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I was watching Rodney Howard Browne on the telly tonight. And what he claimed was the holy spirit was causing people to fall about laughing, people were being "slain in the spirit". It got me thinking about my own experiences in the church.

 

As much as it was a nightmare in the end, I did on occaisions have feelings of peace or joy. Very far and few between. I didn,t fall about laughing though.

 

I have witnessed people screaming, apparently releasing demons

People shaking uncontrollably.

Falling in the spirit (or was it pushed?? :scratch: )

 

Didn,t see anyone instantly miraculously healed though. Alot of suggestion and testimony that people said they were. But nothing that I could unequivocally say, "wow". I mean I never saw a severly crippled person walk. Or someone with a missing limb grow it back....some claimed these things had happened! People who claimed they had arthritis etc. But you can,t see inside bodies!

 

Is it all froth and no substance?

 

The vineyard church in Toronto claims some pretty interesting stuff too.

 

Any way I would be interested in hearing any experiences you had or witnessed in christianity.

 

What did you make of them at the time? And what do you make of them now, looking back?

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My wife and I are both ex-christians; she is an ex-pentecostal. Neither of us were churchgoers any more, needless to say, but on a whim one time years ago we decided to attend her mother's AOG church. I had never been to a real knockdown dragout pentecostal service before.

 

Well, I got treated to the whole show. Speaking in tongues, shaking and trembling, slain in the spirit, the whole shebang. It seemed to me that the service was very much like a voodoo ceremony, minus waving the bleeding chicken around. But, it's my understanding that the fundies actually prefer their chicken fried. After the service.

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Any way I would be interested in hearing any experiences you had or witnessed in christianity.

 

What did you make of them at the time? And what do you make of them now, looking back?

 

Absolutely loads of experiences - and every single one of them explained away by my overactive imagination. God used to give me pictures - that is - I used to get images in my mind and think it was God. I would yammer away "in tongues" (chattering away) until a picture would form in my mind and then I would tell someone about it and we would interpret it into whatever we thought was appropriate and assign it to a person if we thought that was good (I was a very junior member of my church).

 

Trouble is I often used to get "bad" pictures as well - which of course I thought was the Devil. Can't tell you how much that freaked me out!

 

Also I remember this guy at my church who got prayed for because he had on leg shorter than the other. His leg grew! The next week he was back at church and - oh the hilarious way that Jesus works - his leg had grown too much. And now it was the longer one! I remember he got up at the front of the church and asked us all to point the one that we had prayed for and of course we all pointed to the one that was now shorter. No! Says the man. It was this one - it's grown too much! "This often happens" says the pastor. How amazed I was! For me it was proof of Jesus' wonderful love.

 

Of course now when I think about it. I never did notice any difference in the length of his legs before or after we prayed for him. And now when I think of it I realise the exaggerated angle of his shoulders on that second week that he never showed again - I realise yes - he was putting it on. What a con.

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Also I remember this guy at my church who got prayed for because he had on leg shorter than the other. His leg grew! The next week he was back at church and - oh the hilarious way that Jesus works - his leg had grown too much. And now it was the longer one! I remember he got up at the front of the church and asked us all to point the one that we had prayed for and of course we all pointed to the one that was now shorter. No! Says the man. It was this one - it's grown too much! "This often happens" says the pastor. How amazed I was! For me it was proof of Jesus' wonderful love.

 

Of course now when I think about it. I never did notice any difference in the length of his legs before or after we prayed for him. And now when I think of it I realise the exaggerated angle of his shoulders on that second week that he never showed again - I realise yes - he was putting it on. What a con.

This is a classic parlor trick, used in "healing" tent meetings since before the turn of the last century.

Just like those who suddenly threw down their canes, or got up from their wheelchairs and danced around.

 

"Deep within the heart of every evangelist lies the wreck of a car salesman." (H.L. Mencken)

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I was watching Rodney Howard Browne on the telly tonight. And what he claimed was the holy spirit was causing people to fall about laughing, people were being "slain in the spirit". It got me thinking about my own experiences in the church.

 

As much as it was a nightmare in the end, I did on occaisions have feelings of peace or joy. Very far and few between. I didn,t fall about laughing though.

