I’ve heard little whispers and laughs about people who drank so much water they got drunk. Intoxication by water, I’ve got to say, doesn’t sound very likely, but something about me wants to know things empirically. So I downed a glass and began my experiment.
It was boring and uncomfortable at first, just sipping away, waiting for something to happen. My stomach felt fat and angry; my body, lethargic. It wasn’t the water that made the experiment feel silly, but I was laughing like an idiot. Why drink water to such discomfort? What about this needs to be tested?
After about four glasses of water I got very cold. I wasn’t drinking chilled water, just regular tap water, but I got cold all the same. So I stoked up the fire and stood very near the stove. But very, very cold.
As a counselor last summer at a church camp, I had a camper who I believed by every definition, sense and all the way to my heart, was demon-possessed. Tormented by evil spirits. I’m not part of this perverse generation, these demons can be cast out through prayer and fasting. I read that passage that exact day. It looked so like a specific calling, a sign demanding faith.
When I believe something is possible, I try it out. Maybe I am gullible. So gullible that I believe in a Jesus that says we can cast out demons. Maybe I’m so gullible that I actually blame myself, my faith, for not being able to cast them out when I tried, because Jesus said we could if we believed enough. If I just believe…believe….
Around six glasses of wine I got very sleepy. Okay, sleepiness, I thought, that’s feeling something. The water did this to me. I pulled out a garbage can in case I puked.
I gave Praying in Tongues an earnest effort. It was a revival where baptism in the spirit was supposed to take place. I did the research; sure enough it’s in there, praying in tongues of angels. So this is a thing that happens—a thing Christians do. It’s the sign of the baptism in the Spirit. Well, I don’t want to stay a Second-Rate Christian, all not-full of the Spirit. I figured it was kind of like singing—that I’d have to open my mouth and let something come out, like I’m meeting the spirit halfway on this one. All of a sudden, look, I’m doing it, talking and it’s sure not English.
So gullible that I’ve fasted, that I’ve prayed in tongues, that I’ve shouted over rooms and worship services, even in my own bedroom, that Satan has no power in this place, and in the name of Jesus, leave!
Did you see that? Did something change? There are spirits around you; do you feel that? The wall over there looks weird, up in the corner. It’s big. Something is happening. Something is feeling. Help my unbelief.
Seven, eight and nine went down easy and fast. I started to feel loopy and very tall. I felt near the ceiling. Ten hit me hard. The first nine I drank in 45 minutes. Ten was the hump for me, though, because eleven and twelve slid down. My roomates laughed at me and told me how it was impossible, “you know that’s a joke, don’t you?” Like I was foolish, needing to learn something about people and lies. But I continued, thirteen, and refilled the glass again.
I was tall, like I was floating or stretching, and cold from the inside out. Is there something real here? Is there an experience or power? Maybe the boy had a thousand demons and I cast out one or two, or sixteen. Maybe Satan had to leave at my command but some little taunting demons got to stay behind to make me think it didn’t work. Maybe those were tongues of angels falling from my lips, groanings of the Holy Spirit, like prayers for something I didn’t know I wanted; answered prayers that I don’t remember praying. Or maybe I just thought I experienced it.
Did I imagine? It felt so real, but in my memory, looks so fake. What does two gallons of water in an hour do to your body? Does it thin your blood? Does it get you high? Does it make you feel like you’ve put an awful lot of effort into this and God-damnit something happened. Didn’t I pray? Didn’t I command? Didn’t I fast? Is this not faith? How’s this for faith: I believe it really did work, only in a way that I can’t perceive. If I squint, I believe.
All I know is what it feels like to think I got drunk on water, because it’s actually impossible, and for the experiment of empiricism, I am left only with the option of faith.