Holy Ghost vs Holy Spirit
As an Episcopalian, we don't do faith healing, speaking in tongues or do anything having to do with the Holy Ghost as it's understood in various denominations of African American Christendom. I want to get deep into this question from a black cultural perspective starting with the following provocative statement.
The Holy Ghost is Voodoo.
I think that I am on pretty solid ground when I suggest that the tradition of speaking in tongues evolved from the early black Christian church as a way of communicating around slaveowners. I don't know exactly where I picked up that bit of knowledge, but I've heard it enough times to believe that it is credible. I am more certain, however, that the idea of spiritual possession, is definitely rooted in West African traditions.
When I was a kid, and after the birth of my youngest brother, my mother started shuffling us off to the 'born again' Christian Church - specifically the Pentacostal Evangelical Foursquare Church - I was fascinated and a bit repulsed by the practice of men and women in the congregation jumping up and down and falling down convulsing on the floor as filled with the Holy Ghost. I understood it, and on occasion when the music was just right and the minister hit his rhythm, I could feel it. But it never overwhelmed me so that I put my hand up like a spiritual antenna and got struck by the lightning of the Holy Ghost. Not that kids were permitted to do so.
As well, I witnessed my mother speaking in tongues and recognized which tongues she was speaking. I also understood, although could never confirm, that this was something that was agreed on in some way with the pastor. The ritual was basically at some part of the service, spontaneously to be sure, someone would start speaking in tongues and then somebody else would translate it into English.
We could get into all that, but the essential question has to do with the variability of practices. What is Christian, and how is that changing? I expect a religion to get dogmatic and ritualistic about such things as the definition of the Holy Spirit. I mean, it's at least as important as God and Jesus if we believe in the Trinity. So how can this be considered worship if on church allows people to go into conniptions if another's priest would go into conniptions if some congregant had a fit?
So what's up with that?