Watching The Shack in Prison

I've never been a huge fan of William Young's book The Shack. There are moves in The Shack that I really like--the strong Trinitarianism, God as mother--but theodicy is just really, really hard to pull of, particularly for a tragedy like the one at the heart of The Shack.

But the men in my prison Bible study have loved The Shack, so they were really wanting us to bring them the movie to watch. So we did.

My reaction to the movie was similar to my reaction to the book. Loved God portrayed as a mother and the Trinitarian emphasis, but theodicy is just so hard to pull off.

But more and more, as I spend more time living on the margins and less in my head, reading the Bible with the damned to use Bob Ekblad's phrase, I've come to see how much of theology boils down to social location. I might not get The Shack, but these incarcerated men sure do. Many where in tears at the end. So I check my critiques. The critiques may be valid and important, and there's a time to bring them up, but I don't center or privilege them. I don't allow my academically sophisticated theology to win every argument or be The Answer to every question. Sometimes it's best for theologians to shut up and listen.

In our discussions after the movie, Nate said something that has stuck with me.

"God is always leading us to our own shacks, to that place in our hearts where we don't want to go. This place [the prison] has been my shack, the place where God brought me so I could finally be broken and open my heart up to him."

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