What are your favorite hobbies? My top three are playing basketball, reading, and ascertaining whether total strangers are charismatics. This weekend, I successfully played two of the three.
Saturdays I routinely go to a local coffee shop to finalize my Sunday School lesson and to engage in some casual reading. This particular Saturday I found myself having completed my lesson on Jesus’ link between love and obedience found in John 14. Wanting to relax, I pulled two books out of my bag: Martin Lloyd Jones’s lectures on biblical doctrine, and Nietzsche’s The Gay Science.
After wending my way through The Gay Science for an hour or so, I put it down to pick up Jones’s tome. As I was taking notes on a passage about our condition of original guilt, I noticed a young man, in his mid-twenties it appeared, walk in. He was well built, dressed in the requisite Birckenstocks, khaki shorts, and grey T-shirt, toting a backpack and a smile. He approached the barista and, in an effete manner, with a wide smile, and a voice dripping with fulsome sweetness, he ordered a latte.
"Charismatic—tongue-speaker," I said to myself. He had a penumbra of glossolalia as he walked about the café.
Plainly, the most difficult aspect of the game, "pick the charismatic," lies in the scoring. The only way to chalk up a point is to ascertain certain religious beliefs held by the subject. It seems poor form to sidle up to someone and ask him whether he’s been slain by the Spirit, although that could be fun, in and of itself. Another option would be to walk up to the person and say, "‘Twas brilling, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; all mimsy were the borogoves and the mome raths outgrabe,’" and see whether he tries to translate Lewis Carroll into English. Still, a third option would be to simply ask what church the person attends. Although the last manner of determination seems a quick and easy way to score my game, it turns out to be not that useful as most people have no clue what their church believes.
Therefore, as a steady-headed Calvinist I let Providence be my guide. I continued reading, and I waited. A student of human psyche, I decided to bait the trap. I continued reading my Jones and placed Nietzsche coyly on my table. Our friend walked by once or twice, and I was certain he would take notice of the scandalous philosopher in front of me. I was partly correct. What he noticed was not the author, but the title of the little book, and, like most charismatics, didn’t actually read what he thought he’d read.
He stopped and said, "Interesting reading. You have the Reformation Study Bible (which was by my side) and The Gay Scene." He had misread the title, and apparently thought I was a homosexual engaged in reading the Bible. I must say, if that’s what he believed, I do respect him actually approaching me, probably to witness, rather than keeping such a thought a mere velleity.
Nevertheless, I explained that I was reading some philosophy for fun and education. This seemed to mollify him, as I think he was a bit embarrassed for having been cullied by his eyes with regard to my book title.
Still, though, I couldn’t bring myself to ask the question at hand. His demeanor and mannerisms continued to confirm my suspicions. However, I knew that if I asked the question I’d do so tactlessly, and I figured discretion is the better part of valor.
The conversation ended, but hope was not gone. As my new friend was leaving, he saw a fellow charismaticish person, walked up to him and said, "Hey, glad to see you here. I didn’t realize that you worked at Teen Mania too!" Booya!
Chalk another point up for Shane in the "pick the charismatic" contest.
I only wish that my skill was communicable. Perhaps all heresy could be driven out. Hal, is the ability to pick out a charismatic by looking a spiritual gift? I’m going with yes.