Building Blocks

28 04 2009


From the Mojave Field Office (MFO), California
Maurice Miller
January 6, 1953

To my dear colleague, Ronald Urey,

I have glad news to report, this day.  After scouring the valleys and basins for various bits of indigenous clay, I have, at long last found not one, but two specimens.  We may rejoice in our conclusive findings.  Although nature has, in her caprice, produced a vast number of irregularly-shaped clay pieces not suitable for the construction of a house, inevitability has caused the creation of two fine specimens that are both the size and shape of a standard masonry brick.  The building blocks of a house have now been shown to have been produced not by some human creation, but by the blind forces of Mother Nature, herself.  We have, proof positive, all of the evidence necessary to conclude the inevitability that a house might have become constructed by pure chance, alone.  If nature can produce for us a brick, then surely it can also produce a house, complete with running water and electricity.  If we can but show how such a house might have come to reproduce itself, then the unstoppable force of evolution must certainly take over, and skyscrapers would become the natural end-result of such humble beginnings.  The age of a human builder is finally over.  Modern thought will discern no need for a human designer, when chance and time can produce such as this.

Your friend and colleague,

From the ruins of Quatschkopf, Pennsylvania
Ronald Urey
March 12, 1953

Dear Maurice,

Certainly, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.  The entire city of Quatschkopf has perished in fire, leaving behind it the non-flammable millions of bricks, the building blocks of housing.  With this many bricks gathered together in one place, surely nature could do in a mere thousand years what would normally take billions of years.  We had estimated that two billion years was necessary for this to happen in nature, but divide that by the provision of a couple million bricks (a million times the number normally found in nature) and the process should be relatively rapid, being in the thousand-year range.  Surely within our lifetimes we shall see some evidence of this development.  To this end, I have secured from the government the rights to this now forbidden city, that I might observe its decay and natural erosion into a completed structure.  To my advantage, many of the walls are only partially toppled, which should help to jumpstart the process even further.

Your partner in sound science,

From the ruins of Quatschkopf, Pennsylvania
Ronald Urey
June 18, 1983

Dear Moe,

It is with deepest regret that I write this assessment of the ruins.  It appears that not only has nature not constructed a single abode with the materials provided for her, but that she has heretofore squandered her provisions.  Not only have walls not spontaneously been built, but the partial formations already in place have deteriorated, mostly due to a foul and most unfortunate ivy.  I am hereby bound to uproot this most unnatural evil, but, alas, it is not only the ivy at work in the destruction of our hearts’ labor.  Rain and wind have also brought about a negative progress.  I will do my best to erect wind barriers and tarps to prevent the brick formations from falling to further ruin.  It’s a pity that I had not thought of this before now.  Thirty years is a long time to wait for nature to take her course, and I am not getting any younger.

Your partner,
Ronald Urey

From the ruins of Quatschkopf, Pennsylvania
Ronald Urey
April 21, 1984

Dear Moe,

Alas, our efforts are in vain.  Despite my earnest attempts to overcome the negative effects of erosion, a flood has arisen and completely washed away what remained of the ruins.  The building blocks of a house were prevented by unforeseen events from naturally constructing themselves into a house without the aide of human intelligence.  I have petitioned the federal government for the right to burn down Pittsburgh in order to restart this program, but I have not thus far received favorable feedback.




From MFO, California
Maurice Miller
May 24, 1984

To Mr. Urey,

You have made us the laughing stock of the entire community.  The project, which was to be named after us, has now been titled after our first names.  I cannot live with having been a parent of the Moe/Ron experiment.  Please desist in your work and go home.

