'The Shack' Offers Real Universal Truths and Healing

Last week, Glenn and his staff had the opportunity to see The Shack, a movie about a grieving man who receives a mysterious, personal invitation to meet with God at a place called "The Shack." Brad Cummings, co-author of the book on which the movie is based, joined The Glenn Beck Program on Friday to talk about the movie that is capturing people's hearts.

"The movie is funny. It will make you cry. It's not very religious, but it has a lot of deep, spiritual truth in it," Cummings said.

The Shack shows the care and concern God has for us by appearing to the main character in a form he will understand. In his case, it turns out to be a black woman.

"I watched The Shack with my wife, and you were there. I loved it, and I felt uplifted. I felt closer to God. I felt like I wanted to have a deeper relationship with God in my way, not with a black woman and an Asian Holy Spirit, you know?" Glenn said.

Glenn urged everyone to see the movie, believing it has the capacity to bring people to God with its subtle and reverent message.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: So glad you're here. I think it was last week I had the opportunity to see the movie The Shack, and this is one of the best Christian films I've seen in a very long time. I really truly believe this that if C.S. Lewis with "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Tolkien, The Ring, and The Shack was included in that in which one would bring more people to the lord, I think The Shack could do it because it's not -- it doesn't appear to be attempting to do that. It's just telling a story just like C.S. Lewis and The Hobbit. And they take liberty with not -- I don't think the essence of truth. It's allegory for what's happening. I don't even know if it's true or not. Brad Cummings is the cowriter of The Shack and was instrumental in getting -- and he's gone. Was instrumental on getting this to Hollywood.

Brad, are you there?

BRAD: I'm here.

GLENN: First of all, is this a true story?

BRAD: It's not a true story. It's fiction but there's a lot of truth in it.

GLENN: I have to tell from religious friends who are crazy beside themselves this is heretical, you can't go and see it, they didn't come with me to the screening. I thought it was fantastic. What are people complaining about?

BRAD: The story meets people in the midst of their pain. I'm not sure what people are all that up in arms about. I know it's a little bit challenging to see poppa, father god as a black woman. But there's a context for that. The terrible upbringing with the really harsh father, and I think it communicates God's love in a way that he tries to reach us in a way that we'll understand and will be able to receive.

GLENN: Right. And it is explained immediately when he says something along the lines of God's a black woman? And she says, again, basically, no, but this is a form you will understand.

BRAD: Yeah, I don't think you can handle a father right now.

GLENN: Yeah, that's right.

BRAD: There's a tenderness of how god I think wants to communicate to us. The movie is funny. It will make you cry. It's not very religious. But it has a lot of deep, spiritual truth in it.

GLENN: I have to tell you. I don't know why I'm saying this out loud. I said it yesterday on the TV show.

I had somebody in my faith write to me the other day and say "Hey, I've been thinking about you. How are you spiritually and how are you physically?"

And I wrote back and I said "I'm great spiritually, and I'm great physically. Religiously, I'm having a real problem because I am so sick of religion and the fighting and the my way or the highway and all of this garbage."

I watched The Shack with my wife, and you were there. I loved it, and I felt uplifted, I felt closer to God, I felt like I wanted to have a deeper relationship with God in my way not with a black woman and an Asian Holy Spirit, you know?

I understood this was an allegory.

BRAD: Yep. God's a relational being. We can get all stuck in doctrine, and I think doctrine is very important. Theology is very important. But it's not the same thing of actually having a walking, talking relationship with the living God.

GLENN: Did Billy Graham have this problem when John Denver was hearing from George Burns as god?

BRAD: No, I think people enjoyed that movie. I think people enjoyed this one too.

GLENN: It is the same thing but deeper and more meaningful. The John Denver god thing was just seeking for some laughs and had some truths in it. This has real universal truth to it and healing.

BRAD: It was such a treat to actually listen to you watch this movie because I don't think there was an important line that you missed. You were groaning with appreciation at everything that was being said there because there's an awful lot of great truth that's just packaged in the human drama. It's not some sermon. It's the fact that most of us are -- most of us struggle in pain. It doesn't feel like God's around. And this story hits that head on without any -- offering any kind of trite answer. I think that's why people -- it has an endearing honesty that I think people really enjoy, and I think all of us struggle. It's like in this world when the world is kind of spinning out of control, we do ask the question where is god? Which then leads to the where is god really? And I think this story climbs into that space in such an interesting way.

GLENN: The part where he wants revenge, and he goes, and he has to sit at the judgment seat himself is so powerful. So powerful.

STU: You started kind of with a controversy about the movie, whatever controversy there is.

GLENN: I don't know what the controversy is.

STU: I mean, can you kind of bring us through the actual story and what people are --

GLENN: Brad, can you?

BRAD: Yeah, basically, there's a man that takes his family on a camping vacation. And in the midst of that, the youngest daughter goes missing, and they find her bloody dress up in an abandoned shack and the suggestion is that she might have been brutally murdered.

That is so --

GLENN: And hang on just a second. I was concerned myself because I can't go to another movie where my heart's going to be torn out and stomped, especially on missing children. I can't do it. That does not play horribly. It's tender. It's not brutal. You do have the moment where you're, like, oh, my gosh. Can you imagine what that feels like?

But they didn't overplay it to rip your heart out. It was perfectly done. Perfectly done.

BRAD: It steps up the difficult that sends Mac, the main character into a depression. And he gets this note in his mailbox, and it says, hey, Mac, it's been a while. Would love to get together. I'll be at the shack if you meet me. And it's signed papa, which is his wife's nickname for God. Which leads to who in the world is writing me this? So against all better judgment, he doesn't know what else better to do, and he travels back up to the shack and what unfolds there is what the heart of the drama's about.

