Speaking Truth to the Shadows
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
I’ve been spending a few weeks delving into Brian Wright’s Right from the Heart ministry. I’ve done this, because I want to separate the men from their theology. We are focused too much on the monsters this theology creates, and not the theology itself being the problem. Some great guys have peddled horrible theologies.
I’ve talked about hollow hope, and stagnant peace. Today I want to talk about fear that destroys love.
The shadows we cast
The best day to take photographs are overcast days. Why? Because there are no shadows. You don’t have people squinting to keep their eyes open. You don’t have harsh contrasts aging everyone and everything a decade. You just have equalized lighting diffused by the clouds in front of the sun.
The point is, oftentimes when we see those crisp shadows it’s because the sun is fully out, shining on the world. It is not darkness that creates shadows; it’s light.
There was a time I was forcefully put in the darkness. There is no hiding in it, because everything is darkness. Your eyes adjust, and you see it all. Sure- you can’t see everything well, but you can see everything. Then light shines. The people and things that were comfortable being out in the open scatter. Once there is light, they scurry to those shadows.
Fig Tree’s box lights
A good studio will only make you consider the lighting when the lighting is basically a character.
Like during Fig Tree’s livecast, you are supposed to see that the candles are lit. You are not, however, supposed to consider how the space itself is lit. I have two box lights hitting me from opposite 45° angles. I actually do this, to destroy any shadow that might show up on camera. This should leave you with no feeling at all regarding the lighting.
That’s not how life works. I’m removing how the lighting is done from your thoughts, while really lighting the space. In reality, you only think about lighting when those deep shadows show up.
Casting a shadow
At face value, nothing is wrong with this video. It’s the focus, not the message of the focus. Sure- if we have control over our shadows, we should always consider what we have chosen to shadow. Are we giving shade to a parched and overworked prophet? That’s a good shadow to give. Are we attempting to hide or dismiss someone’s point of view that could be helpful? Are we avoiding something that doesn’t need to be avoided anymore? Are we seeing that Ravi Zacharias was a bad guy and instead of looking at the theology that put him there, we are burying the issue and looking away? That would be a misuse of a shadow.
In reality, God’s light will create shadows, and if we stand before it, our shadow will be big and long. This video accidentally causes those who stand in the light to feel anxious about their shadows, to accidentally hide things in them because one wouldn’t want to be someone shadowing the good things. When you are too afraid to not keep a light on the good things, you become overzealous shadowing the bad things.
The bad things want the shadows.
Instead of being fearful where your personal shadows fall, maybe instead be active about fighting the things that hide in them. Shadow casters can be bad people, but, since every single one of us cast shadows, weaponizing shadows seems superfluous.
Yes, at face value nothing is wrong with this video, until you realize this theology is one of the key reasons why abuse remains in a church. Have you actually stopped and considered why the Southern Baptist Convention is attempting to hide and dismiss abuse when it’s so blatantly obvious? It’s because they don’t want to be actively caught having sheltered these predators in a shadow! The entire system has weaponized the shadows of congregants so successfully, they must react in the same way they’ve taught their sheep to react. They spend countless resources and money adding light to the good. They refuse to talk about the darkness. In doing so, it becomes easier for the evil things to hide in it.
This is all a focus and perspective game. This is all about widening the lens and pointing the finger where it needs to be pointed.
In the same way I used to be uncomfortable listening to Sunday Sermons in Paulding County, Georgia, there is a reason why there are a growing number who are finding my statements uncomfortable. I’m actively naming the brokenness of a large swath of theologians and believers. I also know there are millions of Christians who don’t want what I’m serving. I am the masked magician of theological writers because sleight of hand doesn’t belong in the Church.
This is the image of real love. Instead of demonizing those who had cast the shadow, destroying the things hiding in it.
This is the image of real love. This is what it means to walk to the cross. You must trust God enough to walk towards death, and accept that death, so new life can rise without this damaging theology.
This is what real love looks like. Accepting the wilderness, because the “city” is too damaged to survive. This is the image of real love.