Mr. Miller



A Rebel’s Miscalculation

26 04 2009

There he was, Caiaphas, the high priest, standing in judgement over the Son of God, the Word become flesh.  Now there’s an interesting twist, with a mortal man standing in judgment over the divine.  But Caiaphas did not see the divine.  All he saw was a mere human, like himself, a frightened man at the edge of his nerve, standing helplessly before him.  The miracles and such, healing the lame and bringing the dead to life, were all the tricks of a magician, mere slight of hand, to the high priest.  Magic requires a force, and he saw no force, therefore there was no magic.  All he saw was a shivering, helpless heretic.  Had he considered the signs, he could have had insight to see the power behind the man, that aspect of God which was not a mere mortal, that infinite expanse of power.  Ah, but it feels good to stand in judgment of God.  The god over God is a god, indeed.

There he was, Satan, the archangel, arrayed in majesty with all the heavenly host behind him.  In days past he had come as a servant of the most high God, but today he had come to make God his servant.  This was the day of the coup.  This moment was the moment of glory.  Had he looked beyond the angelic humanoid image sitting on the throne before him, he might have seen that infinite vastness of power that extended beyond the boundary of form which sat before him.  He saw the miracle of creation, how mere words transformed a ball of dust into a thriving, living planet.  He should have known that the life was not formed by ten fingers and two hands, or a breath of warm air.  There was a power that went beyond what he could see.  Had he looked, he would have seen it, but it feels good to conquer God.  He who is a god to God, is a god, indeed.

People have often asked how Satan could have underestimated the power of God, and why he would have ever made such a fool’s wager.  We know from Job and Revelation that Satan can see God, which is more than we can say for ourselves.  While this is true, it is also untrue.  In order to fully grasp the infiniteness of God as one might grasp something ordinary, one would first have to be infinite, which is to say that only God really knows just how powerful he is.  God the Father, in Heaven, has a very human appearance, the one of which we were made in the image.  Yet, there had to be more than hands and feet to construct the intricacies of life.  We know that there is more to him than what the angelic eye can see.  God, as seen in Heaven, is a one who is seen by means of an angelic eye, as Jesus was the Son of God, made visible to the human eye.  The Father is a theophany among angels, existing among them in their own realm, in their own manner of existence.  Jesus was a theophany among men, seen by us, existing as we do.  In both cases, someone saw the image of God in his own realm and saw no further.  The rebel sought to contain God within the blatantly obvious, ignoring what the eye did not avail.  The goal was to subjugate God’s rule, to usurp him, and to stand in judgment over him.

The result was disaster among angels and salvation among men.  Only some of the heavenly host had fallen, but all of humanity was doomed.  God among angels stood his ground.  God among men allowed himself to be crucified.  In the end, the fate was similar for both angels and humans.  Some will live forever in Heaven.  Some will live forever in Hell.  In either case, the individual is given the right to choose between submission and rebellion.  The angels could no longer take Heaven for granted, and the humans would not have to resign themselves to Hell.  In the end, may God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, that God among us be king uncontested.

As for Satan and Caiaphas, theirs is the consequence of a rebel’s miscalculation.


Weather Talk

23 04 2009

Climate change is nothing new.  The idea of artificial climate change, however, is a more recent development.  Flux has happened throughout recorded history, with the frost line receding and growing in colder regions, or the desert receding and growing in the arid regions.  As fertile land increases, people moved into it, thinking that this was a permanent change.  Later, when it snapped back to its former boundary, people were exiled from it, forced to find new lands or starve.  People used to see themselves as victims of circumstance in these cases, but lately, they’ve come to see themselves as controlling agents of the weather.  Global warming is not the first example of this.  During the late eighteen-hundreds, the Great American Desert, known as Nebraska, experienced unprecedented rainfall, and lands which had formerly been unsuitable for farming were suddenly quite productive.  The idea grew that people were causing this change by tilling the soil.  Eventually, this was considered a scientific fact, even.  People who disagreed were considered ignorant, as we’ll see further in this post.

In order to avoid adding too much to the discussion, I’ve omitted my own commentary from the following quotes.  They are placed in order, by date.  The first quotes were taken from a barren Nebraska.  The following quotes show an increasing confidence in the exact cause of the climate change.  The final two quotes follow the reversal of the climate change.  Draw your own conclusions.

