As a teenager, I was a devoted Catholic in a series of clubs that involved kneeling in deep introspection and reciting the novena.
My friends however were charismatic Christians, and one day they invited me to attend a ‘hip’ service. I agreed because, well, I was still a teenager and the idea of dance-hall music sounded good.
It turned out to be one of those services where there is a pastor running around screaming and the crowd howling back in response. Catholics don’t like noise. Then the pastor requested that we hold each other’s hands so that the ‘holy spirit’ could be roused from wherever she or he was sleeping to join us.
Catholics don’t like holding hands intimately with strangers either – even in the name of Jesus. We prefer to give you a quick handshake, say ‘peace be with you’ and let the matter be.
So we held hands as we waited for the Holy Spirit to arrive.
“I can feel you, Lord!”, the pastor screamed at us. “Can you feel the presence of the Holy SPIRIT?!”
“Wululululululu!”, one worshipper trilled.
“Yelelelelelelele!” went another.
I was desperate to leave but I was right at the front. Then the pastor shouted.
“It is now time for all of you to receive the holy spirit!”
“It’s about time”, I thought sourly. He started at the end of the line. He touched each person’s forehead and they fell down, shaking and speaking in ‘tongues’. I confess I was a bit excited. Was I finally going to experience the Holy Spirit entering me?
I’m ready, Pastor Mase!
The pastor reached me and pushed my forehead. Surprised, I stumbled back but regained my footing and stared at him hopefully. He pushed my forehead harder. I finally realized no one was receiving the Holy Spirit. This guy was just forcing us to fall down!
When he pushed my forehead again, I slapped his hand off.
“It’s clear the Spirit doesn’t want me”, I told him. “Just keep on moving!”