Friday, November 18, 2005

Fall From Grace

Mother has been doing a lot of "cleaning house." You know, getting rid of junk and stuff. Things have surfaced that I have not seen since before we moved to this house, three and a half years ago. This morning she said to me, "I have something for your room." I turned to see what it was, and she held this up:

I burst into uncontrollable laughter. She gave me a look that was half-smirk, half-you-shouldn't-be-laughing-so-hard-when-did-my- daughter-become-such-a-heathen? Yes folks, this little gem was on the door to my and my sister's bedroom when we were growing up. The folks must have bought it and bestowed it upon us. I can't believe this used to hang in our home. How far we... uh, I... have fallen.

I hung out with Fellow Seeker last night, and we discussed this very thing. I hadn't seen him in nearly a month because I was pulling my recluse bit for a while. Yesterday, however, I was having a really bad day, so instead of going to Italian class, I trekked out to see him for a few hours. We were leaving the library (yes, we are so cool) and I asked him, "Do you still consider yourself a Christian?" He said no. I said, "Me either. I feel like it's deceptive to even use that term, it's so inaccurate." He agreed. He said, "I am only a Christian in the most liberal, liberal sense of the term." I don't even think I can lay claim to that.

At one point in the evening we were waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the light to change so we could cross the street. I was like, "C'mon, I'm getting old here," which then inspired me to burst into verse: "I grow old. I grow old. I shall wear my trousers rolled." F.S. started laughing and asked what I was reciting (apparently I don't have it in me to just be poetic in my own right). I told him it was Eliot and tried to remember as much as I could from one of my favorite poems, which was unfortunately not much. "Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherised upon a table." "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons." "Do I dare eat a peach?" "Mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me." "Till human voices wake us, and we drown." You know what? It doesn't make much sense that way. I once heard one of the younger fellows rap that poem to a hip hop beat, and he had memorized all the words. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.

The more I spend time with myself, the more I think that I am possibly one of the most boring people ever. After reading what I said while walking down the street with F.S. last night, I don't think you can dispute that :]

Today the strangest thing happened in class. We were discussing a book we just finished reading: Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. In the book, Williams talks about her mother's bouts with cancer, and there is a bit of conflict between her Mormonism and her feminism (if not feminism, then simply her self-respect). At one point, she says that she considers the Holy Spirit to be a Mothergod because there is a Father and a Son, so that would complete the heavenly trinity.

First, Professor G began discussing illness and what it does to the family in the book. He then asked us if we had any personal experiences on the topic that we wanted to share. I thought I was going to start retching. My stomach literally did flips. I felt like everything I had eaten that day was going to be on display in about five seconds, so I left the room. It was so strange. I had never had such strong physical reactions to painful subjects before. Maybe they had bothered me, but not that much.

Anyway, I stayed out in the hallway for a few minutes. I spent the time returning Mother's phone call, and I mentioned to her that I was hiding out in the hallway and why. She said to me, "Well, if it makes you feel any better, Father's dealing with it pretty well. He has God's grace to get through it. God's grace and Valium." She didn't mean it as a joke, but I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I returned to the classroom and was quite relieved to find that the discussion had ended. Professor G. informed me that we were rereading the Mothergod passage. I sat down and pretended to read it. I was still a little fuzzy. After reading it, we got into a "discussion" that quickly turned into a heated debate. I fear that the heated part was my doing. (Future Priest can attest to this.) Now, normally I can get pretty worked up in debates, especially over feminist issues. At times, I will get angry. Not because I can't handle being disagreed with, but because sometimes I feel that people say things that are terribly insensitive without realizing it. When someone derides the feminist cause, I feel like they're personally deriding me as a woman, and it upsets me. Today, however, I practically exploded. I think that came from the fact that we were not just talking about feminism, but about God and spirituality, and all the anger and resentment I have towards God, coupled with the nausea I was enduring due to the previous topic of conversation, proved to be a volatile combination. I stated emphatically, "It's easy for men to say that God is gender-less, because you don't know what it's like to be a woman! You don't know what it's like to pick up the Bible - a book that's supposed to guide you in life - and always have to read about 'God the Father' and 'the righteous man' and 'he' 'he' 'he,' and the only time you hear about a woman is in Proverbs 31, about how the ideal woman takes care of her husband and children. As men, you just can't understand." (There are six people in the class, and there is only one other woman besides me.) After I had said it, I could feel how flushed my cheeks were, and I thought, "Why am I so worked up?" A couple of the guys said something along the lines of how I had just dealt a blow to all of them. I don't see how; saying that they don't understand what it's like to be a woman is not exactly news, and it's not an insult. I told them that I couldn't understand what it's like to be a man; it goes both ways. *Shrugs shoulders*

Also, I told Professor G. that I had read up on women leaving the faith because they felt it denigrated them, and the reason that I had read up on it was because "I used to be a Christian." I swear, I actually said that. It was the first time I had verbally admitted to something like that, and I could barely get the words out, because it was just so damn strange.