“Our rich possessions west of the ninety-ninth meridian have turned out to be worthless, so far as agriculture is concerned.  They never can entice a rural population to inhabit them nor sustain one if so enticed.  We may as well acknowledge this,- and act upon it,-legislate upon it.  We may as well admit that Kansas and Nebraska, with the exception of the small strip of land upon their eastern borders are perfect deserts, with a soil whose constituents are of such nature as to forever unfit them for the purpose of agriculture.” (“Report of the Secretary of War on the Several Pacific Railroad Explorations,” North American Review, LXXXII (Jan., 1856), 236)

“the people now on the extreme frontiers of Nebraska are near the western limit of the fertile portions of the prairie lands, and a desert space separates them from the fertile and desirable region in the westerns mountains.  They are, as it were, on the shores of a sea, up to which population and agriculture may advance, and no further.” (U.S. Congress, House, “Report of Secretary of War John B. Floyd,” Executive Documents of the House of Representatives, 35th Cong., 2nd sess., serial 998 (Washington: James B. Steedman, printer, 1859), 644)

“From the earliest explorations by white men, the vast region of sand and alkali, sage-brush, greasewood and cactus, extending from western Kansas to the Sierra Nevadas, and from the British Possessions to northern Mexico, was called the ‘Great American Desert.’  Its boundless wastes, often sweeping the hundreds of miles in dreary sand-hills and plains destitute of water, trees and grass, were particularly repulsive and believed to be utterly unproductive.” (Albert D. Richardson, Beyond the Mississippi (Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1867), 135)

“The amount of rain-fall per year is steadily increasing west of the Missouri river.  The average for nine years past at Omaha is twenty-nine inches.  With the year ending June, 1877, it was thirty-eight inches in south-east Nebraska – an amount equal to the average of northern Illinois.  From similar statistics we are able to show that the rainfall is steadily increasing westward, following the pioneer farmer and his plow, which is the primal cause of all these beneficient changes.
“With a logic that cannot rest we are forced to this conclusion, that the agencies of civilization now in action are such as will secure a complete victory over the wilderness and waste places of western territory.  The plow will go forward; ‘God speed the plow.’  The rich carpet of grass will continue to advance.  The rains will assume the regularity of times and seasons.  By this wonderful provision, which is only man’s mastery over nature, the clouds are dispensing copious rains upon millions of acres that were for centuries comparatively parched and desolate.” (C.D.Wilber, “The Relations of Geology to Horticulture,” Annual Reports of the Nebraska State Horticulture society (Lincoln: Journal Co., state printers, 1879) 92)

“observation, experiment, and the highest scientific authority demonstrate that climates in the west are becoming moister; that rainfall is increasing steadily.  This increase must extend until the plains east of Denver and Laramie receive sufficient rainfall to produce farm products without irrigation….It follows also that the evidence of any number of ignorant persons, whether merchants or herders, is wholly incompetent on this question, and should have had no weight before a congressional committee.” (Samuel Aughey and C.D.Wilber, Agriculture Beyond the 100th Meridian or a Review of the U.S. Public Land Commission (Lincoln: Journal Co., state printers, 1880), 6, 35.  Charles Dana Wilber was the Superintendent of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy, Nebraska Academy of Sciences and professor at the University of Nebraska.  Samuel Aughey was a state geologist and professor of natural sciences at the same university as Wilber.

“Less than twenty years ago it was generally supposed that only those counties bordering the Missouri in the eastern part of Nebraska, were fit for agricultural purposes, and those of the earlier settlers who took land and opened out farms west of these counties were regarded as foolhardy and unwise men.  But still settlers continued to push farther west and engage in farming contrary to the gratuitous advice of those who thought they knew all about the capabilities of the state.  At the present time farming has reached Lincoln county, and reports from there are to the effect that the finest kinds of crops of wheat, oats, etc., will be harvested.  As the sturdy farmer takes possession of and cultivates the soil the Great American Desert moves still farther west, and soon we may look for it to entirely disappear, and in its place – as has already occurred for hundreds of miles – find the most fertile and productive grain fields in the country.” (Plum Creek Pioneer, quoted in the Nebraska Farmer, VII (Aug. 15, 1883), 249)

