Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To Revive the Spirit; To get Back Home

You know how it is, when you're young by heart and fallen in love: you smile to yourself, think a happy memory, hum a favorite tune; and thus it was that: I sat; rocking on the stoop; popping at rats by the dumpster with a pellet gun; thinking of her, and thinking of you. Smilin', happy, golden slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles awake you when you rise.

In the settling dusk on the city bugs freeze in the amber sky as orange smog shanks heavy into the lazy plum smoke that hangs languid around the tannery, a purple haze that fades to black. Cold, melon-green light falls from the street lamps, pooling on the sidewalks, slipping into the dark, jagged cracks, disappearing among the dirt and the stones and the trash. Chill fills the air and night calls out, siren songs, beckoning. Who would believe, who could dream, that life should be so good. Off the stoop, I shook, I took a walk, a walk past St. James Infirmary, a stroll down the road, down to Azusa St. Once there was a way to get back homeward. Once there was a way to get back home. Let us revive.

" Men and women, white and blacks, knelt together or fell across one another; a white woman, perhaps of wealth and culture, could be seen thrown back in the arms of a big 'buck nigger,' and held tightly thus as she shivered and shook in freak imitation of Pentecost. Horrible, awful shame!"

John 14:26

But the Comforter [παράκλητος], which is the Holy Ghost [το πνευμα το 'άγιον], Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Azusa Street Revival was a Pentecostal revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California and was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 14, 1906 at the African Methodist Episcopal Church and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by speaking in tongues, dramatic worship services, and inter-racial mingling. The participants received criticism from secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.


Services and worship: Worship at 312 Azusa Street was frequent, spontaneous, and ecstatic, with services going almost around the clock. Among those attracted to the revival were not only members of the Holiness Movement, but Baptists, Mennonites, Quakers, and Presbyterians.[14] An observer at one of the services wrote these words:

" No instruments of music are used. None are needed. No choir- the angels have been heard by some in the spirit. No collections are taken. No bills have been posted to advertise the meetings. No church organization is back of it. All who are in touch with God realize as soon as they enter the meetings that the Holy Ghost is the leader.[7] "

The Los Angeles Times was not so kind in its description:

" Meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, and the devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshipers, who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve racking attitude of prayer and supplication. They claim to have the "gift of tongues" and be able to understand the babel.[4] "


The core membership of the Azusa Street Mission was never much more than 50-60 individuals, with hundreds and thousands of people visiting or staying temporarily over the years.[4]


" ...disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, 'Repent,' and he's supposed to be running the thing... They repeatedly sing the same song, 'The Comforter Has Come.'[2] "


Christians from many traditions were critical....

"Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.
Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them."

The pink magnolia blossoms in the jade leaves overhang stone wall and the scent fills the trolley as we roll down St. Mary's st. Today
all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey. I've been for a walk on a winter's day. I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A. I could unroll my sleeping bag and lay on a pew, if I were on Azusa st. and someone would say, "Sleep pretty darling, do not cry and I will sing a lullaby."

She smiled kind of shy and said, "He ain't much to look at but I likes him OK."

"As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them"

Red Ken teems with White supremacists; Greens howl with rabble anarchists waving black flags flanked by jihadis. The Red, White, and Blue goes up in flames. America looks increasingly gray. Maybe I gotta board a bus and leave this place. Once there was a way to get back homeward. Once there was a way to get back home. Let us revive.

"Golden Slumbers" by Thomas Dekker/Paul McCartney
Koran: 4: 89.
"California Dreaming" by John and Michelle Phillips
Koran: 4:34

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