On mental constructs:
Old Wrathful pictured above typifies the predominant religious mental construct of the masculine god of patriarchal order.
The Pieta on the right suggests to me a more accurate and beautiful rendition of the Divine.
That which gives right-wing social conservatives the fuel for self-righteous anger is an unconscious assumption that they are only expressing the same judgmental feelings of the unseen punitive Jehovah: “You and me, ain’t that right Lord?”
That Old Wrathful is the God they see, reverence and obey in their hearts is obvious.
However, most living things are – in one form or another – birthed by a female. In the case of human beings, males do not conceive a child, do not carry an unborn within their bodies and do not birth human beings.
The big fat divine male patriarch can only do one thing. No matter that he talks about it all the time and elevates his contribution to a point of silliness, all he can do is contribute his seed.
The female does the rest.
So I ask you honestly, who owns creation?
If you were all gaga about your invisible friend who can’t tolerate sin with any degree of allowance and who is obsessed with human sexuality, i.e. “seed dispensing,” how gaga or shamed would you be if you knew that all your theological prancing around was being observed invisibly by the female portrayed in the sculpture and who’s Divine Ancestor had to have birthed the Old Wrathful Male?
How would you act and speak if you knew that Heavenly Mother – the real thing and not the wife of Jehovah – was watching you and listening to you? Let me continue by asking that you describe to yourself (and for your own understanding) the spiritual image that comes to mind when you think of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Ghost and – but not least – Mother in Heaven.
Is your image of God the Father defined by the doctrine and theology of your particular religion? Is your image of Jesus that defined by fundamental Christian theology? If you pray to Jesus Christ, do you pray to the standard Christian theological definition of the Savior of the World, the Redeemer, the He-Who-Accomplished-the-Atonement?
And how – if you carry such an image – do you perceive Heavenly Mother; the Goddess?
Many ancient pagan religions encouraged prayer to statues. Christianity has a tradition of bowing and praying to statuary images of Jesus, Mary and the Saints. Wouldn’t it be interesting to discover whether we are offering prayers to internally-imagined anthropomorphic divine images, or merely offering mental oblations to the cosmos? Or might we reverence our selves as well as the Divine in a manner entirely different?
If you had achieved a genuine and spiritually sensed relationship with the higher power how would you respond to the following portrayals if they did not fit what you already possessed in your experience?
There is the old idea of God as a masculine Boss of the Universe no matter how respectfully and reverentially that notion is expressed.
There is the old idea that God is a kindly, and benevolently divine version of a Caesar?
There is the old idea that God is the male head of a divinely created and eternal Patriarchal Order that relegates every female to a secondary role in a forever of existence?
Based on a relationship with the old ideas you have already accepted could you not then by your own perception understand that the Divine with whom you commune is in fact Old Wrathful?
How about a new challenge to your honesty about belief? Could you consider that the higher power with whom you have intimate and personal communion is also the Divine Author of Compassion. Might the ultimate way of human interaction with the Divine not be with a God of commandments, obedience and punishment? Could you easily accept the idea that the God you have yet to really know or understand is focused entirely on our loving one another and not focused on our condemnation of anyone?
The adolescent religion of my birth was presented to me as a life based on a continuous pattern of spiritual prompting. The Mormonism that informed my culture came into being in the world of 19th-century American religious literalism. It was based on experiences that bore in their very existence widely-accepted assumptions as to the definitions and meanings of spiritual promptings – revelation, as it were.
The Father and Son described by Joseph Smith in his Vision were entirely consistent with the fundamentalist bible-based definitions of who God is. In addition, there was a naïve assumption as to how that male patriarchal god communicates with man. As I was taught, when God the Father speaks, such communication includes an investiture of authority to those “called” to speak to the rest of us on His Divine behalf. Such became his middle men to the rest of the mortals.
It is necessary to discover, understand and acknowledge one’s own personal cosmic vision and acknowledge the assumptions upon which definitions and constructions of both reality and the spiritual world are created.
We create them all by ourselves. Others do not create them for us except to the degree that we let someone else’s constructs become our constructs.
In very powerful but subconscious ways, many believers practice their religion with an internal image that they “know” exists. This internal image that they have never actually seen exists in their perception for one principal reason. Religious authorities or friends and family whom they esteem have witnessed to them that they “know” God exists as defined in the traditional dogmatic ways of testimony and authority.
In the same fashion, many believers “know” of the reality; where the patriarchal god “is,”; where Jesus Christ “is,”; and where Satan “is” and “works” and “wants to rule.” For many Christians, that spirit world exists in some other dimension and can only interact with our own world in supernatural ways.
When we get to the supernatural in a religious sense, honesty requires some sort of consistency to assumptions about that realm. Satan is a god or godlike and – as is the Father – is everywhere omnipresent and forever asserting his contrary will. Satan becomes the direct opposite and yet needful counter to the goodness and righteous-requiring Commander-God. Satan is a supernatural reality who tempts mortals to both “sins” of commission and of omission.
Does it not seem that most believers then have difficulty with the psychology of evil and the idea that Satan does not have to be supernatural to function more as a conceptual part evil’s existence? Satan represents among other things the natural mortal tendency to self-focused, self-interested acts that disregard the good of anyone else. In this regard concepts of laziness, selfishness, arrogance and intolerance, for example, represent tendencies that can easily be related to evil and its impact on actions.
Such a circumstance suggests that if not addressed with the growing maturity of critical thinking, the childish state could grasp us for a lifetime.
Murder of Hypatia by a mob of Christian monks of Bishop Cyril of Alexandria
Many of us, as Dr. Marcus Borg has written, have never gotten away from our pre-critical naiveté that still forms our internal Imaginative spiritual reality.
Stuck in that 19th-Century place.
Christian fundamentalists remain even today driven by hundreds of years of theological guesswork that is more obviously flawed and inadequate than it was when the early “fathers” concocted imaginary scenarios in which mortals suffered an imaginary “fall” and from that moment had need of being redeemed by a Divine savior. It was all made up no matter how many friends, family and religious authorities presented otherwise.
Older believers continue to be astonished that more of their own children are willing to step into an adult life absent the childish religious thinking of their parents. Many childish adults are mortified that the happy ending anticipated for themselves and their children because of all that obedience and performance is not coming to pass.
The Old Time Religion does not work – principally because all those old assumptions that were never valid are now seriously impeding societal movement toward social justice and genuine compassionate concern for each other.
The old imperial and monarchical imaginary of heaven no longer describes any spiritual reality that which more and more human beings are accepting. The opposite is true. Heaven as portrayed by literalist Christians has become an ideal place where Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny might be found running things.
It’s time to stop climbing and clamoring all over that medieval statue of Jesus and instead look in the direction in which Jesus was always pointing a compassionate divinity whose kingdom has always thrived and pulsed within ourselves … which is what he said.
Most importantly, it is long past time for us to grow-up. It is time that adults reject the childish idea of patriarchy, a morally corrupt fraud that seriously harms every society in which it festers.
It’s time to step out of the shallow end of the religion pool.