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.

 

 

How to Love Your Depressed Friend

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I think it’s time I just come clean.

I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for as long as I remember. It’s always there, sitting quietly in the corner, letting me know that maybe today is the day he’ll take charge again.
I do my best to keep him there.

But wait. I’m a Christian. How can I call myself a Christian and also suffer from depression? Does this mean I am somehow a liar? Shouldn’t the sacrifice of Jesus be enough to heal me forever from this darkness that threatens to overcome?

Well, here’s the short version: the blood of Jesus IS enough, but sometimes, I’m still sick. Sometimes, God chooses to leave us in our illness. He’s still THERE for us, but he does NOT always heal us.

Even the best Christians get sick now and then, and I’m hardly the best. We don’t blame a woman for acquiring breast cancer. She is celebrated as a fighter. We don’t blame a child for acquiring leukemia. We pray for her healing and think of her fondly, hoping against hope that the tests will come back clean.

Why am I supposedly in charge of my depression? How is this different from any other disease? I’ve had it my whole life, and chances are slim it’s going away. If you are my friend or my family, here is what I need from you.

  1. You can’t really fix me. You can support me, call me, make sure I’m alive.
  2. You can watch my social media and decide if my posts have become too dark. It’s okay to reach out to me. It’s even okay to get angry with me. Just don’t expect me to “buck up” or “be thankful” or “move on” just because you think I’ve “wallowed” too much.
  3. Force me to go do things. Make me leave the house and get some sunlight. If I try to lose myself in my work, don’t let me. Tell me you love me and come over if necessary. If I can’t get out of bed, climb in with me.  Watch reruns of “Downton Abbey” until you can’t stand it. Make me shower.
  4. Make sure I’m taking my meds. No, you don’t have to parcel them out like a nurse or anything, but just ask me … gently…if I think they are working. By the way, DO NOT ask this if we are fighting. This is the equivalent of your husband saying “Wow–are you on your period or something?” NOT COOL.
  5. Love me anyway.

Thank you, Jenny Lawson, for your new book Furiously Happy which reminded me that I can be crazy and still hilarious and cool. You are my hero.

In the Gray: 5 Things You Need to Know About Liberal Christians

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I stumbled across David Schell’s excellent article, “Unacceptable: What it’s like to be a liberal Christian in a sea of conservatism” and I experienced a feeling very similar to when I first read Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist: a feeling of coming home.

It’s been a tough time getting here. For years, I have felt left out, hiding in the shadows with my feelings of never quite fitting in with any church I joined, and never quite being able to pinpoint why.

This last year has been one of self-exploration. I’ve read more books on theology in the past year than I have in my whole life. Far from thinking I’m alone, I continue to find companionship and acceptance from others.

David Schell’s article tackles many of the problem areas I’ve discovered in my years “the gray.”

1. First of all, that it’s a possibility to be both Liberal and Christian. For years I was told that a liberals were nothing less than mini-antiChrists; that there was a good political party and an evil one. We are taught that to be Christian automatically leads to being Conservative.

I believe that true Christianity puts Jesus first, and doesn’t associate Him with any man-made political party.

I consider Jesus’s words above a political party’s rhetoric. The two are not 100% aligned, and I believe that we can’t, in good conscience, check off every box on either side of the spectrum as a Christian. I agree with some of both, and I don’t think that makes me any less of a Jesus lover.

I was taught as a Christian that straight-party voting was the key to getting America “back on track” and that the only issue that mattered is abortion. Yet, year after year, term after term, those same leaders I voted for never overturned or even attempted to overturn Roe Vs. Wade. Instead, those same leaders killed thousands of Americans and people overseas in senseless wars that were somehow sold to the American public as good and just. These people, our soldiers, sailors and airmen’s lives are every bit as precious to the ones they loved and loved them. How does advocating the loss of lives in war somehow be synonymous with being American? Can’t I be against war, love Jesus, but still love being American and respect our servicemen and women? Yes, I can. It is possible.

2. We can be liberal and still be against abortion. For some reason, this is the very first thing that arises when I talk to my Conservative friends. That somehow, liberal=deception which=the killing of babies. While I personally believe that abortion is wrong, many women will still seek them and I don’t want to see us back in the days of illegal abortion. I believe Jesus hates abortion, as do I, but I don’t want to judge those who have had abortions in the past. It’s never my job to judge anyone.

3. We believe that children’s rights should not stop once they are out of the womb. This includes children who are not American, who don’t speak English, and who don’t have money to pay. Jesus was also brought to another country by his parents, making him at one point the child of an illegal alien.

4. We love people regardless of what gender they identify with or whom they choose to love. I don’t think they should be prosecuted for loving someone of the same gender. I believe that a person can be gay or lesbian and still be Christian. I think it’s ridiculous when people believe gay people are more likely to be child molesters. I was molested three times as a kid and it was always a man. That’s my experience.

5. We believe it’s not ok to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we rage against. The same people who hate homosexuality and quote the verses they believe backs it up so easily rationalize the verses that are against divorce and remarriage which may be their own issues. Everyone has some trait, some struggle, some addiction, some excess or gluttony, something the Bible won’t condone.Why can’t we all just accept that we all need grace every single day of our lives just to take a breath? I think we need to pay very close attention to the issues that Jesus chose to address and the people Jesus spent time with and loved: the imperfect creations, the doubters, the question-askers.That’s who I am, and who you are.