January 14th, 2009

Generic Meditation Issues:God's Feminine Side

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness....So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them... Genesis 1: 26a, 27 KJV

"J,"  the "Judean." the YHWHist, probably a scribe in the court of Solomon, was the probable writer of great sections of Gensis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, and the Books of Samuel.  These were once a single text, a mixture of history, legend, and story-telling.  This may have been the first great prose masterpiece* and it became a significant part of the Torah, the Old Testament, and the Judeo-Christian tradition,  It did not contain the verses quoted above, instead it contained the story of Adam's rib in which the creation of Eve is an afterthought--a kind of postscript to the creation story.  That was all Semitic, Greco-Roman, European, and Anglo American societies needed to provide religious justification for sex-roles, sexual discrimination, and sexual abuse.

I wish "E's"** interpretation of the creation of human beings had prevailed (as his very different version of the Ten Commandments did --for the "original" ten see Exodus 34:14-26 given to us by "J").
Perhaps it could have saved monotheism from being the patriarchal, hierarchical, violent theology that it continues to be to the present day. despite Jesus, despite the Catholic and Sufi mystics, despite Ahmadi Islam and the existence of various pacifist and peace oriented groups within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Male mystics express their love for God in very much the same way as a lovesick man express love for a woman.  Which, if God were male, would seem perverse to any orthodox member of an Abrahamic faith.  "On a dark night" (Dark night of the Soul) is only the most famous of many poems and songs which seem to be expressing love for a person of the opposite sex.  Indeed the long essay of St John of the Cross  which "explains" his poem was no doubt also intended to save him from the Inquisition and, possibly from suspicion of homosexuality.  Indeed, the usual Christian interpretation of the Song of Solomon is that this is an allegory about the love of Christ for his Church--Christ being the male and the Church the female.

Perhaps the gender problem of God was felicitous.  Perhaps it was one of the factors that led mystics to conclude that God can not be known intellectually nor empirically.  No human attributes, no human words, can be used to describe God.  Therefore one can only approach in Silence and we may only expect Her/Him/It to answer us in silence--not with silence, just in silence.

* according to Richard Elliott Friedman. The Hidden Book in the Bible.
** because he or she addresses God as Elohim rather than YHWH, probably an Isrealite (after the separation of Isreal from Judea after the death of Solomon.