Are You There God? It’s Me, Stoya.

Before Wonderlust started I had most of a day with nothing scheduled in Helsinki. Mitcz sent me a couple of lists of things to see. A Finnish burlesque performer named LouLou D’Vil reminded me that walking can be fun by pointing out how walkable Helsinki is. Steve Prue (my platonic domestic partner) emphasized the Temppeliaukio Church—I’m uncertain about whether he wanted to live vicariously or wanted me to see something specific there.

So I walked over to it. Even though the sky was intermittently pouring rain and hail. Perhaps because it was—when in Rome/when in Finland, yes?

The Temppeliaukio church is carved into rock. It’s Lutheran, which is a branch of Christianity I’m unfamiliar with. The ceiling is a giant coil of copper, ringed with windows. I laid on a pew to look up more easily.

My memory tossed up two things: Rebecca West’s descriptions of the underground worship spaces she reported as being Bogomil (bog is generally slavic for god, and the Bogomils were a Christian sect that was considered heretical) and the boisterous fire & brimstone church my family went to when I was very young.

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That church practiced a form of the laying on of hands, but the thing is they didn’t actually touch people until they’d already begun falling backwards. Whole lines of adult humans would be gently guided onto the floor as they started twitching and babbling in guttural syllables.

Whether you believe in a god or not, what sent those people keeling over was the intensity of their faith in one. Other strong themes included our bodies as temples of the lord which should be cared for as such, and the concept of being called. If a member felt moved (by the hand of the lord) to the pulpit then it was believed they should preach from it.

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Back under the copper coil, I wondered what the Lutheran God would think of my work and of the fact that I had felt called to it. Since the practice of candle-lighting in Catholicism always seemed like a way of attaching a high-priority flag to a message to god, and there were candles on the wall, I lit one.

———

As a child, I thought these adults flailing on the floor were driven by the same intensity that made me into a perpetual hyperactivity machine. School looked like a process of removing intensity, therefore adults must need somewhere that they could be intense, and this speaking in tongues must be it.

A few years later, sex sounded like exactly the same thing—a place where adults were allowed to get their intensity out. However, I would not have been able to articulate this at the time.

———

Back under the copper coil, I remembered being wrist deep in Jiz Lee a few years ago. I felt as though I was touching the inside of god. My hand inside Jiz in my memory was touching the inside of god, my body contained in the rock was inside a representation of god.

Because whether you believe in a god or not, I believe it is important to understand how powerful beliefs and intentions can be. Those two things with little else can create and destroy entire worlds. They can unite people, and turn us against each other. They can do things so incredible they might as well be magic.

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Are you there god? It’s me, Stoya.


Also published on Medium.

9 Replies to “Are You There God? It’s Me, Stoya.”

  1. As a half-Finnish, half-German pantheist who grew up in a Lutheran household, I can tell you a thing or two about this particular denomination, especially in its Finnish version:

    It’s a very austere, rationalist religion, albeit not as misanthropic and authoritarian as Calvinist/Reformed Christianity. (After all, Martin Luther was a guy who enjoyed the pleasantries of life, re-introduced marriage for priests, and was very partial to beer, wine, and food.)
    Still, you won’t find Lutherans twitching on the floor or releasing their pent-up intensity in Church.

    I suspect that’s one of the reasons why it never held that much appeal for me, even before my world view expanded to the point where it no longer matched the perspective provided by Christian theism. Would I have felt more at home in the kind of church you grew up with? I suspect not, at least not after what I’ve seen of American evangelicalism so far.

    But I share your impression of religions and churches like the Dome of the Rock in Helsinki (I believe I’ve even laid down to watch the ceiling like you did, back in 2005). My adult spirituality was sparked by sexuality and romantic love, for the most part, which is one of the reasons why I no longer feel at home in any traditional world view.

  2. Well, Stoya. If you knew how gods are originally conceived, it’d not be nonsensical if I said that I’m God, and that you must let God dwell within you if you want to do your bidding. Truth is we’re all gods, and monotheistic religions formed, because many people believe that some one god is better than any other. That superiority is manifest in military, commercial or whatever form of apparent success. In short, monotheist religious people follow some other person’s god. But we can only truly know ourselves. Now, magic. That’s a whole other topic of discussion…

  3. This is a quite rare and honest blog. One that is even more surprising from an adult film star considering how strict/judgy most branches of Christianity are with sex.

    Charismatic churches left a bad taste in my soul after I spent so much time in them when I was younger. I joined Lutheranism years ago and much prefer the Protestant mainline to anything else.

    So… I’m glad to know you went and that it sounds like it was a good experience for you.

  4. I read this, knowing the effects of air cutting it’s course through my nasal canal and throat have on my ear hairs. I wonder what kind of sounds are made when you softly read articles; how your thoughts and concepts are transcribed through the elements of lightning and metal to allow me the privilege of peering into brief portions of your day. Anyway, time for me to get back to work. Later, Stoya.

  5. I’m a seminarian, albeit a radically progressive one, and I think that you’re just fine. Grace surrounds us. Sex work is important. You are valuable for who you are.

    Let’s have coffee sometime.

  6. In some of your videos there is a real avant garde quality to them which is why I was why I looked up a bio on you and saw the art schools you attended. This blog give some insight. The Jiz Lee videos are amazing pieces.

    When you are writing about touching god through Jiz Lee that is a very Tantric view of sex and spirituality. That kind of epiphany I experienced with woman that I was in love with and it difficult to explain. That was 25 years ago.

    There is a Tantra writer named Miranda Shaw who is a professor at the University of Virginia. Her view is that it is through the woman that we can discover the divine. She was speaking of men but it applies to women on women situations, too. There are podcasts of her, some written interviews and she has a book called PASSIONATE ENLIGHTENMENT. The sacred consort was the vehicle for enlightenment. She was considered a high spirit.

    Good luck on your journey, young woman.

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