“Spoiler Alert” This is an opinion piece. (Above: Effie’s childhood home in Des Moines, IA)
When The Shack by William P. Young was first self-published and became a Best Seller, I heard of some readers remarking as to its spiritual and entertainment value. Other religious leaders, like Chuck Colson, however, called the book out for its “low view of Scripture.” Here’s what I think…
Effie’s Literary and Biblical Views of The Shack
- The repetitious literary device of flash forward and flash backward was confusing. It caused a pause for the viewer, interrupting the flow of the story.
- The major character, Mack, was never sorry for killing his own father.
- Mack was punished (though not his fault) for his daughter’s tragic death.
- The woman (later we learn that she is God) who fed Mack cookies and milk did nothing to protect him physically from more beatings. She should have called the police.
- The church deacons didn’t intercede for the boy or his mother after learning about the beatings. Them saying, “It’s okay” is not okay.
- First mention of “the shack” is when Mack is about age 30 when a letter from “Papa” (God) invites him there. So, is God masculine (Papa) or feminine (the same woman who gave Mack cookies)? Inconsistency.
- Why in the world would a middle-aged father tell his little girl, Missy, about human sacrifice, tears, a waterfall of father’s tears? Where does Missy come up with these profound questions? Unbelievable.
- At the exact same time that Mack saves his other two children from drowning, Missy is kidnapped. Really!
- Missy’s clothes found soaked in blood by FBI and police. Mack’s wife says it’s not his fault. The guilt is layered.
- Apparently everything to this point only happened in Mack’s head while he is knocked out after he slipped on the ice getting the letter from “Papa.”
- Sometime between Mack with his three kids and his fall on the ice, a funeral occurred. Really!
- Mack hears voices…Missy’s voice on his way to the shack. Is there a psychologist in the house?
- Inside the shack he sees a “murderer” and screams at him.
- Outside the shack he sees a friendly man; even though, that man has a gun pointed at him. How many times have you invited a gunman into your house to warm himself and talk to someone inside? Really!
- I did like the scene where the snow disappeared as he walked along and the path and woods are beautiful. The shack becomes a large beautiful home. The symbolism works for me. This earthly home for Christians will someday become a heavenly and eternal home.
- Enter the representations of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. Biblical issues here. God and the Holy Spirit are portrayed by women. The trinity is interrupted by Jesus being a man in the movie. I’m surprised that the author/producer didn’t show Jesus as a woman—heresy!
- God (aka “Papa”) says Mack couldn’t handle a father right now so gave the feminine version of God. This indicates that God is like an earthly father; when in reality, it is supposed to be the other way around. Earthly fathers should emulate God. Wouldn’t the loving characteristic of God the Father have been more beneficial…and truthful?
- God doesn’t judge based on our clothes or appearance. Trivial.
- The idea that Mack had been punished enough is not biblical. We have consequences, true. God does punish sin and that’s why Jesus went to the cross. He took our punishment for all who believe. No one needs to choose one of our children to die or offer to die instead. Jesus accomplished the task already. God doesn’t choose any to go to hell. He did all he could do to keep everyone out of hell, the place designed for the fallen angels. Believe.
- So, in the end, the audience discovers that Mack was hit by a semi truck and never made to the shack. All is well and they return to a happy life.
Here’s my assessment, I would have preferred a non-fiction version of The Shack, the metaphor for a life built by guilt and pain. Fiction should read like non-fiction, believable. As hard as I tried, I could not willingly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the movie.
Did you like it? Why or why not? How do you view the trinity? Next time, I’ll conclude with the song lyrics for “This Ole House” by Stuart Hamblen.