“God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” — Gloria Steinem
The son: a petulant, spoiled white frat boy blathering about his ruined life, a man whose angry, insipid face represents our “Christian values” voters.
The father: the Evangelical’s misogynistic, racist, unskilled Drunk Uncle in Chief, come with a gold commode and his Dark Ages Republican angels.
While liberals tear their hair out over the Evangelical’s God sent pussy-grabbing King and his SCOTUS hungry pro-life drunk son, and while they bemoan the hypocrisy of ‘what Jesus taught and lived’ when compared to the shit show politics fueled by an apocalyptic fantasy conflation of mythologized America and her Christian values, there’s an easy, direct line to historical Christianity and the loathsome clusterfuck we’re dealing with: misogyny and Empire.
Simple story version: After Constantine, the circulating oral stories and texts became sacred through redaction and compilation.
The committee called by Constantine at Nicaea (oh Goddess, a committee, we’re in trouble now) deemed what stories, letters, items, revelations, were orthodox, which ones were not quite worthy, and which became heresy.
This committee served Empire and its concerns first, “Christianity” second.
Jesus and his teachings, I’m not sure.
These old texts transcribed and shared before the printing press (I’m leaving out a lot), when coupled with Jewish texts became “The Bible.”
A cultural construct was born.
But look at the Book’s stories; a deep reading isn’t required: from the condemnation of Eve, the primacy of Patriarchs in Old Testament revelation and prophecy, straight through to the Holy insemination (rape) of Mother Mary by God the Father.
What does Mary say when God impregnates her and completely changes her life? Does she despair and say, “Oh, Lord, no, please no?” Does she do what a reasonable person does, and question God, herself, what’s happening? No. She remains silent. We’re given no stories of doubt, no stories of anxiety, no dark night of the soul even though she’s facing a new life because God spiritually raped her.
She was blessed among women.
She must have wanted it.
Mary’s a holy, obedient, unquestioning incubator, not a lot more without the label of Virgin Mother, because these are simple stories. Rich myths, but simple stories of faith. So Mary offers a prayer of thanksgiving: Thank you God The Father for using my virgin body without my permission so the world could be saved through the murder of your only begotten son, and my eldest child will suffer the worst death imaginable. Amen.
You’d think if God were a gentleman, he’d ask for consent.
But he doesn’t have to, because the culture was (and is) misogynistic.
(God would ask for consent, and perhaps did, but that story is a different story, would have been a different religion, and, consequently, created a different world.)
For the modern faithful, there’s no questioning these stories or these texts, and no asking what they are really saying.
Pre-Guttenberg, pre-Enlightenment, pre-internet.
Time and reality were different.
Did the resurrected Christ ascend through the ozone and into space on his own Apollo mission to get to the Right Hand Of God?
It was a story of meaning and myth, written and taught by men.
And filicide as the controlling metaphor for a religion? First Isaac then Jesus?
The Divine nonconsensual insemination of a girl as the beginning of the world’s redemption?
(The stories of Mary and Mary Magdalene were kept intact mostly by Luke, the gentile for whom the so-called pagan traditions and their reverence for the Goddesses were still alive.)
There’s a direct line between female invisibility, submission, and the control of women’s bodies, and it goes straight through to all the world’s major religions — women don’t fare better in other traditions.
But today we’re dealing with a world crisis precipitated by the Evangelical installation of the Drunk Uncle In Chief, and his waving his tiny hands all over the world stage in gross phallic overcompensation, a maniac being bolstered by the praying faithful who have taken a series of oral stories and ancient letters as literally true — writ in stone forever and ever, amen.
I’d hypothesize, and I’m sure there is research and philosophy on this, Foucault touches on in it his division between the male written word, and female oral history, that the Goddess and her daughters were killed with language’s invention and proliferation, the Word.
In establishing “culture,” we slowly stopped giving thanks to the earth and her eternal womb of life, for language allowed us to create lives above the earth’s cycles. The transcendent dominance over nature we see in the invisible God that lurks in Genesis, the god who prefers blood sacrifice (e.g., Cain and Abel) to nature’s cycles and agriculture (the Goddess and her cults).
Nature fallen — not redemptive or redeeming.
The subjugation of life’s womb, right there in Genesis.
Culture requires time and skill and patience, so it’s not the great friend of child-rearing, a service requiring all-consuming attention.
Language and culture, and therefore power, thus emerged as male domains, and for women, access to these domains was gotten through men.
Wife or whore, servants and subjugates, all.
This is why “well behaved women seldom make history,” they had to step outside of his-stories to claim their power.
Access to language and knowledge and power was withheld, guarded, and literally walled off for women: Julian of Norwich, the first woman to write a book in English was an anchoress, she confined herself by choice to a cell that she never left.
She sacrificed her body so that her spirit and its words would live in the world.
Invisible in life, immortal in death.
The 75-year-old Evangelical male pastor at our local church reinserted the Apostle’s Creed into the service this week.
He’s a lay pastor, who came to his Evangelical faith later in life and devotedly trained for lay ministry in his fifties.
Uneducated, he’s a product of his geography and generation: the eldest of eleven farm kids, a Vietnam vet, a football-loving American and Christian.
All of these things are essential and one to him; no separation, just a quagmire of convenient myths, unalterable, stable, safe, comforting.
(He recently bought a refurbished ’59 T-bird convertible, probably the best emblem to describe his worldview.)
He relies on Biblical Christian tradition to guide him.
“Tradition” is a meaningless phrase, for most who use it. It’s an empty term of confirmation bias that self-renews comfort — and when I hear my religious friends pull it out, I know I’m in for a joyride of creative reality.
