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Current E-Bulletin "what Have We Done?"


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I just finished reading the latest e-bulletin. I had read a book last fall (don't remember the name) about reclaiming the sacred feminine. I was a feminist in the 80s, but feel like we have made SO much progress since then. The inequality of sexes presented in the Bible was one of the first issues that led me to question the "inerrancy" or at least the impact of historical context within the text.

 

I know that there are still Christians who relegate women to second class status, but my sense is that in the USA now women have an equivalent status to men. Am I wrong?

 

Do you think we are missing something by having God represented as being male? I think that it is at LEAST limiting. In a stereotypical sense, qualities such as nurturing are considered feminine...

 

I LOVED when the DaVinci code came out, because it was so fun to hear people talking about Jesus that normally shy away from such conversations. It was clear that the objections people raised to the book had much more to do with their own personal journey than it did about God or Truth or Jesus....

 

Do you think it is necessary to move to a genderless representation of God or move toward an equal representation of God the Father AND God the Mother?

 

Good topic! Let's see how it goes. Janet

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Hi Janet, this is a very interesting question.

 

I believe that culturally we are very much progressing toward equality, and perhaps in the secular world we are practically there. But we're not really there in the religious world. And this is an issue like so many others - things don't change because the old view has been refuted, rather, because the people who held the old view die off. Perhaps that is not so tactful to say, but it is the truth. There are still a lot of 'old school' Christians out there who still hold to the well defined gender roles which just happen to delegate women a lesser status. I grew up all around it. It is not until the religious community is just thoroughly sick of it that it will finally be laid to rest. Perhaps the churches are simply lagging behind, after all, even the more fundamentalist among us are more progressive about women and woman's rights than the most liberal of 100 or so years ago. It simply takes progress through generations, a new generation will be more accepting of current the ideas than the preceding one. By the time the new generation grows up, they're views are not quite current because their beliefs are informed by their generation, and so on, so there is a lag.

 

Do you think it is necessary to move to a genderless representation of God or move toward an equal representation of God the Father AND God the Mother?

 

I believe it is necessary to do all of the above. I see nothing wrong with calling God Father or Mother. But it becomes awkward when we take these words literally and really believe that 'God' is a man (or a woman). I don't think we'll be moving toward 'equal representation' of gender in the Godhead any time soon. That God is Father is too well established in the tradition. However, there is room for the feminine, as I'm sure you're aware of - the Holy Spirit is often seen as the feminine part of the Trinity. We can also see the feminine in God's Wisdom - pictured as a woman in Proverbs, and in Greek really called by a woman's name: Sophia. We must also recognize the place of Mary in the faith of many Christians, who is often invoked because she is 'Mother', hence many find comfort in going to her because she is seen as less austere and more, well, motherly.

 

But even Jesus compares God's desire to be for Israel "as a hen [who] gathers her chicks under her wings" (Lk 13.34).

Edited by Mike
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(snip)

 

Do you think it is necessary to move to a genderless representation of God or move toward an equal representation of God the Father AND God the Mother?

 

Good topic! Let's see how it goes. Janet

 

 

It seems to me, in my personal view, that as one naturally grows in the knowledge of the infinite God, gender simply disappears except possibly in a past habit of conditioned expression, and the question naturally becomes mute so that no representation is even needed.

 

Joseph

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I think what Janet suggests is helpful -- to alternate or intersperse feminine pronouns for God, and to recall other images for God that are not gender bound. For instance Stephen Mitchell alternates pronouns for “the master” in his translation of the Tao.

I thought Plumer’s article deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that the double standard is still with us, in many subtle ways as well as exclusiveness in the church.

 

The references to Mary Magdalene reminded me of a course I took a couple years ago on her.

Apparently the early church was divided between followers of Peter and those of Mary. Peter taught that God was outside the world and that Jesus was the sacrifice God required to be reconciled to humans. Mary taught that the kingdom of God is within and among us now; she emphasized Jesus’ life and teachings more than his death. Peter’s version became the established Christianity, Mary’s was suppressed. Yet in a way Mary could be called the co-founder of Christianity --which the Cathars in southern France believed. Hippolytus called Mary an apostle, around 200 AD.

 

Some scholars think that the written word in itself promotes patriarchy or misogyny, whereas the image promotes a more feminine outlook. If that’s true, then it would seem there is a trend toward more equilibrium. I’ve been thinking about the astonishing, unforgettable images in the film “Avatar” which presents a confrontation between the brutally aggressive military and the peaceful earth-revering Na’vis. The duality is simplistic, stereotyped, but the movie gives us an unforgettable vision of a civilization where the Goddess is fully alive – the viewer feels totally immersed and utterly enchanted. Creations like this rekindle our sense of wonder and hope that the world will somehow keep its balance.

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