“One asserts that every yard of steel rail laid in the desert will draw from the heavens a gallon of water per annum; another claims that there has always been a good rainfall here, and points in evidence to the numberless canyons and creek beds twisting and turning in every direction, but all ultimately converging to the rivers which empty into the Missouri.  A third contends that rain follows the upturning of the sod, and that every acre of land ploughed makes a draft on the clouds for a definite quantity of water.  It is certain that the buffalo-grass sod which has covered these plains for centuries has become as impervious to water as a cow-boy’s slicker.  Hence the rain never penetrates it, but rushes off the ‘divides’ in a fury to reach the rivers….But when the prairie sod has once been ploughed, the soil absorbs water like a sponge.  After a day’s heavy rain there is no mud visible in a ploughed field; the moisture soaks downward to great depth, and the soil retains it through weeks of dry weather afterward….” (Frank H. Spearman, “The Great American Desert,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, LXXVII (July, 1888), 244)

“In God we trusted, in Nebraska we busted.” (Arthur F. Mullen, Western Democrat (New York: Wilfred Funk, Inc., 1940), 33)

“With the bugbear of desert apparently destroyed by our home talent men of science and relying on the permanency of a temporary rainy cycle, there was a tremendous rush across the one hundredth meridian during the eighties.  Whole counties were populated in the short period of a year of two.  Then in the nineties nature’s pendulum swung in the opposite direction and there ensued a series of abnormally dry years over the whole state, causing a great exodus back to the eastern part of Nebraska and to the states east of the Missouri River.  Eastern Nebraska suffered exceedingly during this extraordinarily dry period but the normally semi-arid region suffered even more.” (Everet Dick, Conquering the Great American Desert, (Nebraska State Historical Society, 1975), 20)


A Suitable Substratum

18 04 2009

Portuguese Bend is a two-mile stretch of coastline, so devoid of substratum that it moves like a glacier very slowly into the ocean.  As fate would have it, it also managed to become home to one of the most expensive trailer parks in the region.  Well, it’s not really a trailer park, for the homeowners do have title to their plots of land.  It’s just that, with such an unstable foundation, the safest thing to be living in is something that can be moved, if necessary, and occasionally adjusted to remain level on the ever-changing slope.  Two inches per year is the average movement.  Every couple of years, the land must be surveyed, and the roads must be repaved.  One can only wonder how they manage to lay claim to any exact plots of land, with the property lines forever in motion.  The situation reminds me of the parable of the man who built his house upon the sand.  Lacking a firm foundation, his home was destined for destruction.

 I happened to be in that neighborhood one day, when a man stopped me to talk about some environmental report he had read in the newspaper.  He knew that I happened to be studying that very thing, so he wanted to know my take on it.  I told him what I knew, which was that everything was pretty decent ninety-nine percent of the time, and that it had been that way for years.  He looked at me suspiciously and told me that the newspapers made it seem otherwise.  According to the papers, things were just rotten in my area of study.  He seemed to think that I was either lying to him, or that I was some incredibly ignorant fool for not knowing any better, especially when it was my own field. 

 Let’s review, for a minute, where the newspapers got their information.  Their only sources were liberal activist organizations not described as such.  Those activist organizations got their information from the public health department, which got its information from another section within my department, which got it from my section, which got it from…me.  Yours truly.  Granted, I’m not the only one in the group, but we do the actual laboratory work.  Somewhere between the sample bottle in my hand and the newspaper in his, something went horribly wrong.  Someone was building his understanding on an unreliable information base.

