Posts Tagged 'speaking in tongues'

Zeitgeist vs. Paraclete – A Prayer Conspiracy

I was able to write an autobiographical reflection on the role prayer has played on my life, for the fine folks at Conspire magazine. Here’s an excerpt from the fourth issue:

Ah, Prayer – what a complicated relationship I have with Thee. Are You talking to God, or are You what happens in the spaces between the words?

What is prayer? Ask a dozen people, you’ll get at least a baker’s dozen responses. From books of common prayer and missals, to extemporaneous evangelical prayer (punctuated with the unwritten mantra of ‘holylordfathergodwejust’ every few seconds, used as a kind of prayer-comma), to ecstatic glossolalia, we followers of God in the way of Jesus are all over the map on the varieties of our prayer experience. Is prayer about asking God for things? Does it form the basis of our much-vaunted ‘personal relationship’ with God, a grand I-Thou dialogue? Is it the glue that holds together churches, neighborhoods, faiths, and countries? Yes, absolutely.

Yet as comprehensive as the above laundry list of prayer might seem at first glance, it actually eclipses its meaning for many of our most significant poets, mystics, lovers, and rapscallions through the ages. For a wise minority both inside the Church and without it, prayer is a difficult-to-quantify exchange-less exchange, occurring between people and a God beyond imagination, after words have been spent or when they’ve been gently laid aside.

This ground clearing – the release of words – is, ironically, a whole lot easier said than done. For me at least. I am deluged with words from morning ‘till evening – can I get a witness? And I was raised on prayer with words – asking God for stuff in my Baptist beginnings, which I continue to believe is just fine.

In my Pentecostal years, heartfelt, exuberant prayer was emphasized – we sang and danced prayer, to the beat of drums and tambourine. And glossolalia, or ‘praying in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance’ was encouraged, subject/object boundaries collapsing between you speaking to God and God speaking in and through you. The emphasis here was on ‘power with God,’ your prayers for self and others augmented via being directly ‘plugged in’ to the Paraclete, the Helper, the Holy Spirit of God. Tongues were like Popeye’s spinach for training ‘prayer warriors,’ heaven’s storm troopers who would kick butt and take names for the Almighty. I was never a really good prayer warrior as it turned out, but unlike a growing number of people who are part of Pentecostal churches these days, ‘tongues’ weren’t just a fad with me. They were a gift – a permanent stage you might say – and I continue to enjoy these hotly contested ‘other tongues’ to this day, some 15 years after my Assemblies of God days.

Of course, this would cause me no end of confusion during my soon-thereafter Presbyterian days, where tongues and tambourines designated you as lower-class, theologically inferior, mentally ill, or all three. (Turns out they were on the money with two out of three; sometimes the ‘planks’ you call in brothers’ eyes turn out to be right after all…) My Reformed friends, in this particular church at least, liked acrostics: In youth group we learned that the most pleasing way to talk to God was to act up – or, to ACTS up. That is, we approach God with Adoration, Confession, (oh gosh, I forget what the T is – Thanksgiving? Lemme Google this, be right back…) Thanksgiving (yes indeed), and Supplication – a weird word that means you finally get to ask God for stuff. I always got ‘Adoration’ and ‘Thanksgiving’ confused – kind of like which way to go in the Box Step whenever I’d try to learn the waltz over the years. This was especially awkward when doing it with a partner – praying or waltzing. I’d step all over the other partner; it was like I was all left feet.

Then one day in the late 1990s, during my freshman year in college when the Internet barely existed in popular use but it was already consuming more and more of my time, I felt a calling: Not to abandon all of these beloved (and sometimes frustrating and contradictory) prayer forms, but to transcend them for something sweeter: the call to ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ (That’s not me talking; it’s God. It’s in the Psalms. Look it up.) I remember when I first heard this siren song: sitting on a bench in a beautiful wooded area on my 28,000-acre campus, probably avoiding homework (or maybe even cutting class), transfixed by this little book by evangelical mystic Jerry Coulter called Beholding and Becoming. This passage is indicative of what caught my heart:

[Jesus] wants to be “with” us now. He wants us to experience that same intimate relationship with him that he had with his disciples. He wants to walk and live with us constantly. He wants us to sense his loving presence in our daily circumstances. He has made provision for this intimate with-ness for each of us. He has prepared a place for us where we may be “with him where he is.” Right now!

