Monday, June 10, 2013
Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom
She is the light that shines forth from everlasting light,
the flawless mirror of the dynamism of God
and the perfect image of the Holy One’s goodness.
Though alone of Her kind, She can do all things;
though unchanging, She renews all things;
generation after generation She enters into holy souls
and makes them friends of God and prophets,
for God loves the one
who finds a home in Wisdom [Sophia].
She is more beautiful than the sun
and more magnificent than all the stars in the sky.
When compared with daylight,
She excels in every way,
for the day always gives way to night,
but Wisdom [Sophia] never gives way to evil.
She stretches forth Her power
form one end of the earth to the other
and gently puts all things in their proper place.
(Wisdom of Solomon 7:26-8:1, The Inclusive Bible)
I would have stopped doodling mermaids and fallen off the worn oak pew in awed wonder had someone read me these verses as a child growing up in a small town Southern Baptist Church. Especially if they had invoked the name of Sophia (Greek for Wisdom). Desperate to see myself reflected in my religion, I longed for someone to look beneath the patriarchal doctrine and dogma and show me that I was a part of the grand epic woven in the pages of the Bible. Someone to assure me that God wasn’t the exclusively masculine being described from every pulpit I’d encountered in my young life.
Before getting to the heart of the book which uses Sophia as the voice of sacred wisdom to show how yoga can help us explore an unfiltered divinity, I quantify the often unrecognized need for a feminine face of God. Citing a linguistic analysis I conducted of biblical pronouns which shows the schewed perspective religion presents us with, I present the following findings:
Yoga’s power to heal deep inner divides has been particularly helpful to me. As a woman, I have tried to live out my faith in a Christian tradition in which even the most enlightened of Christian bodies are building their communities on the foundation of a text which was translated by men for a society which validated men’s roles. Women’s roles have been relegated to the sidebars of history, to the margins of the Biblical stories. I say that not to diminish the authority of the Bible, but to put its journey from God’s unblemished wellspring of wisdom into the book that sits in our church pews today into perspective. This assertion may sound subjective, but let’s look at a simple linguistic analysis of the Bible’s New International Version, often cited as the most popular translation.
Appearance of the word (NIV):
Mother: 312 Her: 1,595 Hers: 46
Father: 1,374 Him: 4,573 His: 5,386
More than seventy-five percent of all references to parental roles are paternal, rather than maternal. Similarly, in a broader context, the male pronoun “him” is used nearly three times as often as its female counterpart “her.” In the most staggering contrast, when the concept of possession is brought into the picture, “hers” is used a mere forty-six times in the entire Bible. This includes forms of the word like “herself,” while “his”—the equivalent male possessive form and its variations—is used 5,386 times. Linguistically speaking, more than ninety-nine percent of the Bible’s ownership is rooted in masculine language, thus in masculine imagery. For every one time we read about something being “hers” in the Bible, we will read 117 references to “his” possessions, “his” attributes, “his” desires—in essence, to “his” story (also known as “history”).
How much more difficult does that language make it for women to own their own faith?
Excerpt from: Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom by Monette Chilson—out this month from Bright Sky Press