The Shack: Christian Film with a Catholic Touch

Sam Worthington, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, and Sumire Matsubara star in the adaptation of The Shack. (Photo by Jake Giles Netter/Lionsgate)
Sam Worthington, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, and Sumire Matsubara star in the adaptation of The Shack. (Photo by Jake Giles Netter/Lionsgate)

My feature story on the new film “The Shack” is now live at St. Anthony Messenger!

Be sure to click through to read the entire story. (I have posted just a few opening paragraphs here.)

The film opens on March 3, a great film – and just in time –  for Lent.

In 2007, Canadian author William P. Young, with the help of two minister friends, self-published The Shack, a novel that he had written as a Christmas gift for his six children. It became a USA Today and New York Times best seller that has now sold over 20 million copies. Gil Netter, known for producing such films as The Blind

Side and A Walk in the Clouds, has made this novel into a film that will be coming to US theaters for a March 3, 2017, release, timed for the weeks before Easter.

The Shack is a challenging story because it goes where no filmmaker—or novelist for that matter—has gone before: into the imagined or visualized theological realm of the Holy Trinity engaging with human beings. The 15thcentury iconographer Andrei Rublev gave us an idea with his icon The Trinity that depicts sitting at a table three distinct angels whom Abraham welcomed in Genesis 18:1–8. As moviegoers, we’ve been to heaven often (e.g., Heaven Is for Real and The Tree of Life). We’ve met God the Father and God the Son. Perhaps we’ve experienced a sense of the action of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives via Hollywood. And goodness knows we’ve seen a lot of the devil. But the three divine persons of the Trinity have never been imagined together for cinema until now.

The Catholic imagination is rich with metaphor, analogy, a sacramental sense of the people and things around us. God is present and active in the world, and the world is good. The Protestant imagination, by contrast, tends more to view God and reality in terms of either/or. The Protestant imagination tends to accent how things are unlike rather than similar; the Catholic imagination welcomes the paradox that both of these ways—unlike and similar—go together in imaging God. The Shack was written by a Protestant (in his own words, “fundamentalist and evangelical”). One of the film’s producers, Gil Netter, was raised Catholic. The two traditions find an outlet here.

The film is a cinematic poem CLICK HERE to continue reading.

CLICK HERE for the film’s official website

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