Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Music . . . The Church's Gift to Humanity

Okay, I didn't know much about Katy Perry except that she had kissed a girl . . . and she liked it. I recognized her by her blue hair . . . but that was about it.  I assumed that she was a novelty singer, you know, one with okay talents but much more hype around it. Or a "brand" in the order of Madonna.

Then, about three months ago I was driving through Seattle at 4 AM.  I was scanning the radio stations looking for something that could keep me awake at that ungodly hour.  Jazz couldn't do it.

I stumbled onto a pop-rock station that, at least during the night, was playing 4-5 songs in a row and then doing a brief introduction and commercial.

One song was played, whose vocals blew me away. It was as incredible as the first time I ever heard Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You."  I patiently waited through some no-so-fantastic songs until the break came. "That was so and so, so and so, so and so, Katy Perry and so and so."

"Katy Perry!" I thought to myself. That girl really can sing.  The song?  Fireworks. I don't know the lyrics or the meaning but I assume it is about being unique and the value in each of us. Yes, two men kiss. But the point I'm making here is pure and simple . . . the beauty of her perfect octaves.

So here is my point.  I remember an interview with her on the Today Show a year or so ago during their summer concert series.  They discussed the fact that she was raised as an Evangelical (father is a pastor I believe) and that was juxtaposed to the fact that she has a bad-girl image now. After hearing her, really hearing her, for the fist time, it got me thinking again.

I think we grossly underestimate the gift of music the Church has made to the world.  I know, Perry isn't being played on the Christian radio channels (thank goodness. I would hate to see that talent hidden under the bushel of praise music).  I don't know what her personal beliefs are and she may be even a hard-core atheist. That's not the point. I'm not talking about "Christian music" but just music.

If it wasn't for the celebration of music within the Church would Katy know that she could sing?  Maybe not.  Nor would Whitney, Britney, Elvis, Aretha, Beethoven, Little Richard and the list could go on and on. Yes, many of them move on, philosophically, from their starting point as Christians. They were probably not given another choice.  But it doesn't diminish the beauty of the music.

I'm not so naive to think that the Church has a cornerstone on music.  Great music has come out of Islam, Hinduism and purely secular sources. But I just want to say, despite all my criticism of the Church, one great contribution and redemption to the world has been the art of music. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Alone Again . . . Naturally . . . A Cry from Fallen Mankind, a Voice for All of Us

Okay, this dates me a bit, but I can remember when this Gilbert O'Sullivan single was released. I was a hard-core Evangelical. We were deeply offended that he questioned God's existence in the song and we saw it as just one more sign of the heathen taking over the world.  We so figured that anyone with pain, couldn't really know Jesus.

But now, I listen to the song and it resonates deep within me, man to man, soul to soul, fallen man to fallen man. Pain is universal in this world. There are those who fake otherwise, as I use to. Not to wallow in pain, but to accept it as the human condition.

Listen to the beautiful song and watch the lyrics roll by.  While I've never been left at the alter by a love, I have lost a father. I've watched my mother grieve, as myself. I know that I will loose  my mother some day . . . unless I go first.

This isn't hopeless as there is a balm in Gilead. But pain is real and we should let the artists show us how to "enjoy" it to its fullness.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pray for Eagle!!!

I just
got this off Imonk. I may be the last to know but if you haven't heard, pray for him.

Urgent Prayer Request29
 UPDATE at 10:30pm at Wartburg Watch.
* * *
I saw this on Wartburg Watch today and called Dee immediately to find out more.
It seems our friend and regular commenter, Eagle, is in the midst of a serious health emergency and is hospitalized near his home. I don’t know enough to share details (and that would not be appropriate without his permission anyway), but he is in the Intensive Care Unit and the medical staff is trying to understand his condition and provide the best treatment.
He also has no family near him at this time.
I am monitoring the situation and staying in touch with my Wartburg Watch friends and hope to talk to Eagle soon if possible.
I will update you as I can, but I am asking you at this point to pray for him. If you would like to send messages of encouragement and support to him via email, you can send them to me atTHIS ADDRESS.

Entanglements . . . Quantum and Social

Public TV's Nova has to be my favorite TV show . . . when it isn't a re-run. This week I did watch the series about the mysteries of the universe, which I have watched before.  So I spent another couple of hours exploring Quantum Physics. On top of the TV show, I listed to "Science Friday" on Public Radio on Friday and they had a call in problem for a Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist . . . so once again I was immersed into Quantum Physics for an hour.

