Reader Mail: “The Shack”; Sixpence’s Christmas; “My Kid Could Paint That”; “Sex and the City ” Claims Another Victim.

Ted writes:

What’s your opinion of The Shack? I’m disturbed by the fact that so many Christians are buying a book that portrays God as a woman. It’s dangerous to expose ourselves to books that preach a false theology.

(Note: This letter is a fusion of several inquiries about this book.)

MY RESPONSE:

Ted, I haven’t read The Shack. But I’d encourage you to consider this commentary at Christianity Today.

You can download an audio recording of the first chapter of The Shack here, by William P. Young, free from Oasis Audio and powered by Audible.com.

The book’s website has a readable version of chapter 1.

Cindy Crosby reviewed the book for CT, and Collin Hansen discussed The Shack‘s depiction of the Trinity in “The Trinity: So What?

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Christmas is All the Richer

Nate writes:

As a reader of your blog I know you’re a Sixpence fan like I am. Have you heard you can download the album at NoiseTrade.com? You can pay what you want, or if you tell three friends, you can download it for free! It’s a pretty cool site.

MY RESPONSE:

No, Nate… I hadn’t heard that. Very cool. Thanks for the news!

Of course, what I really want is an all-out rock-and-roll Sixpence album like their self-titled album, which is still my favorite in their short list of notable projects.

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Thoughts on My Kid Could Paint That

Tyler writes:

I just finished watching My Kid Could Paint That. I’m still trying to process what I thought about it (probably will be for a long time). One of my first impressions while I was watching, though, is how cute Marla is. I work at an elementary school (teaching reading groups with 1st and 2nd graders), and I felt like Marla could easily be one of the kids I work with. She’s squirrely and distracted, occasionally clever, stubborn, and fun; in other words, a normal little girl. So many kids these days, especially “special” ones, seem manufactured and postured, but she didn’t at all. It was refreshing to see.

One film that My Kid reminded me of was Steve James’ documentary Stevie (which I also watched based on your recommendation). The subjects are completely different, obviously, but something that was so unusual about both movies was how willing (maybe not the best word) the directors were to be a part of the story; of course the camera changes people, but not many documentaries I’ve seen admit that difficulty is there. One of the most powerful scenes I’ve seen in any movie is the sequence in Stevie when they go to a club and Stevie is served alcohol (probably because of the cameras) and starts getting out of control, and Jordan just keeps filming. He had never thought of Stevie as a film subject when he was his big brother, but at that moment, that’s all he was to him. (I have a writing habit, and I always feel a twinge now when I introduce something from real life into a story.) Bar-Lev’s final interview with Mark and Laura stirred up a lot of the same feelings for me.

MY RESPONSE:

I have two favorite documentaries, and Stevie is one of them. Steve James does such a great job of raising important questions about how to love our neighbors, how to make a difference, how to tell the truth, and how to tell a story with compassion for the people caugh tup in that story.

My Kid Could Paint That raises some of the same questions, and I’m glad you made the connection.

I hope and pray that Marla is able to grow up without becoming self-conscious in her art (whether she’s an artistic genius or not). And I hope that her parents will grow in wisdom and discernment. If anyone involved has been lying, I hope that they confess their sin and seek some healing where so much damage has been done. But frankly, I don’t know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth in this story. All I know is that I saw some beautiful paintings, and I saw a delightful little girl caught up in a storm inspired by a bunch of naive grownups.

Whatever the case, I’m grateful for the film. Bar-Lev has taken an ugly situation and made something good from it. May God protect little Marla and Zane, and may many others learn from the mistakes of the people around her.

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Sex and the City poisons another soul

Today I received a a cry of alarm from Bryan.

Bryan must have read this post.

And yet, in spite of that, Bryan went to see Sex and the City anyway. As you can see from his letter, he suffered the inevitable consequences:

Went to see Sex and the City yesterday. This steamin’ hot slab of porn immediately caused me to renounce my faith and perform wanton, unprotected acts of fornication with the first dozen sentient life forms that crossed my path. Now I’m sorry I saw the danged thing because my new lifestyle is so exhausting!

