Headless Frank...

advisor to the lovelorn, weary, confused, and the overly self-involved

headless frank

Dear Headless Frank:

You helped me once previously, but I’m sorry I have been negligent in bringing before you many other matters I know you could explain. So here’s what I’m concerned about now.

It's always impressed me that Jesus’ disciples were constantly in touch with him for three years but didn't seem to "get it" until the Holy Spirit woke them up.

They had repeatedly doubted his divinity, zeed out when he was suffering in the garden, denied him, fled when he was crucified and then hid and huddled in fear of his enemies.

But only after the Tongues of Fire descended did they go out and demonstrate courage of their convictions.

It took the Spirit to wake them up. I think we overlook—at our peril—the power of the Spirit. Am I practicing theology without a license?
—The Other Frank

Dear The Other Frank—
It doesn’t hurt to practice before you get your license, but what you’re doing couldn’t possibly be theology because all your sentences are clear and you don’t have any footnotes.

Listen, Other Frank, everybody needs to have a fire lit under their butts once in awhile. Jesus’ disciples were no less complacent than the rest of us in humankind—we ignore evidence of his presence all the time.

Yes, the Spirit of God is powerful—it’s God, for heaven sake.

The important point that I’m really glad you raise is Tongues of Fire. They come in several forms: there are the Tongues of Fire that descend from God to help us move off of dead center, and then there are the Tongues of Fire that sword swallowers have or that many of us get when we eat roasted marshmallows around the campfire.

It’s important to distinguish one from the other and to EX-tinguish only the latter two forms.

So if you’re sitting around the campfire and bite into a roasted marshmallow, don’t start trying to wax inspirational, okay? It’s not the Holy Spirit. It’s your own tongue on fire, and attempting to speak in that condition only results in undecipherable blather. Concentrate on putting the fire out and salving your tongue with cool liquid.

Also, if other people around the campfire begin speaking in tongues of fire listen only with the greatest of discernment. For one thing, I’m pretty sure God doesn’t use expletives and that’s usually the first thing to come out of the mouth of someone with a tongue of fire caused a marshmallow. It’s not hard to figure out and you don’t need a license.

The big difference is that while the Spirit’s Tongues of Fire might urge you to do a difficult task, they empower you. So yes, pay attention and respond.

Other tongues of fire just burn you up and make you talk funny. Douse them as quickly as possible.

Signing off: Medulla oblongata.