© 2016 by Charles D. Jones

The Dancing Machine

November 4, 2018

There's an old joke among Baptists. Do you know why they don't have sex standing up?....It's because they don't want anyone to think they might be dancing. I grew up Southern Baptist, then became just a Baptist, and now I'm a Recovering Baptist. At least for me, the joke rings true. I can barely dance at all, since I was never allowed to go to those sinful shindigs in my dance formative years. In fact, my college nickname was "The Dancing Machine" because I was so bad at it. 

 

I've had some uncomfortable experiences dancing and clearly remember my last dance. My oldest daughter was my partner and we were dancing at the Community House in Red River, New Mexico. We were on vacation and had been hiking and trail riding all day, and I was wearing a baseball cap. The Community House director stopped the dance and asked me to remove my cap. At first I ignored her, but when the scolding continued, I whispered to my daughter that this wasn't going to end well. I was on vacation, had a serious case of hat hair and, By God, I was going to wear my baseball cap while being a dancing "mountain man" in New Mexico. It was an awkward standoff as the hall got deathly quiet. My prediction held, as the encounter took an ugly turn. When the dance finally restarted, I was was still wearing my cap, but I was not in the Community House.

 

With this checkered history, I'm a little self conscious about moving to music. But I do love music and my heart knows there is nothing wrong with dancing. The Bible records here that King David danced with all his might before the Lord. In fact, he even danced in the street almost naked, or as Lewis Grizzard used to say, "nekkid." Apparently his wife Michal thought this was worse than wearing a baseball cap. While I can't recommend David's dance attire, at least not for everyone, I'm convinced that dancing is a great metaphor for many spiritual truths.

 

The Franciscan friar and teacher Richard Rohr used the metaphor of the dance to describe the radical flow of the relationship and the perfect communion between God the father, Jesus Christ the son and the Holy Spirit in his book The Divine Dance. Rohr points out that we are the essential fourth partner making the dance a complete circle of love.

 

Dancing is also just a natural response to music. Wilford Anderson in an article entitled "The Music of the Gospel" writes about hearing the music of the gospel instead of just dancing the steps. "We learn the steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts. The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart and is the source of all righteous desires. The dance steps require discipline, but the joy of the dance will be experienced only when we come to hear the music."  

 

I plan to do a lot more dancing when I leave Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. I'll probably not be almost naked, but there's a good chance I'll be wearing my baseball cap. I may even turn it around backwards as a further expression of my appreciation for the spiritual metaphors.

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