Monday, January 23, 2012

Ecstatic Expression and Ecclesiastical Executions

Why are we so afraid of ecstatic expression, even that coming from our own children? Is it because we are consumed with jealousy and fear that there's not enough to go around? And how many of us are actually willing to immerse ourselves in the deepest pain of those we love as they walk through or writhe in their anguish?

The hardest thing I have ever done is holding the hands of those who thought or knew that they were dying. The difficulty in some cases was that the dying person was not the one in anguish; it was my soul that was consumed with grief for which I had no outlet. Giving our lives for others means walking with them in feelings. Death seems easy to me, in comparison to this.

"(The Indian -- not the same as The Shakers) Shakers believe that the experience of the Gospel does not require a book, but rather is encoded in the mind and soul in accordance with the will of God."

"Practices reflecting Catholic influence include the use of hand-held candles, the ringing of individual hand bells (to a very loud volume), and the sign of the cross (usually repeated three times). Protestant influence is shown in public testifying and confession of shortcomings. Native elements include brushing or stroking to remove evil influence, counter-clockwise movement of service participants around the room (often with loud stomping), and spontaneous reception of songs from the spirit. Church members are expected to refrain from using alcohol and tobacco. Carefulness, kindness, and supplication to God for help are emphasized." - excerpts from Wikipedia on the Indian Shaker Church

Some of this should sound familiar to today's Christians in Pentecostal communities, and yet this religion too was persecuted: "The new religion encountered much opposition and hostility from Euro-Americans. As had happened with the Ghost Dance, there was much misunderstanding and Anglos feared an Indian uprising. For a time, all Indian religious practices were banned by law and the Indian Shakers were included. Many members were imprisoned and chained for their practices. Powell et al. (1976) show two notices posted by the US Indian Service at Quileute Reservation:

'Notice to the Shakers: You are hereby permitted to hold meetings... under the following conditions: on Sundays not longer than three (3) hours at one time and on Wednesdays not longer than two (2) hours at one time. The following REGULATIONS to be observed: 1st, Keep windows or a door open during all meetings. 2nd, Use only one bell to give signals. Not continuous ringing. 3rd, Do not admit school children at night meetings.

It has been reported... that there are some women who are violating the Rules... and that they shake at all hours of the day and night. You will therefore tell the women quietly to stop shaking at any other times than the times specified in the rules... If they do not stop,... you will lock them up until they agree to stop. Shaking of the sick must not be allowed... We do not want any trouble in this matter if it is possible to avoid it; but that 'continual and private shaking' must be stopped.' " - excerpts from Wikipedia on the Indian Shaker Church

One definition for religion is "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe." Rules and strictly enforced interpretations of others' revelations are not the basis for my religion; shared joy, peace, and harmony are. The only supernatural power that I will seek is the power of positive energy radiating in those who have The Ways and Words of The Almighty encoded in their minds and souls.

Look into the eyes of a person who is also looking into your eyes, and you will see what is written on each others' souls. Fear, anger, drugs, alcohol, and greed all overshadow and can actually deaden the positive power. This deadening we can also see in each others' eyes, if we take the time to look.

When we impose our moral standards with fear instead of with bonding and walking with others in their peaks of delight and their valleys of darkness, we create collective rituals, but that's not the same as compassionate communion. Please don't pray for me as I suffer; hold my hand and walk with me a while. And when I'm about to shake apart in joy, wrap me in your arms and absorb some of the ecstasy from my soul.


  1. If we have the power, we (humans) tend to control that which we donot understand. We in America have definitely had our 'terrible' rules against many religious beliefs.

    It is hard to believe in many cases we had a modern day inqusition.

    It is hard to live and let live sometimes, when the authority is there.

    I have never heard of the Indian Shakers.

  2. Morals cannot be "imposed", although mankind does try. Moral standards can be taught - but if not caught they lose their effectiveness. The soul seeks to know God in many ways but because mankind is a fallen creature he must be redeemed. The Shakers/Quakers/Pentecostals were (are?) focused on the "move of the spirit" but there are both good spirits and evil spirits. How does one discern when the spirit is evil? 1 John 4:3 "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." Religious excesses have always been around and will continue. My mind, soul and spirit is fixed on Jesus as the answer to all of the questions.