Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Memo to A Leader on "God"

This was sent to a dear spiritual leader recently:

I’ve been thinking about our debate on the use of language and how to reference “God” and wanted to share some thoughts with you. I know how important it is to not become attached to any word or symbol, and to not let it cloud our vision of what truly “IS”. However, I do believe strongly in God/Goddess being in balance, and God encompassing everything and everyone. While I do not wish to use ‘Goddess” in order to create a duality, I wish to use God and Goddess to diminish a separateness that has been created by making God male in nearly every world religion. The use of both is really about including rather than excluding, and to me, it actually erases a duality that is already there by bringing the faith into balance.

I understand that while you may understand that when we refer to God as “He” or “Him” we understand it’s just a word - a reference. Unfortunately, many people do not understand that and absorb this unconsciously as God being male. This subconscious belief has contributed to centuries of male delusions of superiority and consequently, centuries of female oppression. The Pagans and Druids understood the importance of balance in nature, on earth, and in spiritual life, and consequently believed in a multitude of Gods and Goddesses. While the idea of worshipping one God is important, in that it recognizes that God is in all of us – that we are One, I do feel it is our duty to undo the masculine genderization of God and work to transform the negative impact this has had on the imbalance of male/female energies on the planet.

Take for example, Jamaica. The country is famous for harnassing the powerful beliefs associated with Rastafari, which focuses on all of us being “One” which is, of course, true. However, because of its roots in a male God, this manifests itself in Jamaica as all men being One – in reality, women are not a part of this Oneness, they become less than human in the men’s eyes, and are objectified in violent ways. Their world is a great example of the rest of the universe, in that the oppression of women has thrown them out of balance and created outrageous violence in a country that believes in one of the most gentle religions out there.

Just like it’s not OK to exclude a black person or Native American person from Godliness, it’s not ok to exclude women, and unfortunately, many women do feel excluded by the single use of the word God and He/Him. I’d like use rather “the Creator”, the “Higher Power” or “God and Goddess” and when personifying God and Goddess, I’d like to use “Him and Her” or “She and He” interchangeably, or, ideally, use a non-gender word. God and Goddess is, after all, both genders and neither genders, and I feel it is appropriate!

Here are some links I’d like to share with you as well, to further highlight my thoughts, perspectives and beliefs.

Religious Tolerance on the Goddess

Religious Tolerance on the Druid

Think Quest

The Goddess: (this one has some excellent links as well that discuss Jesus’ relationship to the Goddess)

And if you haven’t already picked up the Da Vinci Code – a testament to the lost sacred Feminine….: The Fellowship .

American Mason

And this paragraph in Wikipedia’s article, “God and Gender” sort of sums up, for me, why it’s difficult to stomach the persistent use of “God”:

“An argument for using female symbols for God arises from the practical effects of God-language on the readers. Imagery for God helps people understand the world. The way a faith community talks about God indicates what it considers the highest good, the profoundest truth. This language, in turn, molds the community's behavior, as well as its members' self-understanding. The fact that Jews and Christians ordinarily speak about God in the image of a male ruler can be problematic. For feminist theology, the difficulty does not lie with the male metaphors. Men as well as women are created in the image of God. The problem lies in the fact that the specific male images reflect a patriarchal arrangement of the world, casting God into the mold of an omnipotent, even if benevolent, monarch. God's maternal relation to the world is eclipsed.”

Also on Wikipedia, this paragraph address what you and I were talking about, which in essence says that if you make God female, you draw attention to God as having a gender or duality, but if we call God male, God is genderless, or without duality. This argument, to me, is a double standard which doesn’t make much sense:

“In regard to translating Hebre names of God into English, most Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews hold that it is wrong to use English female pronouns for God; their reason is not because God is of the male gender, but because doing so among English speakers tends to draw attention to God as having gender.”

Just like Martin Luther King Jr. had to stand up for his people, I have to stand up for women every chance I get. While I try to stay away from becoming stuck on identifying myself as a woman, when I am much more than that, I still have to do my part to bring an end to injustice in the world, and this is deeply integrated into my spiritual beliefs.

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