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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Dangling carrots…

A few years ago, I was training to run a marathon when I came across an interesting technique for getting through the race. Most experienced coaches were advising that you have a “rest plan” or strategy for pacing and recovering during the race. Among planning on trying to drink water and gatorade early on and eat some fruit along the way, they advised that you plan on times where you intentionally back off your pace. It was a way of building rest into the race.

It’s tempting to live life like a sprint, where you dash as fast as you can from one task to the next, trying to get everything finished. And there are definitely times when you just have to push through and get stuff done. But it’s also been shown that having something to look forward too, a “rest day” of sorts, is also critical. It turns out that life is much more like a marathon than a sprint, and we may need to dangle some carrots along the way to help us get through.

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So here are three ways to dangle a carrot (and hopefully get some rest along the way)

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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