Don’t feel bad if you get agnostic from time to time! Doubting is a necessary thing according to the great philosopher and mathematician, Rene Descartes.
In the course of our homeschooling today (annoying Cartesian math for 8th graders!) we looked up Rene Descartes for the fun of it. Up came a bunch of his famous quotes — for once not the “I think, therefore I am” quote.
Agnostics, skeptics and spiritual seekers will appreciate his words.
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
I tried to think of when this doubting of all things might have happened to me. Then I remembered as a young college student my jaw dropping over the Mithras-to-Jesus similarities. Birthdate, Roman-style worship, 12 disciples, etc. I was already upset by the absence of a God-the-Mother and God-the Daughter, and suspicious of all the (wonderful!) pagan elements in Judeo-Christianity. The Mithras stuff and Acharya S’s exaggerated correspondences pushed me into full doubt-mode for a short while. I had to rise up from either / or belief and mature into both / and. As in, yeah, Mithras, Jesus, Dionysius, Adonis, were probably the same — and Horus the Light of the World. Then there is Helios, El, Allah with the “EL” name of God hiding in there. Adonis is similar to Adonai, also. Paganism, Monotheism, Gnosticism, ALL of it. It is the same. They are BOTH true, this AND that and that and this, too. There is no black and white, no either / or in spiritual truth.
Then again, I will probably never grasp the Truth with a capital T. I really like the title Gnostics gave to Mary Magdalene. She was the Woman who knew the ALL. Gnostic knowing is spelled with a g. She gnew it in her marrow, it was the ultimate gnowing.
Yay. God-the-Mother is coming out more and more in various religions. The Mormons have always believed She existed, and a Heavenly Mother has been in their doctrine all along. But they have told their leaders not to preach sermons about Her (due to persecution, being called a “sex cult” back in the 1800s). Now that is changing. Pretty cool.
Mormons also believe Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife. My daughters love hanging out with Mormon friends, one whose parents have prominent paintings of Jesus and Magdalene on the wall. (Painted by Mormon artists).
Here’s a news article about the Heavenly Mother being increasingly mentioned by LDS (Mormon) leaders. It has an interesting Madonna-like picture of Her with a hidden face.
The article is technical with regard to ancient Greek and Latin texts, but the gist is that the presence of “Martha” in John 11 and 12 is “unstable” in many of the earliest copies of the Gospel, suggesting that she was added in to the story of the Mary whose tears moved Jesus to raise her brother Lazarus and at the supper in Bethany where Jesus was anointed by the same Mary, the sister of Lazarus [and Martha].
I hope many of you will find time to read this article for the light it throws on the New Testament Gospel of John and the woman who was later identified with the title “the Magdalene.”
Here is a video where Libbie Schrader talks about raising money to make a music video of her Magdalene Song. She shows a few clips of her trip to France to secret Magdalene gardens, destroyed churches, etc.
Here is the Abstract of Elizabeth’s Master’s Degree Thesis:
This study examines the text transmission of the figure of Martha of Bethany throughout the Fourth Gospel in over one hundred of our oldest extant Greek and Vetus Latina witnesses. The starting point for this study is instability around Martha in our most ancient witness of John 11–12, Papyrus 66. By looking at P66’s idiosyncrasies and then comparing them to the Fourth Gospel’s greater manuscript transmission, I hope to demonstrate that Martha’s presence shows significant textual instability throughout the Lazarus episode, and thus that this Lukan figure may not have been present in a predecessor text form of the Fourth Gospel that circulated in the second century. In order to gain the greatest amount of data on the Fourth Gospel’s text transmission, I rely on several sources. Occasionally these sources conflict in their rendering of a variant; I have tried to make note of these discrepancies and look at photographs of witnesses whenever possible. Although this study is primarily focused on Greek and Vetus Latina witnesses, an occasional noteworthy variant (e.g., from a Syriac or Vulgate witness) may be mentioned when relevant to the subject at hand. The work of many established redaction critics, who have already hypothesized that Martha was not present in an earlier form of this Gospel story, will also be addressed.
Margaret Starbird wrote on the GoddessChristians forum:
When Pope Francis announced that Mary Magdalene’s “Memorial” on 22 July would henceforth be an official Feast Day of the Catholic Church, he commented that “She loved Jesus and Jesus loved her.”
I’ll be doing an interview with Kris Steinnes for “Women of Wisdom” on Friday afternoon October 14th (1-2 PM Pacific; 4-5 Eastern)–centered on the Sacred Partnership of Jesus and Mary Magdalene at the heart of the earliest Christian community. Please tune in here for the live broadcast or later archived segment: http://www.transformationradio.fm/host/kris-steinnes,16.html
The current pope, Pope Francis, was so inspired by St. Francis of Assisi to choose his name for himself when he became pope. I wonder if he knows about Saint Francis’ possible heretical background.
