The Gospel according to ‘The Shack’…

The Shack.jpgThis past weekend, the movie adaptation of the best selling book ‘The Shack’ was released. The movie (and the book) tells a story of trauma, tragedy, and loss, and explores several questions that most everybody asks at different times in their life. And because of the familiarity and popularity of the book inside of the church and Christian world, many churches, mine included, had formal and informal group outings to watch and (hopefully) discuss the themes of the movie. So I wanted to take some time and share my thoughts about the central questions and themes of the book and movie.

However, I also want to pause and acknowledge that the story also carries some controversy. There are concerns that the story lends itself, intentionally or unintentionally, toward poor theology. And while I agree that there are those elements within the story, I don’t think they’re the central themes. Questions of universalism, karma, and atonement theory are certainly raised, but not nearly given the same attention as pain, suffering, justice, and God’s place in all of those things. This story doesn’t seek to systematically rewrite theology – it’s an exploration of the existential questions; the ‘here and now’ stuff.

So with that being said, here are some thoughts on ‘The Shack’. SPOILERS Continue reading

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Making the roof fall in…

A few years ago, Mel Gibson, the worldwide movie star, had a very public and very terrible breakdown. He used racist, misogynistic, and sexually violent language talking about people, both in broad groups and specifically targeting a few, including his then girlfriend. After the dust of settlements and court hearings died down, Gibson essentially went into hiding.

Until this week, when he began to do the press tour for his new movie.

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One of the stops was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Now, I know Colbert to be mostly a comedian, but I also know he does not like to leave proverbial elephants in the room. I’ve watched him ask people some rather tough questions for a goofy late night talk show. So when Gibson came out, they eased the conversation to the topic of this very public breakdown. During the conversation, Colbert said something that struck me with such gracious poignancy, because I, and many others need to be reminded of it. He said:

“No person is their worst moment” Continue reading

That old suit…

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There are a lot of people who live in fear of their phones. Doctors, EMT’s, firefighters, and pastors all know that in a moment, their phone could change their day or week. Maybe it’s a car accident they need to get to quickly. Maybe it’s the hospital calling them in for an urgent case. Or maybe it’s a family member calling to let you know that someone died. I received one of those phone calls on Memorial Day, laced with tragic irony – a soldier had killed themselves, and now I, as the chaplain have to “do my thing”.

The thing that frightens me, the thing that I want to process “out loud”, is just how comfortable I am with these situations. People tell me all the time that they have no idea what to do or say in these moments. That’s not my problem. My problem is that it begins to feel scripted or rote. My problem seems to be how comfortable I am talking about death, grief, and suicide. It feels strangely familiar. Continue reading