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Reviewing ‘The Heart of Man’—A Modern-Day Telling of the Prodigal Son

A poignantly brave and enriching modern-day retelling of the Prodigal Son determined to remind each of us that we are the one He left the 99 to find.
Photos by Unearthed Pictures


“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it—it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.” ―Brené Brown

Shame is an insidious culprit that pretends to be our best friend while ruthlessly stealing the music from our lives. It’s a grotesque companion I’ve personally journeyed many paths with. None of which I’m proud of, but all of which I’m thankful for.

It has been pioneers like William Paul Young, author of “The Shack,” and Brené Brown, author of “Daring Greatly,” that have put the topic of shame and vulnerability at the forefront of acceptable coffee-table chat. The movement they catalyzed has avalanched with the recent release of “The Heart of Man,” produced by Sypher Films.

“The Heart of Man” is a modern-day retelling of the Prodigal Son parable found in Luke 15:11–32—the timeless tale of a father’s relentless pursuit of his blindly self-sabotaging son—interwoven with interviews of top thought-leaders, William Paul Young (“The Shack”), Dr. Dan Allender (Professor of Counseling Psychology), John Lynch (co-author, “The Cure) and Jackie Hill Perry (spoken word artist), on brokenness, identity and shame.

With showings nationwide on October 17th, followed by releases on iTunes, DVD and Blu-ray in the fall as well as Netflix and other streaming platforms in the new year, this docudrama is an unequivocal must-see.

From its majestic cinematography to its gripping scoring, daring exploration and soul-bearing narration, this is a film that seeks to uncover the state of the human heart at its rawest and in turn, messiest.

Scene by scene, this film vulnerably unearths the foundation of the human heart—that at our truest self we (or at least the majority of us) feel falsely worthless and unlovable, and how, from that deep root of shame, compulsive and destructive behaviors are derived. Ruthlessly addictive behaviors from pornography, sex, substances and accolades to eating disorders, violence and self-harm.

“The Heart of Man,” passionately reminds us that no matter the depths shame may lead us to, we never stop having a loving father who is waiting for us. Yearning for us. Hoping we will allow Him access to the dark hidden corners of our soul.

“Probably, the most unexplainable reality in all of the universe is how you can have everything and simply want something else that you have been told you can’t have. That’s madness! You’ve got billions of dollars and you sell your soul for the quarter you see on the ground,” says Dr. Dan Allender.

The Heart of Man

It is madness, yet no less true. Why is that? Dr. Allender explains how shame drives these behaviors, dishonestly convincing us of its limitless virtue, “Shame is that thing that drives my compulsive behavior, in whatever manner. I’m never going to be enough, so I have permission—I have entitlement—to do wrong.”

And as the film shows, the blind drive towards self-sabotage, compelled by this false sense of permission, may bring with it fleeting moments of pleasure and release, but also a lifetime of destruction.

It’s here that “The Heart of Man,” passionately reminds us that no matter the depths shame may lead us to, we never stop having a loving father who is waiting for us. Yearning for us. Hoping we will allow Him access to the dark hidden corners of our soul.

God collected our tears…our sorrows actually mean something.

In one particularly climactic moment in the film, we are reminded that, “What’s terrifying about any kind of liberation, especially in the soul, is that [we] don’t have any control over when it comes or how. [We] just know that it’s coming. [We] know that He is coming for [us]. And that He loves [us] too much to allow [us] to stay in the world that [we] have built for [ourselves].” In the end, the Father always comes, he rescues his pummeled, despairing and captive children—when we allow Him to.

In the midst of our deepest sin, no matter how far we have strayed or hurt those we love, there is a key component to His grace that one must never forget, “The door is open. You can leave anytime you want… He [is] not demanding that [we] stop [the hidden sin] in [the] moment. He [is only] demanding that [we] let Him into the moment.”

When we let Him into the moment we see afresh how true William Paul Young’s words are, “God collects our tears… [which] means that [our] sorrows actually mean something. [It means that] redemption happens.”

For more information and show times visit: www.heartofmanmovie.com/tickets.