Margaret Starbird wrote:
October 4 is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi—13th century founder of the Franciscan order. I was baptized on his feast day many years ago—and have always had a special love for him. The “Song of Saint Francis” and his “Canticle to the Sun” are beloved around the world. [Hear it in the video below] His message of joy in God’s creation resonates with all generations.
One of my favorite movies—from the 1970’s(!) —is “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” [movie trailer below] based on the life of Saint Francis, whose mother is alleged to have been from a prominent Cathar family from Provençe. At one point in the movie, Francis notices that his mother is praying with her hands folded, fingers crossed in little X’s and pointed downward. Saint Francis comes over to her and straightens out her fingers pointing them all upward in the traditional Roman Catholic prayer position, but after he turned away to go back to his friends, his mother put her hands back in the “alternative” Christian position of “prayer form the heart.” My mother, who was an Episcopalian, used to pray in that Protestant hand position, and I’ve found numerous paintings of Mary Magdalene with her hands folded together that way as well. It’s interesting that the fingers form little X’s because the letter X was one of the prominent symbols of the “Grail Church” that recognized Jesus and Mary Magdalene as partners. Details are available on my website: www.margaretstarbird.net
Here is the url for the trailer for “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” in case you’ve never seen the movie. It’s a classic…
Today is the day Mary Mother-of-Jesus was said to have ascended into heaven and to begin her reign as Queen of Heaven, crowned by the Father & Son, becoming a member of the Trinity. It makes sense to me that she was our Heavenly Mother and like her Son decided to incarnate here on earth to bring about the Work, to deliver the Message (aka the “Good News” literally gospel).
Margaret Starbird writes:
August 15 is the official Catholic Church Feast Day celebrating the assumption of the Virgin Mary—body and soul—into heaven (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assumption_of_Mary ) validating a folk commemoration of this event over hundreds of years.
In medieval lore, two other female saint were alleged to have been assumed bodily into heaven: Mary Magdalene and Mary the Egyptian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_of_Egypt), another “Fallen Sophia” revered by medieval Christians. Carl Jung was apparently thrilled when this feast day was declared because it elevated the “Feminine” status, completing (in his view) the “quaternity” (the classic Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit completed by the addition of the Feminine “Mother of God”).
What will it take for the Church to recognize the archetypal Sacred Complement of Christ in the person of Mary Magdalene—his Bride in Exile? She represents the entire human family (flesh and blood) as “Bride”/Partner and co-Creator with the Divine.
Margaret Starbird writes: On my website under the Magdalene Rosary tab in the menu you will find prayers and “Magdalene Mysteries” for a rosary I developed in her honor—based on seven “heptads” of seven prayers each.
Here is the “Magdalene Prayer” for anyone interested in honoring her in this way:
July 22nd in centuries-old church tradition is considered Magdalene’s birthday and Feast Day. She is the only woman in history about whom Jesus said, “people will tell this story in memory of her”. The story Jesus meant is the story of Magdalene anointing his head and feet as if for burial, but symbolizing the anointing him as messiah. Messiah is a word meaning “anointed one” and she is the only person in the Bible who anoints him. You recall the rest of the story when she weeps and dries his feet with her hair.
In June 2016 the Pope finally declared July 22nd to be Magdalene’s special Feastday again (in the 1960s they had demoted her holiday but people still celebrated it)
Margaret Starbird writes:
The Pope’s recent pronouncement declares Mary Magdalene about equivalent with the Apostles, but we should not be satisfied until she is acknowledged as the Sacred Partner—Bride and Beloved—of Christ. If you have read my “Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile,” the epilogue expresses my position: “Who do we say she is?” Until Mary Magdalene is proclaimed as the true partner and co-Redemptrix with Christ, my work is not done. It thrills me to know that other, younger women understand this need to balance the masculine energy, stripped of its feminine partner—and are willing to carry on the effort to enlighten others.
The Book of Revelation ends with the Nuptials of the Lamb and his Bride—a union of the Masculine and Feminine—Lord and Lady of our hearts, as in the “marriage window” from the Dervaig Kilmore chapel [pictured right] —a union of archetypes that causes streams of living water to flow from the throne of God– “for the healing of the nations.”
So, in light of the honor that should have been hers for two millennia, proclaiming her feast day “official” is not nearly enough for me! But I love the Pope for taking this small step in the right direction.
