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Father God / Mother God


Flatliner
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I'm pretty new to this site and progressive Christianity, so thanks for your patience if this is an old chestnut. :huh:

 

I went to a different church this weekend and the minister ended the service with a blessing in the name of the Father, Mother, Son and Holy Spirit. I hadn't heard THAT before (the mother inclusion) but I really liked the sound of it and it felt a lot more inclusive/rounded/whole than I've been used to in my fairly prescriptive/patriarchal/black&white faith. Can anyone give me any tips? things to read? sites to check out? Authors? history? anything? Anything on gender and God would be good. Thanks again.

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Hi Flatliner (name change desirable, yup !)

 

There was a wonderful folio sized book published in 1989 by Harper and Row titled, In The Language Of The Goddess. The author was the late anthopologist, Marija Gimbutas. The book's intro was written by one of my personal heros, Joseph Campbell.

 

You should also try to read all that you can that he wrote, since he was acknowledged to be the leading authority on Mythology and its many forms when he was alive. The goddess book opens up the pre-patriarchal ancient world so that we can see where we really came from. A very enlightening and intellectually rich experience, IMO.

 

Hope things are progressing for you on your journey. Sounds like it.

 

flow.... :)

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During baptisms the ministers at my church use: In the name of the F, S, HS, One God the Mother of us all. I thought that was interesting.

 

I find a psalms a good place to look for different images of God. I also read a great book by J. Deotis Roberts about a black Jesus which helped me understand my own need for finding a female God. Need to reread that one for myself!

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During baptisms the ministers at my church use: In the name of the F, S, HS, One God the Mother of us all. I thought that was interesting.

 

I find a psalms a good place to look for different images of God. I also read a great book by J. Deotis Roberts about a black Jesus which helped me understand my own need for finding a female God. Need to reread that one for myself!

 

The pastor of the church I have been attending (who, I might add, is a woman) begins the Lord's Prayer along the lines of (I'm not sure if this is an exact quote): "Our Creator, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy many names. Thy Dominion come..." Thus instead of Father, we have Creator, and instead of Kingdom, we have Dominion. I like her choice of language. I don't know how common this version of the prayer is.

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Thanks folks for your responses and tips! much appreciated. I'll be sure to check them out.

 

I'm reading Matthew Fox "original blessing" at the moment which is really interesting although I can't digest it at the pace I can read at <_<

 

It is an interesting process for me to explore and to break away from patterns and references to divinity that have been based on masculine language and images. Even so, I'm finding that it is not as simple as replacing or supplementing (complementing??) this language/image by adding on a 'mother' module, like it was a house renovation. (My logical and analytical wiring is also hard to work with sometimes!!).

 

Contemplating the feminine has not actually ADDED another gender to G-d (for me), but actually seems to have taken away gender, (maybe if you add the masculine and feminine dimensions they cancel out??) Anyway, G-d seems outside of gender now, not Father (or rather not JUST father). Interesting.

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Good Morning...

 

I, too, would recommend Marcus Borg's book. We have to recognize the social and historical role that gender tags have played in the identification of God and not try to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep in mind that we as humans have always struggled to create an image of the Creator...all based on our human symbols, signs, social structures, imagination, and what Marcus Borg refers to as 'imaging'. I prefer to think in terms of a Higher Power myself. No matter how we image God, we are simply guessing at a Spiritual Reality that is completely beyond our comprehension.

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I also dislike any gender on God. OTOH, I do think at least Father-Mother God (or vice versa) cancels each other out. I prefer Creator or something like that. One church I went to said, "Our Father Mother who art in Heaven." But ended up with thy "kingdom" instead of say, "thy sovernity" or something. It is very hard to get away from gender in English. Think how hard it is in some other languages. I was in the UCC retreat center in Michigan and they had different prayers in various languages on the wall. There was one in Spanish and someone said, you couldn't make it inclusive language.

 

One of the things I love about inclusive language is, at least it includes me. You can talk all you want about "man" meaning men and women or humanity, but it doesn't feel that way to me.

 

--des

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One of the things I love about inclusive language is, at least it includes me. You can talk all you want about "man" meaning men and women or humanity, but it doesn't feel that way to me.

 

--des

 

 

Same here. One progressive argued that inclusive language is dumbing things down. It was an odd comment, imo. Not to mention rather uneducated. Really ticked me off. I was proud of myself for staying so calm :P If I had the conversation to do over again I *might* point out that those who use inclusive language tend to be more educated and more egalitarian then those who do not. Especially when it comes to corporate bodies (ie churches, businesses, etc.)

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One of the things I love about inclusive language is, at least it includes me. You can talk all you want about "man" meaning men and women or humanity, but it doesn't feel that way to me.

 

--des

 

 

It really do feel a difference when inclusive language is used. I do feel included. Without inclusive language there are times when I'm not just 'not included', but feel invisible. I'm thankful too when others are inclusive because I know it can take a bit more thought and effort to examine the language and the impact it may have.

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I also dislike any gender on God. OTOH, I do think at least Father-Mother God (or vice versa) cancels each other out. I prefer Creator or something like that.