GLENN: And it is -- it's really good. And it starts -- I mean, I have to give you hats off, Brad, for the opening line is something, like, you don't have to believe this story. But this is how I saw it. Or something like that.

BRAD: Yeah, it says "I'm about to tell you something that's really fantastical."

And I think the wonderful thing about the way we told this story is it's not asking you to believe anything. It's a story to truth. And I think movies that are often pedaling an agenda, they're not that fun to watch. This one is a powerful drama that has layoff stuff in it. But at the end of the day, you're not forced to do -- there's no alter call. There's no sense of demand. There's just the sense of wow. I mean, people love to talk about this. I mean, you can't get people quiet. They want to go talk for coffee and they want their friends to see it. That's been the fun response.

GLENN: I will tell you. I know people who are so turned off on one of them. So turned off by religion and by the judgmental aspect of religion. Not faith. Of religion that they can't go into a church. Any church because they've had bad experiences with it. And everything is, you know, you're a sinner because you thought this or you think this and come our way and stay away from those people or you're still a sinner -- they can't do it. And I've -- I watch this movie with that eye the entire time knowing the people that I would love to have a relationship with God, how are they going to view this? Almost every movie I have seen in the last I don't know how many years that tries to bring you closer to God has at least a moment in it where you're, like. Okay. Thank you. Okay. I got it. Yes, I got it.

BRAD: It's a sales pitch.

GLENN: This has none of that in it. This is just a great movie.

BRAD: Yeah, I think -- I don't think people are wanting to be sold. I mean, when I go into a store, and we have the overzealous, eager salesman, I put shields up.

GLENN: Me too.

BRAD: In terms of selling stories, the truth doesn't need a sales pitch. You know what? I think people are spiritually hungry out there. I think they're looking for answers. I think in the midst of difficulty, especially in a world today, they're looking for something that brings hope. This is not so much gee, I'm going to go find god. This is god crawling into the midst of our lives, and it's not pretending it's all puppy dogs and rainbows.

GLENN: You have a theological degree, do you not?

BRAD: I do.

GLENN: So how is this working in Hollywood? I know they -- you didn't work on the film for a while because the disagreements. But you got -- you were back on, and you seemed to have won all the major battles.

BRAD: It was a fascinating thing to watch this go through Hollywood because I don't know -- that spiritual movies are not something they're used to doing. Not to disparage anybody. The movies me make are hard to make. I didn't want this to be a story torn apart by a whole bunch of other opinions. So it took about five years to get through development and to really come up with the story that we all thought was fantastic. It was great to work with folks that don't believe what I believe because we were striving to find something that would communicate to everyone. And I didn't want to compromise the truth that it's built on. And I think we actually got there in a marvelous way. I think this story -- you don't have to know anything about Christianity, and it's not asking you to embrace all of that. But it is a story about the God that is of the Bible. And so, you know, I knew that we would have the Christian Taliban wanting to, you know, absolutely go through this with every, you know, fine-tooth comb.

GLENN: Well, I would like to hear them take on Tolkien. I have a hard time finding Christ in the lord of rings. I get it but certainly not a moment I walk out going you know what? I love Jesus.

[Laughter]

And this one I walk out feeling uplifted. I can feel God in the message.

BRAD: Well, it's an encounter with god that I don't think most people would have like you could have. For most people, God's a big voice over. We took literary license, and we displayed the trinity as three actual characters. You know, Jesus in the Bible is the only one who is incarnated. But in this story, it's a marvelous drama. You see God the Father, God the Son, god the Holy Spirit relating to each other and just a warm, wonderful way that is not religious.

GLENN: And quite honestly, you don't even know at the end if this was a dream or not. I mean, you know -- relax, people. Relax.

BRAD: And we did that on purpose so that people don't feel like they have to make a call on this.

GLENN: Correct. Right.

BRAD: It's more try on a nice coat. If you enjoy it, do something with it. If not, no harm no foul.

GLENN: Brad, when does this open up?

BRAD: It opens March 2nd in 1,000 theaters with a wonderful event attached to it. And then March 3rd it is opening 3,000 theaters nationwide.

GLENN: I cannot recommend this highly enough. The shack. Bring your friends. Bring your family. Bring people that just want to see a great movie. Bring people who are depressed, who are struggling with something. Just go see a great movie. Don't tell them this is going to change their life. It's just going to be a great movie that perhaps they will find some truth in and perhaps change their course just a little bit. Let God do the work here. The shack opening March 3rd nationwide. March 2nd in select theaters. Thank you so much, Brad. And excellent job.

BRAD: Thanks, Glenn.

GLENN: You bet.

STU: People are so sensitive about everything. There isn't really this little red guy with his hair on fire that represents angry living in your brain. However, inside out was a movie, and it was not anti-brain. It was a funny way to look at what actually kind of might happen in your brain; right? And there's no reason to because it's not theologically perfect to your beliefs to bash a movie to try to do something good.

GLENN: It really is so well done theologically if you accept the fact that, you know, Jesus isn't a lion. If you can accept that Jesus isn't really a lion, you can certainly accept this.

STU: And to be clear, we don't know if he's a lion or not. To be clear. There's someone out there that might believe that and is offended.

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[break]

GLENN: I tell you. The shack is really funny. I don't want to tell you any of the lines because I don't want to blow it for you. But it's really funny. It's funny. And I don't understand why anyone would have a problem with allegory when we all know C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian writers of all time A made Jesus into a lion and B said the better story than that is the Lord of the Rings. Where's the Jesus character there? I mean, I don't understand the arrogance. Oh, so you're a better theologian than C.S. Lewis. Okay. That's interesting. You can handle those two but no to to the shack.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.