I was reading a blog
this evening which spoke to the idea of the "choir being sick." I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "preaching to the choir," and this blog was addressing that concept -- that the choir needs preaching.
I'm not going to address that question, but one phrase in the post raised an issue with me that I want to address this evening (I'm going to ignore the Methodist Wiccan connection). Take a look at this sentence, written by Ann Tatlock:
Did you hear about the Presbyterian church that sponsored a retreat for women, inviting them to get away and worship the divine goddess within themselves?
Perhaps I misunderstand Ann's concern about this conference, but it seems to me it is the idea of an "inner goddess" which is troubling to her. I am incorrect?
What if the sentence said, "a retreat for women, inviting them to get away and worship the divine God within themselves." Would that be problematic for her?
Do we not believe that God is within us (and outside us, and around us and between us?)? So is it only the idea that that God might be female troubling to her?
Let me tell you what I think. It's my blog, and I will if I wanna.
I do not think that God is a female. I also do not think that God is a male. I think he is beyond both of those gender specifications. It is easier for me to grasp God if I consider him to have a gender, because to think otherwise, for me, pushes him away -- makes him less personal. But I don't think that He is any more correct that She when referring to God.
I taught a lesson from Revelation last month which talked about heaven, using symbolism, relating the concept of the Kingdom of God to ideas which we could grasp. The pronoun 'he' and the word 'father' do the same thing for me -- they help to make the indescribable a little bit more describable.
There is a hymn called "Bring Many Names," written by Brian Wren, and pointed out to me by JtM. Here are verses 2 and 3:
Strong mother God, working night and day,
planning all the wonders of creation,
setting each equation, genius at play:
Hail and hosanna, strong mother God!
Warm father God, hugging every child,
feeling all the strains of human living,
caring and forgiving till we're reconciled:
Hail and hosanna, warm father God!
Why does the idea of a mothering God alarm us? Why is it so difficult to understand? We are very willing to believe that God can have male characteristics, and can be the very best father that we have ever heard of. Why can't we think of a God that has the very best of the characterstics of a mother?
JtM also sent me the interpretation of the hymn from UMCworship.org. Read this, "The author has made use of a poetic device -- referring to God's nature and actions in human terms -- that helps us to understand the nature and work of the divine." This is the same technique, in a way, that was used in Revelation. How can you explain sound to a deaf person, or color to a blind person? You have to use a frame of reference that the person understands. By comparing God to human characteristics, we can come to understand him more.
The last verse from this hymn says:
Great, living God, never fully known,
joyful darkness far beyond our seeing,
closer yet than breathing, everlasting home:
Hail and hosanna, great, living God!
God is never fully known, and yet he wants to be closer to us than breathing. Why do we judge the way other people accomplish that relationship? If is is easier for some people to draw closer to God if they use a frame of reference which shows them God through female characteristics, then why would we object?
Labels: Faith, feminism, Revelation