Over the weekend, I watched Spotlight with my newspaper and yearbook class. It is the story of the crew of The Boston Globe that investigated the abuse within the Catholic Church in the early 2000s.
I am raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. I went to a Catholic grade school, which meant that I was sitting in Mass every Friday morning, every feast day, and most Sunday mornings or Saturday evenings since I was in kindergarten. Around 5th to 7th grade, my family started listening to K-LOVE, a radio station that plays Christian Contemporary music. Then my mom hurt her back about three years ago, and she was physically unable to sit in our hard church pews for an entire Catholic mass. So, we brought our faith into our home. We read the weekly readings and said the Our Father, Nicene Creed, sang hymns and had our own "prayer time." It enabled our family to talk about the readings, to make connections between them and our lives, to share prayer requests, to talk about what it means to believe in God, what it means to be a Christian, what it means to have faith and to act it out every single day. My dad especially started to forward us devotional emails from All Pro Dad and Focus on the Family and articles of Charles Swindoll. We have volunteered at our local food cupboard, and participated in our church's annual service project. We donate old clothes and textiles to St. Vincent de Paul. So I grew to realize the truth that my faith and the physical Church did not have to go hand in hand. I mean, think about it- where was Jesus when he performed most of the miracles? when he preached? He was in the fields, in the mountains, on the hillsides, even on stinky fishing boats!!
I had heard about the abuse in the Church before, but I never dwelled on it- no one likes to focus of the flaws of the most holy institution in their life. This film did not turn me away from the Church because I can separate the Church from the men. The abuse was the MEN not the CHURCH.
Before watching the movie I read Focus of the Family's movie review of it. The Plugged In staff had some good analogies and put the scandal in perspective in terms of men vs Church.
But while God's Church is sacred, its churches can be less so. Those who fill sanctuaries are products of the world, too. Broken and battered. Sometimes evil slithers under the door, tainting classrooms and pulpits, defiling the very altar of our faith. Our priests and pastors and leaders can fail. Our shepherds can turn into wolves.
Spotlight, the movie, makes for difficult viewing, particularly for those who hold priests and cardinals and the Catholic church itself in high regard. Indeed, the real-life scandal on which Spotlight is based is a difficult story for many Christians to acknowledge. But as painful as it is, it's absolutely right to laud those who brought the outrage into the open. Secrets like these need to be exposed: As Luke 8:17 reads, "For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light."
The Catholic church is made of men, he says. But the Church—the real Church—is eternal.
These coercive elements of power and faith make Spotlight a challenging, troubling movie—hard to watch, hard to get out of your mind. It sticks with you, as well-told stories do. As shocking stories do. It's a horrific reminder of the evil that people can do. Any people.
But maybe that skepticism is good. Even wise. The Bible itself shows us many a fallen leader, many a hypocrite. None of those wayward souls diminished the Light that is Christ. And if we are honest, we will realize that what we see in Spotlight is a mess of humanity's making, not God's.
faith, family, friends, and food <3