I hope you are aware of my two best arguments for Mary as “Bride”: Micah 4:8-11 -The Magdal-eder prophecy which sums up her post-Crucifixion fate in four lines, and the sacred number of the “153 fishes,” a metaphor for the Church as “Bride” in John 21. The gematria of “H Magdalhnh”–153—is also associated with the vesica piscis and goddesses of love and fertility. I consider these two discoveries that prove the the authors of the Gospels acknowledged Mary Magdalene as the consort of Christ as my most important contributions to the Magdalene “unveiling.”
Pope elevates memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to feast day
By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service
June 10, 2016
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene’s role as the first to witness Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer,” Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.
A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance.
Both the decree and the article we re titled “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”).
In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”
“Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Archbishop Roche wrote.
While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.
In his apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (“The Lord’s Day”), St. John Paul II explained that the “commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him.”
Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Pope Francis highlighted Christ’s mercy toward a woman who was “exploited and despised by th ose who believed they were righteous,” but she was loved and forgiven by him.
Her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus,” the pope said April 2, 2013, during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Pope Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: “Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief.”
Archbishop Roche explained that in giving St. Mary Magdalene the honor of being the first person to see the empty tomb and the first to listen to the truth of the resurrection, “Jesus has a special consideration and mercy for this woman, who manifests her love for him, looking for him in the garden with anguish and suffering.”
Drawing a comparison between Eve, who “spread death where there was life,” and St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” the archbishop said her feast day is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.”
“It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”
Time to allow women to be Ordained Priests?
One of our other members, Klaus M. in Germany posted after hearing the news:
After Franziskus’ “Magdalenian decision”:
The next step now should to be allow women becoming priestesses in the RCC!
For those who are interested to read the Magdalene elevation in German:
Just completed this online survey asking what topics I’m interested in regarding the origins of Christianity. T’was quick and easy. I urge others to go answer the questions. Hi Margaret — Good luck to your author friend, Barry. Asking future readers what they wanna read about is a good idea! I look forward to his book when it comes out!
I’m posting here a link to a questionnaire sent me by a friend who is exploring the idea of writing a Q and A book about the origins of Christianity. The questions are designed to inform the author about which topics would be of most interest to the reading public. The questionnaire only took me about 5 minutes to complete—please take a look and help if you can by filling it out yourselves. Barry would really appreciate as much feedback as he can get for this project.
[The following] blogger does not agree with many Goddess Christian beliefs or the teachings of Margaret Starbird.
While his article begins with the various holy grail mythologies and the Priory of Sion hoax, if we scroll way down to Holy Bloodline, we can see that he “exposes” the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (sometimes abbreviated MM) as a myth.
In another article, he seems to reject the idea of MM being any type of Goddess:
In yet another article he states: The Holy Bloodline myth derives from the semi-fictional pseudo-history book Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which used poor scholarship and unreliable sources to develop the idea that Mary Magdalene married Jesus and had children by him who eventually gave rise to the Merovingian royal house. The claim has little textual support beyond some ambiguous Gnostic references to the pair kissing.
This link is interesting, I had never heard of a tradition that MM was married to John the Evangelist:
If you do a search on Jason Colavito and Mary Magdalene, or Jason Colavito and Margaret Starbird (while he only mentions alternative writers, some of the follow-up comments do mention her, specifically), or the author and DaVinci, or the author and the bloodline of Jesus, or Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married, or Mary Magdalene as Goddess, etc., all kinds of articles from his archives will come up.
[And now a link to] his rather bizarre views on the Cathars, based upon the writing of their enemy, a Roman Catholic and further based upon his own translation of the Latin text. When challenged, in the comment section, about his authority to translate the difficult Latin, his response was that he had been ‘reading Latin since he was a teenager’. There is no mention of studying the language at a University level.
Anyway, unless I am completely misreading this blogger’s articles, which I may well be, he does not seem to feel that many Goddess Christian beliefs hold any validity. I think he would consider the beliefs of many Goddess Christians to be fringe conspiracies. –PAMELA
KATIA WRITES: We are the fringe of Christianity in our belief in a Divine Feminine / Heavenly Mother and her earthly incarnations as Magdalene. Some people don’t believe as we do that down thru the millennia Godhead might choose to manifest as a woman, not always a man, that a Heavenly Father REQUIRES a Heavenly Mother since no parent arrives at parenthood alone.
Genesis says, “Let US make man in OUR image…. Male AND female”. Both sexes made up the heavenly creator-couple’s “image”.
