This is another ‘random memory’ that something made me think about today.
It’s often preached in UPC (United Pentecostal Church) churches that when it comes to “shouting” or “dancing in the spirit”, no one will ever EVER get hurt unless the person doing the shouting is faking. From what I’ve seen, this is just not the case.
The main incident happened when I was around 10 or 11. My great Aunt was the one doing the ‘shouting’. She was being prayed for up front, speaking in tongues, and started shouting. She bumped into the altar and it turned over and landed on the foot of an elderly lady who was standing up front praying and it broke her foot.
The reaction of the entire church was pretty ugly. They told my Aunt that she was faking, and she was shunned and verbally abused for several months after that. My reaction was “WHAT JUST HAPPENED????” I was soooo confused. The thing is, I KNOW my Aunt, and I KNOW that she would never fake anything.
I don’t really know what my beliefs are on shouting and dancing, I don’t know if its of God, or if its a product of emotional frenzy, but either way, I know that my Aunt was not doing something fake just to appear ‘spiritual’. Whether what she was doing was of God or a product of something else, she truly believed it was of God and felt ‘something’ or she wouldn’t have been doing it.
Almost 20 years later, I still have no idea what to think about this particular instance. The lady with the broken foot never blamed my Aunt, said that she believed my Aunt was “in the spirit” and that its possible for something like this to happen due to ‘human imperfections’. I don’t know…
My other two memories involve (surprise surprise) my Mom. One thing that happened was in the same church. My Mom was “running the aisles” and she started grabbing people’s hands and pulling them out to run the aisles with her. One lady whose hand she grabbed got halfway around the church and then fell in the floor. People ignored her for quite awhile thinking she was “slain in the spirit”, and then someone noticed she was calling for help. I can’t remember exactly which bone it was, but a bone in her lower body had broke and she couldn’t stand up. Paramedics were called and she was taken to the hospital. The church was VERY angry with my Mom for pulling her out to run the aisles with her, even though this was a common practice.
It turned out that this lady had bone cancer, and she didn’t know it yet. After they patched this bone up, other bones kept breaking every time she walked and she died around a year later.
Another thing was several years later, at a different church, my Mom was again running the aisles and “dancing in the spirit”. She grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out to run and dance with her. I had no interest in this, but she had hold of my hand so tight I couldn’t easily let go. I tried to just move unobtrusively with her, but her dancing was so exuberant she was jerking me around all over the place. For about two weeks I had whiplash symptoms.
Most Pentecostal churches would censure anyone who tried to ‘force’ someone else to “dance in the spirit” or run the aisles, because they teach that this is a spontaneous reaction induced by the Holy Ghost alone. Being ‘forced’ to do it by someone else would basically be considered faking. But there are also some who not only condone this, but encourage it. I’ve seen this more among ultra-conservative Apostolics rather than UPC.