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The light the bird the shadow

I found myself at a Christian rock concert last night. The details are unimportant.

So is the denomination of the church where the concert is held. In fact, I don't know what denomination it was. After the concert came a service unlike any church service I've seen. The pastor would say something and the crowd would respond: "Yes!" or "Bless you!" or "Jesus!" The pastor would ask them to close their eyes. They closed them. They raised their hands over their head, palms open, fingers stretched out, waiting to feel the spirit of God flow into their souls through their hands as the pastor exhorted them to become servants of God.

From what I could tell, most of the people there were certain about their faith, and there was a powerful piece of evidence that even I could see: Although it was a mixed-race crowd, there was zero vibe that race mattered to anyone in the room. Zero. There were lots of people who were, in one way or another, "the other." It didn't seem to matter.

The pastor sat on a stool in the front of the room as another pastor stood off to the side playing an electronic piano. "God is letting you know now that this is your moment," the pastor said, eyes wet, tears coating his cheek. The crowd answered in shouts of affirmation that Jesus is in their lives.

As I sat there, I wondered about what it must be like to be so certain about God's presence. They felt it. I didn't. I can't say I ever have—not for the lack of trying over the years, that's sure. Occasionally something flashes through my life like a bird's shadow flitting by on the ground: There, then gone before I can look. Maybe it was just a bird.

The people I was with last night, though? They see the light and not the shadow. I wonder what it's like.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
nodressrehersal
Nov. 24th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
I wish I knew that kind of faith, the "shout it out, dance in place, sing praises" kind - and admire those for whom it is very real. But still, I'm content with my quiet belief in the power of the Universe. I can't garden and not believe in something. It's to awe-invoking every Spring to think it's happenstance.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
It's a different kind of prayer—is that the right word?—when you're on your hands and knees planting things.
nodressrehersal
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:17 am (UTC)
But no less real, heartfelt, or nourishing.
anita_margarita
Nov. 24th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
Do they? Or are they caught up in a frenzy?

There is a church here, Bethel, which has a "School of Supernatural Ministry." People come from literally all over the world to this school.

I'm not saying the following video, taken during a service at Bethel, is not an action from God.



I am saying I think this is mass hysteria.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:14 am (UTC)
The comments afterward are more interesting than the video. Maybe I looked at it from the wrong angle.
behindpyramids
Nov. 24th, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC)
So do I.

Or if the light they see, is what we call shadow.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:18 am (UTC)
Whatever they see, if it works for them, good. Their eyes are different, I guess.
empresspatti
Nov. 24th, 2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
I'd be a lot more interested in church if they weren't always asking me for money. I've never been to a service of any kind that didn't pass the plate/basket/hat.

BUT - I do wonder, sometimes, at how people can insist that they 'feel' God. I guess I wonder what they are feeling.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
I wonder too.
cougarfang
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
I can sort of imagine what it'd be like to see God in every little thing about life, but that involves way too much willful inattention/blindness and mental contortion and rationalization/making-stuff-up for an atheist-by-nurture like me.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:20 am (UTC)
I would think God would speak to you through animals somehow. (And I'm not trying to be a wise-ass.)
cougarfang
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
Hah, I've often wished I could communicate directly with animals. I guess instead of a burning bush, God could come to me in the form of a burning squirrel...

I feel like animals actually speak to me of the nonexistence of God or souls or whatever. Humans are just another kind of animal, in the end, and it's merely narrow-sighted ego that makes humans set themselves apart from the rest of the living things.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:42 am (UTC)
I agree. We're just another kind of animal. But I think all of us animals have souls.
cougarfang
Nov. 25th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC)
Even tapeworms and plankton? *curious*
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 25th, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
Yep. It ties in with what you posted earlier. We humans set ourselves apart from other living things, but in the cosmic scheme of things, we're just plankton with opposable thumbs.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:24 am (UTC)
Searching for faith is a difficult find, when you do you might not recognize it because most of us think it will hit us with a jolt of enlightened consciousness.
For me it started in the shower a day after I heard the doctor tell me that I needed a kidney transplant. As we often do for our loved ones we put on the game face and vocalize our perseverance to move forward and overcome our problem. But, in the shower away from everyone I broke down into a sobbing mess. Like death, catastrophic illness has its own dynamic of anger, denial, etc. all the way to the “Grand Bargain.” I made a bargain, but it wasn’t for me or maybe it was. I am not particularly religious; don’t attend to any religion or faith. Born Jewish, I came from a conservative Jewish family with a father who converted to Judaism and became a devout Jew. My parents taught me that it was an affront to G-D to ask for your self, so my bargain was that I would try to help the world in anyway I could if only the Almighty would take care of my wife and children. That was my first conversation with G-D in of all places the shower. I remember telling my self that I was coping and had made peace with whatever the outcome. I had no idea that these conversations were with anyone other than me. It was so amazingly simple thoughts would come in and I would analyze them and come to a conclusion. Some of the conclusions were not always good ones. The point is that without realizing it, faith was creeping in. The most important thing I learned was that, “It is not so much our faith in G-d as it is in his faith in us to accept our fate and receive his grace in whatever manner it comes.” Anyone who knows me will tell you I have not altered my religious practices. I still at times believe G-d is a disinterested observer. I survived my medical issues and as I bargained initially…I still try to help the world in anyway I can…and everyday I have a conversation with G-d in the shower…I wish he would remember to bring in the washcloth-Holiday
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 26th, 2013 01:06 am (UTC)
That joke about the washcloth is going to come back to haunt you.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 26th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)

Want a good read...The Book of Job...written in prose it is a stirring narrative about faith tested to the extreme. After reading it for an English Lit course I came away with the best answer to faith I have ever discovered. We are all Job, and we stand up to each test in the best way we know how (it's not a pass/fail). Believe it or not that is the only requirement for faith...live your own life to the best of your ability, it's really the only thing you can do! There is no merit badge for faith- The Seven Storey Mountain by Merton is a great journey of faith. Robert Lax the poet who was Gladys Marcus, the OHS English teacher's brother and Merton were close friends.
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 27th, 2013 12:33 am (UTC)
I'm more of an Ecclesiastes kind of guy than a Job'er.
sahlah
Nov. 25th, 2013 02:30 pm (UTC)
God's presence - a concept open to interpretation I'd say. Funny how - if you put any stock in the New Testament - Jesus acted in quiet ways that lacked any sort of mass hysteria. I remember as a child watching the *rain catchers* (yes, I know very rude description of the folks with upturned hands) and thinking why? who are you impressing?
patrick_vecchio
Nov. 26th, 2013 01:04 am (UTC)
I can't figure out if enlightenment comes as a thunderbolt, a whisper, or something in between. Regardless, I'm still waiting.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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