Anonymous said...

Hey I came across your blog and noticed you're fed up with Christianity. The world is full of hypocrites and Christians are no exception (hence the need to be 'saved'). Since you seem to be cerebral I thought you might be interested to hear a fresh voice on some old concepts. I recommend going to and listening to some of Mark Driscoll's sermons before giving up on the concept of Christianity (or at least Jesus) entirely. I know it sounds like something your grandma would do but he's a very interesting speaker. I wouldn't form an opinion on Mark (or God for that matter) based on only one sermon however as last week he spoke on how much God hates us (real uplifting). I'd be surprised if Mark's words don't ring true to you but will warn that he WILL piss you off (especially being that you're a feminist as I used to be/still can be..........). Anyway, thanks for letting a perfect stranger offer you unsolicited advice. Nice site by the way.


Organized religion in all it's forms is a sham an' a half; scientology is a testament to that fact. People'll be quick to believe anythin' fer a grasp on th' universe.

You want real religion yer gonna need to look beyond books, Apostles, an' "God's House", 'cause God ain't never lived there.

fp said...

1) Pray. Give a shout out to Jesus.

2) Jesus teaches us: "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." This means God has no body, because a spirit is, by nature, an incorporeal being. As Jesus tells us elsewhere, "a spirit has not flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39).

There is a big difference between being a spirit and having a spirit. Jesus says that the Father is a spirit, not that the Father has a spirit; this means that he lacks a body entirely.

The Church Fathers, of course, agreed, and loudly declared the fact that God is an unchangeable, immaterial spirit who has an entirely simple ("incomposite") nature—that is, a nature containing no parts. Since all bodies extend through space and thus can be divided into parts, it is clear that God cannot have a body.

"What of Christ’s body?" you may ask. It is true that Jesus, who is truly God, assumed an earthly body when he was born of the Blessed Virgin, and that this body, now glorified, continues to exist. But since the Lord only took on human flesh in these "last days," and since God has always existed, without beginning or end, we must still conclude that having a body is not part of God’s unchangeable nature: he exists in eternity as pure spirit, even though he chose for the Son to also take on a human nature in addition to his bodiless, timeless, divine nature.

"In created and changeable things what is not said according to substance can only be said according to accident. . . . In God, however, certainly there is nothing that is said according to accident, because in him there is nothing that is changeable, but neither is everything that is said of him according to substance" (The Trinity 5:5:6 [A.D. 408]).
---St. Augustine

3) "Our Lord . . . was not averse to males, for he took the form of a male, nor to females, for of a female he was born. Besides, there is a great mystery here: that just as death comes to us through a woman, life is born to us through a woman; that the devil, defeated, would be tormented by each nature, feminine and masculine, as he had taken delight in the defection of both" (Christian Combat 22:24 [A.D. 396]). ---St. Augustine

"The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?" (The Virgins 2:2[7] [A.D. 377]). ---St. Ambrose of Milan

4)"Let none of you turn deserter. Let your baptism be your armor; your faith, your helmet; your love, your spear; your patient endurance, your panoply" (Letter to Polycarp 6 [A.D. 110]). ---Ignatius of Antioch

5) Time for another appointment with Priest. I know you're gonna say no, but you got too much on your mind to keep it in and I've never led you wrong so do it at least to give me peace of mind if not for yourself kid. Love ya.

sojourness said...

1) I do, on occasion.

2) If God is truly spirit, then why is "He" a "Father" and never a "Mother"? Shekinah is only one female word compared the all the male ones used in the OT.

3) Here's another quote from St. Augustine:

"The woman together with the man is the image of God, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned as a helpmate, which pertains to her alone, she is not the image of God: however, in what pertains to man alone, is the image of God just as fully and completely as he is joined with the woman into one." (De Trinitate, 12, 7, 10)

4) Hmm.

5) You know it's gotta be a no on that one. But, today was nice. Thanks. I will make eye contact more often.