"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ignatian Viewing: The Shack

It's a beautiful God-incidence that we are doing our fourth semester homeschool literature seminar, African American Women's Literature, at the same time as I am breaking free of the long term emotionally abusive marriage and preparing for the move back to the Midwest to make a new life for myself and my daughter. We began with Jean Barrett's fantastic Audible version of Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself. It's a brilliant classic that should be in every high school American Literature class and we grieve the racism and sexism that makes that incredibly rare.

The same goes for The Color Purple, discovered when I was a passionate college student helping create Christian feminist theology and spirituality with my sister-friends because it certainly wasn't happening in our courses or official liturgies. It was profoundly moving then and means even more now that I have consciously lived and ministered to others who have lived so many analogous experiences to Celie's. The Audible is powerfully read by Alice Walker herself, with a bemused foreword noting how many people--including those who made the sweet but deeply inadequate movie in the nineties--totally missed its powerful spiritual message. We will watch the movie just for analysis/compare and contrast and the Shack is the perfect complement to it for that class. There are so many more great films by and about black men that we moved a selection of those to a entire art/gender studies class in itself, African American Male Experience in Film. Really looking forward to seeing Fences and possibly Spike Lee's Malcolm X with my mom on our Holy Week/Spring break trip in a few weeks.

The Shack movie is even better than the book because it is so skillfully casted and performed, lyrically filmed, and hits all the high points with key, powerful words leaving out some of the excess and occasionally problematic verbiage. It beautifully fulfills Shug Avery's recommendation of "getting man off your eyeball"--specifically the demonic, Zeuslike, kyriarchal old white man throwing thunderbolts from his throne. It presents five different faces (three primary of course) of a truly loving, suffering-with, triumphing over evil God--none of them white and only two male! So it is a powerful enactment of Ignatian spirituality in affirming the divine image so often denied in praxis of women, trans, and people of color as well as the process of fighting for healing, justice, freedom, and the knowledge that God is truly good and loving and helps us to be the same. Absolutely not to be missed!

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