Jerry goes on to describe this path as one of koinonia, or fellowship with (and within) the Godhead that takes place in the depths of the human spirit; this romance of language and shift of perspective almost instantly gave me a whole new, more alive reading of Scripture that freed it from the more wooden interpretations of my youth. I wanted to be such a fellowship-er, what I learned Christian faith has named a contemplative. I wanted to have a more significant, intentional living into the One in whom we live, move, and have our being; the One who, it is said, is the All in all. (See Acts 17 and Ephesians 4, you Bible-lovers out there). If Jesus’ own prayer to our Abba in John 17 was true, this was an invitation open to everyone who begins a journey along the Way – to be hid with Christ in God, the same way Jesus was cloaked in his Father’s essence while treading our humble and blessed earth.

And so it has been. From that ‘call’ at the tender age of 19, through my 30th birthday just a few days ago, I have been a wannabe contemplative, stumbling and faltering through the absurd possibility that our faith offers us – to be friends with God, and participate in extending this friendship to all creatures for the healing of the world. What I’m going to share now is what I try and fail at, as taught by some pretty adept folks toward living into this audacious goal. In my faltering attempts I see our enabling Paraclete graciously inviting herself into increasing palpability and centrality in our lives – collectively and personally – as she seeks to put the mighty Zeitgeist, the spirit of our frenetic age, in its place as servant rather than master of our most precious resource: our attention.

– to read the rest of this piece (this is only the first third), go here to find out how you can pick up a copy from an intentional community within driving distance from you, or online.

Guzzling Some Godka – Altered States & Permanent Traits of Spiritual Consciousness

GodkaIntegral musician, actor and all-around hilarious guy Stuart Davis has just filmed a short commercial hawking the latest in potable ancient-future altered states of (higher) consciousness – Godka, or psilocybin-infused vodka.

!!!

StuartAbsinthe what?

I wonder if he’s met our pals John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn – or John Scotland and Emerge Wales and Red Letters crew, for that matter?

Have you missed John since my interview with him last year? He’s YouTubing up a storm…here’s one of the latest, on ‘spiritual exercises’…

In a perfect world, John Crowder and Stuart Davis would get along like gangbusters. Stuart does for sex – on his bleeding-edge Sex, God, and Rock & Roll – what John does for drug culture. Crowder Baby Jesus Toke

If you missed it last year, here’s my six-parter looking at the Pentecostal/charismatic avant-garde, kicking off with Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction?

…and leading into a five-parter dialogue with Mr. John Crowder himself:

Part I Crowder Blue

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Good times.

What do you think of spirituality and altered states of consciousness? What I’m thinking these days is inspired by and summed up nicely in a piece entitled Mystical Experience or Unitive Seeing? by integral Christian contemplative Cynthia Bourgeault, in Richard Rohr‘s Radical Grace magazine. Money quote (though I could easily take the highlighter of my life and highest aspirations to the entire article):

The word “mystical” is almost always immediately coupled with the word “experience,” and a mystical experience becomes something that you have—or want to have, anyway. It becomes a sign of God’s special favor—a kind of spiritual “peak experience”—and circumstances promising to deliver that experience are eagerly sought after: from sacred chanting and Eucharistic devotion to Sufi whirling, solitude in the desert, or peyote. In the usual way of looking at things, it is an altered state of consciousness, ecstatic, something that takes you far beyond your usual self, a straight shot into divine consciousness.

What’s so bad about that?

Well, nothing, really. [Mike’s note: And I’d want to emphasize that I agree 100% – there’s nothing wrong with ecstasy and spiritual peak experiences! In fact, I could really use one right now…John, if you’re reading this, could you email me a toke of the Holy Ghost? I’d like Jesus on the mainline, please!] But from the point of view of real spiritual growth, it’s an immature state— a “state” rather than a “stage,” in the helpful language of Ken Wilber. A state is a place you go to; a stage is a place you come from: integrated and mature spiritual experience. It’s true that a mystical experience can indeed be a sneak preview of how the universe looks from the point of view of non-dual consciousness. And it’s true that this consciousness does indeed operate at a higher level of vibrational intensity, which at first can overwhelm our normal cognitve systems. But the point is not to squander this infusion of energy on bliss trips, but to learn to contain it within a quiet and spacious consciousness and allow it to permanently bring about a shift in our operating system, so that unitive (or non-dual) perception becomes our ordinary, and completely normal mode of perception.