Heavenly Mother may have manifested / incarnated as Mother Mary, and Magdalene may be a Daughter of God like Jesus is a Son of God. To our Creator, women are not second best humans that must struggle extra hard to develop their spirituality by breaking social norms to spend time with a male teacher (Jesus). How cruel that would be. Jesus had a partner, a woman who could teach the women and sometimes talk to men, just as Jesus spoke mostly to male disciples but sometimes to women. When he preached he preached to both genders, but one on one teaching was lopsided male-to-male as we know, and the beautiful story of Martha wanting her sister Mary to come into the kitchen and leave Jesus’ bible-study lesson illustrates how difficult it was for women to study at all in those days.
The women of Luke 8, and Magdalene are probably all that remains in the canonized Church approved scriptures to hint at this women’s studies contingent of Jesus’ ministry. Of course if a deity manifesting as a female human makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to believe Magdalene or Mother Mary were divine aka “a god” like it was later claimed Jesus was. Jesus never claimed to be a god anyway. He barely even claimed to be the messiah! (Note: Jews do not and have not ever taught the Messiah is God or a god)
What IS a god, male or female or genderless? Can humans embody them at least temporarily? To me, the Creator, the Intelligent Designer, is God. If the Creator is a Godhead made up of more than one personage, and I think it is, then it makes sense it would be male and female. If God is One — no Godhead personages — then a transcendent genderless Being could be the Absolute Source Deity. We just don’t know which it is — or if both could be true. The Bible doesn’t say, it clearly makes God of the male gender and hints with words like Elohim, Queen of Heaven, and the Genesis quote, that a female gender is there, too in a Godhead.
Most of us in this forum also believe in the Sacred Marriage as a model found but suppressed in both ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity.
It’s okay, we are used to being fringe in this area. It doesn’t mean we believe in many of the less logical myths about Judeo-Christianity such as it originated in Atlantis, or that the Holy Family and half the tribes of Israel were really white non-semitic British people. Archaeology and DNA studies show without exception that the 12 tribes and Jesus’ family were all middle eastern.
Did Joseph of Arimethea travel to Britain? — quite possible considering what was going on in Britain during the reigns of Tiberius and later Claudius.
Just my opinions of course, but I see why scholars look askance at all fringe beliefs when they lump us believers in a male-and-female Godhead in with the extremely fringe stuff such as: UFO astronauts with oxygen tanks and all, came to earth and seeded it.
No Evidence for a Genderless God or Female God but both feel right / make sense
While discussing with my three young daughters our current God-gender topic, a thought occurred to me — I put it in the subject line of this email.
God is genderless and / or beyond gender
We have zero evidence, although perhaps some very veiled hints, in Judeo-Christian scripture that God is “beyond gender”, is gender-less, is above and beyond physical bodies, anatomy, reproductive organs. Yet, on some level it “feels” right, or “makes sense”, that God/Goddess/It would be transcendent and genderless.
God is a Godhead with both Male and Female beings
We have zero evidence, except for some loud hints, in Judeo-Christian scripture that God is a Godhead unit made up of at least one male and one female deity.
God is not genderless, God is Male
The only evidence we have in Judeo-Christian scriptures is that God does have gender, and he is male. Both the Father in Heaven and the Incarnate God on earth Jesus, are male. Male pronouns, male, male, everything male. God the Father, Son and even Holy Spirit are said to be male. There is some small evidence in Hebrew and Greek that the Holy Spirit might also have a Female counterpart (Ruach and Pneuma are feminine-gendered words in Hebrew and Greek for the Holy Spirit), but we all know the mainstream teaching states loud and clear that we have an all-male Godhead.
I homeschool my daughters, and we recently came across this Aristotle teaching:
The 3 Rhetorical Appeals aka Modes of Persuasion
Logos, ethos, and pathos are the three techniques used when trying to convince others. Aristotle taught them in his work Rhetoric.
Using the power of personality to convince, based on the speaker’s credentials, authority, such as a professor or a known expert in a certain field
Appealing to the emotions of the listeners. Here’s Wikipedia:
Pathos (plural: pathea) is an appeal to the audience’s emotions, and the terms sympathy, pathetic, and empathy are derived from it. It can be in the form of metaphor, simile, a passionate delivery, or even a simple claim that a matter is unjust. Pathos can be particularly powerful if used well, but most speeches do not solely rely on pathos. Pathos is most effective when the author or speaker demonstrates agreement with an underlying value of the reader or listener.
In addition, the speaker may use pathos to appeal to fear, in order to sway the audience. Pathos may also include appeals to audience imagination and hopes; done when the speaker paints a scenario of positive future results of following the course of action proposed.
* * * * * * * * *
So when examining the same Bible, the same evidence, we all can come to different conclusions about the gender or genderlessness of God.
