Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Emotionally Healthy Church?

Just finished a book. Another book. By another pastor. But not so much written by a pastor as inspired by one, I think. But I don’t know. Who am I to know such a thing. I only know what I read.

Peter Scazzero’s the fellow’s name. The actual writer appears to be Warren Bird. But it’s written as though it’s written by Scazzero. The “I” of the book is Scazzero, and Bird is invisible. So its premise is a kind of a little fib. Not a big fib, because the ghost-writer’s name is on the book. But a fib, or maybe a kinder word is a fiction, nevertheless.

I always wonder about a book like this. A book written by a kind of ghost-writer. A book that is supposed to be by a guy it isn’t really written by.

We’re supposed to be looking into the mind of the writer, into his most intimate thoughts and emotions. Words like eyes are windows on the soul, in some sense. But with a ghost-writer this theory goes out the window, in a manner of speaking.

Anyways, the book starts off talking about how a pastor who isn’t emotionally healthy needs to get emotionally healthy because otherwise he’s going to be one unhappy camper, his wife is going to be one unhappy camper, and his entire church will be a church of unhappy campers. The book is called, paradoxically enough, The Emotionally Healthy Church.

Now just so you know, there’s a little test in this book so that you can know whether you are emotionally healthy or not. So I urge you with all expediency and cupidity and duplicity to buy this book so that you can figure this out. So that you can take this very informative test.

Because you wouldn’t want your pastor getting a bad name. I mean if you are emotionally unhealthy, that would mean you had an emotionally unhealthy pastor, now wouldn’t it.

So this is one of the beautiful things about this book—that it will tell you about your emotional health. But the most beautiful thing about it is that it will help you get well! If you follow its advice, you will turn into a God.

That’s right. You will incarnate. No kidding. I kid you not. That’s what the book says, whether you believe it or not, Mr. Ripley. That’s what it says. There’s even a chapter on it. On incarnation and how to do this.

You see, before I read this book, I thought, as I have already mentioned in a previous post in this blog, that becoming like God was a no-no. Trying to be like God could get you into some deep kimchi.

But here I discover that it’s the opposite of what I thought. I must have been living in a bizzaro world and living a bizzaro life is what I now conclude. Since I’ve read the book.

The way this works is that most of us find ourselves in deep kimchi because of our upbringing or whatever. We’re just screwed, most of us, by the random what-not of the universe. We accumulate funny ideas. Screwy ideas. Steamy emotions. Loopy emotions. Depraved emotions. Illicit emotions. Distorted emotions. Inauthentic emotions. Lusty emotions. Dusty emotions. Dank emotions. Illegitimate emotions. Hostile emotions. And what gets us out of this kimchi is us becoming better and better in every way.

I made a little fun of this before, but apparently I was grossly mistaken. I was extremely off the mark. Ready, shoot, aim was my problem.

No, what this particular book tells me is that to become emotionally healthy, I have to incarnate. I have to become a living God. Not THE living God, one presumes. But A living God. Kind of like Jesus Christ. For the layman, just think of the result of reading this book as a bunch of Gods growing and growing in number and covering the earth like a plague. Or like an invasion of the body snatchers.

So what I think is the message of this book is, buy more copies of the book, and give it to your friends. Give it to your buddies so that they can become perfect like you are now. Now that you’ve read the book and have all the necessary secrets and have had time to apply all of its secrets.

How you actually accomplish the perfection isn’t all that clear. So I suppose there must be some mystery to it. But I get the impression that if you are good, and if you adopt a more sympathetic attitude toward other people, and if you try to understand your particular personal history, and if you seek the presence of the Holy Spirit, there will be some real results. Some real returns on your investment.

And so here we are again, ladies, gentlemen, children, and the congenitally ambiguous, listening to pastors or their surrogates talking about being like Christ. Telling us we need to get serious about this Christianity thing. Telling us to do our blanking job. The job of turning ourselves into Christ. Or Christ-like beings. Turning ourselves into Gods.

And of course it’s a process. Of course it’s a journey. Of course there’s no magic formula. Of course this perfection-process under our control may not happen all at once, but of course it happens. It happens all the time. It happened, apparently, to Peter Scazzero, for example, or else he wouldn’t have written or not written the book in question. And of course we all know scads of people who are perfect or so close to it, there’s not a meaningful difference. Of course we all know hundreds of perfect or near-perfect incarnate Christian Gods.

Oh, by the by. I have been rereading the Gospels lately to understand what Jesus has to say on this subject. I mean. If it’s the main thing we ought to be doing as his followers, there’s probably quite a lot he had to say about it.

So I’ve been rereading the Gospels, and I’m coming up a little dry. A little short on ammo. A leetle short on things he said about turning ourselves into Gods like him. About becoming perfect like him. Sinless like him. Or so close to sinless, there’s no essential difference. But I’m a slow reader. And I don’t always understand a sentence or a paragraph, for example, on the first read-through. So I’m probably missing something, is what I’m thinking. My reading comprehension score on this one is probably pretty low. If I got a pastor to test me on this, I bet he’d say I needed to work on my reading comprehension.

So what the heck. I’m planning to ask a pastor friend about this. The pastor friend who recommended the lovely book in the first place. What a blessing, I’m thinking. What a blessing of a book. And I’m sure once we talk, everything will become clear as glass.

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