 

I have witnessed people screaming, apparently releasing demons

People shaking uncontrollably.

Falling in the spirit (or was it pushed?? :scratch: )

 

Didn,t see anyone instantly miraculously healed though. Alot of suggestion and testimony that people said they were. But nothing that I could unequivocally say, "wow". I mean I never saw a severly crippled person walk. Or someone with a missing limb grow it back....some claimed these things had happened! People who claimed they had arthritis etc. But you can,t see inside bodies!

 

Is it all froth and no substance?

 

The vineyard church in Toronto claims some pretty interesting stuff too.

 

Any way I would be interested in hearing any experiences you had or witnessed in christianity.

 

What did you make of them at the time? And what do you make of them now, looking back?

 

Hey, how come all this rolling around on the ground and yelling out shaking and what not only happens in the U.S.? I don't recall ever seeing anything like what is described here in Oz. It really is becoming apparent that Americans have some entirely unique versions of Christianity.

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I attended one of those churches and the first time I saw people slain in the spirit, it freaked me out and not in a good way.

I was like this.... :scratch::twitch:

 

I really don't think they are ALL con artists...I think the power of the mind is a very strong thing and you can convince yourself of anything.

 

I know of someone that went to one of those big crusades and went on stage in front of thousands of people with a myriad of health problems. She actually ran across the stage. This was a woman whom could barely walk with help.

Well, she thought she was healed by the lord....the next day she was back to not being able to walk.

 

The power of the mind....

 

She told EVERYBODY she was healed and now she is eating crow I am sure.

 

People that faint and fall over "slain in the spirit" could be so convinced they are feeling god that they actually cause themselves to pass out.

 

In the same token, I remember feeling "charged" after a church service, feeling good, you know. Well, the power of the whole crowd is emotional and convincing. You can pick up on someone else's energy (crowd mentality) and convince yourself you are happy or joyful.... combined with music and antics of the preachers (who are trained in how to get everyone worked up).

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I've seen quite a few leg lengthenings (SOOOOOO simple to reproduce), as well as people picked out of a crowd and healed of some heart or kidney problem they may not have even been aware that they had. Folks like the wheelchair bound lady at our church, year after year, never saw someone like her healed. Imagine that!

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My only experiences were literally sobbing for my gay cousins and lost friends. My heart was in constant pain. I think I only got "into it" at Third Day concerts.

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Strange, I never had any experiences such as speaking in tongues or anything like that. The only thing that would happen to me was that I would pray and start crying. :shrug:

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It seemed to me that the service was very much like a voodoo ceremony, minus waving the bleeding chicken around.

That's exactly what it is, i've heard that some churches in the south even had snake handlers who danced with live poisonous snakes during the service.

 

I don't see any difference between pentecostalism and voodoo or black magic or whatever. You've got the same elements; summoning a spirit (the holy spirit), channeling, chanting ("speaking in tongues"), dancing around in a trance-like state, etc. Of course Christians would never equate what they are doing with voodoo, but functionally there's no difference at all. If it looks like a duck....

 

Why can't they see this? :Doh:

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A former flatmate of mine was once "possessed by a demon." He and I were studying to be JW's at the time and I was expressing doubts about it, so out came the whole show, so to speak, with prayer on the part of my mentor, study whozzit guy, whatever, and excorcism, etc. I was most upset at the time.

 

The guy would often "see" demons, who were no doubt possessing him at this time, but he was also a recovering drug addict (or was he still on them??)

 

Ahh the naivety(sp?) of youth...

 

Another time, at a more "charismatic" church, I sought "healing" up the front, as you do, from a special husband and wife "ministry team". The husband stood in front of me massaging my temples (WTF?) trying to oh-so-sublty push my head back whilst the wife stood behind with her hands on my hips oh-so-subtly pushing them forward. I think this was part of the trying-to-make-me-fall-backward process, so I didn't fall for it.

 

Pardon the pun.

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I was raised in a Pentecostal church. I have seen people screaming, running around, surrounding some unfortunate individual to mob-pray them...rolling on the floors, spinning like tops, jumping up and down, banging their head against the wall, backing into pews and sending people running...I've seen people go silent when someone yells out in tounges, then weep and wail....all sorts of weird stuff. I'm convinced it's nothing more than emotional manipulation and self-induced catharsis.

