Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Samson and the Pirate Monks - Review

This is one of the most important books I've read in a long time.  I read it in two days, which is extremely rare.  I highly recommend it for all men who want to live faithfully, but struggle.
The first half of the book tells the story of the author, Nate Larkin's, downward spiral with sexual addiction.  He starts out as a pastor's kid, with a dark secret, pornography.  Despite countless prayers and promises, his attachment to pornography deepens all the way through college, seminary, and his first few years of marriage.  After seminary (before he began pastoring), he was exposed to strip clubs, and that poured gasoline on his sex addiction.
He stumbled into a role as a lead pastor and stayed clean under the weight of this new authority ... for a few months.  Then, it was back to the old problems again.  Eventually, he picked up a prostitute, and that brought him into a decade or more of that.  After a few years, he quit pastoring.
But the addiction continued ... even though they continued going to church ... even though he prayed for deliverance many times ... even though he went to Promise Keepers ... even though he got an accountability partner ... even though it cost him lots and lots of money ... even though his job suffered ... even though he even received prayers to have the "demons of sexual temptation" removed ... even though he tried hard to maintain daily disciplines of prayer and Bible study ... even though he went to counseling ... even though he cried and prayed and tried really hard and tried to really, really believe this time ... even though he did everything that most people in the church say you're supposed to do ... his addiction continued.
Finally, he bottomed out and went to a 12-step group called Sex Addicts Anonymous.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, he got help and started to recover.  There were two missing pieces in his life that SAA provided for him.
First was the awareness that he was powerless to overcome his addiction.  He had to let God do it.  Up until this time, despite all the religious lingo, he was really trying to just screw up his courage and determination and beat this thing.  SAA helped him to rely on God everyday - sometimes every minute of every day, instead of just trying harder - which wasn't working anyway.
Second, SAA provided him with a community of support.  He said that he learned how to trust Christ by trusting the body of Christ.  The deep, honest community of a 12 step group was a means of grace for him that was not available in any other way.  And it was just the grace that he needed.
Well on the road of recovery, Nate and some men at his church, who had also been in and around various 12-step groups, decided to bring that kind of deep community into the church setting.  They formed the Samson Society, based on the Biblical character of Samson whose amazing strength was defeated by his isolation and sexual addiction.  The Samson Society is a brotherhood of mutual aid.  They meet once a week, and it is open to anyone who wants brotherhood and support - not just people with obvious addictions.  They have some of the same kind of steps and rituals as 12 step groups.  The basic premise is that we really, really, really need each other if we are going to live faithfully in God's grace.  The weekly meeting and the relationships formed out of it provide us a means of accessing that grace deep within our hearts.
This is one of the best books for Christian men that I've seen in many years.  Our world desperately needs Samson Societies.  One of my friends is starting one here in Cheonan, currently scheduled to meet on Saturday mornings near Yawoori.  Contact me if you're interested.

So obviously, the Josh rating on this book is the max: JJJJJ.  Read it.  Give it to people.  Start a brotherhood of mutual aid.
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