Sunday, March 7, 2010

Feminine/Flesh vs. Masculine/Spirit..?

Looking back in history, I'm astonished to realize just how long everything feminine has been deeply associated with the body/flesh/sensuality/earth/nature (& considered "evil").. while everything masculine has been associated with spirit/heaven/conquering nature (& considered "good"). I mean, it's so very stark.

Why the divide?

Why can't women be spiritual ... why can't men be connected with nature?

The word "matter" comes from the Latin word for mother - mater. Mother Earth, aligned with femininity ... and women ... have both been long devalued, abused and disregarded. In the Christian tradition, we see a hugely embedded divide between spirit and nature ... for patriarchy has long seen the earth as a fallen creation (& it's woman's fault), and matter as inherently evil. So, we don't allow nature to show us the revelation of the divine ... and we see ourselves (humans) as superior to the rest of the planet ... we no longer empathize with it, or with the rest of life (or even with most "other" humans!).

We've been trained to see the earth as a temporary holding place ... one we're meant to despise ... one we long to escape ... with our real goal being a Utopian afterlife.

It's not a far stretch to see why Christianity has extended this mindset to deny and despise the body ("flesh"), along with it's desires, instincts, and sexuality. We give shame messages to menstruating women, pregnant women, lactating women ... as if women doing what women naturally do (thanks be to God) are somehow dirty, and need to be separated from men. As if women are in continual need of cleansing and sanitizing. As if women cannot be both holy and sexual ... as if celibacy was more holy than sexuality ... and so Christianity has become a "body-fleeing, world-negating spirituality" that "projects upon the female all its abhorrence, hostility, and fear of the bodily powers from which it has arisen and from which it wishes to be independent" (according to Thealogian Rosemary Radford Ruether) ... ignoring God saying "very good" about all of creation (and never once taking it back).

Now, interestingly, there's evidence that prior to the year 200AD, women were considered to be equal ... they had full participation in early Christianity ... women were on a par with men. However, once Christianity became the domain of patriarchy, women were again considered to be the property of men, and "unfit" for a spiritual experience. This was cemented further, once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Being betrayed by one's own religion is excruciating ... and the energy from this wound will come out either as hostility, or love. We must resist letting this energy be channeled into bitterness (which will eat at us, and poison others as well). We can choose to point it in the direction of compassion.

And, perhaps that's the point and intention of awakening.

Shalom, Dena


MysticBrit said...

This awakening is what will give birth, in a quantum leap, to the New Earth, the New Humanity, fully in touch with Itself.

The labour's starting, but what joy there will be at the birth!


Sue said...

It's pretty amazing when you set it out like that, isn't it?

So how much of the Bible do you think is people presuming God is saying such and such? Like, the OT and how patriarchal it is etc. Do you think that's God working within the bounds of the limits of the seeing of this community of people at one time, working within to bring them to the next level, or do you think much of it is simply a case of missing the point by people who couldn't get it?

Interested always to hear people's views on this :)

Dena said...

Sue -- I think it's a case of both/and.

I think God always meets us where we are (including our concept of "God") and leads us into more and more truth, AS we can bear it. We can't bear much, it seems ... the ego fears change. So, we cling to what feels "safe" ... and we put the ancestors on pedestals ... and we reverence what they saw/believed/thought, forgetting the reality that this is a journey, that life evolves, that we are meant to grow, in ALL ways ... and so, yes, God keeps meeting us where we are, but because we think change is "of the devil" we rebuke God, and cling to what we think we know ... thus, missing the point.

But -- in the bigger picture, 2,000 years is a *small* period of time to be in this toddlerhood of spiritual growth ... and there are many, many signs that folks are realizing, "hey, this isn't working too well" and questioning the swallowed-whole assumptions, and allowing themselves to *bear* more of the much more.

It seems we need a certain amount of discomfort/pain before we let go of whatever we've clung to as "security". We turn to God when our foundations are shaking, only to discover that it's God who is shaking them...!

"Shake it up, Baby -- twist and shout!"