Friday, September 3, 2010

Messicostals at Elevation

Caitlin and I visited Manitou Springs, Colorado and went up Pikes Peak yesterday. We had chai and maté at a cute teashop in Manitou and picnicked by Fountain Creek. We began to notice a large number of conservative Pentecostals in town. The women are easily spotted by their long hair, frumpy floor-length skirts and lack of makeup. Their presence in this town was surprising given its reputation as a pagan hippie paradise. They seemed to be in charge of the teashop. Then we noticed that they were closed Saturdays and had religious tracts referring to Jesus by the Hebrew name Yashua. “A hah! They’re Messianic!” I categorized with some relief and placing these folks in their proper place. (I’m a former theology major. Classifying Christians is an academic hobby I can’t turn off). I was a member of the Messianic faith for about 3 years in college. These are Christians who believe in Jesus but follow Judaism because they believe that living like their Jewish messiah brings them closer to the truth. I have always liked old things and I was drawn to the beauty and rhythm of the Jewish traditions, with their candlelit Shabbat dinners and a religious excuse not to work on Saturdays. What got me out of the Messianic movement (aside from a general departure from religion) is its increasing focus on the end times and its belief that Islam is Satan’s religion. I would guess that 20% of the followers of Messianic Judaism come from a conservative Pentecostal background. They bring their long skirts, anti birth-control agenda and fascination with Armageddon along into their new Messianic Jewish faith. Thus, I have dubbed them “Messicostals.”

We read one of the tracts and discovered that there is an entire Messicostal commune in Manitou Springs. They are members of the Twelve Tribes movement and believe that mankind is divided into the holy, righteous, unjust and the filthy. They are, of course, the “holy”. The “righteous” are all the good people out there who haven’t heard of Jesus. The “unjust” are the lawyers and journalists who spread lies for their own benefit. The filthy are the gays and the other sexual deviants. I was sorely tempted to pull out my transgendered Wiccan prostitute routine but I withheld. Instead, we walked the streets attempting our own classifications. We decided that the “filthy” should definitely include the unwashed potheads that haunt the town. I guess you learn something crazy every day.

After lunch, we took the train up Pikes Peak. The day was crystal clear with a blue sky and a wind-chill of “only” 30. I was having trouble staying in the moment because I had just received a threatening email from the UK visa office stating that they would deny my visa unless I sent them my original UNT diploma within 3 days. The package had been sent but I was in that stressed-out state that has set in frequently over the last few months when I felt my dream threatened.

Caitlin, who has been listening to my “be here now” speeches, tactfully reminded me that there was nothing I could do (and no phone signal on the mountain) and that I better enjoy the view. Wonderful pictures naturally came about. I thought about how clear everything seems at those times when we can rise above the chaos, take a deep breath, and appreciate the view. At the same time, my racing heart reminded me that while we all need mountaintop moments in life, trying to remain at 14,000 feet forever would be detrimental to the body. I have gratitude for the crystal clarity and also for having my feet on the low ground again. Sometimes you feel like a mountaintop revelation. Sometimes you feel like a beer. And since there’s nothing I can do about the visa, I’m going to listen to some U2.

Song of the Day: Elevation by U2

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