Thursday, April 12, 2007

heresy

So last night I prayed to Mother God in my head.
Actually, I called Her (gulp) Mommy.
To be honest, it felt awfully, awfully good. Like, suddenly, this light turned on in my head. I could look to God to tell me how to be a mother.
Not that a masculine pronoun should have stood in the way of God teaching me to parent. But to be honest, it kind of did, conceptually. And not that I wasn't asking God for help. But He didn't seem--available, somehow. Or (this is going to sound really bad) qualified.

So, I've been thinking a lot about heresy. I mean, if you're edging on the border of it, you think about it some.

Mostly, for me, heresy means What People Will Think. I have lots of little conversations in my head about WPWT. Especially when I'm putting my private thoughts out on a publicblog. (What a great idea, Heather!)
Ms. A stands in for all my non-Christian friends. She's wondering: what's the big deal, anyway? Why shouldn't you call God Mom? And why the heck would you stay in a faith that has problems with it?
Miss B. stands in for all of my more conservative Christian friends. She thinks it's a little suspect that I go to a church that not only ordains women, but used to have a woman as a head pastor. She has been worried about me, but never so much until now. The Bible never uses a feminine pronoun for God. Jesus doesn't call God Mother. So how can I? The Bible is the basis for our faith. If we don't take it seriously, we'll all end up shaving our heads and wearing purple robes. Or worse, spandex!

And sometimes I myself am Ms. A or Miss B. And to be honest, Dyami falls more in the Miss B category. (Though he's fine with ordained women).

When I was little, taking dance, I took both jazz and ballet. For years, I liked jazz best, but at about 12, I started taking ballet more seriously, and got really into it. So much so that in later years, when I tried taking jazz classes, I no longer could get the hang of the steps.
Bear with me: this actually relates.
See, ballet is codified. It's a dance that relies heavily on tradition. So the steps in ballet aren't really much different then the ones performed in the 18th century, in Russia. They even have the same names.
Whereas jazz kind of morphs. It owes a lot to ballet, but more to musical theater and Bob Fosse. And nowadays, probably even more to hip-hop. So the jazz I danced to Paula Abdul (so nasty) in the eighties would look kind of ridiculous now. (So would some of my costumes: bright orange taffeta with polka dots!)

Christianity is like ballet. It relies on authority. The Bible, of course. But also tradition, to help us interpret documents that stand at a cultural, temporal, and lingual remove of thousands of years. And the authority of our church leaders. And also social authority--the authority and opinions of our friends and families (and the inner voices that stand in for them).

In American culture, authority is made to be questioned (or sued). Not so much in Christianity. See, none of us wants to question so much that the dance we're doing bears no relation to the one danced by Jesus. Or Paul. (Or Aquinas or Luther or Wesley)

It's a fine line.

Now, the next issue all this raises (I'm already far out on a limb here, so I might as well inch further over and really risk pissing everyone off) is homosexuality. What gives with Christians getting so worked up about it? And if you start questioning the treatment or place of women, questioning the place of gays follows not too long after.
'Cause a lot of me really agrees with current popular opionion: it really sucks that gays seen as sinful for something that they don't choose (I don't think they do) and is such an integral part of their identity. And to not be accepted in church? To be told you are sinful just for being something?
See, this is where the Bible really gets us into trouble, because unlike with women, there isn't a lot of wiggle room. No depictions of gays that are positive. No gray areas, or problems with translations. No interpretive loopholes.
I heard a pastor of a Presbyterian church in San Francisco speak about this topic. His church has a lot of gay members (big surprise), and he embraces them, and respects them, and I believe they serve in leadership, but he tells them that, much as he'd like to think differently, he does not think it's a lifestyle condoned by God. Because it just ain't in the Bible.

This pains me, too. Because if this whole femininity problem bothers me, being gay and trying to find your place in the church must just be unbearable.
But what are the alternatives? Chuck the Bible and not be Christians anymore? Chuck our (admittedly nuanced) dependence on its authority?
Oh, dear Lord. Help us to understand.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I'm just now reading the "god" posts. When you came over and chatted on parts of this topic, I didn't realize it was so intense for you. I get it. I've been there. How are you feeling about all this now?