 It reminds me of a time in my junior year of high school.  We were commanded to prepare debates on various current events and make our case before the class.  I got stuck with arguing against banning AIDS-infected dentists.  Apparently, word got out that a certain dentist with AIDS continued his practice even after being diagnosed, and three of his patients became infected.  The defense argued that all three patients engaged in “risky” behavior, anyway, and they could have contracted it from other, more conventional sources.  A dentist is easier to sue than a drug dealer.  However, the prosecution argued that dentistry is one of the easiest ways to become infected with a disease, relative to other disciplines in the health care field.  Fortunately for me, I was arguing the more liberal of the two sides.  I had media bias working in my favor, though I didn’t realize this at first.  Newsweek, I will never forget, was a lifesaver.  They provided a cornucopia of one-liners from experts , supporting the view that dentists with AIDS are not a threat to anyone.  Looking into their quotes, I decided to write to the people that they had quoted.  Of those, the American Medical Association was kind enough to send me a small ream of information on just that subject.  As I pored over their writings, one thing became abundantly clear, that, contrary to the one-line quote presented by Newsweek, the AMA was very much against infected dentists continuing in their practice.  Eventually, I found half a sentence, starting with an un-quoted “but,” which had served as the periodical’s quote of them, presented as an example of their entire position to the rest of the world.  In fact, it was the only phrase in the entire packet from the AMA that supported the idea that dentists could safely work while infected.  This was not good for my case.  Fortunately, the opposition did not go to the source and question the periodicals. 

 At least I lost the debate.  Sadly, I only lost it by one vote, despite the fact that I didn’t even believe in my own position by the time I presented it.  It makes me feel dirty, just thinking about it.

 News agencies, politicians, teachers, religious leaders and scientists all have one thing in common.  They all have the power to tell people what to think.  Power doesn’t corrupt.  People are all naturally corrupt, already.  The most corrupt people try the hardest to achieve powerful positions.  Those who try the hardest are more likely to succeed.  Therefore, people in power tend to be corrupt.  The power of controlling minds is especially delicious to them.  The immigrant worker who trims your hedge isn’t out to manipulate the way you think.  All he wants is a few bucks and a beer.  The kid who bags your groceries doesn’t slip propaganda into your bag, unless you shop at an organic grocery store and the owner told him to.  Be careful whom you get your information from.

 I have grown accustomed to the idea, now, that nothing I read in the news can be trusted.  This causes me to live in something of a bubble.  Even after sorting through all of the bias and attempting to reconstruct the truth, too often the “truth” is a non-issue that was fictionalized into a news event.  Too often, a good story that would damn one side gets ignored by a media that supports the damned side.  It’s not enough to reinterpret the text to weed out the bias.  When someone mixes lies with truth, there’s no value in anything that the person says.  It cannot be sorted reliably. 

I can understand Jesus’ frustration when he calls the teachers a bunch of hypocrites.  I can understand the Bible’s strong condemnation of teachers who mislead, being far worse than the lies of someone not entrusted to teach.  They build an unreliable foundation, upon which the rest of us naively build our understanding.

 Thanks for reading.


Forgiving the Dead

16 04 2009

Life is short.  In fact, in the ultimate long run it’s so short as to be almost nonexistent.  Yet, we are tempted regularly to be angry at strangers and acquaintances that, for all practical purpose have no existence in the long run.  It’s like yelling at a reflection, or stomping on a shadow.  The world has been around for a long time, and God has been around forever.  We, who abide in Christ, will live a life everlasting.  The nut who cut me off on the freeway might live a mere seventy-five years, and I might have known him for mere seconds.  The anger I might feel toward this stranger might be like the enmity between God and Satan, as though it had been a war raging for eons.

Petty concerns, really.  A coworker refuses to do the worst of the work, so that the rest of us, who get paid the same, must pick up the extra work for her.  She feels she is above that sort of labor.  Irritating, isn’t it?  But, in the long run, one of two things will happen.  Either she will go to Heaven, and I must forgive her; either she will go to Heaven and repent of her evil, as will I repent of my own, or she will go to Hell, and I’ll never have to see her face again.  If she does go to the latter, rather than the former, then no rage of mine need be inflicted upon her.  By harboring vengence, not only is my unexpressed wrath but a pathetic drop of rage to the sea of wrath to come, but I defile myself in the process.  A million years into the vastness of the afterlife, such people will be as good as those who never existed in the first place.  They will not be remembered by those who go to Heaven.  They will have zero impact on the redeemed.  But, on the other hand, they are to be pitied.  How can I be vengeful against someone destined for such an everlasting torment?  Any revenge I exact does more harm to me than it does to the other person.