I do understand Quantum Physics, but I don't know it.  In the same way someone could study and really understand French culture, but they could never know French culture unless they were fluent in French. To read the poets in their native language is a requirement for the simple first step of knowing a culture.

I don't speak the advance mathematics required to know Quantum Physics.  I don't understand at all how you reach the absolute need fro the Higgs Bossom . . . using caulk on a two-dimensional blackboard. I certainly don't know how you discover Quantum entanglements from math. Two of my sons do. One is finishing a PhD in Math and Computer Science and the other one is embarking on a PhD in Astrophysics.  But I have a faith (based on what I do know) that it is possible to discover great truths about the universe through math.  That consistency speaks even louder to me of a God who is there. The random Universe out of nothing, should be saturated in chaos. Now, some of the multiverse people would cheat at this point by saying that there were a billion, billion universes that were bathed in chaos (where math didn't exist and if it did, it would be totally disconnected from the cosmos) but they disintegrated in an instant and only this one, because it as order and "laws" (even laws of Quantum Physics) can endure.  But even that speaks of a higher level of order that says a universe with order is allowed to exist and those of chaos must meet a quick demise.

But math is the language of nature.  If I were 12, rather than almost (12 X 10) / 2, I would try to learn math . . . the real math. But I grew up in the the Bible belt where we saw this universe on a collision course with God's will and the things of this world, such as math . . . and science, as insignificant at best and the Devil's circus at worse.

So, this time around (watching Nova) I became intrigued in Quantum entanglements.  It has been in the back of my mind on a continuous basis. It is mind blowing and if the math didn't say that it was true, it would seem impossible.  Einstein, whom I have a deep respect for, thought the problem had to be in the math.  I don't know. I did notice how easy the Quantum physicists accept entanglements based on faith in the math, rather than common sense that says it is impossible.

As a reminder, entanglements is where two sub-atomic particles can become "entangled" and then react to the same stimuli (not a good choice of words) in the same way even if the two particles are separated by distance . . . any distance. So one could be on earth and the other 14 billion light years away. So if the one on earth was stimulated in a precise way, its entangled twin, 14 billion light years away, would respond to the stimulus at precisely the exact same moment. So the two particles don't communicate in any way and if they could, it would take that communication 14 billion years to reach the other one moving as the speed of light.  So how can this be?  The math says it is true and elementary experimental physics is confirming it.

But this begs of a universe, not to mention dark energy and dark matter, that we don't even start to understand.

So, what does this say to Christianity or even the concept of God being there?  I'm not sure yet.  But it certainly tells me that our feeble minds can't even begin to grasp the reality of the cosmos.  It also shows me how irrational physicists are willing to be.

The second entanglement is much more easy to understand. I've been asked to co-teach a class to teens on Christians and the media.  This is the very area I have the most interest in . . . teaching kids how to think, not what to think.

So . . . I hesitantly said yes. So I feel I'm on this slippery slope facing the abyss of entanglement that always ends in misery.  I hope it isn't true this time.  The last time I tried to do this, the pastor (my old Evangelical pastor) fired me.  I had watched an episode of "Lost" with the kids and we discussed the pantheistic Vs Judo-christian orientations expressed in the script.  The parents thought I was "teaching philosophy" rather than "Jesus."  But I was teaching philosophy . . . the love of Sophia (or knowledge). There is no greater love (expect for that between beings) than the love of knowledge . . . or truth. Real truth, not dogma presented as "truth."

I know more and more that I am not of the Christian culture.  I know it more and more as I've been reading Facebook (long story why I had to but there were reasons I had to give it more attention lately). I dwell in a totally different universe than my Evangelical friends on Facebook.

But maybe this Church is different. Maybe my past experiences have skewed my views. After-all, I do have a movie club as part of this Church's ministry.

Sorry about typos but I just realized that I'm running late for a meeting and I can't proof-read this once again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Always Perplexing

A long time ago I shared a story about holding up and Egyptian flag during our village's scheduled day of protest (every Sunday).  Today was an interesting development, the type of which, always confuses me.

In the center of our village, where two main roads intersect, every Sunday at 12 PM there is a scheduled protest. The largest and loudest crowd is on the NW corner. It is the "Pro-America, Pro-military, Pro-God (Christian God)--and oddly--Pro-war" group. On the SW and NE corners are peace protesters. Part of the peace protesters on the SW side are "Veterans for Peace" which is juxtaposed to the pro-military and pro-war group just across the street.

