Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia
We Americans are such prudes.
No, seriously we are. We’ve heard it before and really, it’s true. Puritan roots = massive prudes. You really aren’t able to appreciate the level of our prudishness until you live in another culture that is more open in their beliefs on sexuality while at the same time more strict in their interpretation of religion. The fact that this is not an oxymoron is in and of itself rather eye-opening for an American. Yes boys and girls, you can have lots of sex and still love Jesus. This is not a message that modern American Christianity has effectively distributed to the masses. To be fair, it’s hard to blame them. The Christians that is, a.k.a. “us” being as we’re on that particular team. The mass media has taken the position of “free sex with whoever you want whenever you want” so when Christianity opposes that they get cast as the people who are against sex. It isn’t true, but that’s how it’s played in the States. I think we’d get a lot more traction stressing all the awesome sex you can have as a married member of the church than just focusing on the stuff people can’t do. As an organization, we have really gone on the defensive on this particular front, letting our opponents pick the battles and cast us in the “bad guy” light and really, it hasn’t gotten us anywhere. Pretty sure we’ve actually lost a bit of ground with this strategy.
In fact, many Christian religions would really like it if their people had more sex, since we’re kind of dying off right now. It’s a numbers game people and we’re losing. (So says the couple not planning on having kids…would you please make up for our hit to the average? 😉
Let’s take the state of religion today in the United States today as a place to start. In Alameda, CA, where we last lived before departing on this adventure the churchgoing population of the city was estimated at somewhere around 5%. That’s ridiculous for a country that claims “Christian roots.” Numbers vary throughout the country but they all show a massive decline in churchgoers throughout the country in the past few decades. So here’s what we saw when we went to a Catholic mass in Tahiti. First off, the statue when you walk in:
This has nothing to do with our point, except that we find it amusing that in Polynesia the “bread of life” has been adapted to local conditions to become the “breadfruit of life.” You go with what you know, right?
So French Polynesia was colonized by the French and the French obviously brought over their religion of Catholicism and converted the masses. We Christians are big into the conversion thing. But what American Catholic priest would be caught dead looking like this in mass:
Where do we start? The hair? Sandals? Jeans! Jeans! Greg was once thrown out of church for wearing jeans! (in my defense, they were good, clean, new jeans, and the incident occurred in New England.)