Yes, trying to squish the Inneffable into any name can lead to a messy situation. For me, using the masculine seems little more than male ego inflation for all the male dominated churches. Since we often have to use some name, I try to use Mother/Father (in that order)......but can't say it quickly for fear of being misunderstood. :lol:

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It really do feel a difference when inclusive language is used. I do feel included. Without inclusive language there are times when I'm not just 'not included', but feel invisible. I'm thankful too when others are inclusive because I know it can take a bit more thought and effort to examine the language and the impact it may have.

 

 

Feeling invisible is a good description. Sometimes I felt like I simply didn't exist. It took me well into adulthood to feel confident that God didn't hate the fact I was a female. (Kind of like love the sinner, hate the sin -- being female was being sinful, God loved me despite it). I've noticed that that feeling has diminshed almost completely if not completely. Going to church where the Associate Pastor is a woman, the liturgist are both male and female, the ushers are both male and female AND the language is inclusive has made a huge difference.

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I prefer Creator or something like that.

Almost forgot to add my thoughts on the term Creator. As a Gnostic, it's not a good term for me. The Demiurge, and all its folly and horror, shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as the ineffable Mother/Father. It's like the difference between God and evolution. But I doubt that you had that in mind. ;)

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Well I am not a Gnostic, so Creator wouldn't bother me. But yes, it is different than something to do with Evolution. Except in this sense, just as evolution is not a one time thing, creation isn't a one time thing.

So in my view God did not create (past tense) then stand around to watch creation unfold or something like that. God created, is creating, and will create in all times. Also I don't think of creation as something like just creating the Earth or species, or something always so tangible. Also that the act of creation isn't done to us or around us, we are a part of it-- cocreators (as Matt Fox says). I would guess we may not be so far apart actually. I think, maybe dont' know that much about Gnostism, but think they do not believe in a sort of clockworks Creator God. I think my own beliefs are very unclockworkish. :-)

 

OTOH, unlike you, maybe, I celebrate physical creation. However, I don't think it is all that limited.

 

--des

Edited by des
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just as evolution is not a one time thing, creation isn't a one time thing.

So in my view God did not create (past tense) then stand around to watch creation unfold or something like that. God created, is creating, and will create in all times. Also I don't think of creation as something like just creating the Earth or species, or something always so tangible. Also that the act of creation isn't done to us or around us, we are a part of it-- cocreators (as Matt Fox says).

 

--des

 

My view, which is influenced by a panentheist process theology, is essentially the same. I see the universe as contantly existing in a state of creation, with God and the universe acting in concert (God calling out to the world, and the world responding to God's call). I don't have a problem with calling God the Creator, even as s/he is essentially a (co) creator rather than the sole creative force, because I see her as the infinite source who guides the universe in participating in the creative process, and in that context I think that God has a special role to play even if she does not play a solitary role in creative process.

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I see the universe as contantly existing in a state of creation, with God and the universe acting in concert (God calling out to the world, and the world responding to God's call).

Okay, I think you are saying that the universe is in a constant process or state of creation (is this a way of saying evolution? - things changing, growing, fine tuning, refining?) with the divine calling us, and us responding to the divine? So we create because we are one with G-d and creating is part of the nature of G-d? (please forgive the clumsiness of this, I'm really stretched to the max over this one - enjoying it though ;) )

 

I know these next couple of questions are real long shots, but I'm trying to get my head around this and appreciate your willingness to give input to my niaive questions.

 

So can G-d create without us? - I say yes because things/humans/animals/plants have changed over time (or maybe I'm just wrapped up in the scientific method - I keep remembering something from Biology class about how moths changed color).

 

Can we create without G-d? - I want to say yes to that too because I wonder what it really means then to create a bomb? Is G-d co-creating that?

 

What do you think?

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Think of humans as ampliers and implimentors of G-d's creative presence. We are an extension of Sh/he's powers, mind, and appendages. We appear to be Created Co-Creators...and His/her yoke is easy.

 

The material world that we see and experience around us is a constantly shifting and changing milieu of electromagnetic and nuclear forces, particles, and waves, and nothing is certain in it except the spaces it encompasses and the flow of time through it. G-d is the presence that brings order to this, and that which endowed us with the intellect and abilities to act on His/Her behalf...to a limited extent.

 

Ancient cultures believed, almost universally, that the great spirit was comprised of Father Sky and Mother Earth, and that communication with and appeasement of each was necessary for things to remain in a balanced state in their lives.

 

flow.... ;)

Edited by flowperson
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Ancient cultures believed, almost universally, that the great spirit was comprised of Father Sky and Mother Earth, and that communication with and appeasement of each was necessary for things to remain in a balanced state in their lives.

 

flow.... ;)

Thanks Flow. Maybe we've created a god that is far more complicated that G-d really is.

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FL:

 

IMO, it was necessary to shift to a more abstract theology of ultimate authority as it became clear that the future of humankind was shifting from nature-based existence to commerce and agriculture-based human existence that has inexorably moved us all from nomadic communities to urbanized megametroplexes today.

 

When abstraction prevails, so does the confusion of theological arguments since it is no longer possible for people to identify with the known forces of nature as opposed to the unknown forces of a neighbor's kindness or wrath. Witness what happened in the aftermath of Katrina last year.