The day I went out, I took the neutral SE corner, where different views are represented. In my heart I felt like I should be on the NW corner with the pro-Americans because nothing could be more pro-American than a group of oppressed people wanting the same freedoms as the Americans.  But I  knew better.

The timing was at the beginning of Arab Spring in Egypt, when Mubarak was still in power and the people were amassed in Tahreer Square.  I stood with (in spirit as there was only one Egyptian with me) my Egyptian brothers and sisters, wanting a peaceable transition to freedom.

While I was standing on my corner, waving my Egyptian flag, on the opposite (NW) corner they were playing patriotic songs such as "I'm proud to be an American." They also played some patriotic Christian hymns.  Once, the leader of that group (and I sort of know him) took the speaker and broadcast for the whole town to hear, speaking directly at me 100 Yards away, "Put that flag down asshole and get an American flag."  He repeated it a couple of times as the group laughed.

So today I was driving by and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The same man was putting up an Israeli flag on his corner. WTF?

I'm sorry but I find this so mind boggling. The way that I see life is this. If God is there, and I think He is, then He created all people (and all of creation) in his image and created them with tremendous value. Whether or not someone is Arab, Israeli, Black, White, Hispanic, Gay, Straight, man, woman or child . . . or whatever doesn't changed their value and how God has intended freedom, justice and dignity for all.

When you see God's people (created people) through political, bigoted glasses (brown ones with less value than white ones) . . . everyone looses.  If the 50+ men, women and children who are being massacred in Syria almost every day, were Israeli or American children, there would out-rage.  But instead, there is silence, apathy and I sense this rare, and stupid, view that somehow these innocent children of Syria, somehow, deserve it. Warped thinking.

True Christianity must shed its political entanglements and cultural mores to be what it was meant to be.

Lies . . . Nietzsche and Aurora

I've been thinking about the role that lies play in our world. It is the grease that keeps the machinery moving. John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of lies. Lies are destructive, even though they ware used and welcomed in some parts of Christian culture.

But those thoughts had a sudden intrusion by the sad facts of Aurora, Colorado.  Many are making comments about that so I don't want to say more of the same. But I do have a difference facet to explore.

An evangelical friend shared (on her Facebook) a link to a blog, written by a Christian who was at the theater when all hell broke out.  I was afraid that she was going to say that the killings were an act of God . . . you know, everything happens for a reason type of thinking. But, she didn't. She said that evil is evil and no one should hold God responsible. With this thought I can agree.

I'm sure that the post-mortem of this horrible event that people will try to figure out what was going on the the killer's mind. We may have many answers.  But one, very fundamental, explanation is the lie that we  have no meaning unless we accomplish something in our lives, and that something can be good or evil.  This lie penetrates to the core of so much that is wrong.

It was Nietzsche and others who explored the empty corners of nihilism . . . seeking to find meaning (where there can be none in a self-created universe of accidents and random outcomes) came up with the concept of meaning in self-realization or action.  Nietzsche completely opposed the concept of morality, as taught by his Christian society. For him, meaning came from making choices, any choice, of taking steps of personal power.  For this thinking, anything great you could do . . . save a generation of orphans, or commit genocide, each gave your life meaning.

So, I'm not blaming Nietzsche alone for the shootings.  But it is that vein of lies that is so common to us all.  I suspect that the young man saw his hopes of finding meaning by accomplishing great things in neurology research fading. In that, he grew desperate. Within that, he wanted to mark history with an act of self-power. You know the thinking, a moment of fame will give your life meaning.

Lies do matter. They are so destructive.

Our prayers are with those who have lost the ones they love in this shooting. Our prayers also go out to those killed in the bombings in Pakistan, the slaughter in Syria and the list goes on and on. Evil is real and begotten by lies. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

An Observation from a Coffee Shop

Something funny happened a week ago that was a lesson that I won't forget for a long time. I decided to bike into our village prior to church and sit at the coffee shop.  Most the time I'm with my son but this time he didn't come home and I was alone. My wife was at her evangelical church.

I had just purchased a new Iphone for my business the day before and rather than sticking my little pocket computer . . . well . . . in my pocket or grabbing my book (still working on For Whom the Bell Tolls) I decided to spend my hour prior to church exploring my new phone.

