Archive for April, 2010

The Shack by William Young: book review

April 29, 2010

What Is It?

Giving the feel of spiritual fantasy in real life; Mac, with the help of a buddy, sets out to document the time his youngest daughter fell pray to a serial killer and he was then invited back to the crime scene to spend a long weekend hanging out with the physical manifestation of the Holy Trinity…. “High Concept” is alive and well!

How Was It?
This inspirational Journey seems to even off the book shelf owned byMITCH ALBOM’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven. First time author William P. Young, isn’t going to wow you with his writing style but it’s not going to detract from the story either. (Take note Mrs. Stephanie Meyer)
The story is well detailed and the “just some guy trying to Jot down the details of an amazing experience” motif makes any lack of skill just a plot devise .

The beginning feels like you are being manipulated into liking or relating with this guy so that you will care about his interactions later. The fun thing is, it works.

When he does meet God, it smacks of “the magic minority” (where in a white centered story, the character in the ethnic minority emerges as the inspirational Yoda to cause the protagonist to have their self revelation.) God the son is literally Jesus, a nondescript Jewish man. the Holy Spirit is a mystical Japanese woman and because Mac has a problem relating to father figures, God the Father appears as a black woman named Papa. (Think “the Oracle” from the Matrix, though later in the book they seem to switch over and borrow from “Firefly“). This all “works” in the story but it’s because you are into the story and can gloss over he fact that God has been handed to you in the form of trite racial cliché. Dispute all this, most my criticism is in retrospect because this fun, interesting story informed by many devotional books and Christian rock and folk music, helps you put all that aside so you can just enjoy “hanging out” with the story.

Is It Good For Kids?
It’s reading level and straight forward attitude would make this a very assessable book for kids. (No problem if they are reading Twilight and Harry Potter.) I see two concerns for parents with the content.
First, the story has some harsh situations. Most notably is the abduction and murder of a little girl. Followed closely by the story of Mac’s childhood abuse at the hands of his Alcoholic and Christian father, whom Mac poisoned before he ran away from home as a child. It is all handled well without anything graphic and does not hold a candle to the violent and horrible acts presented in the Bible. Still it will be to much for some kids.
Then there is the fantasy vision of God but it is not couched in a fantasy world through the wardrobe. A fictional presentation of the real God could be confusing for some young people. (Of course it could also be confusing for some adults as well.)

What about spiritual issues?
The ultimate message of this book is that God is three in one, presented to the world in Jesus. God loves you, has forgiven your sins. Now that He has open the way, He wants to have a relationship with you.
I believe (from the Bible and my experience) that God is real and will have a real relationship with anyone who seeks or knocks. Therefore anything that points people to get to know God is a good thing because He will welcome them and He will reveal Himself to them in his love and his truth.

Beyond that, if taken as a fictional presentation of a real God, it is accurate to the Bible. I believe that there are some issues that are not dealt with in the book, or skirted around in a way that may make Christians uncomfortable, but it still does not constitute untruth.
Here are the four things that stood out to me:

  1. Jesus talks about how he is concerned with individuals not institutions. While all the assertions about putting your faith in Jesus not the government are true, it glazes over the fact that God chose rulers and directs affairs of state. It also seems to be down on Church in the same vain. It is down on the dead institution but wants vital fellowship between those in fellowship with God – thus asking for the church the way it was meant to be.
  2. There is a discussion of Hell and sending people there. The final word on this is that Hell is real and Jesus takes our place so we don’t have to go. The book also points out that not everyone chooses the relationship Jesus offer and thus fell the full effect of their sin. Beyond that it never tells us what becomes of those who die out side of a relationship with Jesus.Though it’s never even hinted at, I believe the description of Hell that would go best with this book is that God is not so cruel as to take some one, who has spent a lifetime avoiding a relationship with Him, now force them to spend eternity in relationship with the one they avoided in their life.
  3. Finally, (and this is very picky) there is a forth supernatural character who I think theological could have just been the holy spirit (and the story didn’t need another weirdo character to ponder over)

So, in conclusion, Spiritually, it’s packaging may give people concern, but the content is very conservative biblical information.

What Is your Recommendation?