On the other hand, if these people who do offend us are believers, then we must forgive them, and if they are destined one day to repent and believe, then we must forgive them still, for we are destined to spend eternity in their company, and they are destined to repent of their evil.  How are we to remain unforgiving of one who has repented?  A repentant soul is so rare, as it is, that such a person is to be admired and prized.

Certainly, if we repent, then we fully expect God to forgive us.  If we do not forgive the repentant, then we don’t really deserve to be forgiven.  On the other hand, if we do not forgive those who are dead in their sins, then we are merely stomping on the graves of the dead: all of our anger is directed at a person of no eternal relevance, who has already perished, whose lot is with the forsaken.  Either way, we must forgive.

Take a long look at the arrogant sinner who has offended you.  This person will be gone forever.  Once dead, he will not have a chance at forgiveness.  You will not see him again for the rest of eternity.  Whatever he did to you could not possibly matter that much.  Let it go.

And pray to God that He forgives you for your own misdeeds, for we all have offended someone.



9 04 2009

Email, Facebook: Tanya has added you to her friends list.

Ah, yes, the girl who doesn’t believe in germs.  Well, I don’t have an account with Facebook.  I haven’t talked to her in years, and I probably won’t talk to her again in the near future.  It does bring me back to a day in those early years of childhood, before my sister dragged me off to kindergarten for the first time (oh, what a memory), when we kids had nothing to do but sit around with our feet in the gutter, playing with grass spiders.  My mother told me not to put my feet in the gutter water because it was dirty and full of germs.  So I looked at the neighbor girl askance and told her so.  She sat there with her feet in the water and simply stated that she did not believe in germs.  I was shocked.

“What do you mean, you don’t believe in germs?” I asked.

She replied that she had never seen them, therefore she didn’t believe in them.  I told her that they were too small to be seen, and she replied that everything that exists can be seen.

“But they do exist!” I insisted.

“Then what do they look like?” she asked.

“I don’t know!  I can’t see them, because they’re too small!”

Then she stunned me with the question, “Well, if they’re too small, then what does a pile of germs look like?”

A pile?  Yes, a pile.  Theoretically, if there were a big enough pile of germs, then a person could see the pile, if not the germs, themselves.  I was completely stumped.  I ran to my mother and asked her, but she didn’t have an answer.

Darn it.  As irony would have it, I spend every day working with “piles” of germs.  They’re called colonies, actually.  I’m halfway tempted to mail her  petrie dish with some E. coli, or something of the sort, with a trite little note, saying “There’s your pile of germs, you nutty little girl!”  Yeah…maybe not.

Some people don’t think of a good comeback or a witty remark until they’re leaving the party.  Some lie awake all night, thinking of what they should have said.  Me?  I don’t think of the right thing to say until nearly thirty years later.  Half of the posts I’ve written here were originally written over a decade ago, before being re-composed here.

You know…I’d just like to say that not everything that exists can been seen…

…so there!


…and I’m finding no joy in thinking up a sufficient response so far after the fact.  I can see myself in Heaven, pointing at God and shouting at Hell, below, saying, “I told you so!”  It just doesn’t have the same effect, once it’s too late.  Yes, the whole world is going to find out sooner or later how real these things are, of Heaven and Hell, and the powers within and without, but by then the discussion is long over.  Winning the argument no longer matters at that point.  Proving my point brings no satisfaction, then.

I could sit there, surrounded by cultures, and tell my bacteria, “See, I knew you guys were real!”  It just doesn’t have the same effect, you know?


