I don’t have much to say about The Shadow Proves the Sunshine. Of the four songs I have reviewed, I think I like this one the best. It’s a “fun” song that seems to resonate with my demeanor (not too fast, not too slow). And, if I’m interpreting it right, offers a good amount of hope for those willing to think.
We are left totally to ourselves in interpreting this song because Switchfoot offers no help at all on their website (only thoughts about the music here). They don’t offer much on any song, but here they don’t even throw us a bone to chew on.
This song contrasts our depravity with the reality of an ultimate Good in this universe. Our depravity is seen clearly in phrases like, “My heart is darker than these oceans, My heart is frozen underneath” and “Crooked soul trying to stay up straight.” In the midst of this depravity we cry out to the Sunshine to help us and shine on us.
This song also contains the clearest reference to God on this album. It’s a prayer: “Oh Lord why did you forsake me, Oh Lord don’t be far away, Please Lord don’t look the other way.” These references are obviously pointing to the agony of Christ on the cross when he cried, “O Lord, why have you forsaken Me?”
Here is the deepest question that rises with this song: what is meant by the word “proves?” How does the shadow “prove” the sunshine? I’m pretty sure that the Sunshine is God. So, is this an argument for the existence of God? Are they saying that the reality of shadows (sin and suffering) proves the existence of God? Could it be that the shadows of this life are actually pointers to the reality of God? The reason this is a great question is that many people use the reality of sin and suffering as an argument for the non-existence of God. I’d love to hear some other opinions on this.
Excursus: It depends on what you mean
I agreed to take up this little review of “Nothing is Sound” in order to help my youth be more discerning of what they listen to and also to give them another reason to come on Wednesday nights. However, I did not anticipate it being as difficult as it has been. The main difficulty comes from the ambiguity of songs in general. Songs are like poems and plays: they can mean whatever you want them to mean. In interpreting, it does not matter what the author meant when he wrote it; it only matters what you think it means. In studying the Bible, this approach is called the “Reader Response” approach. This is a very, very bad way to study the Bible!! We are supposed to study the Bible with an “Authorial Intent” approach. This approach focuses on what the author originally mean and not what I think. My frustration comes from the fact that I have no idea what Switchfoot means by most of what they say (and they obviously don’t care that I know what they mean).