Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012.02.05 Keeping Madeleine's Commandment

Commandments don’t end I’ve discovered. They are such powerful words of wisdom that you are compelled to stay aware of them in order to pay attention as their nuances unfold.

When Madeleine L’Engle told me not to become a little man after I got ordained priest I only half knew what she meant. As I grow, read, age, and wrinkle, I discover that the surface attentions like earrings at the altar or red shoes in church while celebrating Mass, even at Pentecost for the HS, are the easy parts.

I remember my feelings of shame when the parish where I was Priest Associate for several years in the ‘90s prayed every Sunday for “our priests, Father Erik and Lyn.” Road rage is about being edged out or held back, whether it is rational or not. I launched immediately into prayer rage.

When you start to mess with major symbols like language you run into more that resistance. You get laughed at as happened to me at a clergy day two years ago when the Chairwoman of the Episcopal House of Deputies dismissed my questioned concern about exclusive language as “hardly the point.”

Let’s get on with important ministry, saving the world, feeding the hungry, etc, etc. Inclusive language is a surface and trivial issue. I agree only that it is not a new issue, however it is a deeply unresolved issue. I admit I’m still beating that drum because it's not dead yet.Language after all is our most powerful symbol, no? And we use words as much as actions to speak of our religious faith.

What is more to the point than the deification of masculinity through pronouns? Don’t
misunderstand me I love men, even married a couple and have beloved sons, stepsons and grandsons, but that is not the point. The point is how we speak of God.

Forgive me if I get preachy and commandment-tempted myself: As long as we worship an exclusively male God, a deity dressed in patriarchal garb, we will be a Church afraid to love.

BTW Jesus was a great man. Christ resurrected however, is gender-free— and the more divine for it.