(Occasioned by the recent death of Bubba Free John in Fiji.)
One of the dilemmas that troubled the leaders of the early Catholic Church was whether immoral priests and bishops could validly wield the powers conferred on them at their ordination--the power to turn bread into the Body of Christ, for example, or the power to forgive (other people's) sins. This problem was resolved at the Council of Trent in the Sixteenth Century by declaring that God could act (ex opere operato") thru stained vessels. So even tho the priest might be in a state of mortal sin, he (or rather God acting thru him) could accomplish the miracle of transubstantiation and validly absolve sinners of their guilt.
Were I a bishop at this council I would have endorsed this decision. Furthermore it seems obvious that "bad people" can perform "good" acts and can also act as conduits of spiritual wisdom which they in their weakness may not be able to embody. Don't do as I do, do as I say.
For instance the infamous "sex guru" Bhagavan Rajneesh (pictured above) preached that sex is holy and encouraged his followers to wallow in the pleasures of the flesh as a form of divine worship. Plenty of scandals arose around this guru and his followers, scandals aptly satirized by John Updike in his amusing novel S.
Like the large particle accelerators which explore the nature of matter by exposing it to extreme conditions, one can learn a lot about human nature by exploring its excesses.
In harmony with the Church's decision that God can often speak thru tarnished vessels, I believe that the writings of Bhagavan Rajneesh, controversial director of a kind of experimental human accelerator center, contain much good advice about how to lead an intensely satisfying and moral life. I have read dozens of books on tantra--the idea that one can best find God, not thru ascetically withdrawing from life but by enthusiastically embracing life with all its pains and pleasures. Tantra works by consciously sacralizing the experiences of everyday life paying special attention to the sexual act and its broad flirtatious borders.
Others will cite their own favorites among tantric epigrams (I'd love to hear them), but for me, no one has expressed the raw meat of tantra more concisely than Bhagavan Shri Rajneesh.
"Start at the beginning," Rajneesh said. "And stay there."