Well two things happened.  First, I got to town much faster than normal. This was from taking a different route, one via a much busier highway, and also from me peddling harder. I am a notoriously slow biker so I have lots of time that can be made up when I work harder at it.

The second thing that happened was that my phone was dead in the water (the battery came uncharged). So I had 90 minutes to kill at the coffee shop with absolutely nothing to do.

I got my coffee and went outside to sit and to watch.  I thought of the older men I saw in Florence a year ago.  Every day they get their espresso and sit on the edge of the piazza (central square) and just watch. Think, watch and talk a little.  This is something I've done very little of in my life.

In the American, post-industrialized, evangelicalize world I grew up in, there was no place for sitting and doing nothing.  The way it was taught to me when I first became a Christian was, The world is ending soon, most of the people are going to hell, it is my job to save them . . . how dare me to just sit.

Then I remember growing through the age (in the Navigators at least) of "Time Management."  We all had "Day Timers" note books were we wrote down every thing we were to do all day long in 15 minute segments.  We considered it sin to leave one 15 minute segment unfilled . . . after all . . . remember that people were going to Hell and it was my responsibility to stop them.

So I still feel guilty about idleness (isn't it the Devil's workshop?  Now where is that in the Bible?).  On top of that I'm trying to run a business and I'm trying to keep a house from falling apart so there is very little time. It seems to only happen in those rare situations when I have no choice (like on a long airplane flight and my laptop battery is dead).

So there I sat, staring and watching people.  I saw how they interacted. I noticed small stores that I hadn't seen before . . . and I've lived here 9 years.  Then my mind started to wake up. It was the creative part. The part that is constantly being suppressed under the list of must dos. How refreshing I thought.  While I feel like I've had the equivalent of "writer's block" in my creative energies, suddenly good thoughts were coming out of their hiding place.

The next amazing thing I noticed was I entered a conversation with a complete stranger at the next table.  I can't remember who spoke first. Maybe it was just me asking for the time, since I had no way of knowing. But the conversation blossomed into some rather deep topics. Indeed, by the time I had to race off to church (ironically) we were discussing the possibilities of God's existence and whether or not Christianity is true.  He grew up Catholic, left because of abuses he witnessed. He married a staunch agnostic.  He thought that he would "retry" Christianity when he discovered Joel Osteen on TV. Then he went to a live meeting with him at a large dome in Tacoma.   He took his two sons to try and help them find God.  He left very disappointed . . . like he had just witnessed a circus or sales pitch (lots of money was raised).

So I leave the man. But it was okay, I think our conversation had gone as far as it could have for complete stranger.  Then it dawned on me while I was biking through town, so profoundly that I burst into laughter, how ironic.  Maybe the idle mind, rather than being the Devil's workshop, is God's workshop, where imaginative notions are born and "evangelism" happens naturally and without any prior intent.

Anatomy of a Disappointment

Okay, this isn't about the disappointment itself . . . meaning not the particulars of a single event in time and space, but about the logic or "illogic" of the effects of the disappointment for all of us

I remember when I was about six years old and I was somewhere with my mother. I can't remember what was going on, but I do remember . . . rather clearly . . . her telling some of her friends that "he (speaking of me) feels things very deeply."  That's been my problem my whole life.

But I'm not alone. I think many of us wrestle with the aftermath of loss and pain. Some people seem to stand up and walk away from disaster and never look back.  I still have the intuition that what they are doing isn't processing it better, but suppressing it more.  Those same people do tend to live more in the plastic world in my opinion.

So, yesterday I had a huge disappointment.  I won't say what it was as not to distract from the point in the same way a trauma surgeon can't obsess about the weapon as he must devote his attention to the wound.  And this isn't meant to be about me either . . . but how we humans, in general, deal with disappointment.

I took a long walk last night above the sea.  I listened to the voices inside my head, what they were trying to tell me.  There were many, such as, "you are a failure."  But one voice stood out beyond all the others and that is the sense of unfairness.

I believe more than many that life is brutally unfair. I've seen the suffering in the developing world where good, hard-working people are crushed under the thumb of evil dictators, or under the rocks of a mountain top which fell upon them after the tectonic plates simply readjusted to make themselves feel less cramped. And it seems that the most vulnerable and innocent suffer the most.

But back to my own little private struggle, I noticed how every cell inside me seems to resonate with justice and fairness.  God is just, thus we were created with this overwhelming sense of fairness and justice. So when we live in a world where fairness is supplanted by evil, the reverberations almost shatter us like a crystal wine glass in the wake of a operatic voice of high intensity.

