Spotlight: A Movie Worth Watching

I spent most of my day in tears yesterday.

I spent the morning watching another rough cut of the movie adaptation of The Shack.  I found myself deeply moved by the retelling of this story. Tears welled up often with a tenderness for the work of God in the midst of human tragedy. I’m not sure when it will be released yet. They are still working on it, and pushed the release back to November 18, 2016.

Last night I was in tears for far different reasons.  When a dinner date we had planned cancelled, we went to see the new film, Spotlight, which tells the story of the Boston Globe reporters uncovering sexual abuse by Catholic priests and how they were enabled by a hierarchy more interested in protecting their reputation than little boys and girls. I mostly see movies for entertainment purposes. I get enough pain in my emails and conversations from the brutality of life.  I’m not going to review the movie here though it has received much acclaim and is incredibly well done. I just want to say everyone needs to see this movie. Admittedly it isn’t easy to watch, but I think everyone would find a depth of their soul enlightened…

  • To feel the pain of those who were abused and for so long ignored by the people that who were supposed to have protected them. Many of them committed suicide or overdosed on drugs and alcohol to deal with the undeserved shape and a pain no one would believe.
  • To be reminded how the desire to protect a religious system can twist otherwise well-meaning people into co-conspirators of the worst kind of evil, all while they maintain their place and status in the culture. The power of spiritual hierarchies is unfathomable and unrelenting.
  • To appreciate the courage of those who pursued the truth even when everyone stood against them and made it nearly impossible to find

And don’t be so naive as to think this is only a Catholic problem. Although it reached systemic proportions that boggle the mind due to the specific nature of that institution, I know many Protestant churches who engineered similar cover-ups, one who refused to expose an elder who was molesting his stepchild and a denominational official who kept moving his son to different congregations even though he was abusing women in every one he’d been to. The hubris of a “church” institution being superior to the state and able to handle it’s own problems, combined with the fear of negative public perception was a powerful brew that led many to the poorest of choices.

What a tender day! One that will shape me in many ways for days and experiences to come. And to all those who have been abused in their youth by someone they trusted, my heart goes out to you as does the heart of God.  You are deeply loved and your brokenness is not to your shame. You are not damaged goods; you are a beloved son or daughter of a Gracious Father. Your abuse is not proof that he does not love you, only that our culture is permeated by those who chose evil over health and healing.

May you find your path to healing and freedom as well and triumph over your tragedy.

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6 Comments
  1. DIXIE DIAMANTI January 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Being a Life Coach, Victim’s advocate, and once a victim myself to childhood sexual abuse by a trusted loved one, I thank you Wayne, for bringing attention to this within the organizational confines of religion. It is more prevalent with the churches than anywhere and perpetrators hide within their walls, protected by men who know nothing about the crime. The more we stand up for the victim and expose this insidious crime the more the light of Jesus can shine into the ugly darkness and it has to go. There is healing and restoration to those who are victims. Blessings!

  2. Wayne Jacobsen January 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    You’re welcome, Dixie. I find it such a nightmare and my heart goes out to all the innocent victims of any kind of sexual predator. Even Jesus indicated that defrauding a little child is as serious a sin as there is…

  3. Tom Walker January 16, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you, Wayne. Appreciate your heart of compassion so much.

  4. Heleen January 17, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Thank you Wayne. Though I walked through a healing process of impressive lengths and I find truth in your words that God loves me, it is always a very encouraging thing that touches me deeply, when someone is prepared to state out loud that evil is evil, and that shame does not define me.
    Your compassion and love for both God and his children is refreshing and honest. Thank you for this post.

  5. Becca January 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Oh Wayne, how much I appreciate this post. I was talking with a couple lately who told me of this film and how i needed to see it…i see why.

    As you already know, i have first hand experience with abuse of this type, except it didn’t happen as a child. that’s the most painful part of my own personal journey towards healing…people have said to me, “You keep saying you were sexually abused by this man, but that’s not possible because you are an adult.” So little does our world truly know about the impact of brainwashing and how victims are exploited by people who have significant power over them…it is NOT possible to consent to sexual activity in the office of a psychotherapist. It’s professional incest and there is still so little we know about the damage it does to people. there is so little help available to people who have been sexually, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually exploited and abused by people they went to for seeking help to RECOVER from abuse, not seeking to compound their pain with issues that only make them feel more abandoned and like “lost causes” when they finally wake up from the delusion of “but i really thought he LOVED me…i truly thought I was special!”

    It’s one year since the anonymous victim of my abuser reached out to me for help which sent me into a downward spiral when I discovered I wasn’t the only one…I still to this day want to believe this man really did love me because I was unique…it’s so hard to find solid ground now that i’ve been threatened with lawsuits and been told i need to lie to cover up more of this man’s sins. will my so-called “courage” really pay off? will giving up life as i knew it be worth it in the end? Will God bring redemption out of this horrible mess, or am I still believing more lies by trying to be a hero to the many others he is hurting in one way or another?

    I’m struggling to believe God these days…i made a fool out of myself with religious delusions or thinking God was “calling” me to do things when I may have just been full of fear and hiding behind scriptures to feel safe. I don’t know which way is up anymore, but deep down i guess i do know there is hope, otherwise i wouldn’t be posting this on your blog.

    You were and continue to be one of the only men who hasn’t beat me down for being broken…you don’t sugar coat things, but you also never make me feel like i am beyond redemption.

    Your love and authenticity may just be what gives me strength to trust God again, instead of putting my hope in the hands of broken and corrupt humans…

    Bottom line for this comment is, THANK YOU for shedding more light on this very important issue.
    Thanks,
    Becca

  6. Sharon Bryce January 23, 2016 at 2:24 am

    We in Australia had a royal commission (an investigation) into the sexual abuse of children in institutional settings last year. This included all religious organisations. I have no more illusions about the safety of religious settings. As you say the abuse is widespread through all denominations and other faiths too. The systematisation of faith of any kind seems to be a common factor. A fact many experienced family physicians already know from listening to their patients. This is not a small or isolated problem. Looks like an important movie. Thank you for the recommendation.

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