Amen and amen. I’ll drink to that.

No US Post-Charismatic? Say It Aint’ So! And, Bentley Sadness

So Rob McAlpine pens this (from my early web-readings) thoughtful book, Post-Charismatic, and I’ve been waiting for a couple of years now to read it in book form in the U.S. I thought my friends at David C Cook USA were gonna pick it up, but apparently they’re not. Do me a favor: If you want to see this book in the US of A, go to Robby Mac’s post and comment up a storm, all of you. Then I’m going to go to Cook with that post and show them the demand of folks who’d like to buy a US version. Personally, I think the charismatic movement is hot, with friends and foes alike looking for substantial writing about it. Rob paints a balanced portrait of this stream, giving an accessible history and credible way forward.

Speaking of the volatility of our Spirit-filled brethren, Boston Vineyard pastor Dave Schmelzer provides a balanced take on the Lakeland revival, and Brother Maynard gives us a good (though difficult) account of the it and the Bentley’s marital separation. Let’s pray for the Bentleys, Lakeland Florida, the unity of the Church, and for all God’s people to cultivate a healthy appreciation for the beautifully subversive and transformative nature of both God’s power and God’s ideas (teaching, Scripture, doctrine…however you want to put it).

Revival in an Internet Age – Lakeland Links Roundup

http://jc4jc.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/revival.jpgWhen the Brownsville Florida revival broke out nearly 15 years ago the Internet was barely a glimmer in most people’s eyes. Even then it had some effect on getting the word out about – and critiquing – the happening. Well, lightning has apparently struck twice in Florida – there has been a veritable bit-torrent written about the “Lakeland Outpouring” expressing both unqualified support and what sounds to me like witch-hunting (knocking the guy for getting tattoos? C’mon.) Amid all of this din, I’ve found a handful of pretty insightful pieces on it from across the spectrum. Here they are.

Lakeland, Florida, Barack Obama & Burma: A Call to Respond to The Signs of the Times by Pete Grieg

Rumours of Revival by Billy Kennedy

(Another) Rumours of Revival by David Derbyshire

The Lakeland Outpouring and Todd Bentley By Robert Holmes and Brian Medway in Storm Harvest (Australia)

Leaders Commission Todd Bentley at ‘Lakeland Outpouring’ – from Charisma Magazine

Biblical Reasons To Receive God’s Glory and Give It Away in Power Evangelism by Dr. Gary S. Greig

Rick Joyner on Lakeland (and Question/Response)

Chuck Pierce and C. Peter Wagner on Lakeland

Leaving Lakeland in TheOoze: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three

Lifting Jesus High! Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions about the Lakeland Outpouring & Todd Bentley by Todd Bentley – the Man Himself speaks out!

So what do I think? I wouldn’t venture to say unless I go to Lakeland. I’ll be in Florida this next week, but alas: here rather than here. But I’ll continue to pray that God’s good dreams find hands, feet, and ecosystem to manifest, in as much diversity as God so delights in. Until next time, friends…

New Wine Party / Chill & Refill

Meet Todd Post. At the height of my interaction with John Crowder, Post & I had a brief exchange of our own. He’s posted many of the videos of Crowder that are on YouTube, including this original music of his:

So when I saw this video, we started corresponding, and it turned out he was passing through Raleigh on a Greyhound, on his way to (or is it from? I can’t quite recall) Virginia where he was hosting an outdoor “Holy Ghost House Party.” We met and he gave me review copies of his two albums, New Wine Party and Chill & Refill.

They’re fascinating albums – electronica overlaid with sampling from the preaching of this fella, John Scotland, a definite “new wine” enthusiast. I think this is how charismatic preaching should be heard all the time – better to be felt than telt.

