Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You know you want to

Betty has been to a "Healing Mass", and perfectly sums up my own experience with the Charismatic movement.
The team of healers stands up around the altar waiting for the line of faithful to approach them, and they are Betty Homemaker, Sue Teacher, Jack Plumber, Mike Lawyer. As I stand up at the altar with Sue Teacher’s hands on my head, why not entertain, just for a moment, the belief that the Spirit has animated her heart, mind and hands and is permeating into my body, making my thighs and calves feel jittery, causing me to tighten my shoulders and close my eyes. It is filling my body with hot coffee, pouring it in from the toes, up to the top of my head, capping me in warm foam, sending a delightful jitter into all my nerves. I am not just a person who drinks the drink anymore. I am the vessel in which the drink is poured and I contain all the caffeinated, alcoholic stimulants in the world without ever taking a sip. Who would not want to avail themselves of this feeling? Why aren’t all the bored teenagers and lusty old men of the world lining up for this high? Why not roll over towards my husband in bed with me and say, “Hey, feel like getting slain in the Spirit tonight?” If he had felt what I just felt, he would not say no.

I want the Charismatic experience to be authentic. I long for some psychic subrealm that allows unselfconscious and physical communication between God and me. And if this communication can be won with third party intervention, this intermediary laying-on-of-hands, rather than by my own concentration and spiritual discipline, all the better.

Yet, I remain a skeptic. I held my ground. I did not fall down. Is the warmth of someone’s hands on my head enough to give me chills? Is the intimacy of this little woman whispering in my ear, “Come back to me, My Child,” enough to bring tears to my eyes?
My family was involved in a Charismatic community when I was a teenager, and so I attended myriad healing masses and conferences and Life in the Spirit retreats. I found that I was unable to shut down my internal editor enough to stop analyzing my every little response. Was this the Spirit? Was that the Spirit? How do I differentiate between the Spirit and goosebumps or the warmth of comforting hand on my back? And what relief to finally stop resisting the earnest prayers and defying the waiting arms and the entreaties to just be more open, and drop into the eager solid arms. People who rail against peer pressure in schools have never been prayed over at a Charismatic meeting.


KN08 said...

I had some experience with a priest in my late 20s who was deeply involved in the charismatic movement. He prayed over me each time we met, but I was troubled by it, as mostly it seemed I was 'resisting', so something was 'wrong' with me. Ironically, it was when this priest left the priesthood to get married that I had healing of a kind I needed. When I knew I couldn't see him again, I realised I was on the brink of falling into depression at the 'loss'. But I had reached an age when I could see I had a pattern of over-reacting to such losses. I sought counselling, and I had the good fortune to meet up with a very experienced counsellor who quickly realised I had issues with resolving grief from the deaths of my parents when I was younger. This secular counsellor brought me the healing I really needed at the time.
More recently I have had some contact with a priest who is not charismatic. While I have not returned to church, I know that the Spirit has been closely present each time we have met. This priest does not condemn me in any way, but he trusts that the Spirit is moving in my heart.

Daddio said...

Interesting post! My comment got a little long, I'll make it into a new post on our blog.

TS said...

Very interesting. My internal editor is likewise a dominating influence.

Question on your last line: do you mean that those who rail against peer pressure at school "ain't seen nuthin' yet" when compared to being prayed over at a service such as you describe?

BettyDuffy said...

I want to say, "You will know them by their fruits." But the fruits are good and bad, so what does that make it?

sdecorla said...

I went to a few charismatic meetings as a teenager, and this was exactly my experience. I did have some pretty amazing experiences when people who were praying over me just seemed to know things they couldn't have known, or gave me some insights I had never thought of. I felt like God was speaking directly to me.

At the same time, though, I never fell over while being prayed over, and I never spoke in tounges. Those things kind of freaked me out, actually. I wondered if all of these people were really slain in the spirit or were just falling over because that's what they thought they were supposed to do. I think ultimately, I'm not called to charismatic prayer.

Bill Hoog said...

I want to say so much about the Charismatic movement, but right now my heart is heavy when I think about it.

There are some VERY holy folks in the movement.

But the most susinct thang I can say about it is that most who are involved exhibit the WORST of Protestantism and Catholicism.