God as Absolute Oneness, in “its” sense as Source and Beingness, not only appeals to our “gut” aka emotions (pathos) but also seems logical, thus logos. But the concept of a genderless god / Creator is not based on any evidence, so perhaps we can’t call it logical. This gets confusing to my feeble brain, so please comment if you can help me out, here.
A balanced male and female Godhead with a Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father appeals to our gut-level common sense on an emotional level and logical level, which is an argument from both pathos and logos, like the above.
A male-only Godhead (Christianity) or male-only solitary God (Judaism, Islam) is argued by the desert religions’ scriptures. All the evidence both written and traditional, says God is male. This seems to be Logos, and indeed Jesus’ gnostic code-name is Logos!, but I think it falls into ethos (again people, help me out here) because it is based on what the authorities have been telling us the past 3000 years.
As I continue to think about this, especially about my very different friends/colleagues Bishop James and Priest Pamela, it dawns on me that some of us lean toward believing pathos more than logos, or ethos more than pathos, etc. I think I have a tendency to go with commonsense “logical” arguments that nevertheless stir my emotions to get me there. Logos and Pathos. Because of all the shoddy scholarship out there and goofy theories as +James points out, I am distrustful of arguments by Ethos. They don’t appeal to me. Except when the ethos is that of my long-ago teacher Margaret Starbird whose ethos still has me a believer! (smile). Yes, yes, partly I WANT to believe (pathos) and it FEELS right and true, plus makes sense in a commonsense way. But you can’t say, “your beliefs are only based on emotions”.
From: Bishop James To: goddesschristians May 27, 2016
Re: No Evidence for a Genderless God or Female God but both feel right / make sense
Professor Michael Heiser is a solid OT scholar (Logos Software, Liberty University) and an advocate of a “Divine Council.” This is a link to his site: The Divine Council.com
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment. Psalm 82:1
“The term divine council is used by Hebrew and Semitics scholars to refer to the heavenly host, the pantheon of divine beings who administer the affairs of the cosmos. All ancient Mediterranean cultures had some conception of a divine council. The divine council of Israelite religion, known primarily through the psalms, was distinct in important ways.”
Michael S. Heiser, “Divine Council,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns; Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 112.
Gender of God, Do Majority of Christians view God as Genderless
Bishop James post on May 27, 2016
Re: No Evidence for a Genderless God or Female God but both feel right / make sense
The vast majority of Christian denominations view God as genderless.
Great summary of Gender of God in Christianity. Thanks for posting it, Bishop James (link at the end if readers didn’t get to read the short article yet). I am glad to see Elohim and other Feminine Divine evidence in the Hebrew Bible was touched upon. This line in the Roman Catholic section got me a bit peeved, however…(!)
Though Church teaching, in line with its Doctors, holds that God has no literal sex because he has no body (a prerequisite of sex), classical and scriptural understanding states that God should be referred to (in most contexts) as masculine by analogy. It justifies this by pointing to God’s relationship with the world as begetter of the world and revelation (i.e. analogous to an active instead of feminine receptive role in sexual intercourse).
Soooo….. because male anatomy is active and female anatomy is passive during sexual intercourse the RCC reasons God “should be referred to as masculine.” Uh-huh. Yet God has no body, they claim. I wonder why God can’t have a body?
Seems like a rip-off that He who is Everything and ominipotent can’t have a body. He walked with Enoch, Adam and Eve — was that a ghost-like shape? Light-being holograph projection? Doesn’t make sense. I think he has a body, an awesome one like the resurrected body of Christ which could walk thru walls and ascend into heaven bodily. Like the resurrected bodies we are going to get some day. Or are they saying Jesus turned into a neuter after the resurrection losing his male anatomy but keeping the wound marks on his hands and feet? Still doesn’t make sense.
Another annoying thing in the excerpt above is the supposed Roman Catholic teaching as fact that God’s relationship to the world is as begetter and this “naturally” led to a “should-ness” of referring to him as a male by analogy. But doesn’t it seem more natural to view the world as being “born”, not inseminated? Ancient people could have viewed God as a Mother who gave birth to the world and all our souls. Mothers and birth was all around and obvious to ancient people, but not necessarily insemination which is less obvious. Begetting / insemination still requires a womb and a woman. We need both genders in the Godhead or none at all. This logic that we “should” always refer to God as male is lame.
I believe Source, Being, the Absolute Deity, “the Force” (like the ancient Monad teaching) existed before Creation and split into God-the-Father and Mother-God in order that Creation could come into existence, in order that conscious sentient beings could come about — us “creatures” — to carry around in our skulls the most differentiated item in the physical Universe, the human brain.
