In Praise of Darkness by Adam F. Braun

Adam Braun Twitter4f6abe6_jpgThis reflection was initially a part of an attempt to create radical liturgies that might connect the frequent theological bias towards ‘light’ and the implicit White Supremacy that such theologies perpetuate.  In addition, this particular reflection was inspired by a friend’s resistance to societal gender norms.




In Praise of Darkness

Bless the Darkness, o my soul,
that part of me that is hidden from the light
The darkness holds me before I am born.
And the moment the light hits, I want to return,
to the darkness.
In the light, I am ever analyzed
every part of me is laid bare
to identify
to categorize
to be understood
Under the light, I am but a mere object to be synthesized
into someone else’s meaning,
into a supporting role in someone else’s story.

There is no light of truth.
The light only manufactures facts and knowledge.
Damn you, light,
I do not want to be understood.

Only in darkness is there truth,
There we are forced to pay attention to that which we cannot see
And there’s nothing like SEEING  to distract from truth.

In the light, I am individual.  Separate and compartmentalized.
But in the darkness, I am and we are more.
In the darkness, we rest.
In the darkness, we transgress the gaze of the Big Other.
In the darkness, we celebrate life.

The darkness is a messianic web,
for in It I do not know where you end and I begin.

Adam F. Braun
is a PhD candidate in New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.  Previously, he has worked in Emergent communities: a small congregation in NC, a Campus Ministry in Chicago, and most recently as co-facilitator of Boston Pub Church.  His interests are in the Narrativity of Religions, Materialist readings of the Gospels and Paul, and the Deconstruction of Theism within the Christian tradition.  He is completing his dissertation on a deconstruction of “Kingdom” in Luke’s Parable of the Minas.

Categories: General, Liturgy, Poetry, Racism, Ritual

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6 replies

  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! Thanks.


  2. Thank you for your beautiful, liturgical praise of darkness.

    When I was a Quaker (subjected to constant praise and overuse of the metaphor of the Light) I was frequently moved in Meeting for Worship to witness to the nurturing, life-giving qualities of the Dark. I also spoke of the harsh ways in which light can be used or experienced, as you have in your poem. When I began to celebrate the wheel of the year, the waxing and waning of sun and moon, the distinct but interwoven beauty of the cycles of light and dark in each day and year, and even more when I began to garden, I came to love it all.


  3. I read recently, ‘Seeing is overrated.” Darkness focuses us on our other senses; hearing, smell, touch. There is truth to be found here, too!

    Thanks for sharing your poem!


  4. Jana Ruble created a song reclaiming the darkness with the words “Light and darkness” for the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. This song was also sung at one of the Reclaiming conferences. On the Goddess Pilgrimage we descend caves where during rituals and meditations in which we reclaim the darkness as a place of transformation. According to Marija Gimbutas, in Old Europe white was the color of death while black was the color of transformation. In Old Europe darkness was associated with the moon, the womb, and the cool dark place where seeds must be stored before are planted again. The Indo-Europeans in contrast worshipped the Sun and the Shining Deities associated with the Sun and associated darkness and the oldest of the Goddesses with the underworld (as in the place of the dead).

    Thanks for your efforts to reclaim the darkness.


  5. Just to mention, I remember a magnificent, three-part series on “Kali Ma, the Dark Creator,” contributed to FAR a while back by Nancy Vedder-Shults. The introduction begins here :

    “In contrast to our dualistic thinking here in the West — thinking that separates light from dark, life from death, and chaos from order – there are a number of Eastern philosophies and religions that have retained a more holistic approach to reality. One religion that has done a good job of preserving the awesomeness of its deities by representing them through the full spectrum of life, death and rebirth is the Hindu culture in India.”


  6. Beautiful! It reminds me of a characterization of one of Jung’s shadow functions. The one you describe is much like introverted intuition which is the shadow (demon) of extroverted sensing. And indeed, extroverted sensing “only manufactures facts and knowledge,” while its opposite, inner intuition is our way to fathom the mystical connections.


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