professor and so much about this scenario does not make sense. If I humiliated a student the way the instructor did in the film, I would be in the Dean’s office before you could say discrimination. It’s not only against the law to impose my religious beliefs upon my class, it’s against the law for me to threaten a student’s grade on something so subjective. There are procedures in place both for academic grievances as well as non-academic grievances. What the film discusses–a professor who threatens a student’s grade unless he can prove God is alive–simply would not fly. 

I believe that movies like this do little but foster fear within the religious right. It makes people afraid to send their kids to anything but private Christian colleges.  Conservatives don’t need anyone fanning the flame of fear–they are already scared! They worry our country is off-track–that we need to “take it back” (from whom, I’m not sure). They worry that The World wants our souls–and the souls of our children. The last thing they need to worry about is this idea that if they send their kids away for an education, they will come back indoctrinated by atheists and Satan worshippers.

Aside from the overt attack on philosophy and liberal arts professors, the movie also demonizes a Muslim father (when he finds out his daughter is reading the Bible, he hits her and throws her out of the home). Do conservatives need a reason to hate Muslims? Not really.

Also, the Christians in the film were REALLY GREAT PEOPLE and everyone else was…well, evil. Without fail!

I don’t have anything against Christian films. I always root for them! I want them to be good, to compete with other films in different genres. I want them to reach out to those who are curious about Jesus. I really, really want them to be interesting enough to intrigue non-Christians. Sadly, many times, Christian films are only liked and applauded by people who are already Christians and don’t need saving.

Come on, Christian filmmakers. I think we can do better.