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People ask me all the time, “How are you charismatic? How are you queer/leftist/universalist and still retain those aspects of your faith?” To be honest: I don’t know. It’s not like I try — I just do. To me, they aren’t diametrically opposed. They are all one in the same.
Charismatic evangelicalidm taught us the world in black-and-white; that certain aspects of us need to be spliced & chopped & separated like wheat from chaff. But that’s not true. We’re a kaleidoscope of unique traits that all coexist beautifully in tandem with one another.
I still believe in dream interpretation the same way that I believe in the abolishment of capitalism so that everybody has a chance at reaching their dreams. I still believe in glossolalia the same way that I believe the societal obsession w English is white supremacist as fuck.
I still believe in the power of prophecy in the same way that I believe speaking truth to oppressive powers is holy. I still believe in supernatural healing in the same way that I believe licensed therapists are crucial, medications matter, and disability justice is important.
I still believe in supernatural words of knowledge the same way that I believe in science and rigorous sex education. I still believe in the gift of faith the same way that I believe lack of faith can also be a gift to those who’ve been choked by it’s chains.
I still believe that people can be raised from the dead into new life when they find safe spaces after their religious communities have rejected them — and I believe that mountains can miraculously move in the same way that Spirit is miraculously moving people’s theology forward.
I also see each of the nine 1 Corinthians 12 spiritual gifts and the practice thereof through a lens that contains values which are strikingly similar to my sex ethics: consent, compassion, equality, justice, autonomy, freedom, vulnerability, authenticity, trust.
I am an ardent universalist and believe that people of all faiths or no faith can have gifts that are mystical and defy materialist human explanation. I believe God is so much bigger, so much lovelier than they told us and She cannot be tamed by self-appointed truth-wielders.
I believe that the lines between the spiritual and material can be blurred — that God can accomplish the spiritual through the material or the material through the spiritual. I believe the gifts are equally individual and communal, personal and institutional.
It’s not either/or like they told us: it’s both/and. We operate in worlds both seen and unseen — from the hair standing upright on our skin to the ultraviolet spectrum, from the excitable licks of a soft puppy to the mystery of gravity.
Can we just be honest, too? People across cultures and regions and religions and history have had what charismatics might otherwise call “”the gifts of the Spirit”” — they believe and practice various supernatural acts that bring Good. If the fruit is Good, then, why call it bad?
I can’t help but see things this way. In fact, I suggest that American conservative Pentecostalism is incongruent with the “spiritual gifts.” I was forced to ignore all the wild, limitless, REAL ways that God moves in the world & throughout people-groups who look nothing like me.
I was forced to ignore the tangible fruit of bad beliefs. I was barred from acknowledging people’s pain and joy and trained to define the world’s reality under my own group’s strict terms. I had to see everything in monochrome glasses — there were no shades or splashes of color.
This is how I’m still “charismatic.” The world never catered to one isolated Western group’s suffocatingly small ideas about the supernatural, and I’ll never bound Spirit to their ideas, either. I dare to believe that She inhabits temples that they told us She never could.
A view of Spirit that contains Her in rigid conservative boxes is no view of Spirit of all, if it is true that She is like the “wind that blows wherever it pleases” and wherever She is, “there is freedom.” Freedom is a process moved forward by progress, not dying traditions.
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