As best as I can tell, Todd doesn’t have a “day job;” he is in many ways the embodiment of the ‘Spirit-filled’ ideal. He goes to conferences, then goes out onto the streets, evangelizing, passing out shots of Godka, and taping/podcasting the conversions. He doesn’t have a high-profile ‘ministry’ in this world, but faithfully walks out in (as our Quaker brethren would say) the Light he has been given. I have absolutely no idea how he earns a living – could be the life of faith!

Here’s a little about Todd from his website, Signs & Wonders:

“Born in Fargo, North Dakota and raised in the bordering city of Moorhead, Minnesota, Todd Richard Post attended a traditional Lutheran church where he was confirmed at the age of 15. Two years later at a Young Life meeting, T. R. asked Jesus Christ to come into his heart. But an intense love for secular music caused T. R. to back away from Christianity and move to Minneapolis to pursue a career in the recording industry. During that time he supported himself doing disc jockey work in roller rinks, nightclubs and at wedding dances.

In 1991, T. R. had a powerful experience with the Lord while visiting family members in Fargo. He recommitted his life to Jesus and later accepted the call to preach. T. R. was employed at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and also served as an evangelism leader at Living Word Christian Center before stepping out to become a full-time missionary. During that time, the Lord led T. R. to start writing “Signs & Wonders”, a newsletter that is now read by Christians all over the world. Crowder & Post

In 2006, T. R. resumed using his recording and DJ skills by launching the

Signs & Wonders Radio Network. The following year, T. R. produced “New Wine Party”, an album combining electronic music with the preaching of Liverpool, England native John Scotland. A follow-up album “Chill & Refill” was released in March 2008. Samples from both albums may be heard on T. R.’s MySpace page.”

So there you have it! Check out his tunes on his Myspace page.

Of course, speaking of off-the-beaten path Spirit-filled tunage, I’m looking forward to my copy of Toking The Ghost… : )

Toking The Ghost

Micah Mayo: In Defense of the Spirit

The ‘Crowder conversation’ continue to invite reflection from many perspectives – including mine, but it shall have to wait (tomorrow, hopefully!). My fellow Raleigh house church communard shares his thoughts ‘In Defense of the Spirit.’ The past year has been a spiritual renaissance for him, Micah says, being exposed to solid biblical scholarship and emerging churches and like-hearted authors…

“I have all of these new, great, and powerful ideas floating around within me, but in this presentation of the Gospel of the Kingdom I can’t help but notice a gaping hole. Where is the Spirit? It isn’t as if these folks don’t believe in the Spirit, or that s/he/it (who knows?) is never mentioned, but it I only seem to find it in passing, or mentioned in such an abstracted context that there seems to be no method of approach or interaction with this very real facet, or hypostatsis of God. I’ve been to a couple of emerging churches and new monastic communities. I’ve enjoyed authentic people who love Jesus and are pursuing his Kingdom. I’ve admired the community, participated in group expressions of our experience(i.e. art projects), fed the hungry, taken communion and heard words of encouragement and good news. But still, I’ve wondered… where is the Spirit?”

>Continue reading ‘In Defense of the Spirit’…

Pentecost and the Way of the Shaman

Still no new post from me…sorry…I’m gearing up to go to DC this weekend, as I’ve been elected to take part in Bread for the World’s Hunger Justice Leaders Training, a great honor…but speaking of Spirit-filled, I was on a panel of judges for Jesus Manifesto’s Pentecost 2008 (in other words the Jewish/Church Feast Day, not the flavor of Christian spirituality, though the lines were intentionally blurred) writing contest, “Stepping Into The Wind.” Enjoy here our first-place winning piece, “Pentecost and the Way of the Shaman.”

Also: Jason Clark, a Vineyard pastor and Emergent Village guy in the UK, has just weighed in with astute thoughts on revival, Todd Bentley and John Crowder.

The sacred drum stays out of sight, behind skins and blankets until the old woman has need to travel. She lives among the reindeer herdsman of Northern Mongolia. Inside her oortz (a type of teepee), the Mongolian Shaman begins to beat her sacred drum, and chant. These are the vehicles of her travel as she enters a spirit realm on behalf of those who seek her help. Sometime during her spirit travels she enters a trance, the spirits enter her body, and the old woman dances like a child.

Read more on Jesus Manifesto.com… »


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    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

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