Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I read a great story today. Check it out: http://killingthebuddha.com/confession/fresh.htm

Here is my story that is similar:

When I was at Wheaton I was involved in the theater group. We would go on retreat every year, and as arty people do, we'd have a service to close the day that was spontaneous and free, involving a lot of candles and people piping up in prayer or song and others joining or sitting quietly or whatever. My freshman year, it was one of the highlights of the whole year for me. But my sophomore year, something very strange happened.

The service was going along fine, when all of a sudden we heard what sounded like screams coming from the basement of the church. A few moments later, the doors to the chapel burst open and a huge commotion entered the room. Running up to the altar were several of my peers, carrying one of the girls from the group. She was the person screaming. They threw her down on the altar and began yelling all these rebukes against unseen forces. Her eyes were wide, then rolling, and she was flailing all around. Those around her were responding to her every move by yelling at whatever they thought was causing it.

It should be noted that this girl wasn't exactly 100%. She had mental problems, and she was known as an attention seeker and something of an exaggerator. Sadly, the most obvious thing I could see going on as I pondered it later was a desperate plea for the attention that had been focused on God to be moved in her direction.

But at the time, I was simply choked with terror. A strong feeling of something evil and dark had filled the room upon their entry, and everything had been thrown into utter chaos. People were screaming and jumping over pews and acting completely crazy. It was complete pandemonium.

I slipped out (stepping over bodies on the way) and went downstairs. There I found a group of my friends, all with fear in their eyes, shaking and trying to process what they'd experienced. We talked about our mutual sense of dread and doubts about the authenticity of what was going on. We tried to pray or at least sit quietly waiting for it all to pass.

Then the lights went out, everyone screamed, and the fire alarms went off. That was about the maximum any of us could handle, and adrenaline got me outside somehow. Instead of the usual passing of the peace and warm tidings as we took our leave, people left in groups, some sullen, some still crying, some joyful. I got out as fast as I could.

Later that week we received a letter from the program director stating that the Spirit had moved, but he understood that some of us had not experienced this and needed counseling. Huh? Apparently those of us who were disturbed by the drama were simply screwed up in the head. Otherwise we certainly would have recognized the Spirit at work.

So I decided that if that was God's spirit at work, I wanted nothing to do with it. I hated the chaos and the fear that came along with it. I hated the privelege of only a few to be included in the work, while the rest of us just had to take it on faith. For years, any time someone would begin anything remotely charismatic (even just lifting a hand during worship), I would beat it out of there as quickly as I could.

Take what you want from this story. It's mine and a few others'. We share it to give insight and warning and reminders. I came back, but not everyone will.

1 comment:

dave p said...

Oh my. With you all the way on this. Why is there all this bludgeoning of people to behave/believe the way they do? That whole ORU story is sad but very believable.

Fake spirituality is worse than no spirituality at all.