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I once had an aunt with a serious case of schizophrenia. She thought one of her daughters came to her on a beam of light from the moon. She also had rages of temper and threatened to kill her children. Things got so bad, she had to be hospitalized for a time, and then medicated for years.

One day I was driving through the community where she lived, Bryte (just over the river from Sacramento), because my mother spent a large part of her childhood there. I was with my wife and my father; I had asked my dad to explain everything he knew about my late mother's life there—where she lived, the gas station she was born in, and other such lore. We were hoping to do a drive by, wanting to avoid my Aunt Julie at all costs. But as we drove down her street, we spotted a man shouting for help from a rooftop. It appeared his ladder had fallen over. So my dad got out of the car and propped the ladder up against his house.

As fate would have it, this man's house stood next to my aunt's house, and before my dad could make a safe escape, out popped Aunt Julie, "Bob? Bob Galli!? What are you doing here? What a wonderful surprise!"

And before you know it, we were in Aunt Julie's house, sipping coffee and soft drinks, listening to her strange and wonderful stories.

We have a fair number of Aunt Julies in the church, don't we? People who tell strange and wonderful stories about the end of the world. Those who in a crazy burst of Islamophia burn the Koran. Those who are sincerely confused about what type of prosperity the gospel promises. Those on the left and the right who equate their politics with divine politics. Those who are in love with their self-righteousness more than God. Maybe some readers think this author and Christianity Today ...

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SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
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What to Do with Aunt Julie
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