Drunk in the Holy Spirit
I was already confused about faith. The last thing I needed was for my college buddy to get drunk...in the spirit.
Beliefnet editor Patton Dodd's My Faith So Far is the story of his experiences in the charismatic evangelical Christian subculture--converting into it, becoming confused by it, and coming to terms with it. The following scene, like most of the book, is set at Oral Roberts University, where Dodd encountered expressions of Christianity that shook his faith. In this and other chapters, Dodd struggles with the question of how to follow Jesus while navigating the choppy waters of a particular Christian subculture.
I remember the night when Dwayne bounded through my door and shoved a shoebox under my nose. Several audiotapes and CDs were inside. He shook the box back and forth, rattling the media around.
“What’s up, Dwayne? Whaddya need?”
“Gimme your devil music,” he said. “Tonight’s a night of sacrifice. We’re getting rid of our music that doesn’t glorify God.”
“What are you talking about?”
“What is the purpose of music?” Dwayne asked me. I looked at him blankly. I didn’t want to get into this. He answered his own question. “The purpose of music is to glorify God.”
“Well, do you ever listen to music that doesn’t glorify God?”
“I dunno,” I said, feigning ignorance. I wanted to act as though I were still a new-enough Christian to have never thought about this before. Of course I had. Since childhood. But I had never been able to up and throw it all away.
“Tonight’s the night,” Dwayne said. “God is calling us to account. Come on, brother. It’s either all God or no God. Let’s have those tapes and CDs.”
I wished he would go away. I didn’t want him to think I was not a committed Christian, but I also didn’t want to get rid of Toad the Wet Sprocket. They were innocent enough, right? I looked over to my stack of music.
“Give it up, give it up, give it up,” Dwayne chanted. I grabbed one audiotape, "Coverdale/Page," the album where David Coverdale of Whitesnake and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin hooked up to make a bunch of music that sounded just like Led Zeppelin. It was a favorite album during my senior year of high school, but it had become a guilty pleasure—in terms of taste as much as religious commitment. I threw it in the box.
“That’s it, man. That’s all I have for you.”
Dwayne was halfway satisfied. “OK, brother. That’s a start. Come to my room later. We’ll be smashing these up.”
Dwayne forced the issue that night, and I have not been able to forget it since. Maybe he is right. Anything that does not bring glory to God brings glory to Satan. Secular music does not glorify God, so it can only glorify Satan. Slowly, conviction wins out. I decide that I won’t be able to press in until I am rid of this devil-glorifying music collection. I put all my secular CDs in a separate stack. Counting Crows. REM. I pick up each CD and turn it over, knowing some are worse than others. These aren’t exactly the spawn of Satan, I know. This isn’t strict devil music. But still, garbage in, garbage out. You are what you listen to. All music glorifies something. I go through and get rid of every piece of music that I am sure does not glorify God. Stone Temple Pilots—the devil. The Doors—the devil. Toto? Pretty tame stuff, but still, nothing about it could please God. The devil.
Over the next half hour I look carefully at each title, and in the end everything that does not have a Christian industry label is pushed aside. I reduce my CD collection to Christian Contemporary Music’s chart toppers. WhiteHeart. Michael W. Smith. Keith Green. And of course, Phil Keaggy and Rich Mullins. It’s boring, but it’s pure. I plan to take the secular CDs to the CD Warehouse to trade them, maybe for some jazz. Ain’t nothing wrong with Billie Holiday, I suppose (until I read a thing or two about Billie Holiday).
Finally, I can pray. I have shoved aside the thing that was between me and God, and now that I have done it, now that I am not feeling guilty, I can proceed. I can seek Him, and I do.