The church we go to now is probably the only one I have ever attended that I actually like. One of the great things about it is that everyone and anyone is truly welcome there. Oh, I know, all the churches SAY that, but if you look around, everyone looks the same because they drive out anyone who's different with their judginess. Just for instance, we tried the church on the corner that we can walk to. Some guy came up to me and asked me for my church history. I said, 'Same as anyone else, I guess. I used to go to a different church and now I'm here.' Guess that wasn't good enough because he kept pressing me, like I was a dog and he needed to see my pedigree. We never went back, and too bad, because it was super convenient. This is the same church where this happened. Perhaps I've just had extra bad church luck, but here's a story about an on-base church that I wrote. I was so cross about it I didn't even want to put it on my own blog and instead asked my wonderful friend Helen to post it for me.
Now we drive 3o miles to the church I like. Everybody really IS welcome there. On any given Sunday, here's what you might see for ushers: a retired logger with the boots and suspenders, an elderly church lady all done up fancy with a Queen of England hat, a teenager with tattoooes that just got baptized after kicking his drug addiction and a guy so gay he swishes audibly, or any other manner of motley misfits that would probably be cast out of another church faster than you can say 'Jesus loves everybody! Oh, jeans at church? What an INTERESTING idea! Bless your heart, dear!' This place does backpack giveaways for the entire community before school starts, passes out groceries all year, and puts on picnics and carnivals for the whole town. The kids love their classes, everyone is super nice, and the sermons are generally informative and compelling. That's another one of my criteria, I like to learn something. The pastor has a really refreshing viewpoint, and often comes up with something that makes perfect sense, yet is different than anything I've ever heard before. I know it sounds like it might be sort of out there, but it's a standard mainstream Christian church, in every respect. And no forced greetings!
So I was pretty surprised this week when the pastor announced, almost as an aside while making a larger point, that he speaks in tongues. Often, but only when he's by himself, and he calls it praying in the spirit. I've read a little about this; it interests me. I have questions: is it consistent gibberish? Does a particular word always mean the same word, or does it vary? Could you translate, say, an order at McDonald's into the spirit language? Does it share sentence structure and grammar with English? Or is it totally random, different every time? I really want to know these things, for a couple of reasons. I like words and language, for one thing, but it also seems similar to how stories come to me, just out of the air into my head, begging to be written down. I mostly ignore them, of course, because the writing down part is a buttload of work. I used to think the stories were a gift from God, because I read an article about how a famous songwriter, Alan Jackson maybe, got his songs from the ether in a similar manner. I was quite enthralled with my newly discovered gift until I read a book written by someone I knew who said her story had arrived in the same magical way. Her book was hands down the worst thing I ever read and DEFINITELY did not come from God, unless God, unbeknownst to us all, is a hack with a second grade vocabulary, subpar grammar and a nonexistent sense of pacing. As a result, I was forced to reassess the provenance of my own efforts, and so far have not come to a satisfactory answer.
Anyway, I am very interested in learning some more about the mechanics of how this tongues thing works but I'm definitely not going to The Holy Boa Constrictor Harvest of the Blood Redemption for research. If I get a chance I'm going to ask the pastor ALL about it, but maybe there's another way. Any of you guys speak in tongues? Or know someone? If you can answer the questions, feel free to leave me an anonymous comment if you don't want to come out of the closet. Also, let me know if you want to come to church with me! Seriously, the place is a hoot; you wouldn't be sorry.