'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.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

RELATED: If Trump can support criminal justice reform, so can everyone else

Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.

The social power of 'Reddit' is helping teens of anti-vaxxers get vaccinated

Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Reddit certainly earns its motto as "the front page of the internet," with roughly 540 million visitors monthly, the third most-visited website in the U.S., sixth worldwide. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit is a largely anonymous platform. People's faces are masked, their names are disguised. Which makes their hidden humanity all the more impactful.

On Reddit, both news and serious information are threaded in among gifs of cats and posts about Call of Duty, but that doesn't make it any less important. For many people, Reddit signifies the town hall where news is passed along or stomped into obscurity.

It gives you a healthy read of our society as a whole.

RELATED: Forget Rabies, 'Woke' Hipsters in Brooklyn Skipping Vaccines to Prevent 'Dogtism'

A recent Pew Poll found that Reddit leans left politically at a rate higher than the general public. Most users are young men, whose extensive internet use gives them a gatekeeping authority over what information should be considered important. From there, it spreads through the rest of the internet and helps shape public opinion.

So, it makes a lot of sense that Reddit has become a sort of makeshift safe place for children who grew up with parents who refused to give them vaccinations. Of course, Reddit also vehemently mocks the anti-vaccination folks, for better or for worse, often the latter, but that's a subject for another day.

The Daily Dot recently published an article on this strange intersection of ideology and nerd culture. "Desperate teens of anti-vaxxers are turning to Reddit for vaccination advice."

The article follows Ethan, whose parents are staunchly against vaccinations:

But Ethan is not his parents. When he turned 18, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wasn't sure where else to begin, so he turned to Reddit.

Where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?" Ethan asked his fellow redditors in December. Ethan's post flooded with over 1,000 comments from users offering their encouragement and support, along with practical advice. "Good on you for getting your vaccinations," one user responded. "It's never too late and you're not only protecting yourself but those around you who truly can't get vaccinated.

Ethan told the Daily Dot that some redditors even offered to give him money via GoFundMe or PayPal if insurance didn't cover the shots. "People were really supportive, and that was really cool," he said. "I had the blessing of Reddit. They were supporting me on a decision my mom freaked out about." Ethan is not alone. "More and more teens are turning to places like Reddit to seek out information on where and how to get vaccinated, and if it's too late."

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations, there's a positive message to all of this. A human message. Hopeful. Proof that, in an increasingly caustic world, people can turn to one another in times of need.

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations, there's a positive message to all of this. A human message. Hopeful.

Now more than ever, that is crucial.

Given the social power of Reddit, it is often characterized as a tool for politicians or political movements. Throughout the forum, various political ideologies gather and organize like factions in some ideological war. A political thread on Reddit is like a Facebook comment section at its most hostile, arrogant or confident, but with no identities attached to the attacks, rants or opinions. When you find yourself riled into a debate, it's easy to wonder who's behind the replies, especially the more vicious ones.

People often characterize it as a hive-mind message board full of circlejerk memes and jokes about SpongeBob. This description isn't entirely wrong, but it is shallow and incomplete. At its core, Reddit is humane. Its users, for the most part, are compassionate. If it were an experiment on human nature, the results would be gratifying.