'A rare chance to see the problem of pain explored'
What would you say if you had the chance to meet God face to face? And what might God have to say to you? These are the questions at the heart of The Shack, the bestselling book
Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington) has banished memories of a tough childhood, and is now happily married to Nan (Radha Mitchell), with three children. While Nan’s relationship with God is vibrant and intimate, Mack has a far more distant faith. Then tragedy strikes from out of the blue, and changes the family’s life forever.
Mourning an unimaginable loss, Mack becomes more and more distant from Nan and from his friend Willie (Tim McGraw). When he gets a note in the mailbox claiming to be from God, asking to meet him at a remote shack in the mountains, he’s desperate enough to show up. What he finds there will turn everything he believes about God upside down.
When The Shack was published in 2007, it was a sensation, selling over ten million copies and attracting both praise and controversy. The film recreates the story of Mack’s encounter with an unexpected Trinity - the warm-hearted Papa (Octavia Spencer), approachable Jesus (Aviv Alush), and ethereal Sarayu (Sumire) - and the profound transformation he undergoes. It’s a journey which many cinemagoers will relate to, whether or not their experiences look like Mack’s.
‘Loss is the one thing we have in common as human beings,’ says the book’s author, William Paul Young. ‘It’s not our politics, ethnicity, social status… it’s loss.’
Though some may take issue with aspects of its theology, the film offers a rare chance to see the problem of pain explored, from a Christian perspective, on the big screen. It’s a moving journey, both for those who believe and those who don’t - and it’s sure to change and challenge a lot of people.
In a world which often expects us to swallow down our pain, The Shack encourages us to go back to the places where we were hurt: not to wallow in our damage, but to meet God there.
This article comes from Damaris Media, who create free film resources for community groups.
The Shack is in cinemas nationwide from 9 June 2017.
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