Happy to see these lines in the Wikipedia genderless God article, because it seems to support my personal belief in a male-female Godhead:
Elohim is used to refer to both genders and is plural; it has been used to refer to both Goddess (in 1Ki 11:33), and God (1 Kings 11:31).
Genesis 1:26-27 says that the elohim were male and female, and humans were made in their image.
Glad this info is out there, and that theologians are at least opining about it, writing about it.
I dunno, Bishop James about the vast majority of Christian denominations viewing God as genderless, however. Maybe some of the denominational authorities are saying that on paper in the past 75 years as they deal with the feminist movement in theology and society. But in my observation, mainstream Christians still view Him as a Him, like the scriptures seem to say he is. Jews certainly still believe and teach God is masculine.
I have visited a lot of different mainstream churches this year so far with my family and have not encountered anyone that believes God is beyond gender. Only in the Mormon Church do you find those who believe there is both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.
Some Christian thinkers and theologians may talk/write about the genderless God, but I’ve not heard of it being taught from the pulpit on any kind of scale. Have you, +James? Would be pretty cool if it is being taught.
When the (horribly depressing) book The Shack made waves in Christian Protestant circles several years ago, the ruckus was because the author placed a black matronly woman in the role of Father-God. The discussion of a genderless god came up thanks to the book, but so many mainstream Christians were not able to give up the masculine divine God-the-Father. The author was just “playing pretend” when he made God female in an attempt to make a point that God can morph into any gender we need him to when healing or belief is needed.
The author presented brilliant reasoning for making God a black woman, explaining that God goes beyond gender, takes the form we “need” him/her to, is not limited only to the male gender. But most of the faithful just chocked it up to poetic license, concluding the author doesn’t really believe God is or can be a woman, just did it to make a point.
Genderless God is an awesome teaching, and I hope it can someday work in a practical sense such as in Sunday School. But it doesn’t appeal to everyday people and Sunday School kids. We like our archetypes. Ah, the pull of beautiful archetypes like the Bridegroom, the Bride, the Saving Hero, the Champion and the Underdog. Genderless is so…. LESS. <smile> and doesn’t penetrate into the human “story” as nicely as these gender archetypes we’ve been using for millennia. How can you ask kids to pray to an It. Even Jesus when asked to teach us how to pray knew that we needed gender for our deity and said we should call God, “Our Father” or “Dear Dad,” as others have translated Jesus’s use of the word Abba.
Perhaps a God with no masculine or feminine aspects is one we humans can’t relate to. But Source is surely genderless and can be understood when one is older and “initiated”. I don’t think you could explain to dozens of children staring at you with open faces in Sunday School class that even though the Bible says God is a male and even though the Church teaches the Trinity is 3 men, and even though every song we sing here in Sunday School has God as a Father-figure male, you girls can view Him/It as a female or genderless being.
From: Bishop James To: goddesschristians May 28, 2016
Subject: [GoddessChristians] Re: Gender of God, Do Majority of Christians view God as Genderless
There are people that study those things in depth. One very popular book is Stages of Faith by James W. Fowler III.
A quick summary of the stages he discusses is provided in Wikipedia:
Stage 0 – “Primal or Undifferentiated” faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
Stage 1 – “Intuitive-Projective” faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious, and marked by a relative fluidity of thought patterns. Religion is learned mainly through experiences, stories, images, and the people that one comes in contact with.
Stage 2 – “Mythic-Literal” faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. During this time metaphors and symbolic language are often misunderstood and are taken literally.
Stage 3 – “Synthetic-Conventional” faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to authority and the religious development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one’s beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
Stage 4 – “Individuative-Reflective” faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one’s own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one’s belief.
Stage 5 – “Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent “truth” that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
Stage 6 – “Universalizing” faith, or what some might call “enlightenment.” The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice.
Thanks for posting Fowler’s Stages of Faith, Bishop James. I have always loved these, and can definitely perceive them in my own life, childhood, teen years, etc. I can recognize the stages in my six children and others whose spiritual life I know intimately, but my anecdotal observation is not always in alignment with the ages Fowler gives. Some people / children / saints(!) seem to merge or completely skip stages. Sometimes he generalizes overmuch in his descriptions as his critics complain, but overall his stages are a nice guide and much can be learned.
