Saturday, August 16, 2003

Clifton Taulbert's Surprising Climax

I went to a two-hour long talk by author Clifton Taulbert tonight. It was very unusual. Taulbert, the author of several great books like "Once Upon a Time When We were Colored" and "The Eight Habits of the Heart" lives in Tulsa but gives lectures all over the world - as he will often remind you.

tonight's lecture was at a church and thus the theme was to tie his Eight Habits of the Heart book to a Christian message. You have to respect Taulbert's apparently sincere religious feelings and his success story. He's a very good speaker - a quiet voice that reasons with the audience. But after almost two hours I was ready to go when it seemed that he was bringing the lecture to an end. I was standing up ready to go when he launched into "singing in tongues".

Some of you will be familiar with Pentecostal "speaking in tongues" and some of you won't. It's when God gives you a joyful language with which to talk to him. To others it sounds like gibberish. Well, Taulbert went on singing and talking in "gibberish" for a good ten minutes while the audience stood. Some joined in and others stood politely waiting, and waiting, and waiting for it to end. Can you see that picture? A crowd of several thousand standing and watching/listening to Taulbert walk around in front of them for ten minutes singing unaccompanied, "in tongues". If this had been in New York he'd have been arrested.

I remember the first time I went to a church that practiced speaking in tongues. I was a teenager. I had never heard of speaking in tongues. Suddenly, halfway through the hour, at an unseen signal, everyone (except me) started babbling incoherently and gesticulating wildly. I was scared $%#@less!! What the hell was going on? Had everyone on earth suddenly been zapped with an alien signal that caused them to go berzerk? How had I been spared?

After living in Oklahoma for many more years I'm used to this now. I respect the practicioners for their sincere beliefs but it still seems - well, really hard to believe. But it's harmless isn't it?

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