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Miniblog #129: It’s Funny How I’m Still Responding to My Pentecostal Background

by Carson T. Clark on September 23, 2012

I’m not a determinist. I don’t believe we’re involuntarily bound by our life experiences. Yet I’m quick to counter that we’re reflective of our experiences because we’re always embedded within an environment. That has long been my hypothesis, anyway. It’s always interesting when such theory is illuminated in practice. Last night was such an occasion. As I read James Davison Hunter’s excellent book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, I came across this passing comment: “In the Pentecostal tradition, they pursue authenticity through a traditional pietism that tends to shun the world. Because they are populists, they are oriented toward faith in ways that resembled mainstream Evangelicalism and thus use the new communications technologies in church life and ministry with little awareness or concern for their unintended consequences.” Holy flashback, Batman! I began to reflect on it. My aversion to pious anti-intellectualism? My yearning for psychological authenticity? My vexation with cultural insularity? My reservations about populist pragmatism? My dismay over the uncritical use of communications technology? Geez Louise. These are all overt responses to the same influences. Eight long years after leaving the tradition those influences remain. The trajectory of my life has changed so much yet, in one form or another, those motifs endure. I don’t see myself as a helpless product of my upbringing, but it’s funny how I’m still responding to my Pentecostal background.



  • Evelyn

    You are what you eat, no? I can’t read your feelings about this – does it bother you that you are still responding to your background? It seems to be enriching your thinking. And I’m guessing a steady diet of other influences will, over time, morph the reaction to Pentecostalism into something else. I really like your blog – keep up the good work as they say.

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