This may end up being my first early Sunday Thoughts post.
What is of man, and what is Divine?
That is the question I put forth today. Oh, I might end up blaspheming and being heretical and/or come off like an infidel or heathen or whatever other names people like to call other people when religion gets involved. But at this point I absolutely don’t care.
I can tell you when something is of man. And I use man to mean male, not “mankind” which, is, if you look at it, basically the same thing. Which brings me right back to my point. I can tell when something is of man.
When there is an inequality between gender, when there is no reason for it.
Many people’s idea and concept of the Divine or God or a Deity I think is very small. If I was a being or an entity that could create not only the world and everything in it, but the vastness and Foreverness of something like the Universe, then REALLY. Am I going to be so petty as to assign hierarchy on my creations based on plumbing? I. Think. NOT.
Christianity and its two main branches, are ruled or headed by and large for the most part, men. Catholicism most definitely. Protestantism has so many branches of its own, there is not one central um WHATEVER to point out. However, if you were able to take a snapshot of every protestant service in this nation this Sunday, dollars to donuts you’d find the vast majority being led by a male. Ditto goes for a world-wide snapshot.
The Pope is the leader of the Catholic church. In order to one day become that leader, you must first be a priest. The Pope is chosen from the rank of Cardinal, by votes in conclave by other Cardinals. If you happen to be a Catholic nun, well then you are out of the running from the start. A priest can hope one day to become a Cardinal. A nun cannot.
There have been documented rumors of a female Pope or two. Because of that, now part of the investiture ceremony there is a checking of the genitalia. Yes indeed. No more sneaking into leadership positions! Until the Catholic church opens up the track of leadership to nuns, there will never be a female Pope.
The Protestant side of things is a bit more flexible. But not by much. I’ve noticed when say the Baptist Leadership gathers for a conference, there are little to no women present. Some may have experienced, and seen and been a part of protestant church life, and noticed that women have a huge role in pretty much running things. That is until you get to the level of Reverend, Pastor and Preacher etc. Then you see that glass ceiling kick in, more often than not.
Judaism has similar issues. I do know there are more and more female rabbis around (at least in the US), but in the orthodox, I’m pretty sure not. I am not as well versed in the practices of Judaism, as I am in other areas, so if I am wrong about something I write here, please do correct me.
I believe that women are separated from the men during worship services. Some synagogues they are equally seated in front of the (altar?) but with a sheet or some other type of barrier keeping them on different sides. Some other synagogues have women in a whole other place – up and towards the back or sides behind a screen type thing.
Women are also not allowed to to worship in public holy places like the Wailing Wall. However, google “women at the wailing wall” and you might come up with some interesting links…
The gender demographics in the Jewish orthodoxy might look similar to the Catholic gender demographics. Outside of the orthodoxy, maybe more similar to the Protestant demographics. Note, that in each case, women are still either completely excluded from leadership or are in significantly small numbers.
Islam is also problematic in this area. The Imam is the leadership role in the mosque, I believe. There are very few, if any female Imams. Women are also kept separate in worship. Sometimes “the Muslim world” will come together and appoint an overall leader – Caliph? – none have been female.
Again, if my information is wrong, please correct me. I am not so familiar with this religion either.
Buddhism, the faith that I practice, has similar issues as well. There are ever so many branches of Buddhism, that I could not begin to cover them all. I know that for the most part, like for example in Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, the religious leader has always been male.
Interesting to note that the current Dalai Lama on his retirement in 2011 has indicated: that the institution of the Dalai Lama may be abolished in the future, and also that the next Dalai Lama may be found outside Tibet and may be female.
In my own particular sect, the priests were like Protestant pastors and reverends – able to marry and have families. However they were all male. I believe there is still very much a separation between Buddhist monks and nuns, akin to the separation of priests and nuns in the Catholic church.
There is inequality in the balance of power, in the tracks toward leadership positions, and so on.
How do I know when something is of man and not Divine?
When teachings say things like “we are all equal in the sight of the Lord” and yet the reality is so very unequal.
