"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, June 04, 2004
in-fuse Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, to pour in, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French infuser, from Latin infusus, past participle of infundere to pour in, from in- + fundere to pour -- more at FOUND
1 a : to cause to be permeated with something (as a principle or quality) that alters usually for the better b : INTRODUCE, INSINUATE
2 : INSPIRE, ANIMATE
3 : What the Holy Spirit does to a Christian
"OK, just relax, just relax, just let it happen, don't stop it, just let it happen. Enshalalahashala ensha enshla..."
Inside me, along with a consuming fear, I felt something rising up, something joyous and adventurous. When I let it overcome me, I uttered a single unintelligible syllable.
I had just spoken in tongues for the very first time. And I was, well, astonished.
Presbyterians, you see, didn't normally do that sort of thing. At least not in my church. But I was 15, malleable and had a hunger for God that drove me to any length I could find.
I was at Coleman Ratteree's house. Coleman was one of those people who you look back on and you know they had a lifechanging influence on you. Coleman was Presbyterian too, and had the same hunger for God that I did, and the fact that we were separated by at least fifteen years didn't matter one bit.
He had what was called a "sharing group" for teenage kids at his house one night each week. That's where I met some other kids who had already experienced these things and where I found myself asking to be a part of that.
Now, perhaps I should explain a bit about how I feel on the topic of spiritual gifts, specifically the gift of tongues, which is the most misunderstood of all of the gifts other than perhaps prophecy.
First of all, as I have come to know it, there are two kinds of tongues. A private one and a public one.
The private one is referred to in charismatic circles as a "prayer language." To me, this is where the Spirit within me prays for things beyond my knowledge, using a language I do not know. I have heard stories of linguists actually understanding a person's prayer language, but have never spoken to one.
Years ago, I prayed and asked that, instead of a prayer language, I would be given the wisdom to know what to pray for. I hardly use it at all now.
The public use of tongues is a lot more rigid and the Bible lays down some rules for it. One major one is that there MUST be an interpretation of the tongues. That will usually come from a different person. The interpretation will be in clear English (or whatever) and if it isn't there, the entire experience is suspect.
And, it goes without saying that the interpretation must be in line with the Bible.
I've never exercised the public version of tongues.
To be honest, that does not upset me at all.
So, back to age fifteen.
Not only did we have that sharing group every week, but Coleman would take all of the teenagers in the church (and quite a few guests) for a beach retreat once a year.
The first year I went, actually the year I went, we had some intense experiences.
Saturday night, for example, we gathered together and Coleman spoke to us about forgiveness. Then he asked us to take off our shoes, and he brought out large bowls of water. He challenged us to go to any person in the room whom we had to forgive and wash their feet.
The longer this progressed the more intense it was. It wasn't long before every person in the room was in tears.
The next morning, Coleman invited anyone who wanted to go to the ocean to be baptized in the waves.
This was a mistake.
Coleman was not ordained.
And Presbyterians sprinkle.
He never got to do those youth trips again, sadly. The church elders got really upset at him. He ended up leaving the church, and a lot of other people went with him.
Now, thirty years later, I can look back on the "Charismatic movement" and see that it caused hundreds of church splits like that. I think the reason behind that was that the movement came on the heels of a very rigid "religiosity" and offered complete and total freedom and even wild abandon in some cases. The church structure could not accommodate such unbridled behavior, and I am not all that sure it should have.
A lot of the people whom I knew that were the most heavily into it, far beyond Coleman, have met with bad ends or are in dire straights today.
Maybe we need more than just charisma.
Maybe we need, like, a foundation, you think? That is the conclusion I have come to. And that foundation needs to be based solidly on the Bible. We also need to take into serious consideration what scholars and theologians have concluded before us, and weigh each one, because many have great value.
So, I see us as needing not all this, and not all that. In the middle, I think that's where the road is.
Be not so bigoted to any custom as to worship it at the expense of truth.
Johann Georg von Zimmermann