Vlog: Praying in Tongues

Another piece of video that I’d really prefer not to exist. This has never been shown anywhere before – a Leaving Fundamentalism exclusive. It was shot for Video Nation, but never broadcast. I guess I just like embarrassing myself in public.

I had recorded a video response to this. I was in Manchester a couple of weeks ago shooting something for TV, and I ended up talking to them about all the same stuff. They asked me not to put my recent thoughts online until after they broadcast my interview. I could just ignore them, but they asked so nicely that I’ll just post this online. I think it might be a good thing not to have my current thoughts on the video. I don’t have to tell you what to think about it; you’re all capable of drawing your own conclusions.

The continued popularity of praying in tongues among charismatics and pentecostals is interesting, because it’s a fundamentally weird and embarrassing activity. You’ll notice that I didn’t actually pray in tongues in the video, even though I could have. I didn’t feel comfortable doing it in front of anyone who didn’t already pray in tongues themselves.

Even so, among Christians of my sort, you were considered a second-class believer if you didn’t pray in tongues. And I think the explanation for this is in Robert Cialdini’s commitment and consistency principle. The deeper a commitment you’ve made to something, the harder it is to leave. And praying in tongues clearly identifies you as a very particular type of person. It changes the way you think about yourself.

Praying in tongues is proof, to the speaker, that God is living inside of them. And, more than that, only other Christians who already speak in tongues will understand. All of a sudden, you find that there is something in your life which separates you from the rest of the world. Most people simply won’t understand your new gift, so you hang around with church people more. As a method for getting people to stay in church, getting people to pray in tongues is one of the most effective. There’s none so committed as those who are heavily invested.

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About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on August 31, 2012, in Christianity, Creationism, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, Word of Faith and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I can’t wait until the interview comes out. When does it come out?

    As for speaking/praying in tongues, I have done it. I don’t do it too often because I feel fake if I do so. Of course there is plenty of debates about this.

  2. Were you coached when you did this video as a kid? “God’s been a daddy to me.” What was your relationship with your dad like. I’ve read most of your articles and you probably mentioned it, but just a quick response would suffice. Glad to see you’re with the sane folk now!

  3. I wouldn’t be too embarrassed about that. There’s something charming about the younger you, and much of that is still recognizable in the present you.

    On the “tongues” issue – when young and religious, I was highly skeptical of speaking in tongues. I could not see how it could be real.

  4. I used to speak in tongues. When drunk enough I still can. back then I did it because I wanted to fit in. I realised I was kidding myself, though there were moments when it did feel real. Anyway after training to be doctor and when specialising in psychiatry I came across speaking in tongues in a textbook. It turned out that it is quite widespread phenomena across many cultures and many religions and not just some gift given out to a few of the faithful. Ecstatic religions are replete with ‘hysterical’ phenomena like tongues and being slain in the spirit, or toronto blessing, often induced in crowds. Helped me see they were common to our humanity as a mode of expession that the West, aside from fundamentalism, rather shies away from. What ever happened to the Toronto blessing by the way?

  5. Wow! A very good orator for such young years….I find it a little unsettling how such a young mind open to the exploration of wider knowledge can be so easily fenced in and tethered up in spoon-fed dogma. There are kiddies out there who never manage to break this vicious circle therefore continue this damaging trend well into their adult years. Funny, a couple of nights ago, I was watching ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ a child protagonist was caught in a hail of bullets, fast forward, kid in intensive, loses battle for life momentarily then is brought back to life by a female angel, she then goes on to preach in the hood at great risk to her life and of those who are trying to protect her…she approaches the bad elements with a gush of enthusiastic love, forgiveness and tells these hoods how much they are loved and blah, blah, blah ad nauseum….children in this instance can be ‘used’ to convince the benefits of joining an organization that promises a front row seat at God’s convention!!! Innocense being used as some sort of utility item to fit a purpose. I found that the actor Chuck Norris; from what I know is a christian, sort of used a young girl actor to ‘preach’ with such sugary overtones that it was horribly comical and sickening.

  6. That is very eerie to watch, I notice you look off camera a lot more in this video than your two others . . .

  7. Interesting. I was part of a rather conservative Christian home and as such we did not approve of speaking in tongues. Funnily enough, my mother often would share a story about some translators visiting a tribe in Africa converted to a pentecostal strain of Christianity. During the service, the tribe’s guests ‘translated’ the tongues into satanic worship and declared the natives, ‘Not truly converted,’ and proceeded to straighten them out with their Baptist ideologies.

    I was always fascinated by speaking in tongues but never achieved it myself probably partly because I was terrified of losing control of myself. Now I’d like to know more about what goes on in the mind during such an experience.
    (By the way, Jonny, I changed my username which changed the address of my blog. In case you were having some trouble accessing it, the address is now sunnyshans.wordpress.com :))

  8. So sad that the minds of small innocent children are twisted like this eh? Glad you are (I truly hope) ok now!

  9. speaking in tongues is for today i pray every day in my prayer language

  10. You should check out Jesus Camp if you haven’t. It’s an interesting movie.

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