Friday, July 23, 2010

Nurture and Challenge Your Spirit With Joan Chittister, Part III

More Joan Chittister highlights, provocative enough to keep me blogging. Besides it’s too hot to unpack more post-moving boxes.

-Christianity is the most anthropocentric and androcentric religion of the major faiths. BUT in the West....................(Christianity exiled its feminine mostly to church domestics.)

-We’ve lost touch with Incarnation: divine presence in ALL created things, animals and nature, not just humanity.
-We’ve lost the the Godde of Genesis who declares ALL of it GOOD and says ALL of it requires care, not sovereignty.
-We’ve lost the sacramentality of the universe.
-We’ve lost the awareness of human finiteness and human dependence on everything in nature‚ exclude oil! We have abused our environment with our demand for moreness and our inability to know enoughness.
-We’ve lost the wholeness of biblical story. Genesis 1, the creation story, and Genesis 2, the companionship story, must be read as a whole.
-We’ve forgotten that Adam named and included all the animals. We turned naming into ownership and control. Any of you with children? Do you name them? How much control does that give you? LOL.
-We’ve lost what science and ecofeminism have retrieved: the interrelatedness and interdependence of all people and things. The Christian Church must catch up to the fact that life is a weave not a ladder and that autonomy and rugged individualism are dangerous illusions.
-We’ve lost the omnipresence of Godde, aka the Holy One.
-We’ve lost our femininity and with it our full humanity.
-We’ve lost the Sabbath, the contemplative mind of Godde, as the crown of all creation.
-We’ve lost our Jewish roots. “If you believe that Godde build inequality into creation you are party to the gassing of the next generation of Jews.”

Chittister closed with a wrap-up parable from Buddhism. The Buddha one day asked a notorious bandit if he could pull a branch off a nearby tree. Of course said the bandit, flexing his muscles and strutting toward the tree. Snap! Now, challenged the Buddha, can you put it back? Are you crazy said the bandit. I can’t do that?

Can we do this? Can we teach it, talk it, preach it, write it, live it?

Joan Chittister nurtured us with her humor and her spiritual vitality. She challenged us with not a brand new but a restored vision, a vision in line with feminist values, common sense religious thinking, and an ethic of mutuality in league with a wholistic spirituality grounded in relationship, humility and sacramentality.

Is there hope?

Chittister says that male feminists give her hope that the dream is realizable. We are not the same but differences can be valued as contributing to the whole while we claim our sacred human lives together to build a new world view.

I strongly believe this is and has always been Godde’s work into which we join come-lately but not too lately if we wake up to the task, the ministry of transformation. And we don’t have to ask any more, Is it broken? Or rationalize saying, If it’s not broken don’t fix it? Patriarchy as mindset, domination politics, policy and practice is broken and breaking us. With Godde’s grace working in us that which is enlivening for the common good we can fix it.

I am grateful to Chittister’s prophetic mission and person for: no reference to the sexual abuse scandal in her church (too easy a scapegoat for a larger issues); no reference to denominations or any thought of one true church; taking on the risk of a celebrity status for the sake of the prophetic message.

I am grateful for: my own Episcopal Church risking rifts in the Anglican Communion of which it is a part to elect a woman, Katherine Jefferts Schori, as our Presiding Bishop, and consecrate a non-celibate gay man, Gene Robinson, as Bishop of New Hampshire; my Roman Catholic friends some of whom make home sabbaths and some of whom go to Episcopal or Lutheran churches on Sundays but still call themselves Catholic; Roman Catholic women who are getting ordained, excommunicated, and living out their vocations in a variety of non-traditional ways; my sisters and brothers in all faith traditions who are not afraid to explore new ways of telling the story and new ways of doing church; feminist theologians in all traditions.

(P.S. The title of these posts is borrowed. It is the identifying “motto” for St. John’s Episcopal Church in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Apparently in the age of marketing tyranny everyone needs a brand. I’ve seen cattle branding. Not fun. But to be serious I suppose it’s a good exercise for a community, in this case a Christian parish, to come together to attempt to sloganize its particular spirituality and charism. Thank you St. John’s.)


NEWS FLASH: We have a Rabba. She is Sara Hurwitz, the thirty-two year old mother of three children. She is the first woman ordained in American Orthodox Judaism. The ordaining Rabbi is Avi Weiss of Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York. In March of last year Weiss ordained Sara and dramatically proclaimed in the presence of witnesses: “The authority of Torah will rest upon your shoulders to spread the knowledge of God throughout the land.” She carries the title Rabbi or Rabba.

It give me chills and thrills. There is hope for a new world view, the story told another way.