Inclusive language has been a prominent thought in my mind these past months and I have begun to notice every masculine word that is a part of worship or theological writings: Lord, kingdom, son of Man, Father, He. It is astonishing to me how normalized the masculine view of God is part of the structure of our religious context, let alone society. I had known these concepts before seminary but studying the actual Greek as well as reading the female oppression ridden Hebrew Bible has sparked a new discovery of the depth of how detrimental the view of a male God is for all people and how intrenched these values are in Western society.
herchurch is a refreshing break from male exclusive language; albiet, the language is directly to the other extreme with Goddess imagery. While I think that the best approach is to incorporate both views of God with each other or better yet, use nongender specific language, the embracing of female imagery is quite necessary to empower and give respite for females in the church.
I was able to hear the keynote of the ecofeminist liberation theologian Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung. This woman is an intelligent, creative, and eloquent speaker with great humor. My favorite quote of her speech was this: "A few people have questioned me about my religion by asking if I'm married to Jesus and sleeping with Buddha. I tell them that it's not like that--it's more like a threesome!" :)
|Keynote speaker Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung|
Through this grasping of the perseverence of the female divine found in nature, Dr. Kyung recognized that there was no longer a need to fight the patriarchal constructs but instead celebrate the special gifts of being female. This also parallels with the concept that we need to have an intimate relationship between us and the earth; within ecofeminism, women embrace the deep connection between sexuality and spirituality. This is a connection that is long been divided in Western culture; the extremes of Puritans vs. Pornographers is a very relevant subject in the US today.
I feel refreshed and remember all of the wonderful women whose shoulders I stand on today. There is so much hunger, tired feet, bruises, and tears that make it possible for me to smile while I bask in the appreciation of the feminine divine.
|Anja, Pastor Tita, Dr. Kyung, me, and Chelsea|
I do not have the answers and these questions that I have certainly do not keep me from getting the necessary readings and papers done. But it sure does add some questions about what to do with all of this new theological knowledge in my brain (which will keep amounting and getting more complex) and how that fits into my call to support people on their journeys in the modern world. People have a spiritual need but sometimes this need is not even recognized within a person's self. When it is possible to thrive financially, emotionally, and socially without thinking about God and the meaning of life/death, how does one realize that there is a void? I feel the void; I hear the empty space being filled up when I sing a song in worship, or when I connect with someone in a hug. The gift I have to give is love, and I know that it does not come from me but from God's compassion for all humankind. Another gift I have is the modern lens I bring into the church; I'm just not sure about how my context of living in the modern world can work with the historical and theological background just yet.
|Panel of a 64 foot tall mural that will be placed on the tower of herchurch|