169. on spirituality (part 3)…ideas from both ends
I got some really interesting responses to my last blog (see blog 168). Some of the most interesting were left on this blog (as opposed to my MySpace mirror blog). You can see the comments here. Now I’m not prepared to go quite as far as m does in saying that he “is unconvinced that Satan even exists,” but his perspective did help me get to some satisfying conclusions.
M talks about how this discussion about demons and possession is kind of moot because ten times out of ten, we want the sin whether there’s a little red pitchfork man whispering in our ear or not. Take that idea one step further and you get to why the whole demonic influence idea is so appealing (not appealing in a, “ooh, I want that” kind of way, but in a “I want to believe that” way). Because, isn’t it much more acceptable to blame your sin on something apart from yourself than to acknowledge that it’s all on you?
Let me explain. I’ll use myself as an example. Left to my own devices, I’m a pretty lazy guy. Get me in front of a television set with cable and a remote control, and you can pretty much write off the next five to six hours of my life. I’m wasting my potential, sitting on the gifts God’s given me. Wouldn’t it be nice to blame that laziness, not on a lack of discipline but on some outside influence – like the demon of the fat-ass? Because then I’m not lazy, I’m a victim, and it’s not my fault.
Again, i have the utmost respect for T and I don’t write these things without regard for his feelings, but I’m trying to understand something and writing is the way I sort things out.
“Yeah, but you don’t have to share it with the world.”
But again, I’m lazy, and (I hate to admit this but) sometimes the only thing that gets me writing is the fact that people are reading. On top of that, comments like m’s get me over the mental hump and help me towards a better understanding. And I’m not saying that what T went through wasn’t real, I’m just (as m put it) unconvinced (I like that word…I’m going to use it more often. Thanks, m).
Bottom line: I’m unconvinced that what I witnessed last Sunday was a demonic presence at work within T. And this should be a satisfying answer for me…
But I’m still left searching for an experiential kind of Christianity. And I think of my friend, the lovely Kelli (her blog here). She’s got some crazy, amazing stories about creepy things that go bump in the night. She’s a Christian now but before that she was involved in New Agey, paranormal, Tarot card reading kinds of activities. And it’s not just that she dabbled in these things recreationally, she was heavily invested and studied in them. Because of that, she has detailed stories about presences physically pressing in on her and spiritual entities moving through rooms and being able to sense them. And I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but her stories have the ring of truth to them. I think it has to do with the details she includes, and I wish I could share some examples but my memory (as usual) fails me.
After she became a Christian, there was a time where she kind of lost her ability to see and sense the spiritual realm. It’s like her gift was taken away for a time so that she could focus on the facts of what it is to be a follower of Jesus, but after a while she was able to discern things again, only now it was from the perspective of one who holds Jesus as Lord.
Anyway, because she’s someone who is sensitive to happenings in the spiritual realm, it’s a trip to hang out with her. And I’m not sure I want to see with the same acuity she does because she can paint a pretty scary picture sometimes, but at the same time I kind of envy the fact that for her, Christianity is a palpable, tangible reality as opposed to my more abstract, conceptual belief system.
In response to the exorcism blog (blog 168), she challenged me to ask God specific questions about what I was unsure of. Well, one of my questions was, “were we dealing with something truly demonic or something else?” I think it’s pretty clear from the first half of this entry that the answer I ended up with was “something else.”
So I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. But Kelli told me about a conference coming up in a few weeks called Maturing In The Prophetic. From what I can tell, it’s geared towards full on fueled by the Holy Spirit types of Christians. Something like this is way outside my comfort zone but there’s a phrase in the business world that goes, “if you want to be rich, hang out with rich people.” And that makes quite a bit of sense because what’s the point of learning about how to make money from a professor who probably ended up teaching after failing in his own business ventures? To summon another cliche, “those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”
With that in mind, I signed up for this prophetic conference thing because if I want to experience the spiritual side of life, I should go where they spiritually on it are going. And despite all the skepticism I write about, I really, truly do want to know/experience/understand things of the spirit. I know it’s out there, but I’m not going to just turn my brain off and let my emotions get the best of me. And I’m not saying that that’s what people at these conferences are doing, I’m just saying that I have a mind as well as a heart and I want a Christianity that’s big enough to encompass them both. But if I have to choose, I chose to worship and to serve and to believe with my mind.
But really, I want both.