Another criticism leveled at Fowler is that his stages of faith can lead to pride and condescension such as, “he’s stuck in an immature/childish stage,” or “I am more spiritually evolved in my faith than so-and-so.” Of course the truly “evolved” in Fowler’s final stage would not be prideful since they are “compassionate to all humans.” Thankfully we can sort of test ourselves for ego by asking, do I view every person with compassion? Do I view every person as a part of my personal inner-circle community (all completely equal brothers and sisters)?, do I think every person regardless of nationality, religion, birthplace, deserves to be heard, deserves perfect justice and caring?
As I think of the political speech and protesting of political speech in the news yesterday, another faith and spirituality aka compassion question comes to mind. Let us ask, “Am I trying to shut this person up?” I also try to ask this question when dealing with children and husbands from time to time! When we can’t listen to a person we disagree with and cannot answer back with words stating personal arguments and beliefs, things go down hill fast. Shouting and talking over top of people (a form of stifling speech) ensues, but at least that is still using words, the human gift. You and I might dearly wish the person would shut up — especially if they are yelling at you and not letting YOU be heard. Unfortunately, the next human urge is to get physical, to use our hands and feet to express ourselves when we think words have failed (or we are too lazy to keep trying words). Pushing and shoving come after yelling and screaming. Violence is the result of not letting others speak. (I’m not talking about “violence” used to defend yourself if someone else throws the first punch). A person with evolved spirituality in the highest stage according to Fowler (and this I agree with him) still loves/has compassion for the protester screaming in their face, still believes that person has a right to be heard, and does not feel the urge to get physical or violent. We are not all saints, so don’t feel bad if when watching the news lately you at least mentally feel the urge to get physical! Hah.
ANTHROPOMORPHISM – MY THOUGHTS ON
Anthropomorphism or personification of deities is considered spiritually “immature”. I totally agree that we should not project onto members of the Godhead human traits and character flaws like adultery, sex-goddess, vengeful jealousy, rape (Zeus), murder, etc. But I do not believe thinking God or members of the Godhead have a physical form as well as a spiritual form is immature.
Unfortunately, atheists use anthropomorphism as “proof” there is no God and as proof that religions are founded entirely upon human mental delusions. Indeed, in the Wikipedia article on Anthropomorphism (link below), atheist Stewart Guthrie is quoted claiming “all religions are anthropomorphisms”.
In Faces in the Clouds, anthropologist Stewart Guthrie proposes that all religions are anthropomorphisms that originate in the brain’s tendency to detect the presence or vestiges of other humans in natural phenomena.
ALL religions are poppy-cock because it’s really our mind playing tricks on us, see. We’re deluded, immature and un-evolved for believing (shock!) that God creating us in his image is at least partly literal.
Look at this line in the same article:
Anthropomorphism has cropped up as a Christian heresy … This often was based on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them”.
A Christian heresy? Call me a heretic, then. And I am not even a Biblical literalist. Either we have literal bodies or we do not. Because well, the physical Universe, Creation, is LITERAL. Sheesh. I suppose I am considered a heretic for believing we resemble our Creator in our spiritual, mental and physical forms. This aversion to God having a body and/or being physical reminds me of the Gnostic (with a capital G indicating historical Gnostics, not philosophical or spiritual gnostics) loathing of “fleshly” bodies as “corrupt”. The Christian church later adopted this doctrine of physical-is-dirty, hatred of all bodily functions. Bodies are yucky and dirty, God would not have a body. God would not get married, God would not touch an unclean female body in the act of procreation. But doesn’t this mean God can indeed create a rock too heavy for himself to lift? — he can create beings with bodies, yet he can not have one. Or don’t we believe God created us and have walked into the atheist’s use of anthropomorphism. Believing God cannot or does not have a body limits God, and theologians have always said God is limitless.
A heretic is someone who teaches heresy, not merely believes a heresy, and because of creating this GoddessChristians forum and our many Esoteric Mystery School lessons I have been accused of doing just that. Since I think God literally created human beings and the physical Universe, too, I am a heretic for yet another reason in the eyes of the mainstream church — or rather in the eyes of certain borderline-atheist church authorities and theologians. I believe most mainstream Christians are guilty of this “heresy” that Genesis 1:27 can be interpreted literally. Perhaps many theologians back themselves into a corner because they can’t get to Fowler’s 5th Stage of Faith… embracing the paradoxes and transcending them, embracing both…and instead of either…or. (paradoxes).
The Wikipedia says:
Anthropomorphic deities exhibited human qualities such as beauty, wisdom, and power, and sometimes human weaknesses such as greed, hatred, jealousy, and uncontrollable anger. Greek deities such as Zeus and Apollo often were depicted in human form exhibiting both commendable and despicable human traits.
From the perspective of adherents to religions in which humans were created in the form of the divine, the phenomenon may be considered theomorphism, or the giving of divine qualities to humans.
