“Not all psychopaths are saints. And not all saints are psychopaths. But there’s evidence to suggest that deep within the corridors of the brain, psychopathy and sainthood share secret neural office space.” ~ Kevin Dutton
“What?” I figure many will ask after reading Dutton’s comment. “How could that be? After all saints are those of us walking close to God.”
“No way,” several others may chime in with irritation over those words. Some others, I’m rather confident, will be voicing, “Who other than a malicious atheist would pair God’s saints up with psychopaths?”
Either way, I’m not voicing Kevin’s work to break the knees of Christians!
Having dealt with an assortment people, I’ve, also, known various levels of seeming Christian saints. Some of them are people who had done all the way from, subtle manipulative, on over to overtly murderous things. Of course, many will retort with, “Then those people weren’t Christians.” Keeping to my point, I have to tell you that until their evils were surfaced, everyone in the church thought that pastor, youth minister, teachers or long-term member, I had dealt with were nothing less than true believers. I’m not contending that God saw our shared examples as believers or unbelievers. Rather, I’m pointing at us and scorning those earlier declarations. No one, including me, knew any better before their sins were surfaced. So, it isn’t those people I want your attention focused on.
Delving deeper, I have listened too a host of difficult to swallow thoughts, feelings and a few fantasies shared with me by clients and friends that would be disturbing. Those of you who function as pastors and priests probably know what I’m talking about. More to the point, both what my work history exposed me to and what striving to follow after the likes of Maximos the Confessor, John Climacus, Symeon the New Theologian or even what Staretz Silouan have shoved my face into I couldn’t have truly owned that my own spiritual life totters a lot like my father after his strokes and advancing dementia.
People, please realize that we are not living clean lives in spite of being forgiven. To trod the whole distance of personalizing forgiveness honestly requires owning the depth of personal fallenness. We are not truly wanting to live out our repentance until we are actively reflecting back on all we have been up to until that very moment.
But then what am I, let alone you to do with owning what I’ve come to see as odious thoughts, feelings and behaviors?