Thursday, March 30, 2006

Joseph the Visionary.

It's strange how the day takes away the power of dreams. I haven't been sleeping very well lately. I've been having a lot of bad dreams for one thing. And for the other, I haven't had very much time for sleeping.

For whatever reason, I'm very affected by dreams. I'm not the sort that gives a lot of credence to hidden meaning in dreams or whatever. I don't think that every dream I have is the key to the inner workings of my psyche or that every dream that is set in the future will in fact prove to become my future. I think that those things can happen. My religion sort of requires my belief that dreams can have meaning (haven't you seen Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?)

In church this past Sunday and also last night we talked about spiritual gifts. Coming from a "high church" background, it's not a subject that I've really given a lot of thought. I've a natural tendency to disregard anything charismatics say on the matter mostly because I always suspect them of bringing the entire matter up solely so that they can once again interject speaking in tongues into the conversation.

I have never spoken in tongues and I have always been quite certain that I never will. For most of my life I viewed it as outright charlatanism. And while I have lately found that there's more to it than I liked to admit, it really didn't seem like the sort of thing I would ever do.

Part of my problem is just outright classism; my thinking I'm more sophisticated than I am. I have tremendous battles with my pride just trying to pray, much less by allowing the holy spirit to pray through me. I don't like giving up control. I only begrudgingly allow that God is greater than I am. That is, I only admit it in my worst and most beaten moments, and even then, under protest.

I realize that that's a stupid attitude. But like most of humanity, I continue on my merry way, content in having a stupid attitude.

The part of the sermon that interested me last night was when he brought up "discernment of spirits." I've never really listened to a pastor speak on the subject and until last night I only had a half-formed idea of what that was. I always assumed it meant calling people you didn't like demoniacs and talking about the sweet spirit of televangelists.

But my pastor was talking about seeing the world the way that God sees it. He was mostly talking about people. Seeing nasty criminals as little children, for instance, and loving them inspite of their sin. But the idea of seeing the world the way that God sees it is very interesting to me.

I was originally drawn to Eastern mysticism mostly because I have these, I don't how to describe them, experiences, in which the world of solids and objects and rules suddenly goes melding into this gooey, undulated and warm mess that I can only describe as God. I thought for sure I'd end up some sort of Buddhist until I realized that the study of the philosophy of nothingness was really doing nothing for me.

Mind you, I'm not saying that Buddhism is bad or evil or that it does nothing for anyone. In fact, I learned a lot from that period in my life. I learned how to fast and how to meditate; I learned discipline and, to a certain extent, how to control fading in and out of "reality."

I found a home in the Christian mystics of the East. I started fiddling around with the Jesus Prayer and reading the Philokalia, all of which, I must admit is far, far too advanced for me. I didn't understand any of it. And while I do find myself drawn to it, I can never stick with the practice of anything because I am simply too overwhelmed by what I find.

All of these factors are sort of converging on me. It's almost a crisis of faith, but sort of a sweet one. How does a quasi-Catholic-Pentecostal-former Buddhist reconcile horrifying fear of the holy spirit, an insistence on only one baptism, rejection of sola scripture and a slight tendency to slip in and out of the known world?

I want to write more, but I have to take The Boy to his book fair and then wrestling practice, and then, joy of joys, I have my first psychopathology class tonight.