The movie “The Shack” is the story of one family’s struggle to come to terms with an unimaginable tragedy. As such it deals with some of the most profound issues in the human lexicon of questions.
A random traffic accident provides the dramatic license to venture into the realm of the supernatural and a believable excuse to explore the logical framework of Christian theology in all its beauty and glory and joy.
For all its sweeping vision of universal human truths, it is a deeply personal story. Refreshingly it is free of the pretense of attempting to convert the unwilling with contrived extremes. Rather it markedly limits itself to repeatedly asking simple questions which dramatize a father’s torment in attempting to discover what is true and what is right and what is not. And the only effective path offered out of his utter despair is seemingly his own conscience.
What answers evolve, however painful and won after such a difficult journey, are nevertheless obvious in the end. But the presentation is not preachy. No one path is offered as a solution. No one is taught anything so much as forced to seriously consider alternatives. The audience is swept along with the personal plight of the protagonist and asked to judge by their own inner sense of right and wrong. The presentation is not a religious experience so much as a serious consideration of the personal suffering of a father and his family and the consequences of its remedies.
Those with a Christian background will recognize familiar and even universal themes. These include questions of a creation event, the supernatural aspects of a human soul with free will not strictly determined by natural law, the power of forgiveness as right and even for one’s own sake, the comfort of a Creator who loved life enough to fashion us in His own image, and the incredible gift of a Savior’s sacrifice to lead us along a path to the harmony and happiness we were designed for but somehow lost.
The concept of a three-part “Trinity” of distinct purposes residing within a single God filtered down to a finite human father, who could not otherwise cope with the immensity of the infinite, was muted and simplified. Indeed, its main purpose seemed to be to provide a welcome comic relief at times bordering on the silly and frivolous. But if somewhat fuzzy from a theological perspective, one might accept that it was well meant and in a good cause.
This is a movie I strongly recommend for those of all persuasions. I can promise more than a single tear and a single joyful surprise; and perhaps more importantly an exposure to questions of how to truly love those around us. These are questions we all too infrequently ask ourselves. It will make the world a better place and how often can you do that for the price of a movie seat and be rewarded with an engrossing and heartwarming ending to an unbearable and heart wrenching misfortune.