“…If You’d Only Asked Me”

Exhibit A
We are friends in a sleeping bag splitting the heat
We have one filthy pillow to share and your lips are in my hair
Someone upstairs has a rat that we laughed at
And people are drinking
And singing Van Halen and Slayer on a ukulele tear

Exhibit B
Well, we found an apartment
It’s not much to look at
A futon on a floor
Torn-off desktop for a door
All the decor’s made of milk crates and duct tape
And if we have sex
They can hear us through the floor
But we don’t do that anymore

And I lay there wondering, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You took the blanket, so I took the bedsheet
But I would have held you if you’d only

Let me

Exhibit C
Look how quaint
And how quiet and private
Our paychecks have bought us a condo in town
It’s the nicest flat around
You picked a mattress and had it delivered
And I walked upstairs
And the sight of it made my heart pound
And I wrapped my arms around me

And I stood there wondering, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You walked right past me and straightened the covers
But I would still love you if you wanted a lover
And you said
All the money in the world
Won’t buy a bed so big and wide
To guarantee that you won’t accidentally touch me
In the night

Exhibit D
Now we’re both mostly paralyzed
Don’t know how long we’ve been lying here in fear
Too afraid to even feel
I find my glasses and you turn the light out
Roll off on your side
Like you’ve rolled away for years
Holding back those king-size tears

And I still don’t ask you, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You take the heart failure
I’ll take the cancer
I’ve long stopped wondering why you don’t answer

Exhibit E
You can certainly see how fulfilling a life
From the cost and size of stone of our final resting home
We got some nice ones right under a cherry tree
You and me lying the only way we know
Side by side and still and cold

And I finally ask you, what was the matter?
Was it a matter of worse or of better?
You stretch your arms out and finally face me
You say I would have told you

If you’d only asked me
If you’d only asked me
If you’d only asked me

Notes from Thinking In Tongues

Thinking In Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy James K.A. Smith
(Buy it from Amazon)

I must have read this book in 2010 or thereabouts, which is four years ago now, but I was incredibly struck by it, and its ideas have decisively shaped my thinking, particularly regarding miracles and tongues. So for reference’ sake, I got hold of a copy, and have now taken some notes.

Ch.2 God’s Surprise–Elements of a Pentecostal Worldview
“Pentecostalism offers not only a distinct way of worshipping, but also a distinct way of thinking; embedded in pentecostal practice is not only a spirituality (in the narrow sense), but also something like a ‘worldview’.”

“I suggest we can identify five key elemnts of a distinctively pentecostal worldview:
(1) a position of radical opennes to God, and in particular, God doing something differently or new;
(2) an ‘enchanted’ theology of creation and culture;
(3) a nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality;
(4) an affective, narrative epistemology; and
(5) an eschatological orientation to mission and justice.”

Ch.3 Storied Experience–A Pentecostal Epistemology
“pentecostal worship constitutes a kind of performative postmodernism, an enacted refusal of rationalism”

Ch.4 Shattering Paradigms, Opening the World–Science, Spirit, & Pentecostal Ontology
“pentecostal belief and practice…presupposes a sense that the universe and natural world must also remain open systems…in oppostion to two key affirmations of contemporary science: (1) ‘metaphysical naturalism’ and (2) ‘methodological naturalism’ ”

“I want to suggest that a pentecostal worldview need not (and should not) entail a ‘naive’ supernaturalism–even that the language of supernaturalism is a kind of Deistic hangover that is problematic.”

“Part of the genius and uniqueness of pentecostal experience is precisely that one does not see the Spirit’s care and activity as exceptions or interruptions of the ‘normal’ ordering of the universe. A feature of the strange and fantastic world of pentecostal spirituality is a sense that the miraculous is normal, that the suprises of the Spirit are normal, whereas interventionist language still presumes the steady, static ontology of ‘nature’ that informs both naturalism and Deism.”