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I never had anything happen to me that couldn't be explained in natural or mundane terms. I've seen some weird things, sure, and experienced some unusual stuff, but nothing so mind-bogglingly out of the ordinary that there wasn't any question that it was supernatural or caused by a deity. Most stuff has probably been coincidence, or intuition, or something from my own mind (and I happen to think the human mind is more powerful than we probably realize).

 

My mom converted to Xianity after she quit drinking. She was a hard drinker for the bulk of my life, a full-blown alcoholic for nearly a decade; she quit one day cold turkey and had no withdrawal symptoms. She took it as a miracle and decided that Jesus had healed her.

 

While I don't think it was a bad thing at all that she quit, I don't think Jesus had a damn thing to do with it. I think it had a lot more to do with the fact that my dad had told her that if she didn't quit he'd leave her and take everything, including her kids. I think what motivated her to quit was the realization that if she didn't shape up she'd lose everything she loved, and be publicly humiliated as well. I can see how a raw, primal drive to avoid one's worst nightmare might sober a person up pretty quick - no deity need be involved at all.

 

But nothing much happened to me. No miraculous healings, no raising anybody from the dead, no visions or whatnot... which in some ways I found very painful, because I used to pray that god would heal me of clinical depression, and he never did. (Asshole.) You should've seen me begging on that one, doing the whole "ask in Jesus' name" formula thing, over and over and over for years, with no result. At this point Xians can't even use the "well he healed you by making meds available" excuse, because I've exhausted a wide variety of med options, to no permanent avail. I'm not cured, not because god wouldn't heal me, but because there is no god, and there is no cure. That's reality.

 

If I had somehow been miraculously, permanently cured of clinical depression, dude - I wouldn't be on this board today, I can tell ya that. (Or else I would be, but I'd be one of the shit-and-run Xians or some pain-in-the-ass apologeticist.)

 

Anyway. This is a ramble now. Thanks for reading.

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Brother Howard-Browne came to our church in Clute, TX several years ago. I was very much a fundie at the time, and I experienced the uncontrollable "holy laughter" that he was dishing out allegedly courtesy of the holy spirit during the service. It was quite an experience, but now I don't think god had anything to do with it. It's all emotionalism, the power of suggestion, with maybe some mass hypnosis/hysteria thrown in for good measure.

 

I used to pray that god would heal me of clinical depression, and he never did. (Asshole.)

 

I used to pray that god would heal me of bipolar disorder before I was diagnosed and had a name for what I suffered from. God never did a damn thing to heal me despite many prayers and "slaying in the spirit" sessions, etc. I was told more than once that god was doing "spiritual surgery" on me when I was slain in the spirit, but what the hell he might have done I don't know. He didn't cure me of anything, including bipolar disorder. Asshole.

 

I think being "slain in the spirit" is just submitting to the power of suggestion and letting yourself enter into a very relaxed state of being. No god is required to make it happen.

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I was raised in a Pentecostal church. I have seen people screaming, running around, surrounding some unfortunate individual to mob-pray them...rolling on the floors, spinning like tops, jumping up and down, banging their head against the wall, backing into pews and sending people running...I've seen people go silent when someone yells out in tounges, then weep and wail....all sorts of weird stuff. I'm convinced it's nothing more than emotional manipulation and self-induced catharsis.

 

Yeah, being someone who used to attend a Pentecostal church I saw the same thing. There was this one woman who used to run around the church and swing on doors. I'm not kidding either, I mean she would literally swing on the doors. :twitch: You saw people bang their heads up against the wall? :eek:

 

Yup I remember seeing people become silent when someone was speaking in tongues, but there had been times when I felt the need to interupt.

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I was actually a rather frequent attendee of conferences at the church in Toronto that the OP mentioned (though it hasn't been associated with Vineyard for a long while now; Vineyard disfellowshipped them because they got too kooky. Imagine, too kooky for VINEYARD. That's bad). I've done it all, pretty much... been 'slain in the spirit' tons of times, spoken in tongues, laughed uncontrollably, convulsed on the floor, been exorcised twice (but never healed of clinical depression, though i'm in recovery mode due to a good combo of drugs and a good therapist)... yeah, the list goes on. lots of people in my church believed i had a strong prophetic gifting.

