Yesterday, my partner and I went to go see “The Shack”, the Christian movie that was recently released in theatres.

Neither of us are Christian, though we’re both religious.

(It was my idea to watch this as I’ve been a fan of the book for a long time.)

The movie is not going to win any sort of film awards. It is not a great film. It is an emotionally manipulative journey into the heart of religion. But that’s why I enjoyed it.

The non-religious will hate it. Many Christians will hate it because it is not based in Scripture.

Instead, it is what we call in modern Paganism/polytheism “UPG”: unverified personal gnosis.

It is a personal revelation that may or may not be limited to the lore (the ancient writings in historical polytheist cultures).

In this case, it is the story of a man who suffers a great tragedy and ends up confronting God (in the form of Papa, a black woman, Jesus, a Middle-Eastern carpenter, and an Asian woman named Sarayu that stood for the Holy Spirit).

It already sounds heretical, doesn’t it? Boy, the fundamentalists don’t like this book and won’t like this movie.

However, it’s a great way to use religion as a lens to deal with the horrors of life we all must face. The loss, the tragedy, the illness, the broken-heartedness. We will all lose and we will all suffer.

“The Shack” tells us that God is especially fond of you and far from being the one full of wrath to banish sinners to Hell for Eternity, God is there with you in your suffering. Suffering because you, their beloved child, is suffering.

The depiction of God reminds me very much of Fred Rogers’ idea that we have within us the voice of the Advocate (God) and the Accuser (Satan). The Accuser tells us how awful we are, reminds us of all we’ve done wrong. The Advocate reminds us of how loved we are and how wonderful it is to be there to help or support others.

If you are a Christian who doesn’t mind a hell of a lot of emotional manipulation and a loosey-goosey interpretation of the Holy Trinity, I would recommend this movie. As a Pagan, though I don’t agree with the theology, I can respect the attempt to make religion about seeing, encountering, and even challenging the Divine in one’s darkest moments and worst struggles.

Given that caveat, I think it can be a moving experience for anyone of deep religion that believes in a personal God or Goddess.


~ by R.M. McGrath on 03/08/2017.

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