[percy-l] God's Gender and Ham Sandwiches

Mike Frentz mfrentz at bbn.com
Thu Aug 14 17:47:03 EDT 2003

Hi Karey,

A few minor observations on what you wrote:

>As humans we anthropomorphize God.  It's the only way we can get our minds 
>around God.  Both versions (male and female views) are inadequate 
>reflections of God, who transcends anything we can conceptualize or 
>imagine.  In Jewish tradition, to say that God is only male and not female 
>is blasphemy because it is limiting God.

Amen.  I know of people who are aetheists, sadly, because they can't deal 
with the symbolism of a male God, but I also agree entirely with Steve's 
characterization that with respect to God, we are all female.  It doesn't 
bother me at all to be spiritually female, that is the role of Church (and 
no, Jim, I'm not a homophobe that I know of.. )

>Jesus was male because in the culture he lived in, he could do nothing as 
>female.  Whatever other reasons theologians might have hypothesized or 
>discovered for Jesus being a male, the fact remains that he HAD to be a 
>male to do anything in his time and culture.  Remember, theology, 
>religion, etc., has been taught and propagated by men only (and even 
>recently, still primarily) in a patriarchal culture for centuries.

Check out who are the majority of daily communicants (especially in Europe, 
so I'm told).  It is the mother who has traditionally taught and propagated 
religion in the family.  Maybe you're implicitly "dissing" the lack of a 
paying position, as is common in "feminist" thinking, but the role of 
mother is by far the most important job in stabilizing/maintaining any 
culture.  I believe (literally) that men would still be hitting each other 
with rocks (rather than blowing each other up with missiles..) if it 
weren't for the *critical* socializing effect of females on a culture.  A 
exclusively male culture would not survive a single generation by my take 
(lack of reproductive capability being totally irrelevant..).

>And I firmly believe not only should we not judge, but we accomplish 
>nothing (only harm) by judging.  People are where they are, and the only 
>thing that changes them is life.  Often we may think we are judging by a 
>higher authority - the church's or God's laws - but the church is fallible 
>human institution (whatever Percy's opinion on the matter was), and who 
>has infallible insight into the mind of God?

The "judging" arguments being presented in this whole series of emails, I 
believe are more semantically overloaded than any word could possibly 
bear.  Truth is, by virtue of our being intelligent creatures, we make 
judgments continually about *everything*.  No one could function without 
making implicit decisions in terms of what is good, what is bad, what is 
food, what is poison, etc.  There is nothing wrong with this type of 
judgment -- it would be wrong *not* to do this natural thing; the actions 
taken as a result of it are something else.  That is where love comes into 
play, and here you are totally right.

Your second statement shocks me (because I recall that you are 
Catholic).  The Church may be run by fallible human beings, but if it were 
truly a human institution, we all would be truly Lost in the Cosmos (to the 
point where *no one* would be able to write about it).  Being raised in 
American Protestant culture does make one think by default that all is 
relative, and that the Church was apostate through all of those centuries 
before 1500, but once you discover that there is an unbroken line of 
writings dating back to Christ which are unerringly consistent in their 
basic teachings (e.g. the Early Fathers writings, pardon my genderality) -- 
catholic in time as well as space, it's kind of hard to seriously argue 
that it is "only human".  It has an amazing record for consistency.  The 
Church may be fallible in its execution, but *not* in its fundamental 
beliefs.  It is guided by the Holy Spirit.  Christianity is not a "religion 
of the Book" (sola Scriptura sadly misbegotten), it is a religion of the 
Spirit.  The answer to your question is "the Church" -- Christ never left 
us to fend for ourselves.


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