Introduction: Seven Ways to God
Several months after beginning my fieldwork in Southern Poland, I visited the house of a Pentecostal pastor, Michał, who had agreed to talk to me about his community. We sat in his dark office filled with books, journals, and papers. To help my note-taking, the pastor desperately tried to clear a space on his desk, moving piles of papers and putting books into stacks while trying not to knock over half-empty coffee cups. His efforts were in vain. As we talked, more and more objects gathered on the desk as he pulled down collections of pictures, files filled with notes, and Bible translations from the shelves. Sitting on opposite sides of the desk, we combed through dusty papers and yellowed press articles. Paired with the vivid descriptions the pastor provided, the materials painted a rich picture of local history. Over several hours of conversation, this cheerful, middle-aged man with smiling, ironic eyes gave me a colorful account of the Pentecostal community, deftly interweaving details about sociopolitical context with stories of miraculous events that the community had experienced. I listened, enthralled, asking questions only when the pastor would pause and say, “So what else do you want to know, girl?” The only interruptions were the dogs barking and the pastor’s two grandchildren, who repeatedly plunged into the room and climbed onto their grandfather’s chair.
KeywordsReligious Practice Religious Community Religious Pluralism Large Village Symbolic Violence
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