Saturday, November 18, 2006

I am a Polytheist

I was thinking about when I lived as a missionary in Zambia and a discussion I had with some pastors about the problem of polygamy in the Zambian churches.

One pastor stated, "You Americans condemn when an African man has more than one wife, yet you take multiple wives. The only difference is that you marry one at a time. You divorce one and exchange her for another."

Joe G. says the practice is called Serial Monogamy.

Thinking about that conversation somehow I began to think about my church attendance/membership history.

Raised Roman Catholic, as a teen, I became a born-again Christian and joined a Fudamentalist independent Bible church.

Next at a Christian college, I attended an Evangelical Non-denominational church.

After a few months on the mission field in Ecuador, I moved to NYC, got baptized in the Holy Spirit (spoke in tongues) and became an active member in a full-Gospel charismatic church.

After a few years there I moved onto a larger pentecostal church run by a famous evangelist and prophet. Then a unprogrammed Spirit-filled house church. In Zambia I moved to a LARGE charismatic church.

I next lived in the UK for three months toggling between Sunday services at a small charismatic church (lots of Graham Kendrick) & a commuinon service at the local Anglican church.

I then relocated to Memphis, TN for intensive dehomosexualization at Love in Action. There they demanded that we attend an evangelical church.. Once I could choose my own, I found a conservative Episcopal church with a husband and wife team who spoke in tongues, conducted healing prayer & claimed they helped fix at least one gay man.

Now I am a Quaker & worship in an unprogrammed meeting in silence.

Each group presented God differently. Shades of the same God or many Gods? Seems like how many men view marriage in the US, in regards to deity, I have become a serial monotheist, exchanging one God after another--really a polytheist.

At least I don't have to pay alimony to each. Or do I?


At 4:55 PM , Blogger Alex Resare said...

Well yes, you do have to pay alimony to every single one. So I recommend moving over seas. I promise, it is only for your best. I have heard that Sweden has no alimony laws... Have I mentioned that Umeå is the city with most vegan eating population in Europe?

At 5:40 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

alex, lovely suggestion and the perfect anidote to American fascism, but what in the world would I do? Become a regional sales manager for Tartex™? Work as you and Noa's man servant? Become a model for the Marwin™ clothing company?

Maybe I can summer there. But that doesn't solve the divine alimony dilemma, though. Hmmm.

Hey, what are you still doing up? You must be exhausted from your travels.

At 8:11 PM , Blogger Joe G. said...

Hmm, I thought that the African pastors were describing what is called in the States "serial monogamy". Your philandering, I mean, traveling through so many denominations should be called serial monotheism. :)

Actually, as regards to what Alex suggested - you already paid the alimony by giving all of those years of your life and commitment to those churches and organizations. The price is already paid, baby!

At 8:36 PM , Blogger KJ said...

Same God; different view. If that weren't possible, He'd be mighty small. Mighty small indeed.

At 9:09 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

Joe, thanks for sorting me out yet again. I made a correction and credited you. Should I remind the gentle readers of your fabulous podcast and the delightful insanity of your friend Quiche?

KJ, Sure the God is bigger than all that, but I imagine the God shows up at many services, hears the songs and sermons and wonders, "Who are they talking about?"

At 10:07 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

My friend, Jen, with whom I share a love of all trash pop culture, suggested that when I move onto my next "spiritual home", that I should make the new manufestation of God sign a spiritual pre-nuptual agreement.

She warned me that the next one might turn out to be a gold digger who will clean me out, and I am not talking about sanctification.

So manydifferent versions of God, so little time.

At 11:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really spoke to me.

At 7:58 AM , Blogger Plain Foolish said...

I also have travelled from spiritual home to spiritual home (though mine have not all been Christian - I've studied Islam deeply, gone through conversion to Judaism, a process that takes a few years, and was part of an eclectic Pagan circle, as well as Catholic, Methodist, Spirit-Filled Evangelical (Oh, how I loved that one. It spoke to me deeply, but one day I knew it was time to leave.), as well as a few others.

Now, I seem to be just seeing God on the streetcorner, in the grocery store, surprising me at the office. Sometimes, She's there at my weekly stitch-n-bitch, and I've met Her for coffee and bonding at the Quaker meetinghouse. Today, I've been crying in Her arms, letting myself be held, and praying my favorite reminder in Hebrew, which translates out to "Nation shall not make war upon nation; neither shall they learn war anymore."

At 6:47 PM , Blogger Contemplative Activist said...

Have I mentioned that Umeå is the city with most vegan eating population in Europe?

Best not go there then Peterson, they might gobble you up alive ;)


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