If you like Christian booksSUCH AS The Purpose Driven Life, or spiritual books like “ The Five People You Meet In Heaven” or “Velvet Elvis” I’m sure you will enjoy this book. Beyond that it’s worth the  read to join into the conversation. As a best seller with a movie on the way, it’s a great book to have in your vocabulary when you talk to others about what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus.

The Shack

William P. Young

 

Though the book defiantly suggests Larry Norman and Bruce Cockburn, by the end, it made me want to listen to Rich Mullins and Sufjan Stevens… I think I will.

Only Visiting This Planet

Larry Norman

In The Falling Dark

Bruce Cockburn

A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band

Rich Mullins

Greetings from Michigan

Sufjan Stevens

The New Car CD for the Kids

April 19, 2010

This is what Dad, the three year old and the one year old are listening to these days.

Exodus 3 – faith comes by hearing

chip the glasses / over the misty mountains – the hobbit soundtrack (amazon The Hobbit; Rankin Bass Production)

[Beth] Javanese – Soul Junk 1960 

Hoodwinked surf theme –  

Hoodwinked

I Use The Potty

Greatest Hits, Vol. 1-2

forever sweet – Will Carson with Fear and Trembling – Angels Weeping

Day by Day –

Godspell

Stephen Schwartz

10,000 Years (amazing grace)

Reborn

Stryper

Three Little Birds – Bob Marly

I Love You – clip from Fancy Nancy (Unabridged) 

Fancy Nancy

I’m a Lion – – BEAU YOUNG WILD ANAMALZ

Onward Christian Soldiers – – God Bless America

The Whole Duty Of Children – 

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Robert Louis Stevevenson

Parable of the Gracious Master –  (Ripped from the dvd)

Godspell

I carry the Tray Like a fancy weightier 

clip from Fancy Nancy (Unabridged) 

Fancy Nancy

Poopsmith song –  Over the Rhine 

For the Kids III

Fox in Socks read by David Hyde Pierce

Green Eggs and Ham and Other Serving…

Dr Seuss

(I stuck a chunk from Ill-m-i in the middle because I always put that line in when I read it as well)

Exodus 4 faith comes by hearing

My ABC (Though, my 3 year old has let me know that she prefers Cutest Lil’ Dragon )

Fetch the Compass Kids

The Danielson Familie

This Little Light Of Mine 

You Are My Flower

Elizabeth Mitchell

Market Square 

Now We Are Six

A. A. Milne

Holy Holy Holy 

Speedwood Hymns

Lost And Found

Light of the world 

Godspell

Stephen Schwartz

Learn Your Lessons Well 

Godspell

Stephen Schwartz

Half Way Down 

Now We Are Six

A. A. Milne

Cottleston Pie – ThreeCheersForPooh

Grand old duke of york

Let’s Move

Studio Mouse

Isn’t It funny – ThreeCheersForPooh

Lines and Squares 

Now We Are Six

A. A. Milne

The Lamp Of The Body 

–  (Ripped from the dvd)

Godspell

Teddy Bear

Now We Are Six

A. A. Milne

Ephesians 6:1-4  faith comes by hearing

Children Obey your parents 

The Word & Song Bible

Stephen Elkins

When the Saints go marching in –

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

April 14, 2010

What Is It?

The book by the odd and talented Roald Dahl brought to the big screen by odd and talented Tim Burten with odd and talented Johnny Deep in the lead. You can see where this is going….

It’s a surreal version of our world going on a journey into the hyper odd world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

This movie seems to go out of it’s way to avoid any line that was used in the first adaptation starting Gean Wilder. Out side of the name and occupation, theses do not seem to be the same characters and are not in the same movie. In fact this film has much more in common with the first Burten/Deep film, Edward Scissorhands, than Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Here Willy is an insecure recluse who is bulled by the children he has invited into his world. He is mocked for the very eccentricity that makes him the spectacle they came to see. The tour reveilles the wonder of the factory, the headstrong nature of the children, and the inner struggle of Willy who is plagued by childhood flashbacks.

How Was It?

My expectations were so wrong for this movie, it took some time to adjust. Despite the resumes of the big name’s involved, this is not a dark movie. It is a fun weird film that looks at the idea of parent – child interaction.

An example of the deft social criticism is the introduction to Mike Teavee. He spurts off a bunch of info about video games and there technical workings, which are then balanced by a nerves father saying that sometimes they don’t understand what he is saying. Mike, now playing his game, cries out “Die! Die! Die!” As his parents desperately try to hang on to the delusion that they don’t understand.