MY RESPONSE:

Well, Byran, it’s a good thing you’re sorry! That means you stand a chance, however slim, of escaping the condemnation of writers like Ted Slater at Focus on the Family.

By the way, my “open letter to Focus” has been up for several days now, and I’ve still only received the one note of dissent from a Focus employee. Looks like the organization may be standing firm behind their man, and approving of public condemnation. I say “may be.” Either that or those who disagree with Slater are scared of consequences if they speak up. Would their jobs be in jeopardy I wonder? And yet, it’s strange that no one has written to back up Slater’s post either. I do still hope to hear from someone.

Christ said that he did not come to this world to condemn the world, and he exhorted us not to be judgmental toward one another. Saint Peter saw a vision of all kinds of “clean” and “unclean” food being lowered down in a sheet, and he was told that he should no longer preoccupy himself with matters of “clean” and “unclean,” but attend to his conscience. Slater’s public condemnation of CT for something that isn’t even true stands in such obvious conflict with these things, it’s hard to comprehend that so many Christians would rally around him.

If a Christians publishes a public condemnation of another Christian for having mixed feelings about a worldly movie… what are we to think?

Was Jesus wrong? Should Christians go ahead and condemn each others’ hearts, minds, and motives? Publicly?

Should we tell Saint Peter to ignore the vision, and that indeed, we should judge each other based on what we choose to “consume”? Does a Focus on the Family editor have the right to delcare that an R-rated blockbuster is “unclean,” and that anyone who says otherwise “relishes” evil?

Whatever the case, many readers of Slater’s post happily followed his lead, posting colorful condemnations of their own devising, damning the good people at Christianity Today… and their claims lacked any good evidence. Does it make them feel good to sit around tearing down the names and reputations of their brothers and sisters in Christ?

I don’t know. I can’t see into their minds and hearts. And it would be arrogant of me to pretend to do so. All I can say with certainty is this: Their jeers and put-downs are false, and hurtful to many. Their rants have nothing to do with the justice, the mercy, and the humility that we’re called to manifest as followers of Christ.

But if they’re right… if we are immediately contaminated, corrupted, and guilty for watching a movie that contains misbehavior…

Well… I went and saw Kung Fu Panda on Sunday. Looking through Ted Slater’s lens, it seems that I chose this film because I “relish wanton violence.”

I won’t describe the scene in the lobby of the theater afterwards, but let’s just say I left no piece of popcorn intact, no usher alive, no poster un-ripped. For all of its admirable messages, Kung Fu Panda was little more than violence porn for kids. My discernment and conscience were no match for this gratuitous big-screen display, and I must confess… I was contaminated by its influence. Save your children from this evil movie, and from the satanic revellers who buy tickets for such things! Heck, save yourself!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an uncontrollable impulse to eat a big bowl of dumplings.

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  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com jasdye

    sorry, Jeffrey. i just LOOOVE loopholes!

    jeffrey overstreet from seattle, meet eugene cho, from seattle.

    small world.

  • http://www.jslweb.com/blog Stephen Lamb

    Ted said: What’s your opinion of The Shack? I’m disturbed by the fact that so many Christians are buying a book that portrays God as a woman. It’s dangerous to expose ourselves to books that preach a false theology.

    You might want to stay away then from this other book that does the same thing – the Bible.

  • http://lookingcloser.org Jeffrey Overstreet

    Ummm… that link leads me right back to this post. Want to try again?

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com jasdye

    i keep making these connections today, but it seems that Slater isn’t the only Focus member saying hateful, ignorant, and inexcusable stuff about fellow believers. as it turns out, i never read my bible!

    what a shocker.

    and i thought that Dobson himself was getting too big for his britches…

  • http://youtube.com/moviebuzzreviewdude Brandon

    Damn, I feel sorry for the poor people in the theatre who had the bad luck to be there the day Kung fu Panda corrupted your wonderful Christian soul, hahahaha. How can society be encouraging, nay, CONDONING the viewing of such mindless violence?

    (For the record, I saw it too awhile back and actually kinda liked it – what did you think?)


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