He falls into myth easily, makes up things as he goes along, and has zero grasp of facts or reality, even daily.
I suspect he has always been this way, and that his age has little to do with it with his forgetfulness. Rather, he’s navigated life as a no facts kind of guy — it served him well, and he’s suffered no consequences.
Like most folks of this ilk, for whom amorphous tradition means all, he possesses a horrific lack of information and has no memory, because those two handmaids might teach uncomfortable lessons, offer insights at odds with his “traditional” values.
Better no memory or information, it’s all a bit much.
In a fit of frustration, I told someone months ago, while I was still attending the church, “he thinks he can show up with a Bible and a dick on Sunday, and we’re all going to listen to this shit like trapped animals because he’s entitlement is so over the top.”
Yeah, I said that.
Jesus glitter over everything.
And, tellingly, just like our Drunk Uncle In Chief, he uses a hundred exclamation marks and capitalizes everything when writing for the church’s flock.
Caps and !!!!!! make things important.
The pastor’s not a bad man, but he’s uneducated and woefully entitled — not a great combination, no matter his sincerity.
And because the congregation’s Evangelicals stoke his fragile ego (and more importantly, they stroke their own egos while stroking his) as the headlines and world call his entire being into question, he reasserts his God-given in the image identity in the Sunday service by making everyone recite a Patriarchical creed.
Conscripting obedient thought, a comforting blanket delivered by wholesale beliefs that reassert his authority through identity.
If folks believe Kavanaugh, well, look at why.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
Mary, silent, submissive, grateful.
They believe Jesus resurrected and went on a rocketless Apollo mission, they believe Mary’s divine rape was okay, they believe that filicide was part of a grand his-torical arc toward heavenly redemption, and they rely on creeds because these are the scripts they’ve always been handed.
And for many, they miss life’s lived spontaneous miracles, the ones that stand waiting for them as they embrace unquestioned narratives that shape far more dangerous narratives and realities, e.g., who will sit on SCOTUS.
So, in the case of our pastor, simply one of the millions of men doing similar, when the world threatens their made in the image of God the Father authority, how shall I say it, he doubles down on the dick vis-à-vis a creed in the Sunday service.
Because testosterone, facial hair, a penis and a scrotum must mean you’re the head of the house, and you hold sanctified authority not because of skill but because of entitlement, even though the church’s women do all the work.
And when exclamation marks and capital letters and Jesus glitter aren’t enough to brandish this authority, make sure you reassert your identity entitlement in the traditional version (yes, it was important to him to use the traditional version) of the Apostle’s Creed.
There are no women in that creed, it’s a passive-agressive gendered assertion of power, God the Father, his only begotten Son, and the twelve men enshrined by the Council of Nicea as they buried the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
Don’t think that this gendered power struggle isn’t what’s happening now, everywhere — and if the world watches America to see what happens, it’s because people look to others for their behavior.
Insecure, fragile men are testing the limits of their power, as women assert theirs, and as they assert their in the image of Goddess voice, its power, its words.
In the beginning was Her Word, and it was powerful, beautiful, and complete.
I had second thoughts about returning to folks I love yet whose theology I loathe, but my doubts were answered in the fragile conscripting and gendered servitude the pastor decreed in reciting The Apostle’s Creed:
“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.”
I trust the questions, so I distrust the answers.
Maslow wrote, “What a [wo]man can be, [s]he must be. This need we call self-actualization.”
No religion delivers that, no creed invokes its experience.
No gendered system frees women to rise from history’s ashes.
They will do that themselves. For, as Steinem also wrote, “Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.”
Forever and ever, and life everlasting.
For a reflection beyond literalism, Joseph Cambell and The Power Of Myth:
“JOSEPH CAMPBELL: No matter what system of thought you have, it can’t possibly include boundless life. And when you think everything is just that way, the trickster comes in and it all blows, and you get the becoming thing again. Now, Jung has a wonderful saying somewhere that, “Religion is a defense against a religious experience.”
BILL MOYERS: Well, you have to explain that.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, that means it has reduced the whole thing to concepts and ideas, and having the concept and idea short-circuits the transcendent experience. The experience of deep mystery is what one has to regard as the ultimate religious experience.
BILL MOYERS: Well, there are many Christians who believe that to find out who Jesus is, you have to go past the Christian faith, past the Christian doctrine, past the Christian church. And I know that’s heresy to a lot of people, but…
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, you have to go past the image of Jesus. The image of God becomes the final obstruction. Your God is your ultimate barrier. This is basic Hinduism, basic Buddhism. You know, the idea of the ascent of the spirit through the centers, the chakras, as they call them, or lotuses, the different centers of experience. The animal experiences of hunger and greed or just the zeal of reproduction or the physical mastery of one kind or another, these are all stages of power. But then when the center of the heart is reached, and the sense of compassion on another person, mercy and participation, and I and you are in some sense of the same being this is what marriage is based on there’s a whole new stage of life experience opens up with the opening of the heart.
And this is what’s called the virgin birth, actually, the birth of a spiritual life in what formerly was simply a human animal, living for the animal aims of health, progeny, wealth and a little fun. But now you come to something else: to participate in this sense of accord with another, or accord with some principle that has lodged in your mind as a good to be identified with, then a whole new life comes. And this is in Oriental thinking, the awakening of the religious experience.
And then this can go on even to the quest for the experience of the ultimate mystery, that is, the ultimate mystery can be experienced in two senses, one without form and the other with form. And in this Oriental thinking, you experience God with form here, this is heaven, that’s the identification with your own being, because that which God refers to is the ultimate mystery of being, which is the mystery of your being as well as of the world, so it’s…this is it.”