“We're not anti-faith; we're anti-cruelty.”
So proclaims the website of a new, independent movie from By the Glass Productions. “We share a goal to give spiritual abuse survivors a voice,” they continue. This voice is epitomized through the perhaps-uncomfortably-familiar heroine created by writer and producer Andie Redwine, and found in the scenes of Paradise Recovered. A modern retelling of the Good Samaritan, this film introduces us to Esther, a denim-jumpered, hair-in-a-bun, homeschooled young woman who is sheltered and earnest until her life unravels and she begins wrestling with the world, the church, and herself.
Like Jesus, Redwine knows the power of story. A few months ago I spoke with Andie while she stood at a bus stop across from a field of horses in Southern Indiana, where the movie was partially filmed. “I'm waiting for the kids,” she says. “I do miss homeschooling. But this is good for us.” She's a work-at-home, adoptive mom of 4 who serves up unlikely movie fare from her kitchen table. “We are all involved,” she emphasizes. “Without my kids, my husband, and amazing cast and crew...I couldn't have done it.”
|Wendy and Esther in Paradise Recovered|
As well as how not to help. “Too often people say, “You just need to get over it.” What about instead offering someone to just come in and rest, for a change? You don't need to sign anything. Don't need to fill out a form or bring anything. You can get angry or frustrated. It's okay. Just rest.”
Paradise Recovered is a great resource for those who want to understand spiritual abuse and the dynamics of cultic control while offering validation and hope to those who have staggered under the weight of them. Rather than aim to “just get over it,” this narrative documentary bravely exemplifies the confusion, heartbreak, and false view of God which follows those who use His name in vain to manipulate others.
To schedule a showing in your community* — “No town is too small; we will make it happen,” says Redwine — contact the production staff here.
*Conservative viewers, note that some scenes may be inappropriate for young children. There is also the infrequent use of mild expletives.*
January has been named Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month, and there are many devoted to bringing attention to its prevalence within churches, communities, and families. Here at Quivering Daughters the archives offer considerable material about spiritual abuse. Included within my book is the work of David Henke offering his exposition of spiritual abuse. A very new and growing site dedicated to raising awareness seeks contributions; if you are interested please leave a comment, and the webmaster will get in touch with you. Please share your thoughts about the movie, if you've seen it, or your experiences within spiritually abusive environments, or links. You are always free to comment anonymously or email me.