Tuesday, June 1, 2010

heretics and goddesses

On pages 58-60 of A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor offer a list that could be considered 'spirituality vs religion'. It's an interesting list, and I'm planning to comment on some or all of them, a bit as a time, as time allows.

Spirituality encourages us to treat each human being equally and to explore the feminine of the divine as well the masculine. Religion, conversely, is dominated by male imagery and in many places continues to oppress and undermine women. The patriachal nature of most of the world's religions often means that women have to fight for the right to be treated equally.
p 58

Interesting. Let's see...

The Bible is filled with imagery of God in the masculine. In fact, much of it comes directly from God Himself. One of the strongest biblical images of God in the Bible is as Father. He speaks of Himself as a bridegroom, especially in relation to Israel. While I suppose a warrior could be man or woman, it's a predominately male image. And Jesus is so obviously male. And, finally, the Bible constantly uses male pronouns, 'he' and 'his' and 'him', to refer to God.

One may rightly say that God is really a spiritual being, and likely without gender as we know it, and it is a good point. But the fact remains, outside of a few possible cases such a in Proverbs and the feminine Wisdom, almost all of the imagery concerning God is masculine. And if we believe that God inspired the words of the Bible, then the predominately masculine imagery is itself inspired by God.

As such, then, I can only see a potential danger in any attempt to "explore the feminine of the divine". First, what does that mean? If a man is saying that he's going to "explore the feminine of the divine", what is it he's looking for?

Religions have had feminine deities. The Greek Hera, for example, seems to have epitomized the bad wife (not that Zeus was all that great a husband). They also had a goddess (Artemis?) who was a hunter, not exactly something we associate with women--men are usually thought of as hunters, and women as the gatherers and farmers. There was also the one (Aphrodite?) who epitomized beauty. And the Fates, who were women. You can find a rundown on Greek goddesses and supernatural beings here, though I will warn you about much of the artwork.

Hinduism has some feminine deities, too. Perhaps most famous is Kali, a blood-thirsty assassin and murderous goddess.

Perhaps those examples should give one pause in one's attempt to "explore the feminine of the divine". One may not like what one sees.

But I think the rest of the excerpt shows what the real agenda is. The Bible is pretty plain that pastors and church leaders are to be men. In the OT, the priests were all men, and that was how God set things up. Jesus' disciples and apostles were all men, though some say that some later apostles may have been women. When NT writers deal with pastors and deacons, perhaps the thing they take for granted is that those leaders are men.

And as well, the Bible says that in marriage, the man is the head, the leader. The husband has authority and responsibility. The Bible even plainly tells wives to 'submit'.

This is, of course, very not-PC (and I don't mean it's Mac or Linux). That is offensive to the "women need men like fish need bicycles" types. It's offensive to the "women can preach as well as men" types. It's offensive to Emergents, who pride themselves on their women-pastors.

Since the Christian religion attempts to follow the Bible, then one must appeal to something else to work around it. Hey, look, 'spirituality'. We today are more spiritual than those guys way back 2000 years ago. Oh, they were fine, we revere their works and all that, but in some things, they were just so stick-in-the-mud. And anyway, what they wrote has been misused and used to abuse women, and since that's happened, we must rethink all they taught instead of trying to understand how to apply their teachings rightly.

It should be said that, yes, there are many examples of women being abused and oppressed. I can't think of anything more anti-woman than Islam, and can't understand why any woman would choose Islam if she were not forced to.

Perhaps one could point out things in largely Christian nations that could be improved on. That's a given, and should be addressed, but it isn't helped by appealing to some kind of extra-scriptural "feminine of the divine". This has a more new-agey ring to it than biblical Christian.

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