In my case the "shattering" is almost always a flow into anger.  Unfairness pisses me off.  I hate it when the children of the world suffer . . . I hate it even more (because I'm a self-centered person) when I am dealt unfairness.

So as I walked above the water and the waves, and I let my mind settle back on the event, I feel my blood pressure going up, my palms becoming sweaty and my gut churn.

I turn the corner up the trail and know that for my own well being, I have to let it alone. What is . . . is what it is.  I have to walk away. There is  at time for fighting against injustice, especially when it comes to others, and there is a time for moving on.  Moving on is so hard. I have this fault of allowing the injustices turn to anger and imaginary revenge.

It seems to make so much sense to me that God's greatest mission for us on this earth is to seek justice. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life in the Crevasses

I'm not sure who invented the crazy concept of living in victory, as if it were some type of Christian ideal. Yet, even the Christians don't have the corner on it . . . although a couple of generations ago it may have come out of Christian, Victorian England. I mean, even in the secular, professional world in which I live, everyone must put on a "life is great and I'm in control" facade.  Even in that secular realm of life I often talk very candidly and people are often pointing out that "what you said makes you look weak."

I was first introduced to the Christian version of  "positive living" as a high schooler though Norman Vincent Peale, the mind behind Guidepost Magazine. It really was the Pollyanna approach to life.  Smile, pretend all is well, pretend all us of us have superb motives for everything and life will always be swell . . . you know, the movie Pleasantville, before color is introduced.

In this way of looking at things, we show only the tops of our personal lives that is illuminated in that tangential light of early morn or twilight. But, speaking of square footage, most of life plays out in the crevasses, the places that we are told to hid in the shadows. Places where we feel scared, confused or depressed.

This connects back to my post about words that can't be spoken.  So much is left unsaid about the reality of where we are, what we think, what we struggle with, what we long for, because if it doesn't fit the ideal, then it falls into those deep shadowy places like the crumbling rocks from the pinnacles.

I think part of this presses on my thoughts so much because in my "day job," I'm with patients talking about those crevasses all day long. My perspective is skewed.  I think I would have a common experience as the psychiatrist. You know the stories, husband comes home unexpectedly and finds his wife in the bed with her boss. The mom who hates her life because two babies drain all her energy . . . and she feels hopeless. This isn't even touching on the depression, anxiety, addiction and physical pain that is some much a part of these peoples lives . . . living here in the fallen world.

I can't stand Pleasantville any more.  I can't stand sitting and lying to each other . . . the tips in the tangential sun.  I have to force myself to play, to communicate on the superficial. It doesn't come natural anymore.

I still have a lot of evangelical friends on Facebook and reading their post you would get the notion that they stand around all day just smiling, looking up at the sky and praising God without ceasing . . . and without one cruel thought . . . ever! When you lie long enough, you start to believe your own lies. The deep crevasse are filled with that two-part Styrofoam mix. It expands and covers the holes, the cracks and the voids until the smiling land is smooth and perfect on top. But this yields an incredible alienation.

I had a patient recently talking about her crevasses. It is pertinent because she lives in Pleasantville on the surface. She and her husband and kids all attend a clean, white Evangelical church where the Gospel according to James Dobson is preached every Sunday.  She is in complete distress because she had filed for divorce and the whole church has turned against her, worst of all her own kids.  The most difficult experience of all is when her husband delivered her to his mother, the matriarch of the big church. She lectured my patient about her sin and betrayal of God and gave her a stern warning that if she files, God will punish her.  She knew of a lady who left her husband and then died from breast cancer a year later.

So I explored why she wanted a divorce in the first place. It appears that her husband, a type A, confident, yet "godly" man (and church elder) has been a womanizer all his life, since his football stardom twenty years ago.  The lady kept running into women, usually her husband's co-workers, who where saying that they had slept with her husband in years past.  

So she began to wonder and carry an intense fear about the man . . . if he was still that way.  One day she saw his Iphone laying in the den and she started to review his text message out-box. In it she found many "sexting" messages, to various women he worked with. They were graphic. Actually pornographic as he included some photos of his body parts (think Bret Favre here).

This patient then confronted her husband. His response?

The man expressed "gody" rage that his wife had betrayed him by looking into his phone. "How dare you not trust me!  You've violated our vows!"

