Now playing in theaters, “The Shack” may be an opportunity for an enlightening conversation about God with family and friends.
That’s according to Darren Mulligan, a Christian music artist who grew up in Ireland and who formed the band We Are Messengers two years ago along with his wife, Heidi Mulligan. In a conversation with LifeZette, the frontman shared how he found Jesus and “fell in love with God” about nine years ago, though he was involved with the Catholic faith for most of his life.
“Good morals don’t keep a man. Good religion doesn’t keep a man. Only Jesus does that,” said Mulligan, 37, who lives in Tennessee with his wife and three young children.
Mulligan had a role in the soundtrack for “The Shack” and said the storyline captivated him.
Based on The New York Times best-selling novel by William Paul Young, “The Shack” was released March 3 in the United States and surpassed its box office opening weekend expectations. The novel, originally self-published, has sold more than 20 million copies to date.
“After the abduction and assumed death of Mackenzie Allen Phillip’s youngest daughter, Missy, Mack receives a letter and has the suspicion it’s from God asking him to return to The Shack where Missy may have been murdered,” notes IMBd.com about the film. “After contemplating it, he leaves his home to go to The Shack for the first time since Missy’s abduction and encounters what will change his life forever.”
“The Shack” soundtrack features songs from such artists as Lady Antebellum, Hillsong United, Francesca Battistelli, Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw (who also co-stars in the movie), and Dierks Bentley.
“Jesus is much more loving than I ever thought.”
We Are Messenger’s song “I’ll Think About You” was written expressly for the “The Shack” and is the only song that appears in its full version in the film. The song addresses the pain of losing a loved one — Mulligan describes it as a “love song to God.”
“Jesus is much more loving than I ever thought,” Mulligan said.
This kind of song project is “not the kind of thing I would normally do,” Mulligan said, but he noted he was “honored” to have a role in the soundtrack. It is a “really great privilege to have been involved.”
“Something in this story captivated me, so I said yes,” Mulligan said. “I sat in my bedroom and the very first line I came out with was, ‘When I don’t know what to do, I’ll think about you.’ I was imagining the loss in my life, imagining what the potential loss would be if I lost some like Heidi,” he said, referring to his wife, whom he met when he was 19 and she was 17.
The passionate song lyrics say, in part: “I don’t know where you’re going, but I’ll meet you there. I can’t blame you for leaving, but it’s still not fair. And when I don’t know what to sing, I’ll sing about you.”
Mulligan and his wife moved to Tennessee in 2014 after he was offered a record deal with Word Entertainment, a Christian faith-based entertainment company in Nashville. “The Shack” movie, he said, showed him a “side of Christianity that I haven’t seen.”
The film has been the subject of a deep well of questioning and skepticism from the Christian community for using a black woman named “Papa” to depict God. Octavia Spencer — the Oscar-nominated actress for her role in the film “Hidden Figures” (she won an Oscar in the same supporting-role category in 2012 for her role in “The Help”) plays “Papa.” Some people have called the film’s depiction of God heretical.
Mulligan said he was surprised “to see Christians trying to tear their brothers and sisters apart without having even watched the movie. There is a better way to love each other, even when we disagree. To do that is to actually love each other.”
Referring to a phone conversation he had with William Paul Young, Mulligan said he “never heard a man describe the Gospel so beautifully … I want the world to know what we are for. And what we are for is Jesus.”