Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013.06.16 Stuck With God? OK, But Not Godde's Pronouns

We may have thrown the baby out with the bath water. In this case the “baby” is God. The bath water I suppose is all the dirty sins—against God and humanity— of the many patriarchal religions.

Out, out damn sins, but save the "baby."  I’m stuck with God. I just can’t find a way around God. I’ve tried to use other names and  alternative spelling like Godde. I’ve experimented with various alternatives like Upholder, Source of Life, Creator, Shepherd, Holy One, Light, even Love— but these are all descriptives, not names.

I need a name! God is a name, not a gender.

There is something unrelinquishable about a name!—if you’re going to be calling on someone or addressing them as if they count. And God knows we call on God enough!—just in case if nothing else. Naming is an important tradition in families, in the Bible, and in religions. G-d names people.

The other issue for me is plain courtesy.  I was first introduced to divinity as God. I wouldn’t normally change the name I first knew anyone by, would I? Not. 

My one time Jesuit spiritual director once suggested I find a name for God that was a term of endearment, something like I'd use with my spouse—when I found him endearing. But hon just didn’t do it. 

I am a woman who fought passionately to get ordained a priest. As a woman, feminist, and priest I lobby for my conviction: God is not a boy's name.

Lots of Latino boys are named Jesus, Jewish boys named Moses, Muslim boys, Mohammed, but really! . . . Do you know anyone named God?  Can you imagine it?  “Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet the man I love and plan to marry. His name is God.”  It’s more traumatic than, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

When I was a child I thought of God as an old bearded man in the sky full of winks and wonders. and love for every ounce of creation. Then I was violated by an old man with a long white beard like God’s and after that I was pretty sure God was no man, even though the Church, all the prayers, the Bible, and everyone I knew called God He, Him, His, Himself.

I notice that traditional gendered language about God traps God in manhood and holy manhood at that—patriarchal images and theologies of omnipotence.  Language that deifies transcendent manhood is a constant thorn in the side of the freedom of God to be God. It’s God-abuse! 

It's also not good for us humans. We waste time and energy on gender-bound argumentation, all the while knowing that Divinity is not tied to a gender. It’s exhausting and personally it makes me furious and want to gnash my teeth. I do not feel loved and included in God who is only He. I'm a She. Divinity consistently clothed in such garb is NOT good for women, period.

So can keep God's name and get rid of the darn pronouns? It's possible.

At a retreat homily for seminarians I thought would be, well, liberal,  I suggested that, although Jesus the earthly man of Nazareth, was a man, Christ taken up into the godhead was a messianic title that no longer required masculinization. And further, the Incarnation was not restricted to Jesus’ flesh but was for all flesh, over half of it female.  N.B. The male seminarians freaked out; the women seminarians were moved and excited—but secretly.  One calling me a "trailblazer."

Why couldn’t we say in our liturgy, “By Christ and with Christ and in Christ” instead of him when we elevate the elements?   We have easily changed “It is right to give him thanks and praise” to  “It is right to give God (or our) thanks and praise.”  It’s not hard and it’s about Love.

Christians say God is unconditional love. Then why do we set conditions on that love by giving it a gender?

For Godde’s sake, literally, and before we know it some boy will be named God.  Poor kid.