Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Shack

Have you heard about this book? It was written by William P. Young and published May 1, 2007. My mother recommended it to me yesterday, so I went and bought it after work, and had it finished this morning.

In my defense it's just under 300 pages long, and a quick, easy read. Without giving too much away ...

A man suffers an incredible and brutal loss and resents God. Three years after the incident, he receives a note in the mail inviting him to The Shack, signed by God. Intrigued, he travels back to the scene of the horrible crime and spends what feels like 3 days with God.

It's easily written, some of it is overly simplistic and then a lot of it turns around on itself like a bad riddle. Most of the book centers around the main character coming to terms with his grief and having conversations with God. If you're like me ... you hesitate when it comes to an author writing as if he's God ... the only word of God is the Bible, so this is just a fiction book written by a man who is obviously trying to find words and understanding that can solidify his relationship in some real (human) and possibly modern way.

I'm of a mind that anything that brings up the question, that raises the issue, that encourages you to pray or allow Jesus further into your life, is a good thing. Do I believe I should take extreme lesson from this book? No. It's not the Bible. Some of what I read struck me as an agnostic trying to ... not justify, or find, resolve maybe? ... trying to resolve what he knew of God removing the element of religion, Christianity, in particular. And the book ignored the great commission, almost entirely.

I encourage you to read it. I'd be interested in your thoughts. If you need more information ... here is the Books Website, the Authors Blog, an article in the New York Times, and this website I found that thinks its awful stuff.

The book, in my estimation, is one person's way of dealing with whatever tragedy overtook him. It does not jive with everything I know Christianity or even God to be.

The book says some not so great things on sin, which we all know The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord Romans 6:23. The book ignores sin, or more correctly minimizes it to the point that it's something God knew was going to happen and doesn't blame you for.

Eh, not so much. If sin is not something inherently evil and wrong, than Jesus would not have needed to die for us. His sacrifice is what makes everything possible, and what makes our entrance into heaven possible. Without that sacrifice, our sins would go unforgiven, and we would be forever separated from God. Because of our sin. So it's not so minimal at all.

I also believe that there is a right and wrong. The book proposes there is not. I believe the 10 Commandments were given from God to Moses, and intended for us to try and follow. I believe Jesus was sent here so that we could live in his image. Not living in his image and expecting to get into Heaven seems ... wrong.

I'm not especially smart at these sorts of things. I have not been to seminary and I haven't read my Bible cover to cover in ... 5 years now? So nothing I'm saying here in any way resembles religious fact or even intention. It's just what my brain has taken, absorbed, and is trying to send back out into the world.

I do think if you have time, you should read the book and let me know your thoughts. If the book is blasphemy, the questions and dialogue that arrive from it might very well bring more people who want answers. And those that have them, or can point them in the right direction, should try and supply those answers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Updates and Reviews

First, we went and saw The Dark Night this morning. While there is a lot I could probably say about the movie, the finer points are these: it is deeply disturbing, and very intense. From opening scene to closing credits my poor nerves were a jumble. I'm glad I saw it, but it's not something I will watch repeatedly.

Ironman still rules my summer movie season. Followed closely by Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E.

Dark Knight was a great movie. But like many great movies ... it's a bit too intense for repeat enjoyment. And enjoyment isn't a word I would use to describe my experience. It was so ... dark. And sad. And about anti-heroes and sacrifice. Batman was never intended to be a figure of light and fuzzy animals. So this fits with what he was designed to be ... but still. Hard, difficult, almost painful at times. No it was painful at times. Very.

Made even more so by the fact that Heath Ledger is gone. I think the reviews are inflated because of his death, and no one wants to give a bad review post-humously. But, he was a fantastic Joker. A scary joker. Scarier, grittier, more insane ... hurtful. Jack Nicholson was a comical character. Funny, insane, but mostly funny. Ledger's Joker is only maniacal. And the movie revolves and centers on his insanity.

There is one ray of light. One piece of hope. When faced with a difficult choice, the people, the citizens, choose the right path. And it was this that brought the Joker to his end. But that was really about it.

On to other things ... I have been crazy busy at work. There early, staying late, working through lunch ... I'm exhausted and totally in need of a mental health day. But, alas, the work would pile up in my absence and it just really doesn't pay to be away. So that's why I've been absent of late.

I also joined the revolution and got my iPhone Friday. It is awesome. And - I haven't gotten one, legitimate phone call. (The ones from Lewis don't count as he was sitting next to me.) Go figure.

The other thing that I've been doing ... have you ever heard of the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer? It apparently has a cult following similar to the Potter series (though decidedly smaller and largely - exclusively? - female) and I've seen the books everywhere. I have a habit of having to know what's going on (I made it a point to watch Hannah Montana several months ago - I had to know what all those small tshirts in Wall-Mart were about). And something that has this many loyal fans? And being on a bit of a kick lately, I picked them up. Read the first one, finished the second one yesterday, and the third one is half finished. The 4th one comes out in August. I don't necessarily, recommend them, but they are light, easy to read, and somewhat mind numbing.

And I think maybe it's the work thing ... but it's a good balm at the moment. And it's interesting to know what the teenage set is hip to these days.

After this I'm on to The Time Travelers Wife and I do have to pick up Atlas Shrugged at some point. I'm not really sure how long the reading thing will hold. I go in spurts. Lots of scrapbooking, lots of cooking, lots of reading, lots of music ... maybe it's the summer. Maybe it's something that's an old habit from school days, when you had the summer off to read whatever you wanted. But I've been voracious lately. Not all the books have been good ... but what are you going to do.

Hope all is well.