Monday, June 16, 2008

Speaking in Tongues

Let me begin with an aside: We were talking this weekend about why we're down on Christianity in particular. I mean, Judaism and Islam and Buddhism are - if not equally ridiculous - at least more or less equally worthy of dissection. And there comes a simple answer: I live in the freaking Bible Belt. I don't have cause to be annoyed by Jews and Muslims and Buddhists very often, if ever. But Christians, man...I have 10+ Christian churches of differing denominations WITHIN A MILE OF MY HOUSE, and seven of these within a quarter mile of my house. We're goddam surrounded.

Anyway. Tadpole and I were talking today about etymology and linguistics, and how "language" and "tongue" can mean the same thing. She says, Oh, like in my Mom's church when they're "speaking in tongues..."

Hold the phone. "What? They speak tongues in your mom's church?" Affirmative. Oh, my. That amuses the hell out of me. So I've been doing a little reading. First off, Wikipedia tells me that

Glossolalia is commonly called "speaking in tongues". ... speaking in tongues is the vocalizing of fluent speech-like but unintelligible utterances, often as part of religious practice. Its use (including use in this article) sometimes also embraces Xenoglossy - speaking in a natural language that was previously unknown to and that is not understood by the speakers common in black cultures.

Here's a bit from Christianity Today, which has the general feel that yeah, we think it's weird too, but whadyagonnado?
The phenomenon of tongues (or glossolalia) is identified by many as the supernatural utterance of foreign human languages (Acts 2:4,6); others contend that it includes speaking an angelic language (1 Corinthians 13:1) or some other verbal expression requiring interpretation . For many years, speaking in tongues was seen as the distinguishing characteristic of the Pentecostal and charismatic traditions within the church. Some Pentecostal Christians, in particular, laid heavy emphasis on speaking in tongues as "initial evidence" of baptism in the Spirit.

And here's another:
Speaking in tongues has been controversial among Christians, with some thinking it is not an appropriate modern-day practice despite its use in biblical times. The Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board adopted a policy last year forbidding the consideration of missionary candidates who use a "private prayer language."

Not appropriate despite use in Biblical times? I thought it was a gift of God, a sign that you've been double baptised. Are you saying it's voluntary? Controllable? HMMMmmm. Seems kinda silly if you're doing it on purpose.

Here I'm searching through YouTube...there are plenty of vids on "speaking in tongues", but they range from confused revival melees to how to guides to a guy who filmed himself speaking in tongues for demonstrative purposes, but only after boring the shit out of you for over 7.5 minutes first (notice how nicely I *DIDN'T* make fun of his creepy wal-eye?)

Going back to the Wiki article: the Apostle Paul talks about speaking in tongues...don't forbid it, it's great, I do it all the time, everybody should do it. Wait, what are we talking about? Oh yeah, not SEX, certainly not. We're talking about speaking in tongues. So anyway, he "indicates in the church more value is found in understandable teaching so that the church may receive edifying, saying that with speaking in tongues, only the individual is edified (1 Cor 14:18-19). Paul discourages simultaneous speaking in tongues in the presence of unbelievers or the unlearned" - ya fuckin THINK? - "believers are to prophecy and be understood rather than speak unintelligibly."

I guess this all comes down, once again, to how ridiculous all this is. Buy now, and you'll not only get the love of an invisible, inaudible being, and the big outdated book of how to live your life, but also the ability to babble incomprehensibly so you can feel good about yourself and alienate those close to you!

Caveat emptor, huh kids?

No comments: