Shadow boxing

I read a post this morning and in it was the following sentence:

The other instigates a secular political war against imaginary enemies.

Imaginary enemies! For the likes of me who live with an oppositional viewpoint to everything the danger is that when I come to peace with something I will have to find something else to be in opposition to, and can of course just come up with something totally from my imagination. ‘Binding’ something imaginary of course needs a very tight noose indeed!!

The post was looking at how evangelicals can paint a picture of what is ‘evil’, signs of ‘decadence’ in society, the ‘loss of Judeo-Christian’ values (and of course terms such as ‘pro-life’ becomes tightly defined into the abortion issue while being able to support one of the biggest anti-life industries – that of the various war-machines, including never questioning where their pension fund is invested…) We can easily do this either by stating what the ‘enemy is / enemies are’ or create an environment of general fear so as we lose sight on the real issues threatening our future.

It reminds me of a dream I had recently, the first part of which might be relevant here. I walked with Gayle into a large auditorium where someone is holding forth on the various prophetic insights they had, and as they did this they noted the presence of someone from a different background who held to different perspectives. An acknowledgement was made, and a welcome, with ‘we need to hear later from xxx’. However no space was made for this person and once all the prophetic revelation was given out the person holding forth simply began to shadow-box around the stage and the auditorium. Realising that this was going to be the ‘content’ Gayle and I left.

Shadow-boxing – looks impressive, but there is no opponent. To shadow-box is simply to pretend there is an opponent there, to duck, to weave, to jab, to punch. It is all for the show, for the watching crowd…but it has no reality to it. Hence the post today and that sentence that caught my attention.

What are the true enemies? what is the enemy doing – after all Paul said he was not unaware of such scemes 2 Cor. 2:11? how do we foster what – even if imperfectly – is moving humanity forward? How do we avoid the shadow-boxing? Loads of questions for you and me.

7 thoughts on “Shadow boxing

  1. Can we have a safe space for dialogues and to flesh some of these out in the new year, thank you for letting me ask 🙂

  2. Thank you Martin for this so interesting and your dream fascinating. It is very problematic the way that many evangelical Christians and I’ve been guilty of that see demonic activity in everything and are in battles with perceived enemies who they ‘demonise’ or fighting for one aspect of the ‘pro life’ arena whilst quite ignoring the other as you speak about. I respect the attitude of many Catholics to pro-life which includes being against all issues which threaten life from in the womb to old age and everything in between. I think you are so right when you speak and have spoken about the idea that demonic activity completely loses all power when enemies stop dehumanising each other and start to interact and trust builds. I always find Psalm 133 helpful as it says that when ‘brothers’ and that could mean and I have prayed that way particularly in the past that even Jews and Muslims live together in unity… ultimately it causes the Lord to bestow blessing even life evermore – powerful words/reality! I watched a documentary on the Israel/Palestinian peace process in the last century recently and it was riveting to watch Rabin and Arafat begin to trust each other and honour each other after being so deeply suspicious and being sworn enemies. Their speeches just before the peace treaty was signed were so moving, genuine and respectful you could hear a pin drop and I could feel the very most pure and beautiful essence of Christ there even watching from this future moment far more than I do when doing ‘Christian stuff’. It was very humbling.

    1. Thanks Joanna. Sadly the ‘God of the Bible has decreed’… war and eventually Armageddon seems to blind the eyes to ‘we are all of one family’ thus all war is civil war. The Prince of peace becomes a super-endowed Emperor who exercises peace by the sword, rather than by his own blood.
      The encouragement is as you illustrate with Rabin and Arafat that a meeting, a hearing, a seeing of each other can move things so much forward.

  3. First a minor point of adjustment, I think you mean 2 Cor. 2:11…In 6:11 Paul is complaining that he had not withheld his affection to them…but back on point in 2 Cor. 2 Pauls suggestion that he was not ignorant of the enemies schemes seems to follow the idea of wide-spread forgiveness…as a means of thwarting the enemy.

    “You should rather turn to forgive and comfort”…

    This was such sin that it doesn’t even occur among the pagans…(if my memory serves)…

    If I were going to load a spiritual gun…and aim it at some kind of enemy…it would probably be the act of ostracizing or excluding a particular individual or group…this is what Paul actually kind of suggested, but then repents in the second letter and tells them “enough is enough, we don’t want the enemy to win here stop the exile”….

    Unfortunately a lot of our church culture is more than willing to load up a cannon of “other” and exile entire people groups based on mythical evil that is meant to induce fear and separation.

    I saw a recent meme that asked “Where is God during war?” …under the rubble is the answer…

    1. Thanks Mark – reference adjusted. And the mythical evil is exactly where we have gone wrong… but can feel we are ever so right and effective.

  4. It is much easier to fight mythical enemies. Pronouncements can be made, prayers delivered up, protests, letters, whatever. And there might even be push back from the groups who feel threatened to justify the shadow boxing. Mythical enemies usually can’t hurt you. But overall, its an easy way to direct peoples’ attention while often other activities are undertaken. I don’t think you can separate the need for mythical enemies especially in many churches and church administrative bodies from corruption and sexual scandals. Over and over again we learn that leaders in so many churches are corrupt, lie, and engage in destructive relationships. The power they are given corrupts them and shadow boxing gives them cover and provides a good show for those in the paying audience.

  5. If I might add one more comment (a please is inserted here)…

    I’ve recently been thinking a bit about another aspect here, the “show” part you mention…

    Shadow boxing in this context actually can serve as a very diabolical sort of distraction…

    When we accept and prop up “synthetic spirituality” we enable something akin to processed food in our diets…and quite possibly accelerate spiritual heart conditions by bad theological cholesterol…

    If I may…the “show” can be used in very deceitful ways and our church culture might want to rethink even allowing small snippets of it…

    For reference here’s a bit of how the “show” is being used stateside:

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