Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Glossolalia: Speaking In Tongues

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)

While a student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, I made the acquaintance of a pair of Pentecostal students. Since I have always had an interest in the religious studies, I pressed them for background on their beliefs. To my amazement, they could each produce glossolalia, –or ‘speaking in tongues’– quite readily.

I recall the silent services at CFS, the Quaker high school I graduated from. Quakers are so called because when inspired by God they sometimes quake. Sometimes one of my fellow students would be moved to address the community, but I never witnessed anyone possessed by the spirit of God in that setting. And those who did contribute did so in plain English.

It is thought that those who speak in tongues might actually be speaking in any number of common human languages. But my new Pentecostal friends explained to me that they exclusively spoke a pre-Babel langauge. They considered the pre-Babel language to be the ‘Ur Language': the original tongue, named not after Babel –as one might think– but after Ur, an ancient Mesopotamian City and beleived to be the world’s first civilization.

The story goes that after God smashed the Tower of Babel, He disrupted men’s communications by subjugating them with different languages. The logic being that by making harder for men to communicate with each other, they would never again be able to collaborate on such a structure as threatening as a heaven reaching skyscraper.

If that were the case, I’d say our modern cities are long overdue for a divinely ordained catastrophic event.

In 1983, the arty punk band Talking Heads released an album called ‘Speaking In Tongues’. On it, David Byrne sings,: “Everything’s stuck together.” Now that's a lesson in spiritual quantum physics that I can readily understand.

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Click on any link below to read the entire Mystic Audio Series:

1. Glossolalia: Speaking In Tongues
2. The Ur-Song
3. Theta Waves, Mantras & The Lord's Prayer
4. Atomic Rhythms
5. Thai Drum Samples For Sesame Workshop

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