The second reason is more selfish. Sometimes, the grinning fellow handing out the flyers in Times Square or outside the theatre is a genuine nutjob. Truly crazy. And he's printed up all these flyers himself, and he is going to save you from hellfire, which is cool, and very nice of him. And sometimes, amidst the usual "Dear heavenly Father, I am a sinner. By the grace of your son, Jesus... etc., etc., etc.", you can find a gem of weirdness.
I recieved a pamphlet from Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. Mr. Alamo, is, no doubt, quite sincere in his faith. But there is something very interesting going on here that he may not be aware of. I'm going to reproduce some large portions, here, but trust me when I say it's worth the effort.
A few years after I was born again of the Spirit, I saw the Lord Jesus Christ with my eyes wide open. Sue was asleep, and I was wide awake. The room was pitch dark when a Spirit resembling a three to four-foot fluorescent light appeared in the room. It came into the room with a hissing sound, and with another hissing sound it formed itself into an oval-shaped mirror with a gold frame around it. Jesus was sitting in the mirror. He sat upon a purple throne-like chair that was trimmed in gold. The purple fabric looked like velvet. The back of the chair came up almost to the top of His head.
Jesus is not blonde and blue-eyed with long, stringy hair. He had the same skin color as myself, olive, which everyone in my life calls Caucasian. Again, He had black, bushy hair and a gold crown, which was about a half inch thick. It sat right on the top of His head and it looked like it was supposed to be there. And again, I wondered why no one ever thinks to wear a crown because it looks so good. His eyes were dark brown or black, and He was very handsome, better looking than any man I’ve ever seen. He was looking directly at me. By the way He looked at me, I could tell that He knew all about me and that He liked me as a person.
In this vision that I saw of Jesus there was a look of concern in His eyes, like He wanted to give me some urgent warning. I didn’t know what it was. He began talking to me but His voice was broken. It was like He was on radio, on the air, and somebody was quickly turning His voice on and off, on and off, all the time He was talking to me so that I couldn’t get anything He was saying. Later, I found out that His concern was that I wasn’t communicating with Him much at all.
I was astonished to read in the book of James that the Word of God, again, which is Jesus, is the mirror, the looking glass for us to look at to see if our reflection in it is like Jesus.
Now, if you're familiar at all with South American shamanistic practices (or have read Grant Morrison's The Invisibles) you know that, in the trance state, the shaman is able to extrude a substance from his orifices which could be called a liquid mirror. This magic liquid mirror allows the shaman to communicate with entities outside of this dimension, and to learn things to bring back to this world about curing diseases, increasing peace between tribe members, and maintaining good realtions with the dead. I would say that Mr. Alamo's mirror bears at least a passing resemblence to this "magic mirror" and that he is experiencing, albeit with a heavy Christian cultural overlay, a very sophisticated shamanistic experience. An experience that, for all it's crazy christian vibe, is still psychologically valid.
The one thing about these experiences is that, as any acid casualty will tell you, it's all in how you interpret the thing whether or not your vision has anything to teach you. The old-school shamen always brought back the visions with their own cultural overlay, so there's no shame in that. Mr. Alamo's cultural reality tunnel is Christian, and therefore, he saw Jesus. Makes sense.
The other thing is that there is one thing that Mr. Alamo may be missing, and that is the understanding of what he is truly seeing. It's in plain sight, so he is forgiven for missing it. Can you see it?
(I'll give you a second).
That's right. He is looking in a mirror. Mirrors don't work by reflecting partly back. Mirrors are at their best when they reflect back perfectly, without distortion.
Mr. Alamos was seeing a vision of his truest self, and the thing he may never know is that he is seeing himself. (in dreams, all things are YOU!). His vision is telling him - he is Jesus!
All the major religions tell us this, but here is Mr. Alamo's *proof*. He has been granted an insight of a major order, but, sadly, it slips away from him. He doesn't dream big enough, and doesn't have the cultural support (as he would in, say, a Hindu culture) to see what a gift he has been given.
And look what else: "I found out that His concern was that I wasn’t communicating with Him much at all." His innermost self, his soul that is identical with God, is telling him that he is missed. His soul misses him and wants him to come home. Truly beautiful.
Mr. Alamo, for better or worse, is the real deal. He may be all kinds of crazy christian, but he is a real visionary. I wish that the psychological lexicon for him to interpret his visions was more widely available, and was more grounded in our culture, so that, instead of dividing us, and making us feel that we are separate and alone and far from our God, we could realize how close heaven is, how near our God. "He is closer than your heart," says the Quran of God, and here's hoping we all see.
Update: I also posted on my music blog over here at my Myspace music page. It has nothing to do with this, I've just had a lot on my mind, lately. Enjoy!