Friday, November 28, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1101 - Spirituality (#4)

R. is 4 years older than me. K. and M. are respectively 1 year older than me. So I'm truly the baby in the group. Given the anti-intellectualism of much that passes as Pentecostal these days, it's a little unexpected that at least the two of us prided ourselves on having skipped a grade in elementary school. Each of us had deep connections with each other and many conversations that would last hours parked just outside our respective homes talking about how we were going to make a difference, how our own brand of Pentecostalism would mould the world into a far better place.

Those conversations were spiced occasionally with casual asides about how T.'s breasts were truly spectacular, about how idiotic some of G.'s rabid anti-intellectual sermons were, about practical jokes we would plan on the church's ushers, custodians and assorted leaders (there were some that we would never undermine because their personal integrity was beyond reproach or doubt).

R.'s recollection of precise details of who said what when and where made it like having our own internal group historian. To this day, I think that even when he's making it up, it sounds like so much fun that it absolutely must have happened that way.

K. provided the glue of deep and abiding loyalty and respect for each of us. It was a fine group indeed, a very fine group.

If my Mother and Father were a strange couple, then our foursome was just as strange. Looking and listening to the 4 of us yesterday in my family room, you'd have to wonder what keeps such disparate characters together.

If friendship provided a means for me to change, to become more driven by positive ideals, and to separate myself from the constraints and restrictions of standard Barrie life and thought, it also preserved me through times of betrayal, the gradual death and dying of my personal Pentecostal perspective, and to adapt my overall Christian perspective to university life, reflection and serious attacks on other friendships. In other words, for some other people, the experiences I had in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada should have been enough to drive me away in utter cynicism without so much as a casual passing interest in those whose paths kept them ensconced at Hi-Way.

Having said that, I still cringe at the unreality of dogma which asserts that what makes Pentecostals distinct from evangelical Baptists is the former's belief that the initial physical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is the vocalization of sounds that are supposed to be tongues of men and angels. It's equivalent to a Baptist demanding one adhere to an assertion that the first physical evidence of being baptized by water is that your clothes get wet very quickly. Well, duh!

By now in this sub-thread you should be getting the message that the content of dogmatic religion is never really as important as those on the inside claim it is. In fact, the content is often completely off the wall and involves blind adherence to facts and theorems. While on the inside, the content is about revelatory truth. It demands that you do not examine critically the fundamentals because once you do, you'll realize all you've got is someone else's assertions about reality that were revealed to them by some authority beyond question. Where the buck stops isn't really the problem. It stops somewhere, and you simply have to bite your lip and accept the fact that you've surrendered part of your personal integrity to someone else, assuming you want the affiliation with the religious group to continue. With ultimate concerns, where and how you decide to surrender your personal integrity is extremely significant.

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