13.8.09

7300 Days and Counting Without Demonic Incident


Alert O.S.H.A., it’s been roughly 20 years since demons were last cast out of me. That’s a heckuva safety record. While you’re up, contact my car insurance provider. When I get behind the wheel, there are fewer drivers involved. That’s got to be worth some discount to my premium.

I was barely in my twenties and Jody had blue doe eyes that made me forget my name. At the time I mistook her attention for her being into me, but now I think that her church needed a keyboard player. She asked me if I’d join the praise band and I was powerless to refuse. It was those blue eyes. She also talked about spirituality in terms that my Hebrew, Greek, and Old Testament professors never used. She talked about wanting to “get to the next level” and to “break into the Throne Room of God.” She wore her deep blue eyes as she said these things.

I joined the band and learned their songs that asked God for more love and more power. We sang songs that lifted imagery from Isaiah, The Song of Songs, and, sometimes, Peter Cetera.

After few months, the senior pastor and the worship leader invited me out of lunch to “get to know me better.” After a few minutes of introduction, the pastor leaned forward, dropped the register of his voice and asked me what my angle was. I wasn’t sure what he meant but I was sure he didn’t want hear about depth of Jody’s eyes. I mumbled something about keyboards and his unique teaching. He scanned my eyes and noted that he never saw me “using the gifts of the Spirit.” I wondered if he viewed me as a threat somehow, and despite the fact that he was twice my age, had a mortgage, a car, and a pulpit. I chewed quickly and hoped the inquisition would come to a quick close.

That Saturday evening, the school psychologist knocked on my door and gave me an assignment. I was a Resident Assistant and one of my guys needed help. Dave had been suffering insomnia for the greater part of the week and was experiencing hallucinations. The counselor explained that Dave had looked in the mirror and thought his reflection was mocking him. Dave snapped and trashed his room. The counselor believed that Dave had his cathartic moment and could be able to sleep, but I needed to spend the night in his room just to be sure.

I walked into Dave’s room and saw broken glass, blood, broken drawers, books, and clothes scattered across the room. Dave was embarrassed and glad I was there. I was pretty sure I hadn’t signed up for this. Dave was just a cheeseburger shy of 300 lbs. What if he hallucinated again and thought I was a threat? Dave could have done some serious damage to stick-figured frame. But the counselor was right; Dave went right to sleep. But I laid on my sleeping bag with both eyes open most of the night.

The next day, I went to church to fulfill my duties at the keyboard with puffy eyes. I returned to me seat and promptly fell fast asleep. I woke up to the pastor, the worship leader and about twenty other were hovering over me begging Jesus to cast the demon of slumber from my soul. It must have worked. I was wide awake and more than a little self-conscious. I wasn’t sure how to handle their misguided attention. Was I expected to shout praises or break into tongues? I considered my options but was relieved when they swarmed to cast out the devils that were apparent harassing a suburban housewife sitting 4 rows down.

The weirdness of that morning was lost in the pace of college life. I return from church, took a long nap, and then threw myself into the books. It took me a few more trips to the church before I grasped that I was being labeled and marginalized because I was unwilling or unable to conform. God didn't give me "The Baptism" like he had the rest of the crew, so I had to go.

This labeling happens all the time in our politics, high school, and churches of all stripes. The church of my childhood knew how to stiff arm Democrats with ease. Perhaps God knew I was thick and needed to be on the receiving end of an impromptu exorcism to begin to teach me about the dangers of demonizing others.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not making ANY theological statements about the gifts other than these: 1) I didn't have a demon in me; 2) and God hadn't and still hasn't given me those gifts. I'm not putting down anyone's theology and I'm not gearing up to debate the issue. This is a post about how we label others.

8 comments:

  1. I'm impressed, that's twenty years. I have some catching up to do. And this was well written. I read most of it out loud...slow and methodoically. Thanks.

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  2. Larry, I had no idea you grew up in that stuff. It's a darn shame. I had a little exposure to it myself. Thankfully, I did an intense study of spiritual gifts in my 20s and realized it wasn't all about tongues. It's sad that a certain segment of Christians, good-hearted people, have been misdirected this way, valuing the experiences of God over His word and His truth.

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  3. James, it was a brief dip in those waters during my college years. I grew up congregational church.

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  4. Larry, darling, I'm heartbroken. I'm slain, my dear, completely slain that you'd be ashamed of our relationship. Perhaps I can interest little Jimmy there in a collaboration, as you've clearly lost the nerve.

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  5. If by "Little Jimmy" you mean me, then no thanks, Mr. Beezlebub. ;)

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  6. I'm all about the spiritual gifts but that church sounds straight up crazy. Sucks that that was the experience with gifts that you had, and so many other Christians have. It's no wonder we shy away from the "crazy" Christians who speak in tounges and roll around in the aisles like weebles.

    Also, I command thee Beezlebub to depart from this place of the loooooord immediatley!!

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