Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crystal Meth and Communion - John Rosenbaum*

*John is a student of philosophy and theology in Washington State. He loves books and has also been caught enjoying really bad puns.

Community is at the heart of Christianity. God is Himself a community, three distinct
persons, each person fully God, while, as we know, there is one God. And the
manifestation of the greatest commandment (to love God with all of our finite selves) is
to love other finite beings. Or, in a word, community. And if God is loving us into who we
truly are, and we are who we truly are when we are in community, then we assume that
there is some desire instilled in us for love and community.

If you know me, you probably know that I had a rather long run with some of the hardest
drugs scientific advancement has ever spilled onto this massive, spinning ball. I want
to share some of that experience in light of that innate desire for community, why that
lifestyle had so much pull for me, and what my ultimate source of freedom from it was.

Thereʼs this idea that marijuana is the gateway drug. I would posit that alcohol is the
threshold to that gateway. Case in point, the second night I ever got drunk (thank you,
college) was the first night I ever smoked a doob. I quickly became a pothead (a term, I
have noticed, that is most often used by non- and ex-marijuana smokers, but rarely by
those who actively smoke). I found a group of friends who understood me, my likes, and
my habit. We really connected, man. And thatʼs not even mentioning the profound
spiritual “insights” I would have on a daily basis (a little dope and Scripture, anyone?).

After falling into a super-deep depression (a cocktail of an existential funk, inactivity
and, if you can believe it, weed), I found my saving grace– ecstasy. When I was rolling I
felt good– like, really good. I was joyful, and I could connect with my community in ways
that were impossible before. (Of course, you know how impossible it is to be open and
honest about your thoughts, feelings, hurts and dreams with anyone without the
assistance of narcotics.)

After eight straight months of multiple pills a night, multiple nights a week, I eventually
weened myself off the heinous, roller-coaster of a drug with something much more

Crystal meth is more healthful, right?

Anyway, with meth I found the freedom to do the things I was always too depressed to
do otherwise. Like practice my guitar, skateboard, and clean out the garage. In a way, I
“mounted up with wings as eagles,” for I was running without growing weary! I was
deteriorating, but at least I was doing it with spunk.

In retrospect, through the means of physical ingestion of some substance in the
company of the wrong group of friends, I obtained a mockery of all of the things I truly
desired: knowledge, community, and the drive to make my dreams become a reality.

But the road to freedom from liquid death and chemical dependence was paved by
those in a different sort of community. A group of people, of Christians, came alongside
me. They cared enough to try to understand what I was going through and why, before
telling me what I had wrong in my perspective. They opened their homes and their
family lives to me as I struggled to my feet. I found true freedom to start living out my
deepest desires, from living a life of love to fulfilling my passion for learning and
thinking (both on-going processes, of course).

If Satan and his power are only mockeries of God and His gifts to us, and (I assert) the
fullness of the deceptive powers of Satan is realized through the physical ingestion of a
substance, there must be some physically ingested thing from which flows the power of
God (that which is being mocked). What is this source of community, the one of real life
and freedom? It’s the ʻbreaking of breadʼ– the body and blood of God Himself made
man, living out what it fully means to be human by dying for each individual in all of
history and for creation itself. Whether you believe it is the Real Presence or simply a
picture of the Great Act, the fact remains life itself flows from this great model of

While Truth is a person, certainty is something that is hard to come by in this life,
leading to many factions in the “one body.” Even still, we can walk this life together,
sharing everything in common, being glad and sincere, growing in virtue and
prayer, and celebrating our differences, as long as we continue to walk in his power by
breaking bread together. To ʻdo this in memory of [Him].ʼ