Finding our new, old road to God | Bellevue First Congregational Church, Bellevue, WA
So, how do tattoos relate to Pentacost? In brief, both are ‘non-intellectual’ and connected to community. And perhaps the comparison helps me better understand an important dimension of my faith.
I have never come close to getting a tattoo. And I don’t really understand how people decide to get one. Do they make a list of advantages and disadvantages, and then decide? I think not. Do people get their first tattoo on a whim? (Well.. I was picking up some milk, and decided to get a tattoo…) I think not.
I have to conclude that it is a decision that just feels right. It is more emotional and not at all intellectual. It may be like a song that you love today, immediately. You don’t have to weigh the pros and cons. And you feel that you will like the song for the rest of your life.
Community may also play a role. First, if your friends have tattoos, then it is probably easier to decide. And second, it may be a way to identify as being different, or being part of a different community. Tattoos are visual, and so it makes sense that they serve some purpose of communication.
This last Sunday was Pentacost, and both our Children’s sermon and Adult Sermon focused on spirit and speaking in tongues. (I have to give Kudos to Lisa for running with streamers, and having us speak in multiple languages simultaneously.) And as the sermons were proceeding, I started to connect the dots with tattoos. (I had already been reflecting on tattoos and my faith. Pentacost seemed to suddenly align with tattoos. Perhaps a little weird, but true…)
I use the term ‘non-intellectual’, in part, because I view my faith typically through a frame that is too intellectual. So, it is kind of a goal, but I am seeking something more than simply eliminating intellect. Perhaps it is a feeling, or an emotion or passion or like just knowing that you really like a song. Or perhaps it is like getting that first tattoo. While I am not likely to get a tattoo, the analogy helps me better understand speaking in tongues, and ultimately spirituality.
Prayer is also in some sense anti-intellectual. And maybe a tangible way for me to get away from the intellectual frame I typically use with my faith.
Finally, there is community that ties tattoos and Pentacost together. Without community, tattoos have less meaning. Without community, faith would be a struggle.
I also find it easier to view our faith community through an non-intellectual frame. A smile or a empathetic word can go right to the center of your being. Other examples include listening to senior sermons, listening to choir and witnessing service we provide to each other within our community.
So, maybe I’ll get a tattoo. I wonder what it should say?