3 04 2009

I remember the day that the Holy Spirit left Faith Chapel.  My first reaction was not awe.  No, in fact, my first thought was, “What the…someone is smoking in church?!”  A puff of smoke about six feet in diameter passed directly overhead from behind me, and I twisted and turned in my seat to see what fool lit up his cigarette.  No kidding.  The cloud reached the front of the church, did a stately left turn and made its way straight to the side exit, without dissipating.  The door was closed, but it went through, anyway.  I didn’t listen to the whole rest of the sermon.  I sat there thinking something along the lines of, “Dude, I just saw the Holy Spirit,” over and over to myself.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I first told someone.  Until recently, there were a grand total of four people I had told, though it happened many years ago.  The first person pointed out a detail that completely escaped me, that the Spirit was, in fact, leaving the church.  Until that point, I had assumed what I had seen was a good thing.  A guy can spend his whole life blind to the supernatural, only to see it when it abandons him.

The third person I told was my brother, several years later.  He reminded me of an instance that had occurred around that time, when someone stood up in church and read a passage of Jeremiah as a means of condemning the acts of the God that had been taking place in that church, namely prophecy.  As an Assemblies Of God church, it had once been common for people to prophecy during the service, at will.  Sometimes, one might speak loudly in another language, to be interpreted by someone else in the congregation.  By the time I was born, this practice had come to a stop.  The most spiritual thing people did at the time was what they called “singing in the spirit,” which could best be described as improvisational singing.  It sounded somewhat like wind chimes, with people hitting different notes at different times, all in the same chord.  In my early adolescence, someone stood up in the congregation and spoke loudly for all to hear a blessing from God.  This surprised me, greatly, but it multiplied and became a weekly occurrence.  Different people did it each time.  I never really knew what to think of it.  Most of it seemed to be general terms and words of love from God to the congregation.  It was not at all what I would have expected from prophecy.  The tongues and interpretation, when it happened, was even more perplexing, because one obviously did not follow from the other much of the time.  I was not the only one to notice that the length and nature of the unknown message did not fit with the interpretation much of the time, for my brother and sister both noticed it, also.

With time, I became more and more skeptical of these acts of the Spirit.  I wanted to believe, but I had more and more difficulty believing.  Then, one day, someone stood up and read a verse from the Bible.  His meaning was clear.  He was condemning the prophecies and tongues and interpretations as invalid, and he was using the scripture as a tool for his authority.  On the one hand, he was quoting actual scripture, which is hard for any real Christian to refute.  On the other hand, the application of that scripture was all his doing.  The pastor took the pulpit and did something that floored me.  He declared that only positive prophecies would be allowed.  Anything that condemned the church would not be allowed.  Now, I don’t know about the average Christian, because I’m not an average Christian, but if these prophecies were real, then no pastor could have the authority to tell God what he can say or not say.  What the pastor was really saying, without meaning to, was that he didn’t believe any of it.  It’s the only way his behavior could be explained.  Ironically, though he was speaking against the scripture-reader, he was actually, unintentionally, agreeing with the man that none of it was really from God.

And then it all comes together why the Spirit left.

What was the result?  The tongues, interpretations, prophecies, singing in the Spirit, the whole shebang stopped dead cold.  Now, I’ve never been one to prophecy or speak in tongues or do any of that.  My only claim to fame was that I saw a cloud march out the side door.  That’s it.  I don’t say this in defense of myself.  Several years later, that pastor resigned his position, saying that he did not believe in acts of the Holy Spirit and therefore did not belong in the pastorship of an Assemblies Of God church.

Years later, in another church of the same denomination, the tongues and interpretation happened again.  I began to understand what was being said in the other language.  The man was worshiping God, that much was clear.  An interpretation did follow, but it did not match what I thought I heard.

I wish I had more to say on the subject, but I don’t.  This event with the cloud stuck in my mind so strongly only because I was not expecting it at all.  I was not having some spiritual moment.  I was just sitting there, listening to a sermon, and that’s all.

I wonder if the Spirit of God ever returns once it has been flatly rejected?