Several Titus 2 students and I went to see The Shack yesterday. Here are my thoughts on it:
The Shack was a good movie, redemptive and insightful about the nature of good and evil, which is not to say that it’s entirely correct. The work of forgiveness was shown realistically as a difficult but necessary task. It does, however, play into what is a desire/belief of many that there is no eternal punishment for sin. “Wisdom’s” statement that “sin is its own punishment” is unfortunate (and wrong). In focusing so exclusively on the love of God, the holiness of God is overlooked.
We talk to the ladies at Titus 2 often about the nature of God, as revealed in the Bible. We’ve also talked about God “meeting us at the point of our need.” In the Shack, the need for key characters to be free of their sense of guilt and personal responsibility for tragedy due to a moment of neglect or carelessness and to forgive and be forgiven and be able to move forward is clear. It is a little too sappy in suggesting that one can have complete closure on a tragedy. Some things we simply may never understand, but we can trust the love of God, even if we don’t get our “Shack” weekend to work through it all.
There is a moment during which Sarayu (Spirit) is digging in the dirt with Mac and she cautions him about a poisonous root. He interprets that as the root being “bad”, but she points out that the poison of the root, combined with the nectar of a flower nearby creates a healing balm. That, along with Wisdom’s statement that sin is its own punishment, were probably the most uncomfortable moments of the movie for me as a Christian. It’s just not that easy to cancel out the “bad” with something else and make the two things produce something “healing.” That pushed the concept of “redemptive” a little too far. Some things are just bad, period, and need to be destroyed. Nothing is going to make them good or “healing.” But God can bring healing to the damage done by the “poison”……even though scars remain and not everything is right as rain afterward, but God’s grace is sufficient to allow us to let go and move forward.
I did like the way Papa assured Mac that God was present with Christ in his suffering and death, that Christ was never abandoned and the scars of Christ are present on the wrist of Papa, too.
Another thing I liked about the movie is the way that Mac’s childhood neighbor, who comforted him in his pain is the same “face” he saw as the character “Papa”. She had said to him as a child that what he experienced was not love. (being beaten by his Father, his Mother being abused.) I believe that for most of us, our first glimpse of the character of “God” is in the life of someone who models godliness in some way for us as children. Having such a model of some characteristics of God in our early lives nurtures our ability to know and see God later as we grow. It does reflect accurately the impact of early experiences on our understanding of spirituality, “good”, “evil” “love”, etc. Some of the questions I ask applicants to Titus are:
“Are you a spiritual person.” If yes, “What does that mean to you?”
“Who modeled for you the character of God as a child?” “Who gave you a sense of what God is like?”