Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Not to make heads spin, but I am not the type of person who starts a book or two, reads them, and then moves on to others. I am constantly in the middle of at least five books (and usually many more than that) because I cannot resist temptation. I will go to the library and take home five or six books when I know I have no time to read them. So, in this blog, I'll be jumping from book to book. It doesn't mean I have stopped reading the others I previously mentioned; maybe I have, maybe I haven't. Just don't expect consistency :)

That being said, Sister gave me The Feminine Face of God for Christmas, and I resumed reading it today. The back cover reads, "For many contemporary women, the old patriarchal models of religion are no longer relevant, forming a need to look beyond the male-oriented past to a wider, more fulfilling spiritual horizon." That should give you an idea about the book's purpose. The authors, Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins, interviewed over a hundred women in order to assess their spiritual experiences.

"[...] throughout history women have learned about spiritual realization through men. Male guides and male interpreters - priests, rabbis, ministers, Zen masters, yogis, and countless other male teachers have defined what spirituality is and how it is to be developed and experienced in our lives. In almost all accounts of the sacred, both language and story have been the expressions of men conveyed in male imagery. [...] For many and varied reasons, women's experiences have remained unspoken. [...] We cannot learn how women develop spiritually from men. The responsibility for describing this process is ours, as women (7)."

I have read two chapters so far, and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest. In my experience, people don't like to talk about this. If you call God "She" you're a heretic, yet nobody considers the fact that in the Old Testament, one of the Hebrew names for God - Shekinah - is feminine. When questioned, many will admit that God is gender-neutral, but to refer to "Him" as "Her" is shocking and inappropriate.


Tom said...

ANY model of religion is not relevant. The female view is just as irrelevant.

sojourness said...

Can you elaborate on that?

Tom said...

God never implemented any religious model perse. My Christian perspective believes that God established laws that meant to keep man healthy and caused man to face God. Grace after the sacrifice only left us with one law; Love your neighbor.

The fight to extinguish gender from religion is basically taking a liberal swing at organized relgion, which is fine by me but I don't see truth or love coming from such a crusade. Debating the organizations and dogma creates a lotta heat but no light. It's hard to determine the motive; is it a relgious fight or is it an attempt for females to become more comfortable with God as a loving entity that nurtures rather than punishes?

I see the males in these organizations (generally) to be less than men as God intended. Females (OT reference) were created to be a helpmate and to procreate. Modern church males see them as do-mates and sex objects. rant over

sojourness said...

It's not about establishing a new "model" for everyone to follow. It's also not about making females see God as a nurturer instead of a punisher. I believe God has both qualities - God can be loving and kind as well as just and strict. If God has no gender, why do we call God "Him" all the time? Men will not understand the significance of this. If you're curious what it feels like, start calling God "Her." I don't think that would sit well with men. If God was purely male, then fine, but God is not, and if a woman wants to recognize that, I see no problem. Truth and love will come when women don't have to be put off by constant male language, male references, and male-oriented Christianity.

Secondly, about women being created only as helpmates and child-bearers... that is one of my biggest problems with Christianity. In Genesis, there are two stories about the creation of men and women: one is the Eve rib story everyone knows so well, where man is created in the image of God and woman in the image of man. Then there's the other where both genders are created simultaneously: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) Scholars believe there are three (possibly four) different authors of Genesis. Hmm.

I don't want to go too far on this; I'll be blogging on it a lot.

Tom said...

I see the "movement" of extracting the maleness of God as one against the church rather than an academic understanding of who God is. Many who do this are neither Christian or spiritual but they appear angry and confrontational. I can only go on perception because I have not sat and studied all of them or their views. My question goes to the purpose of such activity.

Genesis 1:26 says that God created man in "our" image. I do believe Adam was asexual and the extraction of Eve from Adam was merely a biological seperation. When man was created in God's image it was asexual as God is not siding with either gender. I see scriptural references relevant only if you think it represents God and His word. I do to a great degree and I think that the nuances of the words in their original language means something.

Males dominate denominations and not Christianity. I do think that gender traits play into all organizational operations. When Christ was around society was patriarchial and leadership of the early church shows that. It wasn't always the case and I dare say it was more respectful of women when Jesus was around than it is today.

Truth and love exists outside of the church and not because of it. It is dealt out on an individual level and the collective body benefits from it.

I am just blurting now and probably need to eat!

sojourness said...

It's not extracting the maleness of God; it's examining the femaleness of God that is not talked about. Why is that not considered an understanding of who God is? If there is anger it comes out of years and years of neglecting this aspect of God and consequently, removing an important part of a woman's spirituality.

I agree about Adam being asexual. A rabbi once told me about that theory.

Please don't take offense at this, but I wouldn't expect any man to understand the significance of understanding the femaleness of God.

Tom said...

I am not disagreeing with you on this male/female thing. I just see the face of some of those that focus on the female aspects as not being concerned about completing the being of
God but rather taking swings at the church. Well deserved swings mind you because most take Apostolic Law and beat women in the head with it until they realize "their place". I think the NT has many positive female roles that quickly get negated with the "submit to yer hubby" verses.

My perspective is from somebody that has left the church for those, and many other, reasons and no longer identify with it. I feel pretty connected to both sides of God but I think men see gender in terms of strength and sex were women see it in terms of security and comfort. That said, as a husband, my role is to cook, clean, do laundry, iron, etc. Its my job. If my cares to help than great. It annoys the hell out of other men I know but I see them as "lesser" because they can't, or won't, take a servents role. Jesus died for the church. The church was His bride.

rambling again

sojourness said...

You make some good points, and I'm glad to know you're not defending the less-than-desirable man/woman roles thing. If some are only in it to take swings at the church, I agree that they are well deserved and have no problem with it. But I don't feel that every single woman who brings up the topic is doing that, and their valid points should be heard as well. Especially by women. Like me! :)

Brooke said...

Hello, Sojourness. It's me again, from the forums. I wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed reading your smart blog and I look forward to the future updates.

sojourness said...

Thank you Brooke :)