I loved the movie, The Shack, and here's why.
I love the way Mack "wrestles" with God and is honest in his doubt, anger, guilt and distance from God is honest and real. "In our doubt there is believing" is one of my favorite lines from the Hymn of Promise 707 UMH. Movies that present Christians as so sure of themselves annoy me, because I spend way more time with people who are unsure than people who are arguing for God.
I love the images of God - Papa being a black woman, a Native American man -- coming to Mack in the way Mack needs. There are a hundred different images of God used in the Bible:
Rock, Mother Hen, Mother Eagle, Fountain of Life, Shepherd, Gate, Lion of Judah etc. Some are female images, some are male, some are neither. El Shaddai can be translated "God with breasts".
Jesus says God is spirit in John 4, and we will worship God in spirit. So there is no earthly image that completely captures who God is, God is bigger than any one picture. All of them capture just a piece. So we need all of the images together, and some times one image will speak to us more than another image. Mack had a problem with his abusive father, and the image of God as father was not helpful to him. I totally believe God's love for us would lead God to appear to us as we would best receive God -- male, female, black, white, whatever.
I love the theology of the Shack. There is so much and it is rich and deep and good theology. It centers on the person of the Trinity which I also believe has to be the center of Christian faith. God is love, because God is relationship. God, inside of God's self, is 3-in-1, unity in diversity, in relationship and love. The conversation the Trinity has with Mack in the book explaining that no one has to be in charge is AWESOME. I use it often in Confirmation. I wish that dialogue had been in the movie. Too often Christians have used the world's image of hierarchy to describe God, and to form our church. This gets used in bad ways -- Church people demanding their own way, the church forcing its way, oppression of the poor, of women, of minorities being excused or even promoted. Jesus preached love - for God, neighbor, enemies, everyone.
Many people are critical that God isn't powerful enough, almighty enough, in the movie or book. But this is the God who came as a baby born in a barn to teenage parents. God who chose to die on a cross. God whose main image in the book of Revelation is the slain lamb. God is all powerful, but God doesn't have short man syndrome. God doesn't go around saying "I'm the almighty cower before me". God doesn't want cowering, God wants relationship.
Thats enough for now, I'd love to know what your thoughts/questions were.
I'm thinking this might be a sermon series in June -good or bad idea??