This 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
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.
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
A couple of years ago, I traveled to Berlin, Germany on a family vacation. There were a lot of incredible sites I saw while I was there, but one location stood out. In the heart of Berlin, there is a memorial aptly named ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’. (It’s the most German name ever: both a run-on sentence and succinctly descriptive). Truthfully, at first glance, the memorial doesn’t look like much. It consisted of a lot of nearly identical unmarked pillars, equally spaced out forming a grid of paths that ran from one side of the plaza to another.
When you stand on one side of the plaza and look out over the obelisks, they look to be relatively the same height as one and other. But when you look at the small, narrow paths that make up the grid of the plaza, you can see the decline that forms a sort of bowl in the center of the memorial.
To be perfectly honest, the whole thing seemed lost on me. It was a bunch of boxes evenly spaced out in the middle of a major city. Aside from the handful of signs telling a passersby that this was a somber memorial, you could easily have mistaken it for a weird piece of European modern art (I know I sound like a terribly uncultured American, and that’s because I am). The significance of the event the memorial represented wasn’t lost on me. I just couldn’t figure out a clear connection between the the event and the memorial.