Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief

With both horror and fascination, I just finished reading the Lawrence Wright exposé called Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. This exquisitely researched book takes us into the bowels of Scientology, a religious group that has apparently systematically lied, cheated, abused its followers, sought to destroy its detractors, devastated families, amassed giant amounts of money which impoverished many and landed in the pockets of very few, and pandered to celebrities whose egos got stroked by the maniacs who run the show. Scientology doctrines do not actually address the major religious concept of a holy God or the idea that there might…

Controlling the Narrative: Lance Armstrong and the Rest of Us

“I wanted to control the narrative.”  That phrase has sprung out of the otherwise unsurprising Lance Armstrong doping confession. The need to “control the narrative” captures much human motivation and underlies multiple decisions. If we can indeed control the narrative, we can keep ourselves protected, lie with impunity and still look intact, together and successful. Armstrong’s real problems lie far beyond the lying and the doping. Those transgressions can be seen as primarily self-destructive. But Armstrong was other-destructive because he insisted that all who rode with him had to submit themselves to the full doping regimen AND routinely lie about it. Frankly,…

Sleep, Teens, Church and School

I was in conversation with several of the young teens at the church tonight during the time I teach them worship skills as a part of our midweek program.  We were talking about what it takes to keep them engaged in worship and how easily they became distracted. In conversation, I began to ask them about the school classes in which they felt the most interest and the ones where they had the least interest.  They liked best the classes where they had hands-on work:  especially art and science where they actually did things.  The ones hardest for them were reading and…

Cycles of Suffering, Huge Religious Festival and An Important Question

How do you address the suffering that seems to surround us?  And especially, how would you address it to a group of people who are convinced that until they attain a certain state of righteousness, they are doomed to endless cycles of being born, suffering, dying and then being born again, dying, suffering, etc? Massive Religious Festival in India Right now, a massive religious festival, the Maha Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, is taking place in Allahabad, in northern India.  According to the fascinating accounts, this site marks the intersection of three icy cold rivers, one of which is the extremely filthy…

Gendercide, Theology and the Female Voice

An excellent editorial in the Dallas Morning News reminds us of the enormous amount of hidden “gendercide” that has taken place over the last generation.  “Gendercide” is the selective abortion or infanticide of female fetuses and infants, particularly in China and India, but also in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. Beverly Hill, the article author, states flatly: Contrary to popular belief, the status of women does not improve when females are in short supply. In fact, just the opposite occurs. Sex trafficking increases, as does the buying and selling of brides. Aging bachelors, unable to find women of appropriate age, marry…

A Speck Upon a Speck Upon a Speck

Periodically I need to remind myself of just how unimportant I am. A phrase I’ve heard recently, “We’re just a speck on a speck on a speck,” helps me consider my own insignificance. Surely anyone contemplating the hugeness of the universe—and the actual size of it will probably forever remain a mystery—needs to acknowledge that we’re pretty negligible creatures in the overall scheme of things. In comparison to the whole universe, we don’t even register as big as the tiniest of one of the millions of bacteria that inhabits our own bodies. Of course most of us deep inside think we’re the…

A World and a People in Need of Healing

We need therapy.  We need deep, freedom-giving healing. Why?  Well, let’s take a quick look at a few current situations. •   The usual political “I want to get re-elected at all costs and I don’t care what happens to ordinary people who don’t load me up with campaign contributions” maneuvering continues in our nation’s capital. •   The health care system accelerates its out-of-control spiral, making decent health care less and less accessible to any but the exceedingly rich and lucky and a misery to dedicated practicing physicians and other health care professionals. •   As we continue to seek healing from the Newtown, CT, massacre, hundreds…