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.
BY: Patton Dodd
Three hours later, I feel better, as I will after dozens more three-hour prayer sessions to come. I have paced back and forth and sung to God in the midst of my doubt. I have fallen to my knees in repentance of judgment and cynicism. I have flipped through the Bible and been reassured by passages that ring true. I have fought against the devil and his deceptions. I have committed to know God more—to be intellectually honest about my doubts yet determined to grow in faith.
Maybe I can make it after all. Maybe everything won’t be so confusing. Maybe there are ways for me to find answers. God has pointed me toward some possibilities—namely, more prayer and reflection and sitting under the teaching of men and women older and wiser than me, whether through sermons or conversations or books. I will learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before me. I can do this. I can believe. My faith doesn’t have to fall apart.
I walk to the stairwell and descend to the lobby. I figure I’ll go for a walk in the night air and let all this sink in. As I am about to pass through the doorway, I see Dwayne walking toward me. I stop and stare; he seems to be stumbling. Barely holding himself up. He doesn’t look like himself. He looks drunk.
Dwayne? Righteous Dwayne? Sweet Dwayne? Dwayne went out on a Friday and got drunk? I walk up to him and grab his shoulders. He gives me a sheepish grin.
“Shhelloooo, Pattshon!” He’s not just drunk; he’s like a drunken character in a made-for-television movie, a caricature of drunks.
“Dwayne? What’s up, man? Are you all right?”
“SsshI’m fine!” His voice cracks. “I’m shhunkly dorky—ha ha— I mean dory!”
My weight is under his, holding him up. I pull us toward a chair near the front of the dorm lobby and set him into it.
“Dwayne, what did you do tonight?”
“Oh, brother, you should have been there,” he says, his voice clearing a little. “This minister had the power of God. I’m telling you, the Holy Spirit was all over the place.” He finds his slur. “Shollll overshh thish placeshhh!”
“What are you talking about?”
“We all got drunk, man. Drunk in the Spirit.” He giggles.
“You got drunk in the Spirit?”
“Yeah, Patton. Shhhhit wasssh sho powerfulsh!”
Awkwardly, slurringly, Dwayne explains that he and some friends had been attending revival meetings all week at a church downtown. Tonight, Dwayne says, the Holy Spirit showed up in a major way and fell on the whole congregation. People were falling over. They were laughing. They were shouting in new prayer languages. They were getting drunk in the Holy Ghost. Dwayne drank so hard and long that some friends had to drive him back to campus. He would pick up his car tomorrow.
If, over the last few months, I have stood off to the side and held my doubt in suspension like a rubber band stretched long and thin, tonight it snaps completely in two. I don’t believe a word Dwayne is saying. I’m sure he’s been bamboozled. I am disgusted—not because I am convinced that God would not work this way, but because I’m convinced He hasn’t done it tonight, not in Dwayne. What good can be produced of this? Dwayne is happy now, but won’t he have a spiritual hangover? What will he do when the drug doesn’t work next time, when his tolerance has increased to the point that he needs something even more overextended in order to feel the love of God?