I read a marvelous book last week, The Cave, by Jose Saramago. Translated from Portugese. Awesome. You should get it and read it. I also watched an excellent movie, The Lives of Others. German with English subtitles. These two pieces of art are similar in theme: the overbearing oppression of a controlled state. The book and the film both, in extremely gifted artistic manner, reveal the supremacy of death in this world. Death is, I would argue, the predominant idol of our age and of this world. The death of the human being and the end of freedom is the demonic thrust of our day. I think we need to allow one another to live and think freely. My experience of church as well as the experience of many others is that it is a highly controlled state. You are not allowed to think freely. You are not allowed to be authentic. I have been punished and I've seen others suffer the consequences for even questioning the status quo or for being themselves. The oppression in these environments is crushing. It kills the human spirit and enslaves the soul. I remember years ago when I was going to see a spiritual director. At one point I confessed, "I'm not sure I believe in God anymore!" She promptly replied, "Oh, come on! That's impossible! Sure you believe in God." I ended our directorial relationship soon after that because I wasn't allowed to question. Creating a place for thinking freely or providing an atmosphere for authenticity isn't easy. It is unbelievably challenging, uncomfortable, chaotic and unpredictable. Sure, it is far easier to have people believe and speak according to certain criteria, and for them all to behave accordingly. Far more manageable. But it isn't real. It isn't humane. It is death. Allow people to question, and question seriously. Let them question even the foundations! And let them experiment with what it means to live authentically, without always having a mental finger on their edit button. It will be messy, but far more genuine. The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Howard Nowlan.