“one might say I’m articulating a supernatural materialism”

“a paradoxical phenomenon, namely, that nature is oriented to the supernatural and that this orientation to the supernatural is ‘natural'”

“This nuanced, dynamic ontological picture makes it possible to account for both the regularity of natural processes and the special action of the miraculous…”

“The affirmation of the Spirit’s dynamic presence in creation is not opposed to recognizing that, for the most part, this presence is manifested by God’s steady, sustaining care of the universe along the lines of what seem like ‘laws’.
This is particuarly important given that some pentecostal traditions have been given to a kind of hyper-supernaturalism that refuses medical (scientific) treatment…I’m sugggesting that this is not only bad science, it is also bad pentecostal theology, working from a caricatured ontology that sets the Spirit in opposition to the creation that the same Spirit sustains.
Therefore there is nothing inconsistent about working from a pentecostal worldview and affirming a ‘minimal disenchantment’ or methodological naturalism.”

“A ‘miracle’ is not an event that ‘breaks’ any ‘laws’ of nature, since nature does not have such a reified character; rather, a miracle is a manifestation of the Spirit’s presence that is ‘out of the ordinary’–but even the ordinary is a manifestation of the Spirit’s presence.”

Ch.5 From Beliefs to Altar Calls–A Pentecostal Critique of Philosophy of Religion
“one could argue that philosophy of religion has been attentive to beliefs but not believers

Ch.6 At the Limits of Speech–A Pentecostal Contribution to Philosophy of Language
“I consider glossolalia in light of three contemporary modes of philosophcal analysis of language: (1) phenomenology, engaging Husserl and Derrida in particular; (2) philosophical hermeneutics, drawing on Heidegger and Gadamer; and (3) speech act theory in the wake of Austin and Searle. In the final section…I turn to the ethical and social implications of tongues-speech viewed through the lens of what we could variously describe as critical theory, socialism, or ‘New Left’ categories.”

“In the case of tongues as an ecstatic utterance (perhaps without interpretation), the fact of this kind of utterance — though it does not ‘communicate’ because it is not a discernible language — nevertheless ‘says’ something, attests to a divine reality (e.g., the presence of the Spirit in the community).”

“the role of tongues-speech within a community would seem to be necessarily linked to a ‘worldview’ that would eschew reductionistic naturalism and would encounter the world as a kind of ‘open system’ — as a site for the inbreaking of the divine. This would seem to entail that the pentecostal community would/should inhabit its world differently than others.”

“with respect to tongues as communicative speech, the telos of such speech is understanding, which requires that the utterance be mediated through the structures of interpretation. In this respect, Paul’s concern that tongues-speech be aimed at understanding, and his recognition that this required interpretation, makes his account a kind of proto-hermeneutics. His affirmation of the supernatural activity of the Spirit within the ecclesial community did lot lead him to posit some kind of magical (/Gnostic) conduit for secret knowledge; rather, his account emphasizes the way in which even the miraculous operates according to the conditions of finitude that characterize the human community–even that distinct community of the Spirit that is the ekklesia.”

“The question we should ask is not, ‘What does this prayer mean?’ but rather, ‘What does this prayer do?’…I think we could suggest at least two linguistic acts that accompany such an utterance in this context.
First an illocutionary act of praying… Such a prayer is not intended to communicate propositional content, but rather to express the depth of a desire when ‘we do not know how to pray as we should’ (Rom. 8:26)… One might say that such a prayer in such a context is a kind of sacramental practice of empyting, recognising the failure of even language to measure up to such an exchange…
Second, the glossolalic prayer utterance has a perlocutionary dimension on the hearers, and in a twofold sense: (1) …one of the hearers is God, and the desired perlocutionary effect is for *God* to act in healing; but also (2) the other hearers… [ie.] the person seeking healing and the others who are interceding…
the glossolalic utterance has the perlocutionary effect of encouraging faith in the (human) hearers and encouraging them to open themselves up to the miraculous”

“As an action, one of the things that speaking in tongues does is to effect a kind of social resistance to the powers-that-be.”

“tongues-speech could be seen as the language of the dispossessed…precisely because it is a mode of speech that can be an expression that resists the powers and structures of global capitalism and its unust distribution of wealth. In other words, tongues-speech is a discourse that is symbolic of a deeper and broader desire to resist and call into question the existing economic and political structures. It is the language of a countercultural ‘exilic’ community.”

“It is the language of an eschatological imagination that imagines the future otherwise–the foreign speech of a coming kingdom.”