When teachings conveniently vilify women and uplift men. I know that to be of man and not the Divine.
When you have to check and make doubly sure the duly elected leader has “man parts” before conferring power. That is not Divine.
When the Divine is twisted and repackaged to support and further entrench the power of man.
When one gender is raised above another.
It has been said that the winners are the ones who write history. I say that the same goes for religious texts supposedly written by a Deity, or uttered by the Divine to be transcribed by mortals.
Every person who has gone through seminary school, and similar religious type schooling understands the reality of the scriptures that they are to go on and teach.
There has been a lot of history where reading and writing has been kept firmly in the hands of those in power. Where around the table where such decisions were made as to what texts to include in the Bible no woman was present. And from what texts do you think the final results were chosen? Those written by men.
Things are more open now. You don’t have to believe me. Go take some of those seminary courses. Nab a few classes in Bible history and religion. Study the roots and the history of the texts of your own faith. Find out for yourself.
What is Divine may or may not have its own gender. But I tell you what:
Imagine a life where the head of your religious organization is male, where the God everyone worships is male, and his progeny – also worshiped as Divine – is male. Where all or most of your local and civic leadership is male. When you turn on the news, those telling you what happened out there in the world are more often than not male.
When your entertainment is made for males, the protagonist in nearly all stories told is male, when the point of view of nearly everything defaults to the male perspective. When the leadership of your country are nearly all males. Where the laws being handed down and enforced are almost always by males.
Where respect, power, fiscal advantage, security and movement in society rests nearly always in the hands of males.
Imagine a world like that, and you are male.
Imagine a world like that, and you are female.
These things matter. The imbalance of the world makes for horrible things to happen. That is why I say to all the males out there. You must step up. If you life your life without actively pushing against this male dominated society, you are complicit in its doings.
Just managing to live your life as decent guy is no longer enough. I truth, it never has been enough.
Those males that seek to have, hold and keep the reigns of power at the expense of females, have lulled their so-called brothers into the false belief that they need not do anything. That the world is as it should be.
In this nation where there are are nearly five million more females than males, this imbalance, this inequality is doubly galling.
I for one have had enough.
Recent events prompted me to write this. I can’t speak on those things specifically because they are too triggering. Thank goodness for Melissa Harris-Perry and others who have been so vocal about this. They speak for me and countless others who cannot.
Why all this religious stuff then?
Because the very places that so many of us seek solace and comfort in these times of hurt and stress, are as male dominated as the arenas in which we were hurt in and are fleeing from.
Call it tactics. Whatever. I use what tools I have at my disposal to help make the subject matter pop out at you and then stick in your brain.
The stark reality is that males are ruling and running things, and females are subsequently put at risk because of it.
Changes need to be made.
There was a petition out calling for the judge in that case to resign. Perhaps now those voters will not re-elect him to his seat of power.
But it isn’t about one judge, or one national media source allowing a platform for a rape apologist to support his actions.
It is about if we as a society are tired of how things are.
I know I sure am. People say that I can’t just up and say that men aren’t fit to lead. I think that I can say those things. Men have been leading all aspects of our society since the beginnings of our nation, and look at this horrible mess.
Perhaps women should give it a go. It will be difficult, because as we have seen many times before, just being female doesn’t guarantee that you aren’t already conditioned by the patriarchy and its misogynist rape culture.
We will have to pick and choose wisely.
Women will have to reach across those aisles and political divides – those man-made divisions – and come together in solidarity and drive and fight and make those much needed changes.
We all have seen males squabbling and disagreeing and digging their heels in – over such petty differences – that they get in the way of themselves, get in the way of justice, get in the way of governing and doing for the people what we have demanded and elected them to do.
So out with the lot of them. It will take time. Years, decades, whatever. But we need to start yesterday and play the long game and turn the tables.
For the Love of our Daughters. Our Mothers. Our Grandmothers. Our Nieces. Our Aunts. For the love of good and decent people everywhere who are tired of living in this man-made world.