It was a bit after nine when I got back to my place. It was an apartment, small, very basic, but not expensive, and enough for my needs. It had a bit of a living room, a bedroom, kitchen and bath, and a small balcony, as I was on the second floor.
And it was a wreck. Well, a wreck in the sense that pizza boxes, soda cans, books, and other stuff was set around wherever they had happened to land. I may have had talent as a housekeeper, but it was undeveloped, to say the least.
As I said before, it was Friday, so I wasn't too concerned about the lateness of the hour. I had a couple of things I wanted to do. One was to watch the TiVo of Friday night wrestling. The other was to get online and do a bit of research on what Gus and I had talked about. A third (making it more then a couple, I know) was to start some water boiling for some noodles.
So, I started up the player, started the water boiling thingy, and got on my computer. For all of the apparent simplicity of my existence, I had done a bit more then basic for the internet connection, as I had suffered enough with dial-up in my early days online, thank you very much.
Perhaps a bit of an explanation is in order here, so as to maybe help you know from where I am coming with all of this.
As Gus said, I was for a few years in my 20s in missions, going to a few different places in the world, and staying for a couple of years in Eastern Europe. My time in missions was a good time, one I look back on with a good bit of gladness. I saw and did some things that I think could be considered "good works", met people I have the highest respect for, and all-in-all have no regrets over that time in my life.
It was not, however, without incident. Or rather, without things that made me question some parts of what I was doing, or rather who I was with.
The group I was with a pretty large, with missionaries in several different countries. In theory, they were what could be called "non-denominational", meaning that they had people serving with them from several different types of Christian churches.
That was the theory, and to their credit they did make a good attempt to abide by those ideas. Still, one didn't have to be in it long to know that they tended to favor some Charismatic types of teachings. There was much talk of a concept called 'spiritual warfare', with much emphasis on singing and music and praying in some ways the seemed at times more concerned about insulting the Devil then in talking to God. There were teachings about the idea the there are still prophets and even apostles around today, and that they should be listened to and taken seriously.
For the record, I have no problem with some of the charismatic practices, such a speaking in tongues. Though raised more-or-less a Baptist, I have never been satisfied with the explanations they give for why they do not accept tongues. At the same time, there does seem to be a danger to it. Too often, it seems that charismatics let the events of a service, the music and the tongues and the feelings and the excitement, get to them and to cloud their judgment.
There was one time, when I was stateside, and went with a few others to a service where there had been records of strange manifestations going on. The reason I went was that, early that day, I had stepped wrong and sprained my left angle, and those with me thought the man speaking may be able to pray and heal it. Normally it wasn't something I would have gone for, but for whatever reason this time I caved and went along, limping into the already crowded auditorium a few minutes after things had begun, and sitting towards the back.
I remember little about the service itself, which should not be taken necessarily as a shot against the speaker, as I've little memory of many of the sermons I've listened to in my life. After he finished, he did the usual thing such people seemed to do, inviting people up and even doing the "I see someone...it's a vision...there's a man with a problem with his ears...you need to come up here" type of thing. One of those announcements was for someone with a hurt leg, and of course the people I was with thought that had to me, and I limped forward.
I stood in a sort of line, and and speaker went along, touching people on the forehead and they fell. Then he came to me, and did the same thing, and I didn't fall.
I don't think that made him happy, but such is how it went. I didn't fall, felt no need to fall. He said some things to crowd, I can't remember what exactly, but I think it had something to do with being open to what the Spirit was doing. He tried again, and I'm pretty sure he gave a bit of a push to me forehead, but I still didn't fall. I guess he gave up, and went on the next person, who did fall.
With nothing else to do now, I limped back to my friends, my ankle still sore, and with an all-in-all not good impression of the events. We left not long after that. I limped for about a week afterwards, the ankle was still a bit sore for a few more weeks.
I do not doubt that God heals, I have known of such things happening. What I do doubt is the "demand that God heal you" mindset too often displayed by Charismatic faith healers, and have an active distaste for the "if you're sick you're not right with God" scam that seems part and parcel of the TV healer message.
The internet was something I discovered a bit later, but once I was on, I was hooked. I began researching stuff, and finding out things that were, well, unpleasant. Not so much about the mission per se, but about some of the people who were, well, friends of it. Of course, I also learned that simply because it's on the internet, doesn't mean it's the gospel truth. Still, that combined with things I heard about, began to bother me.
Eventually, I left that mission. My lack of comfort with the way they were going became an issue to me. It was amiable, and it was time.
That was a bit over four years ago. Not long after returning, I got the job at the print shop, doing work I enjoyed doing, a bit of graphic design work along with the usual printing duties. Got the apartment, got a bleed-edge video game system, settled in to a life more ordinary.
So that night, between watched snatches of grown over-muscled men rant like children and throw themselves in remarkable ways around and outside of the wrestling ring, I did some searching for things on the author and the book Gus had mentioned. It was a rather fruitful search.
The TiVo of wrestling ended, and I continued to search. It was a Friday, I had Saturday off, so time wasn't really on issue. After a while, I remembered about the noodled, but the water boiling thingy had clicked off, and the water had cooled, so I decided to skip it.
I finally went to bed, with the idea that this may prove rather more interesting then I had originally thought. Like I said, I was a bit familiar with the things said, but for the most part it had not be in my radar. Now it was, and not only that, it was having an influence on a friend. Maybe it was time to get to the bottom of whether this whole emergent this was good or not.