Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013.07.22 Lead On,Mary Magdalene—We're Following.

I write this to honor St.Mary Magdalene, a woman close enough to Jesus and his ways to be entrusted, as the gospel story goes, with being the first witness to resurrection—the apostle to the apostles many call her. That’s big!  Magdalene held the young church together with her teaching and preaching in the East and wrote her own gospel (see the work of Karen King)....... in which she argues with Peter about Jesus’ ideas on spirituality and immanence as the power source for good works.

YET....... she became known as a prostitute. There is NO scriptural reference and no historical substantiation whatsoever for such a tarring. I call this patriarchal terrorism. Mary Magdalene, neverthe-friggin-less,  is a saint of the Church. Her day is July 22 and her spirit still haunts Church and culture, calling for justice and equity for women—and all citizens of Godde’s kingdom.  

Gloria Steinem, feminist activist, author, and founder of Ms Magazine,  now 78 years old, spoke at Simmons College 2013 commencement on the topic of feminism today. 

She acknowledged progress but contended that many of the same issues that spurred the women’s rights movement in the 1970s are still present in the context of ongoing patriarchal values and domination politics.

“Here’s a skeletal key to what has to change,” she said in a phone interview, “Women still require an adjective and males don’t.  There is a ‘novelist’ and a ‘woman novelist,’ [as there is] a doctor and a ‘black doctor.’”  I agree with this nut-shell evaluation, yet also remember that we still say ‘nurse’ and ‘male’ nurse. 

In the Church we do still hear talk of a priest and a ‘woman’ priest, and the Episcopal Church still “studies” women.  We’re an “issue”. Women in Church and society are still not equal and, in some cases, not equivalent to men. Think violence. Think equal pay. Think sexist language. Think fear.

I just read the obituary of, yes it’s true, the first woman matador in the US, Patricia McCormick.  Doesn’t sound Hispanic does it? But McCormick had a gift and a calling, which she pursued faithfully in Texas and Mexico.

In 1963, one of Mexico’s elite matadors said: “Had she not been  born a woman she might have been better than any of us.”  I assume he meant to say that she might have been able to progress in the ranks of her vocation, but............   Because in fact she WAS better than many of the male matadors. His statement reflected the ingrained and irrational effects of lingering patriarchal assumptions.

McCormick, whose last bullfight was in 1962, was finally honored in 2007 with an exhibit in the Heritage Museum of Big Spring, TX and a video demonstration of her cape work.  I’m not sure about the brutality of the sport itself but I do recognize a gift and a movement art when I see it. 

I confess that when I went to a bullfight in Spain back in 1960 I was mesmerized by the rhythm of the dance and the grace of both man and beast.  After all, is it any more brutal than football, which, in my opinion, doesn’t seem to have any grace to it?  Boxing at least does.

The issue of genderized professions and roles is still with us. But women break through when they have a calling and a gift.

Genderized Divinity, exclusively male, is also still with us, but I believe Sophia Wisdom is working to change this constrictive habit.

I wonder if genderization is a result of natural proclivities, or is it a social construct culturally conditioned by patriarchy? ARE there differences? Of course.  But are these human differences not gendered ones?  Should gender differences be stereotyped as they are, thus restricting both men and women? Nowadays, in some rare cases, anatomy is up for grabs, but so far men do not bear children unless they are male sea horses. 

Some 30 years ago Steinem famously coined the slogan: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”  Then some women got all fussed when in time she got married! 

Today I would say that a woman without a man, or a good companion, is—lonely.   So, quite likely, is a man.

Love respects gender, yet love also precedes and supercedes gender—thank Godde.