Thursday, September 3, 2009

Better than God. Really?

God created both women and men in his image. The fact that God is relational, encompassing both the masculine and the feminine, is an unchanging fact that the Church keeps needing to rediscover. When a patriarchal culture reads Genesis 1:27, it notices the “male” and ignores “and female” or somehow discounts it. Every culture, even one as “advanced” and especially one as sophisticated as ours, has this tendency. Our worship of Progress is our projection of human qualities onto God. How could God, already perfect and eternally outside human history and time, get better?

Indulgences and church government.
The “reformation” to which the church is committed is literally that: re-forming, i.e. rediscovering the intent of the structures at the time the Church adopted them. A church hierarchy, developed to serve those inside and outside of the church, instead became a much coveted source of power and prestige, purchasable by the Borgias and their sort, and highly dependent on revenue from the marketplace of guilty souls. While there are doubtless church structures more suited to the Information Age than house churches and itinerant apostles, they are not in any way “better” or an “improvement” over Acts. “Change” is a fact, but Progress is often an illusion.

Science and astronomy.
Some Christians still persist in a belief in a Creation week comprising a sequence of 7 days of 24 hours duration—forgetting that there was no sun until the fourth day, and thus no way that a “24 hour day” had any meaning on days one, two and three. But this error, as obvious as it is trivial, shouldn’t obscure the grander fact the God is the Creator, whatever exact means he chose to use. I just read that Stephen Hawking is still refining the “Big Bang” theory, so who knows when we will find out exactly how God did it? (I can wait ‘til Heaven, but that’s just me.)

Women in the church and elsewhere.
I will grant that, in many obvious ways, the status of women has improved, particularly in cultures influenced by Judaism and Christianity. But this is not a continuous line: even many conservative scholars believe the early church had women leaders. During the era of persecution, the bishop was often the first to be martyred, so moving away from women as bishops saved women’s lives—until the exclusion became dogma, and the many women leaders in the Bible (Deborah, Miriam, Phoebe) and the early church were forgotten. It was NOT the selfstyled “liberal” and “progressive” mainline Protestants who first re-discovered this—it was the lower class, much despised Pentecostals and Salvationists. For example, the Church of the Foursquare Gospel was founded by a woman, and led by her for many years. But in the larger culture, are women really that safe? A female living inside another female has no protection at all. Sexual assault is widespread and devastating. There are few places where you can leave your doors
unlocked any more. Is that progress for women? Some of what we name “progress” has been based on devaluing the precious task of childrearing, and both men and women suffer for our arrogance in valuing tasks based on the market value of the service when performed outside the home. And we still haven’t figured out a way to allow fathers to breastfeed!!

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