1. notleia says:

    OTOH, there is a tradition of celebrating the feminine aspects of God, but it’s Jewish. Also, the question of gender doesn’t have to be either/or. It could be both/neither.
    But there’s always the question of perception: would a culture whose ideas of legitimate power were tied up in masculinity take moral commands seriously from a goddess? “Papa’s” argument has merit on that front.

  2. The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to with a female pronoun, but people get way off into the weeds about it. Like you said, God embodies all virtues perfectly, and we only reflect portions of him to varying degrees.

    I’ve never struggled with jealousy over other authors’ success. I’m glad Young’s had financial success with The Shack. What DOES bother me greatly is his audience’s acceptance of errant beliefs, driven by the innate human desire for comfort. It also bothers me that The Shack is just another work people can use to build a case that fiction SHOULD be a sermon (because, well, heck, it’s sold over 10 million copies, it must be good!).

    I’m trying to be careful in this next paragraph, and to keep an objective perspective. I also don’t want to be self-promoting, but to make the point I want to make, I have to talk briefly of my own experience publishing and getting feedback from readers. My debut novel, Cain, attempts to honestly explore the issue of human suffering and why God allows terrible things (like Abel’s murder) to happen. Yet it explores it through fiction rather than through a sermon. It delves deep into very bad characters who do terrible things, and strives to show a biblically sound portrayal of how God and the world work, instead of sermonizing it. The book forces the reader through some very uncomfortable experiences, and because of this, it’s been lambasted as being completely unscriptural. I even had someone claim that because Cain didn’t convert in the end, the book was unscriptural, even though the Bible implies he never repented. I also had someone give the prequel, Adam, a negative review saying I made a “dangerous error” by having Adam and Eve sew fig leaves together to hide their nakedness (because that’s totally not written explicitly in Genesis 3:7–hint, it definitely is).

    The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve been surprised to learn just how little people really know about the Bible. Biblical illiteracy is epidemic high. And in our world of digital connection, we perpetuate the problem by sharing emotionally stimulating, yet theologically dangerous, content with each other and praising it for its “virtues” (by that we mean how it made us feel). In return, we come to feel we know enough to have the confidence of an expert theologian. We become, “Live, Laugh, Love” theologians, critical of anything that damages our three-point, alliterative theology (I’m referring to the L, L, L of Live Laugh Love).

    The end result is that we praise things that should not be praised, we criticize things that should not be criticized, and we create a strange sub-culture where honest artistic expression is misunderstood and maligned while anti-biblical propaganda experiences financial and critical success as “biblical truth.” I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, because human emotions are a powerful force. And if we’re not daily bowing our emotions to God’s headship, we will consistently choose our emotions over his reality. But I feel protective of author friends and those that I read who make amazing work that goes unnoticed or unappreciated. I’m also creeped out at the possibility that I might, at times, reject uncomfortable truth for a comfortable lie, and hope that we can (as believers) have an open enough community to gently point it out to each other. Hope that makes sense! Great post.

What do you think?