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Home > Culture and Society

Shunda da da ma shunda, tonda, da da na munda!

Let the spirit move you.
Like it moved lovely Karen.

11 September 2003

An odd moment on yesterday's edition of The Weakest Link. One of the contestants, Karen, said she could speak in tongues, Anne Robinson asked her to show us how, and without batting an eyelid Karen launched into a burst of holy gibberish. And that was that - no snippy comments, no pointing and laughing - just "why did you vote for Steve?" and onto the next question.


If only Karen had used her facility for sacred burbling during the actual question answering...

ANNE: "What 'k' is a household appliance used to boil water?

KAREN: "Ack-a-macka meena foona zin tadeena."

Had she done this, it would have raised some curious theological issues. Presumably, if you are speaking in tongues then you are doing so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and you have to assume that the Holy Spirit isn't about to be stumped by the questions on The Weakest Link. Which would imply that every inspired babbling (even if it is delivered in a heavenly tongue which only seraphim and cherubim could understand) is a correct answer. And also, when it came to the nominations, the other contestants would probably feel a bit bad about voting off the Holy Spirit.

Speaking in tongues is a fascinating pastime, and a great way to win quiz shows and liven-up dinner parties. But how does one acquire the skill? How does the burbling begin? Pastor Simon from the Harvest Field Church in Cheltenham has this advice: "If necessary just babble like a baby!"


"You'll get groanings that cannot be uttered in your known vocabulary!" he claims. Like the noise a whale makes when it's got a harpoon stuck in a lung, or the sounds a human makes when Jasper Carrott comes on. 'Ultrasounds', if you will.

Now, this is all very exciting and wonderful, and you're probably keen to get started for yourselves, to impress workmates or baffle friends and coffee shop personnel. Okay, so let's not waste any more time; this (according to Pastor Simon) is how to crank up your tongue:

"You can receive the complete Baptism with the Holy Spirit and have a Heavenly prayer language (a tongue) available to you now by praying this simple prayer: 'Father in the name of Jesus, I ask you now to fill me with your Holy Spirit, as a believer I fully expect and ask now that I speak with other tongues. According to Your Word, cause the signs that accompany believers (Mark 16:17) to accompany me. Amen.' - You can now pray effective fervent prayer that avails much."

Right - so have you done all that? And you can talk in tongues now? Excellent. Fun, isn't it. Boolakasha! Cock-a-doodle-do! "Chang chang changedy chang she-bop! That's the way it should be. Waa-oooh, yeah!"

Tongue-speaking is an extremely handy skill to have at the office, claims Christina Perrelli: "I used to have a job where we attended lots of boring, long meetings. I would find it very frustrating sitting there, until it came to me that while everyone was rambling, I could pray in tongues for them. It helped me make it through those meetings, and calmed me down."


Remember, you must always use your powers for good, not evil. It is a blessing from God, not a fun way to heckle at conferences.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists "tongues" as one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. Another of the gifts (more rarely given) is "interpretation of tongues". However, there is never any guarantee that an interpretation will be forthcoming. Which might lead, one can imagine, to some gloriously awkward moments in the church hall:

"If you have a tongue which you feel you want to share with the congregation, and the Lord says go ahead, share it and wait for the Lord to give you or someone else an interpretation. Typically, the pastor will ask the people to pray and wait silently until an interpretation is given."


We're still waiting...



More babbling:


Note: the words "Shunda da da ma shunda, tonda, da da na munda!" is actually a quote from an *amazing* Jimmy Swaggart story. Read it here:


Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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