|Venus of Willendorf|
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - William Shakespeare
Jesus? Mohammed? Goddess? All roses to my way of thinking.
There is a place I call Euclidea. Some call it Heaven, Janna, Nirvana, Shangri-la or many other names. It is a place of transcendence, so I’m not certain it can called a ‘place’ at all. And the only word I have for it is Divine. It is Infinity. And in that ‘place’ I find a Presence I call God, though my God is also known by many names.
And God breathed.
Ruah was of God, by God, and for God. And all that follows will be the same.
Now Ruah was infinitesimally small, and hotter than most minds can imagine. And all things that people can see, touch, feel, hear, and smell will come from it, including those very senses and even ourselves. Ruah was blessed with its own divinity. Everything that is my God was contained in that less-than-a-speck. It was a singularity.
Divine Law suggests things go forth and multiply. Ruah experienced a quantum flux, and inflated to a size that could be held in the palm of your hand. And all that happened quicker than the speed of light. Time, space, and matter (oh my!) emerged at a velocity so intense that everything in it was homogeneous. So it was that our Universe was made. And God found it good.
God gazed upon the Universe and said, “Change!”. And in a matter of minutes, the symmetry existing briefly in the Oneness was broken as Nature began her long journey into the space that had been created. And space grew with it. All sorts of forces and subatomic particles and energy fragments appeared to build what we could recognize as the world we observe. It expanded evenly in all directions as waves of Divine potential.
The ways of Evolution are at least as mysterious to me as Divine ways. And both are sacred to me, even if both leave me in a state of perpetual confusion. Change is inevitable and science is bravely figuring out the material reasons for it. Theologians are endlessly discussing the Divine. But this is my story and both science and religion is Truth to me, even if it didn’t happen the way I think. Carl Sagan called us star stuff, and I believe him.
The Universe came to be nearly 14 billion years ago. Our solar system didn’t even begin to form until the Universe had been doing its business for 9 billion years. Our planet emerged from our solar system that formed around our sun that was the result of one of those pillars of clouds and fire spoken of in Exodus 14:21. It is all a pattern, a Pascal Mystery, if you will. Miracles are the norm.
I like to believe that there was a time on earth, perhaps during what we call the Stone Age. The planet still had Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, and homo sapiens were appearing. And these cousins mingled as our DNA suggests. Small populations and cold weather might explain how the first two went extinct. But there they all were, and they probably got along, except maybe when they were hungry. And Earth was at relative humanoid peace. I call all that the Garden.
Some theories have it that women were considered magic or holy back then. Women represented fertility because any new babies came from them. That exalted the position and allowed woman to be in charge. And then, the males figured out that they had a hand (sperm) in procreation. With that knowledge, the larger males took over and Might controlled in matters of governance. Humans have warred ever since, and our Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons relations went extinct.
There is no evidence to prove my theory, but the oldest discovered image of a human form is called the Woman of Willendorf. That figurine was fashioned at least 25,000 years before the common era. In fact, over a hundred female forms have been found from the general time period. I want to believe that peace is possible and may have ruled the earth at least once!
The bible was written long after that. It began as oral history. The stories in my bible are almost exclusively written by men. I have a mental asterisk I use when reading it, and don’t take pronouns or the myths seriously as real things. (I do believe the point of them, though!) My God has no gender. And my modern bible tells me I need to understand Sacred History as opposed to history in any other sense.
For me, the real story begins with Exodus. I can imagine a group of people who shared common enough language and collectively decided that being a slave was no good. After the escape, they spent considerable nights in the desert sitting around camp fires sharing stories of floods and uncles named Abraham. They became Israelites by the unification of the group. A myth grew out of that. (All of us have myths!) And I can hear the murmuring because at least they were provided food as slaves. I tend to murmur a lot myself!
The creation stories didn’t even rate sacred history status (or were even told) until the Israelites were conquered by a people who had their own story of it. And babies being found in rivers is a narrative in many cultures.
To me, the entire Catholic bible is one story. I can’t quote chapter and verse from it unless I look it up. Besides, there are far too many renditions of it and publications of it by other denominations for me to accept any modern versions as a definitive authority. And should we ever find an original, I’d still have that asterisk pop up.
I don’t want to knock the bible at all. It is sacred to me. It just isn’t all there is, or all that matters to me.
Yes, I believe. And I believe many atrocities are carried out in his name. He was perhaps the best editor of Jewish scripture there ever was. As to the rest of his story, I’ll leave that in a wave of Divine potential. But I do believe he lived doing the things he taught. And his teachings are most excellent.
Thousands upon thousands of books and poems and documents and songs have been written about God, Jesus, and my church. I have poured through hundreds of them. I’m often inspired by them, but I rarely speak of religion to anybody besides the religious of my community.
Probably my first lesson was a song I learned as a child. “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. ... and we pray that our unity will one day be restored!” I’ve been singing and believing that for decades. Our creed says that we believe in one God. I do. My Baltimore Catechism taught me that God made all things. Okay, I can handle that!
The Book of Amos in my Old Testament is the shortest book (yes!) found it that part. And, it was the first writing. Amos warns the Israelites that God is the ruler of all nations. That makes sense to me considering my God made everything! Heck, I was about 12 before I even knew other religions existed. And I have to say the Legion of Decency was issuing warnings about all sorts of things, other religions included. But even as an adolescent I had lived long enough to know their propaganda was silly and I ignored them.
Jesus frequented the “other” and ministered to them without checking credentials. The woman at the well was not Jewish. Nor was the woman who taught him that his words were for everyone. Mary Magdalene was Jewish, but she was also a full disciple whose history got sullied by the men who wrote down stories about Jesus. (I murmur a lot, out loud and in front of clerics of my faith.)
The Magisterium of the Catholic Church, ("the Church's divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion") is structured in such a way that, having taught Catechism, I am a part of. But truthfully, I do not speak for the church. I speak only for me, but I am divinely appointed! So I say to you: it is written, but I say ... I find that voices coming from the pulpit hardly ever preach what comes from Rome. Unless it’s negative things around sex. I don’t seek to recruit you, I just want to say my piece.
Riches abound from Rome in the form of documents prepared by various commissions and such. The Pontifical Biblical Commission wrote a report in 1976 that found no evidence in scripture to preclude women from the priesthood. The same body also recommends we have respect for other points of view as Wisdom could be found there, too. There is even a body dedicated to Inter-faith Dialogue. Beautiful words are issued by them but it seems they are largely ignored by the faithful. I read them. Sometimes I feel as Ezekiel eating the scrolls. I know there are others ready for a new world.
I actually love my church. I am grateful to it for all my education - book-wise and other. I am grateful for the many kind souls there who have helped me in very many ways. I am grateful that I’ve learned to “be not afraid.” My heart is filled with love of that body. For better or worse, until death do we part, I am and will always be a Roman Catholic.
As to my confused condition, I rely on words from Henri Nouwen who advised me to let mystery be mystery. I am comfortable with not knowing! And for my deepest passion, environmentalism, I turn to Julian of Norwich who wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Peace be to you! May you be as satisfied in your story as I am in mine! I am sad that fundamentalists have hijacked your beliefs for political gain. And how such brutality arose out of such beautiful writings, I’ll never know. My church suffered the Spanish Inquisition. Powerful metaphors for the tyranny of Might!
May you reclaim your word and may your Truth merge with my own.
Blessed be, my friends!
My wish is for all women to come together and find men who’ve seen their way out of misogyny. We could all work together to get back to homeostasis. I think the cake is the same, we just ice it differently.
An excerpt from the upcoming Girl God Anthology: Jesus, Muhammad and The Goddess.