I quickly point out to her, "no . . . I think he was the violater here."

So she feels in a quandary. She feels that it would be wrong for her to tell her mother-in-law that her son is a womanizer. She doesn't want to tell her kids the truth. She, at least at this point, is willing to take the fall and be the bad guy and file for divorce . . . or return to being the perfect wife . . . on the surface.

So what am I saying?  I'm really not cynical. I really do see beauty in the world and in people. But I think the worst facet of the Fall of Adam is the alienation that we all have one from another.  Living in one place, pretending the other.  It just seems that the good Church, the true Church--while unable to fix this predicament--would at least be pressing against it, rather that propagating it. Jesus lived honestly. Human godliness is a fraud.  Dobson families are a myth and card trick.

I've gone on too long once more but I think that Dickens expressed this alienation brilliantly in A Tale of Two Cities (which I've quoted before): 

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. My friend is dead, my neighbor is dead, my love, the darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality, and which I shall carry in mine to my life’s end. In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to me, or than I am to them? 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Boundaries of Grace

It is a bit complicated . . . how I came to this question, and it is a real question. What I mean, it isn't rhetorical as I have no idea of the honest answer but one of those questions that bounce around inside my feeble mind.

First, how I got here.  Recently I heard a devotional by a gentleman, who isn't a close friend . . . but close enough. The devotional was done extremely well, with confidence, form and articulation. Beyond all of that . . . sincerity.

It wasn't that long ago that I was with the gentleman in a private setting . . . I guess you would say a "share group."  Soon after our introductions I learned more about him than I would ever had guessed nor expected to know.  Apparently he has suffered from a life-long history of sexual addition . . . his words not mine. What makes his story even more difficult was him sharing the impact his obsession has had on his life, and unfortunately others.

You see, he was a theology school graduate and became a pastor of a fairly large church.  His obsession wasn't one that led him to a life of fantasy, wishful thinking or even porn. He acted out on his obsession with, unfortunately, young women in his church.  There was a string of them. They were all of legal consenting age so it wasn't criminal, although highly destructive to his pastorate . . . and marriage . . .  not to mention the lives of the young women.

He also self-professed that he continues to struggle with the impulses.  He is re-married and his new wife seems to understand obsession better than his last. She actually supports him financially as he can not get a new pastorate, nor do I think he wants one. Maybe her understanding is a good thing . . . maybe not.

But he certainly isn't in my category of hypocrite.  He is aware of his obsession as being destructive and sin and seems to want to get better. He shared how he had sought a lot of counseling. He is repentant in my view, while possibly still vulnerable to stumble in the same area.

What I would put in my hypocrite category is an old Nav friend who confided with me many years ago, after a bottle of wine and my own deep honest conversation, that he has molested his children and had multiple affairs with men . . . which his wife had no clue about . . . but on top of that was still comfortable as a leader in his church because "God had not convicted him of it yet."

No, this guy, who did the devotion, is definitely convicted about his obsessions.

So here is my question, how, psychologically, can you preform so well, such a great confidence in those circumstances?  What I mean is . . . I could not comprehend the depth of this sin. Not saying that my is not just as bad, or worse. But I can't comprehend having a long sting of affairs, and being attempted to continue, and yet having the sanity to stand up in front of a large church and share anything.

If you don't know me, you would think that I'm sounding a bit pious and condescending. That's not what I mean. I know that I'm capable of doing horrible things. I think my question is born more of my own psychological deficits.

Like many of us who error on the guilt and anxiety side, I struggle with the sense of inadequacy, especially in the church setting. I haven't done much from the pulpit in many years. When I was a "godly" evangelical, I felt much more comfortable speaking or preaching. Now, after some of my own struggles with depression, anxiety . . . and sin, I can't get my head around it anymore.  I mean, even my falling out with my old pastor makes me feel creepy, while on an intellectual side, I know I did nothing wrong.

So here is my question.  While part of me might be tempted to question this devotion-giver's sincerity . . . I have this suspicious that he is the one who understands grace and forgiveness and it is I who can't grasp it. Could that be true? But this isn't just about me. It is the much larger question. What is the boundary of grace?

Maybe that is the great lesson of the gospel . . .  even if I do horrible things, day after day, yet come to the Lord with a sincere heart . . . then all is well. Yet, psychologically, if I had done what this man had done . . . I would want to crawl up into the mountains and died a slow death where I would never hurt anyone again.