From the over indulgent, to the overly competitive, there is a lot for people to see in this mirror held up to modern parenting.

We find out that “candy isn’t supposed to have a point” but that is not life, there are things that are important in reality and in this film..

Is It Good For Kids?

The kids here are often nasty and bad examples. Still you see there negative traits leading directly to there demise (figuratively).

Parents are either shown as sportive and protective producing good kids, or destructive by letting there kids get “what they want.”

Once, when Grandpa goes on a cussing rant, we are protected with Charlie as the audio is that of his mother’s hands muffling his ears.

Check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete break down of elements shown on the screen.

How about Spiritual Issues?

In almost every Tim Burten film I have seen, there is usually some slam against Christians. Thankfully this film seem void of such open hostility.

Halloween is shown in a flashback, but it is just used as a device to introduce Willy’s dad , an uptight candy phobic dentist. All the candy is raped in paper with skulls and spiders, echoing Dr. Wonka’s sentiment on the subject.

The major theme of this film (and this may be a spoiler, it took me totally by surprise) was the need for properly working, loving, healthy families. This is a fantastic idea, it’s just to bad that the thing most able to bring this about is the faith Burton rejects in his other films.

What Is Your Recommendation?

First: Tell your self that this is NOT the book or the Gean Wilder Movie. (and does not have the unfounded character change at the end.)

Second: Go and enjoy a colorful film with a enlightening back story that may remind you of things in your past but…

Third: Have a great conversation with the people you see it with about the need for family and the examples of parenting put forth as well as there dramatic results.

….Annasophia Robb playes Violet Beauregarde. She was also Opal in Becasue of Winn Dixie. She’s 2 for 2 so far!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

Danny Elfman

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory …

Gene Wilder,

Because of Winn-Dixie

The Island

April 12, 2010

What Is It?

Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play characters who live in a technological wonder world of the future. They wake up to have computers picking out their clothing and analyzing their urine to determine what they can have for breakfast. They live, eat, exercise, work and recreate, while waiting for the day they will win the lottery and go to “The Island”

One day, Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor) finds that people who they thought went to the Island were really killed. Now that his friend Jordan Two Delta (Johansson) has won the lottery, Lincoln is trying to get her out of their world and someplace safe.

How Was It?

This was an interesting blend of “The Matrix”, “I Robot”, and “The Truman Show”. Still, the movie is more than a good rip off. It really brings something new to the emerging genres . The movie is a bit formulaic, but does it very well. The action is exciting, the soundtrack is wonderful, and there seems to be more than just senseless navel-gazing in the script.

Was It Good For Kids?

This film has a bunch of points where the action becomes graphic and the imagery is disturbing. It may not be the best choice for younger viewers .

You can get a complete breakdown of what is on the screen at Screenit.com.

What About Spiritual Issues?

There seems to be an amassing of offhanded comments to let you know that are the two main characters are either blessed by God or empowered by Him. There may even be some messiah symbolism with Lincoln .

Moreover , this film is about the sanctity of life. Themes and characters lend themselves so well to an anti-abortion stance that it may have been the planned intent of the film. These themes are presented in a very real and non-confrontational way, though often brutal in their presentation. This is the beauty and peril of sci-fi and fantasy.

There is a sex scene in the film. This is an odd thing. We are not shown anything we shouldn’t see. It’s more a plot point. We are told that one man is dying from a disease that God let him have because he had too much sex. Later we see the two main characters “discover” sex in an Adam and Eve / “ Blue Lagoon” manner . This may be a sticky point for some viewers . The morality of sex is not very clearly defined, though promiscuity is shown as punishable.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you like action/sci-fi films , this is a good use of your afternoon. It’s also a great movie to help think through some very important issues.

ps

The soundtrack is very cool. Except for one unfortunate song in the credits.

The Island DVD

The Island CD

Happy Easter

April 4, 2010

Zoom Daddy

The Swirling Eddies

Greetings from Michigan

Sufjan Stevens

The Miracle Maker

You might also want to check out

What Should My Family and I Watch During Holy Week?

and

Pictures of Jesus in Film and Literature

Have a great Easter