My mom and dad left today after being here almost three weeks. Some friends wanted to know if we wanted to hang out tonight. I said, "It's been three weeks since we had the house alone to ourselves. It could be dangerous!" Today I'm thinking a great deal about art. I'm loving it. It wasn't long ago when I struggled with the apparent tension of being an artist and being a pastor too. I'm into music, painting, sculpture, writing, blogging... all of them artistic. I used to have a really hard time making sense of my life as an artist and as a pastor. I think it is naturally human to dichotomize the secular and the sacred. I now see that as misguided. There's no line. Not that I've already arrived at that peaceful place. I still struggle. But almost as soon as the struggle starts, I immediately realize that the tension is an illusion. There's no need for it. I can be an artist and be a pastor. I can be an artistic pastor or a pastoral artist. Whatever. Don't worry about it. Like one of my T-shirts says, "I'm simple. It's complicated." That pretty much sums me up. I encourage the arts. I encourage people to live artistically. And just as I don't think it is right to censor the arts, I don't think it is right to censor how people live. I know what censoring would do to me. So I'm aware of what it will do to others. One of the biggest things I do is to encourage people to liberate themselves from censoring themselves... a malignant gift they'd inherited from their upbringing... familial, social, educational or spiritual. Paul didn't even judge himself. That didn't mean he was innocent, but it did mean he was free. Yes, I know the mess that ensues. I see it. But I'd rather be living in a human mess than an inhuman sterile test-tube. The painting is one of my hand-painted woodcuts of evergreens against the northern lights.