I am sure I am an anthropotheist, and possibly a theomorphist also since I believe in Theosis.
Anthropomorphism should not be confused with connecting to archetypes. Jung discovered the universal archetypes in human consciousness and subconsciousness. The archetypal realm is different from simply personifying supernatural beings. When one connects with an archetype, or a divine being, and sees them in human form, they are not necessarily deluded or “falling for” anthropomorphism. That is what critics say of mystical experiences and why Thomas Aquinas wanted so badly to have one himself, refusing during his long career to criticize such visions/experiences. St. Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, Mary saw Gabriel in human-like form, and we are specifically and clearly told that humans look like the Creator-God(s), are made exactly “in his image.” Not “like” his image, or similar to his image, or “after a likeness of” his image, but IN his image, like a cast iron mold.
Supernatural means beyond and above natural, but it does not mean exempt from nor excluded from the natural physical realm. Roman Catholic doctrine teaches on one hand that Jesus was really God-the-Father who took on physical form, “made” himself a body. On the other-hand Roman Catholicism teaches the Trinity that God “sent” his son. The Jesuits love the Jesus-is-really-Father-God-in-the-flesh doctrine and I have often pondered it. There seems to be truth in both. “I and the Father are One,” said Jesus. It’s a paradox, but it’s okay. We can handle it.
I worry that anthropomorphism and personification are used incorrectly to judge someone’s level of spiritual development. Of course history and our contemporary world reveal countless cases of con artists claiming they’ve seen/heard God, Jesus, Mary, Mohammed etc and committing crimes from incest and rape all the way to genocide based on their false “visions”. That is the dark side of anthropomorphism, really anthropotheism. It is a form of blasphemy to project anthropomorphic things like uncontrolled sexual lust, or murderousness onto God. That negative kind of anthropomorphism is spiritually immature also, but it’s primarily blasphemy, whereas believing God created us in his image is not immature. Nor is such belief denying God also has a transcendent, beyond-gender state of Being.
Like so many things, I believe this argument is a “both…and,” not an “either…or”. We do not have to buy into these (borderline atheistic) statements:
Either God has a human-like form OR he has a completely inhuman abstract form.
Either God has a body OR he does not
Both are true, that is the paradox we encounter and embrace as described in Fowler’s later stages of faith.
God has BOTH a human-like form when he/she/it chooses to AND an abstract ultimate unmanifest Source “form”
God has a body AND does not have a body
Paradoxes are a pain in the neck, but they are so cool when “both ends of the stick” can be mentally grasped — by pushing the mental rational self in his chair and allowing the spiritual self to contribute equally to our “reasoning” process. Or you could just say by transcending the intellect and embracing the paradoxical. It’s gut-level and spirit level “gnowing”, spelled with the g of gnosis.
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Margaret Starbird writes:
Father Matthew Fox, author of “Original Blessings” and “The Coming of the Cosmic Christ,” offers what I think is “ground zero” for the understanding of “God”— in suggesting that the Divine “indwells” creation and is not separate from it. He calls his theory “Panentheism” (not to be confused with “Pantheism.” I embrace this idea of the Divine Presence in everything: “Take off your shoes, for this is holy ground.” “Practicing the Presence of God” acknowledges that all ground is holy ground, all that is, is Sacred. An Old English spelling of God—“Godde”—seems to reconcile “god” and “goddess” making the question of gender irrelevant. Remember the Jewish “take” is that “God” is beyond all understanding, beyond all imaging.
In my “Goddess in the Gospels” I include discussion of a quote from Job: “Perish the night when it was proclaimed, the child is a boy.” Yet that is a fundamental message of the Christian era: the Child was male. This has led to the “High Christology” that places the human Jesus on a throne in heaven to be worshipped alongside his heavenly Father—to the exclusion of the “Sacred Feminine” that is the “other face of God. As I’ve discussed many times, this adulation of the masculine, stripped of its feminine partner, is playing out now all over the world: the “masculine principle” (solar/666) unleashed without its mitigating “feminine” (lunar/1080) culminates in materialism, hedonism and violence. “When the sun always shines, theres a desert below.” We’re watching the adulation of the masculine principle play out to its bitter end across our planet—
This, in a nutshell, is the whole meaning to the Book of Revelation. The wars and rumors of wars end with the “Marriage of the Lamb” (Rev. 21-22) which causes streams of water to flow from the throne of God….”for the healing of the nations.” As Carl Jung so poignantly insisted, one cannot envision Jesus embracing a church building full of people. He needs to embrace a woman who represents the Community as Bride. In the Christian Gospels, that woman is Mary Magdalene.