 

But I'm with pretty much everyone else... i think it's all quite easily explained by the power of suggestion, and the power of one's own mind to fabricate an experience that one desperately wants to experience. The Toronto Airport church was so emotionally manipulating in that way - if you didn't fall over or start screaming or convulsing or something, they'd label you "HTR" for 'Hard to Receive' and set a specialized prayer team on you to pray for you until you 'manifested' some blessing of the holy spirit. I'd say that's enough to make the mind invent something, if for no other reason than to fit in and feel like God loves you just as much as all these other wackos rolling around on the floor. Sadly, i was one of the ones who prayed for people to manifest. I was good at it, too. *sigh*

 

So effed up.

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Man, why are all the fucked up experiences coming from the penstecostal? My bests friends mother went to a penstecostal church, I went with her and him one time. It was the the craziest thing i've ever attended. I thought I was the only sane person in the room. There were people in what looked to be softcore mashpits prayering and screaming with the one guy running around the room with his eyes closed, I tried hard not to laugh when he ran straight into a pew and flew over.

 

That was one of the mile markers on my road to atheism.

 

I come from a baptist, more sourthern baptist, backround where everyone was just happy two-faced and desperate to get you to the sanctuary where they can baptize you and stab you in the back.

 

Edit: When I went to the pentecostal thing I didn't know whether to be afraid or bored either. It was the weirdest thing i've experienced in a church.

 

Also, Miss Louisiana went to my church, she was dating our youth minister and sung in the choir. One time (this was several years before the pentecostal incident) another youth minister asked us(my best friend and I) if we had the chance to "be with her" would we take it. We both were like "Hell yeah."

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I was watching Rodney Howard Browne on the telly tonight. And what he claimed was the holy spirit was causing people to fall about laughing, people were being "slain in the spirit". It got me thinking about my own experiences in the church.

 

As much as it was a nightmare in the end, I did on occaisions have feelings of peace or joy. Very far and few between. I didn,t fall about laughing though.

 

I have witnessed people screaming, apparently releasing demons

People shaking uncontrollably.

Falling in the spirit (or was it pushed?? :scratch: )

 

Didn,t see anyone instantly miraculously healed though. Alot of suggestion and testimony that people said they were. But nothing that I could unequivocally say, "wow". I mean I never saw a severly crippled person walk. Or someone with a missing limb grow it back....some claimed these things had happened! People who claimed they had arthritis etc. But you can,t see inside bodies!

 

Is it all froth and no substance?

 

The vineyard church in Toronto claims some pretty interesting stuff too.

 

Any way I would be interested in hearing any experiences you had or witnessed in christianity.

 

What did you make of them at the time? And what do you make of them now, looking back?

 

i never experienced anything that i attached to the work of god. i DID hear a few people pretending to speak in tongues, but i just rolled my eyes and passed them off as wack jobs.

 

i believe most of this stuff is just people pulling it out of their ass. even if someone is actually healed through prayer, studies have shown that it has nothing to do with the religion-just the positive thoughts. the mind is powerful-mythical beings are not.

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Thanks guys. Some interesting points. I,ve heard the one about people being healed and then getting bad again the next day or within a few days before. We were told that it was the devil stealing the healing.

 

The mind is an amazing thing to be sure.

 

 

I,m amazed at how people like Howard Browne (the self dubbed holy ghost bar tender!!) and others like him (who is the guy who does "This is the Day?") have such a hypnotic effect on people.

 

It would be interesting as an experiment to go to a town as a healer, preach a sermon, pray for folks to be healed...and at the end when some people do come forward to claim divine healing say, "Well actually I,m not a christian at all....what does that tell you??" You may be lynched but at least the point would be proved! :HaHa:

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I grew up in a Lutheran church. So we didn't have any of the stuff like that. Lutherans are traditionally very conservative and their services are usually very boring, unless you get a fire and brimstone pastor.

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