 

Or better yet with the unknown images on screens that one casually observes, learns from, and sometimes communicates through. Interventions are more possible and probable, especially in a digital environment, and what was formerly reality may become confusing images that take us and our spirits into the universe of maya. It just could be that our societies are really suffering from symptoms of trying to determine what is "real" as opposed to what is "artificial" and this is at the root of all the confusion.

 

Just thinking out loud.

 

flow.... :unsure:

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Flow,

 

Just carry on. I think you are doing a much better job in carrying this on than i would.

 

But at the risk of muddying the waters:

 

As for the questions: Can God create without us? That's an interesting question!

You know there are actually serious (I dont' mean somewhat on the fringe) cosmologists that would

say "NO". There is an idea out there that the universe could not exist without "intelligence" that can

actually apprehend it. I suppose ti is up from the old idea that if the a tree falls in the forest...

At some point, I guess they would say "no".

 

Now as for us, can we create without God? Certainly we can use our minds and intelligences for less

than good purposes-- perhaps mostly do. But who gave us the mind and intelligence in the first place?

If you don't believe in free will you are left with sort of a mechanized existence where everything kind

of falls into place without you having any say. I think that would bother me a lot more than the fact that

we are not always using our abilities to their greatest purpose.

 

I think at best it is all a dance. And at worse it is some kind of theater of the absurd.

 

 

--des

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Flow,

 

Just carry on. I think you are doing a much better job in carrying this on than i would.

 

But at the risk of muddying the waters:

 

As for the questions: Can God create without us? That's an interesting question!

You know there are actually serious (I dont' mean somewhat on the fringe) cosmologists that would

say "NO". There is an idea out there that the universe could not exist without "intelligence" that can

actually apprehend it. I suppose ti is up from the old idea that if the a tree falls in the forest...

At some point, I guess they would say "no".

 

Now as for us, can we create without God? Certainly we can use our minds and intelligences for less

than good purposes-- perhaps mostly do. But who gave us the mind and intelligence in the first place?

If you don't believe in free will you are left with sort of a mechanized existence where everything kind

of falls into place without you having any say. I think that would bother me a lot more than the fact that

we are not always using our abilities to their greatest purpose.

 

I think at best it is all a dance. And at worse it is some kind of theater of the absurd.

--des

 

des...Yes a theater of the absurd, and we're all in the middle of it because many have not been paying attention to much recently.

 

C'mon...reality TV ? Torture and super double secret probation secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Systematic spying upon ordinary citizens ? I don't think the great spirit or His/Her Co-creators did much of this. IMO, it's this sort of theater of the absurd that drove the Gnostics to their radical departure/exclusion so many years ago. Maybe they did have some of it right ?

 

flow.... :blink:

Edited by flowperson
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Okay, I think you are saying that the universe is in a constant process or state of creation (is this a way of saying evolution? - things changing, growing, fine tuning, refining?) with the divine calling us, and us responding to the divine? So we create because we are one with G-d and creating is part of the nature of G-d? (please forgive the clumsiness of this, I'm really stretched to the max over this one - enjoying it though ;) )

 

Process theology would say that the universe is indeed constantly in a process of creation and evolution. That is in contrast to, for example,the deist notion that God created the universeat the beginning and then sat back and watched as the universe evolved. Instead, God is intimately involved in the entire evolutionary process of the universe.

 

So can G-d create without us? - I say yes because things/humans/animals/plants have changed over time (or maybe I'm just wrapped up in the scientific method - I keep remembering something from Biology class about how moths changed color).

I think it depends on what you mean by "us". God creates without direct human participation. But the idea of process theology is that free will is inherent to the universe, and that each granular process of evolution in the universe involves an action in which the state of the universe as it was is taken in ("prehended" is the process theology term for it), along with God's offering of the best imaginable possibility, before an event then takes place. God and the universe are co-creators, according to this view, because God acts as a creative lure towards ever greater possibilities. That is how God pulled the universe towards evolving in a certain way, going back to the Big Bang. But God didn't actually make anything happen; ultimately, the events that happened did so out of the free will that characterizes the universe. God's role was in offering possibilities, not in forcing events to turn out a certain way. Process theology does not believe in divine omnipotence. Instead, God offers possibilities to each event in the ongoing processes of the universe.

 

Can we create without G-d? - I want to say yes to that too because I wonder what it really means then to create a bomb? Is G-d co-creating that?

 

I think that when we create a bomb, we are probably not listening very well to God. Ultimately, we exercise our free will, and when we make a decision not to listent to God, then we have rejected the call that God made to us. God offers us the best possibilities, and that is God's input into the decisions that we make. That is God's call. We as free people then can reject God's call as part of our response. But God is always there in each event, giving us the creative possibilities.

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I'd really recommend The God We Never Knew by Marcus Borg. He discusses both the masculine and feminine language for God found in scripture, as well as the radical immanence of God (panentheism) as opposed to the total transcendence of God (and how that, too, is a scriptural concept).

 

Just bought Borg's book today. Will keep you posted. :)

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