God is genderqueer

I realized the other night that I don’t experience God as simply male or female.  With all due respect to my Lord and Savior, who, according to the Gospel writers, gave God a decidedly masculine ‘Father’ identity for God, I simply can’t make gendered pronouns for God fit my experience of God.  Neither “Father” this, “She” that, nor “God Hirself” quite seems to do it.

Not that my gender-confusion over God is a bad thing.  To the contrary, a singular notion of the image of God is so far beyond my comprehension that having no good pronouns actually works better than forcing inept ones.genderqueer

To me, God is combination of two or more elements: a stable, all-encompassing entity of spirit-force who is amorphous and certainly un-gendered in any conventional sense, juxtaposed with a hundred trillion images of all of the diversity of creation: animals, plants, earth, sky, and humans too.  In that sense, that of specific manifestations of God, characteristics like gender, sex, identity, race, ability, outward appearance, to name a few, may be in fact intricately connected to the fundamental nature of God.

Meanwhile, here’s what some of the internets say about genderqueerness, helpfully edited by me to be inclusive towards deities.

Wikipedia:

Genderqueer and intergender are catchall terms for gender identities other than man and woman. People [and/or deities] who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both male and female, as being neither male nor female, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. Some wish to have certain features of the opposite sex and not all characteristics; others want it all.

Fact-index:

…There are different modes of being genderqueer, and it is an evolving concept. Some believe they are a little of both or feel they have no gender at all. Others believe that gender is a social construct, and choose not to adhere to that construct. Some genderqueers do fit into the stereotypical gender roles expected of their sex [and/or divinity], but still reject gender as a social construct. Still other people [and/or deities] identify as genderqueer since…they do not fit many of society’s expectations for the gender in which they identify…

A God who falls completely outside the gender-binary?  Who transcends the expectations and limitations of society?  Who manifests certain features of masculinity and femininity at once?  Now that makes sense to me.  God is genderqueer!

Then and now

It’s fucked up to spend all day in a class about the Book of Judges, reading account after account about how Yhwh is understood to have demonstrated his love for the ancient people of Israel by helping them kill all their neighboring enemies – and then come home to this:

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This image (NYT) comes from airstrikes that occurred in Gaza City today.  This particular child was buried when the Israeli army destroyed a house filled with thirty people – because, naturally, the house belongs to a member of Hamas.  Other highlights from today’s airstrikes are that a U.N. school was hit, killing at least 30.

The most tragic thing is, this new violence isn’t new at all.  There have been 2800 years at minimum, and counting, of cyclical violence in this region – between roughly the same ethnic groups.  So will somebody please explain to me how even more violence now is going to finally achieve the peace for which both sides have so long been fighting?

Last night

True story:

Last night, I asked God, why do you hide?  And God whispered back, so that people have to seek…!

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God and Election 2008, cont.

In this video, Mike Blejer offers another look at the role that God may have had in this election.  (My take can be found here.) Mike’s a friend of mine from college, and is an emerging comedian in the DC area.

Why I support gay marriage

This past Monday was my one-year wedding anniversary.

While I am thrilled to embark upon Year Two with my lovely bride, I have been more anxious than joyful about marriage these days.  No, not my marriage (though there are joyful and anxious moments there among many others), but the marriage rights of thousands presently under siege in California via Proposition 8.

Prop 8 is the effort in California to institute an amendment to the state constitution that will prohibit gay and lesbian people from being allowed to legally marry.  Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court overturned existing prohibitions against gay marriage and effectively legalized gay marriage.  Now, there is conservative backlash in the form of this proposed constitutional amendment that defines marriage in California as being between a man and a woman.

I believe that to deny LGBT people the right to marry is discriminatory, immoral, and anti-Christian.  (I’m sure it goes against tenets of the faiths of many others as well, as well as those who have no faith, but I personally write from a Christian perspective.)  I support equal marriage rights conferred without regard for the sex, gender, or sexual orientation of those involved, for the following reasons:

  1. LGBT people are created as such in the image of God. Thus, they are entitled to the the same religious and civil opportunities as anybody else.
  2. Christian marriage is a religious sacrament, while civil marriage a secular means of securing certain economic opportunities. Religious groups can disagree on whether or not to marry LGBT folk in their religious communities, but equal protection under the law cannot be compromised.
  3. What makes marriage “God-ordained” is the Godliness of the relationship, above all else. Couples of all persuasions can fully meet any criteria for marriage that is based on a holistic view of marital relations – rather than simply sex organs, which is insufficient for securing God’s blessing on a marriage.

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Through the eyes of the Canaanite Woman

Matthew 15:21-28, the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman, is one of the more troubling passages of the Bible for me:

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it was merely the disciples who responded to this woman without hospitality.  These warm friends of Jesus were so often mistaken when it came to bringing others into the fold.  But Jesus’ own words (insults!) and actions here seem very out of step with much of the rest of Jesus’ approach towards those on the margins.  In preparing for this reflection, I really felt compelled to try and listen to the forgotten voice of this courageous and tenacious woman, based on what is described in the text. Unfortunately, her own words and experience are unfortunately left up to our guesswork at this point, so what follows is my own guess as to what this might have looked like… Read the rest of this entry »

Expell me, Father, or have I sinned?

A couple of conservative news sources are reporting that a college student in Florida is being threatened in this life and beyond for having removed a consecrated wafer from a Catholic Church.  It first was placed into Webster Cook’s mouth during Communion and at some point thereafter, he decided to take it out.  Allegedly, a church official then tried to pry the wafer out of his hands, and Cook responded by putting it in a Ziploc bag and leaving the premises.  He voluntarily returned it later on in the week, after receiving death threats and assurances of eternal damnation.

Bill Donahue from the Catholic League is pissed:

“For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage – regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance – is beyond hate speech. That is why the [university] administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion.”

And, a spokesperson from the local diocese is calling it a hate crime:

“We don’t know 100 percent what Mr. Cook’s motivation was…however, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”

Hmm.  Well, that would seem difficult, since a hate crime first and foremost is defined as “a criminal offense”  Oops.  So much for that.  It also must be “…committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.” This will also be difficult to prove, given that Cook is Catholic.

Here are my immediate thoughts:

  1. How is this possibly considered a hate crime?  There’s no crime, and no evidence of bias.  These accusers don’t even seem to know what constitutes a hate crime.
  2. There are some really interesting Christological issues here, especially considering the traditional Catholic view of transubstantiation.  If the consecrated bread-become-body of Jesus leaves the church, what happens to it, theologically speaking?  Surely this is written somewhere?
  3. My theology of communion really privileges the sovereignty of God.  In my view, mere humans do not have the power to make – or break – the sanctity of the Eucharist.  Either Jesus will be present to us in the breaking of bread and sharing of the cup, or not – but I absolutely do not believe that humans have the power to defile that which God has made holy.  That limits the power of God too much for me.
  4. If this is a hate crime, what’s the crime?  If this is to be viewed as Cook “stealing” a Catholic artifact (the consecrated wafer), at what point does the bread/wine become transferred to the parishioner?
  5. It may go against Catholic doctrine, but is it also a “hate crime” or “hate speech” for a non-Catholic to take Communion at a closed Catholic table?  I mean, she would likewise be “stealing” a consecrated Catholic artifact too, if that is indeed the root of the problem.
  6. Bottom line: Jesus is a big boy.  If he is so vulnerable that improper handling of the consecrated elements pose a viable threat to his sovereignty, than perhaps Cook should get expelled.  But if the risen Christ is, as I suspect, actually strong enough to survive this affront…perhaps the local (and national) Catholic authorities are going a little overboard here, no?