When one starts a blog, their first post ought to be something noble, snazzy, and eye-catching. The writer is setting their image, revealing their vision, and throwing out a sample to see if anyone wants to follow them. It’s nerve-wracking I tell you!
I decided my first post should probably be something uncontroversial. But what fun is that? If it’s not controversial, it’s probably not worth wrestling over. Ice cream, it’s fantastic. Pizza, not a vegetable. Strollers, helpful when walking with an infant. Boring. No one wants to read that. I think I almost put myself to sleep.
So after careful consideration, research, and brainstorming I decided to tackle the most controversial subject I’m interested in; based on my dissertation. DC Comics verses Marvel. KIDDING. Disposable diapers verses cloth. NO, not that either. Something much more touchy and upsetting for people.
I have two exercises for you before I start. This will be fun. Get a piece of paper or open a notepad in your smart phone.
I’m waiting. I’ve got all day. :-p
That’s the wonder of the written word. It can pause as LONG as you need.
(insert dramatic and hopeful pause that my readers are actually participating)
First, write down 10 of the most famous and successful people you can think of right now. People who made a huge impact on the world. You don’t’ have to know them personally, just people who changed things.
Did you do the list? Ahem. I want to see a list.
I’m still waiting. You know, in case you’re just reading on and missing the whole point of the exercise. I can’t make my point without participation in list making.
Have I convinced you? How’s that list looking?
I know you want to participate. We can’t have a discussion if some don’t play along!
Okay, let’s look at that list.
Who made up your ten?
Do you have engineers and designers on your list?
What about movie stars?
Talk show hosts?
Perhaps local famous folks?
Okay, put that down; flip your page over (or open your drawing app).
Your second task is to imagine God.
Draw a picture if you can.
If you were to give the divine a face, what would it look like?
How about the hair?
What types of things do you imagine the divine saying or doing?
Are you drawing a picture? I’m waiting. Again.
If you want, I can sing to pass the time while you draw. (Clearing the throat) “do-do-do-do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do-do.” Did you hear the jeopardy theme song? I sang it just for you. Eh, well. I tried. My sister was always the singer. I was the writer.
OKAY! Did we get them both done? I’m going to assume yes since I can’t hear you very well.
Why did I give you these exercises? Because I need to take you along on this journey with me.
Go back to your list of ten people. I know you really did it. Because you care. And this is my first blog post as a doctor and you want to humor me.
(HINT- insert one more chance to make a list and draw a picture)
Now that I’ve wasted time, sang to you, provided comic relief, and made you wonder if I have a point, I now ask: How many of them are women?
If your list is anything like the ones my college ethics students have put together, 90% (or more) on the list are males. When we think successful, we tend to think about men. When we think about influential folks, we usually think about men. Steve Jobs. Buzz Aldrin. Harrison Ford. Abraham Lincoln. George Washington. Einstein. Freud. Stephen Hawking. These are the ones who usually end up on my student’s list. Every so often Oprah will make the cut. Or Mother Teresa. But that’s about it.
And then when we are confronted with our lists of mostly men, we get defensive. “BUT WOMEN are so important. Women have been so influential in my life.” Ok. But are they more important than men in our minds? We just proved when we think successful, our first instinct is to think men.
(Unless of course, you are a well-rounded individual and you listed multiple fantastic women. If this is the case, I give you a standing ovation. I’m so proud right now. So proud).
But why is it that MOST of us write men? Why do we think success and influence is masculine?
If you can, join me further on this journey. Let’s put aside our defense for just a moment and realize what we do. Let’s put aside claims of social construct, the gender of the divine, ontology, and beyond and look at how it plays out in practice. The truth is, when we get down to it, most of us think ‘important’ and we think of males first.
Okay, on to the second section.
Did your image of the divine have a beard?
Was the picture in your mind (or on your photo) old and wise?
I guess what I am really asking is: Was God more male or female?
When we speak of the divine, it is almost always masculine. We think important, we think male. We think God, we think important. See where I am going with this?
Think about mainstream churches today. God is referred to by using the masculine pronoun “he.” Unless someone wants throw in a feminine notion of spirit or the biblical reference of a hen with her chicks. But in my experience, that tends to be an afterthought.
Some folks will be adamant that the divine is BEYOND gender. But I tend to hear that followed by something like “He is beyond gender.” Oh really? He is, is HE? Sounds masculine to me. Which is usually followed by more defense about how God is beyond gender whether we use the masculine pronoun or not.
Many feminist do what is called “the work of translation” in church. We sit in the crowd and translate all the masculine uses and images into either gender neutral or feminine ones to balance it. Which is a lot of work and entirely exhausting.
But I propose another idea.
Something that does NOT reject the wonder of imagining the divine in the masculine but creates a fantastic and brilliant way to bring forth the creativity and life of the divine.
Really, I am a feminist who is happy to keep the Gandalf, Dumbledore image. He’s cute. I kind of want to hug him.
BUT I’m also asking you to visualize beyond the endearing, wise, old man with me.
Imagine a divine feminine. Take a deep breath. I’d say close your eyes but you might miss what I’m about to say.
Think of one of the worst times in your life. Maybe you lost a job, a friend, a loved one. Perhaps you were rejected, scorned, not trusted. Those moments happen to all of us. BUT especially in my area of expertise: domestic violence victims. The victim loses trust in themselves and trust in the person who is supposed to love them. The victim is physically and emotionally hurt. It is trauma beyond compare.
So imagine… your worst moments, what did you do?
Did you come home and curl up in a ball? Or. Shall I say, the FETAL position?
I did. And this is where a whole new world started to open up for me.
I was being hurt at church, home, everywhere. My entire world was collapsing around me. Everything I had worked for was falling apart. I lay on the futon curled up in a ball. If you can picture some of the worst physical and mental agony possible, you’re probably close to the extent of trauma I was dealing with at the time. I stared into space, bent up like an infant in the womb, and I rocked back and forth.
As I swayed an image came to my mind. I was held safe in the womb of the divine. I clung to it. I needed it.
She held me in her womb, singing a sweet song, anxiously awaiting me to uncurl and be revealed. She waited patiently, keeping me warm and fed; safe and secure. I was a new creation about to be born. It didn’t matter what was happening around me or that I couldn’t speak. It didn’t matter that my fingers weren’t perfectly developed and my body was covered in slime. She loved me. I was valuable. And so I just rocked back and forth, back and forth.
When I emerged, or shall we say ‘birthed,’ from that trauma experience several years later, the image never left me.
The divine feminine. It’s fascinating.
There is so much we can do with this image of the divine. The mothering experience is one of pregnancy, birth, nursing, and more. All of these images have so much potential to imagine being created and sustained by the divine.
Created—as in the womb. Sustained—as in nursing.
Think about it, imagine with me.
I dare you.