Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What's a Little Swooning Between Friends?

Check this out (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars). A woman in Michigan is suing her charismatic church because she swooned and fell down in a fit of religious ecstasy and "no one caught her."

Apparently this is related to speaking in tongues and to being "slain in spirit," in which one falls to the ground as if slain (I think).

I'm ambivalent about this. On the one hand, she worked herself up into a fit and fell down, which is really her responsibility. And she knew that she was in danger of swooning if she went up to the altar, so if there wasn't anyone to catch people swooning, as she claims there usually is, then she shouldn't have gone up and risked herself.

Of course, on the other hand, the pastor is intentionally trying to get these people worked up into fits and encouraging them to writhe and fall down, and so the church should take precautions to make sure those who actually do so will be safe.

In fact, I don't think I'm ambivalent at all. I've just been falling for the false dichotomy. The fact is, both sides are wrong. Just because our legal system requires a winner and a loser doesn't mean there really is one. The woman is dumb for working herself up into a fit and falling down in the first place, and the pastor is dumb for encouraging people to swoon without sufficient safety precautions.

I say we send them both to the Island of Misfit Toys never to be seen again!

All those in favor?


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