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Author Topic: Hostility to Christianity  (Read 16512 times)

Castus

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2015, 07:11:30 pm »
Quote from: LunaStar;183114
Interestingly, you use a male pronoun to represent god.

 
Yes, because that's the traditional usage when referring to God in the English language, as well as what is used in Scripture. But how Judaeo-Christian tradition relates to God and the language that it uses to describe him -- while certainly valuable for those seeking to understand God in that tradition -- speaks also a great deal about that tradition itself. A favourite article of mine in the conservative religious journal First Things addresses the issue of masculine language regarding God like so:

Quote
The question arises, then: Is there any reason, in the face of such potent challenges, to insist on the continued pervasiveness of masculine God imagery? In fact, there is good reason for both women and men to refrain from embracing the new feminized liturgies. God-language is loaded (to borrow Marx’s famous phrase about commodities) with “metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties” such that seemingly innocent revisions change the religious substance of Judaism in unexpected and undesired ways.

One may readily concede that all God-language is in some sense figurative, that human language and understanding are unable to grasp the Ultimate. However, it does not follow that all figurative language is therefore equal in approximating the mystery of the divine. Though we never penetrate to the inner reality of God, we do encounter Him in certain relationships that are humanly describable, however imperfectly. To address God as Father or Lord or King does not identify the sex or describe the essential being of God so much as it defines certain relationships between Him and us. While the God we pray to is beyond male or female, He has chosen to disclose Himself in distinctly masculine ways that are structured into the meanings of the Torah and the prayerbook, and cannot therefore simply be altered at will.

-- from God and Gender in Judaism, by Matthew Berke; June 1997 issue


and that pretty much sums up my position; although I have much less of a problem with gender neutrality than I do with using feminine language to reference the Divine in an Abrahamic context. Interestingly, the Baha'i Faith and quite a few Sufi poets eschew the issue altogether by (usually) foregoing a 'personalised' description of God in favour of much more poetic and evocative/descriptive language. I think it's Rumi who refers to God as a Beloved, while the Long Obligatory Prayer of the Baha'is references God like so:

"Exalted art Thou above the description of any one save Thyself, and the comprehension of aught else except Thee."

although, admittedly, God is repeatedly referred to as "Lord" as well. In any case, my original point that God is not a male deity remains the same :p

As regards the RCC and allowing women to receive Holy Orders, that is a related but different issue. Priests are required to act in persona Christi during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; most specifically at the consecration of the Host. While God is neither man nor woman, Christ was unambiguously male (hello, hypostatic union!) and therefore women cannot act in the person of Christ. There's also the issue of Christ having specifically chosen men to be his disciples (the twelve apostles being the first priests), etc etc. It's more complicated from a theological standpoint than is commonly thought. I recommend reading John Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis for a fuller understanding of the issue.
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LunaStar

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2015, 07:13:15 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;183117
No. I haven't claimed it does. I have claimed that the official Catholic view is that God is beyond gender duality, and that the same view is significantly present within some other Christian communions. Those communions, by the way, allow women to have ranks within the institution that are equal to those of men. The present archbishop of Uppsala is a woman. And the present bishop of Stockholm is a lesbian.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Charity

http://oca.org/saints/lives/1999/10/12/102948-icon-of-the-mother-of-god-jerusalem

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Covadonga

 
I was not putting words in your mouth, just asking a question.  I do wonder, if the Christian God is viewed as divine beyond gender, where does the stereotype of God as male begin and why not more is done to remedy this popular skewed belief.  

Also, thanks for the links.

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2015, 07:18:23 pm »
Quote from: Castus;183118
Yes, because that's the traditional usage when referring to God in the English language, as well as what is used in Scripture. But how Judaeo-Christian tradition relates to God and the language that it uses to describe him -- while certainly valuable for those seeking to understand God in that tradition -- speaks also a great deal about that tradition itself. A favourite article of mine in the conservative religious journal First Things addresses the issue of masculine language regarding God like so:



and that pretty much sums up my position; although I have much less of a problem with gender neutrality than I do with using feminine language to reference the Divine in an Abrahamic context. Interestingly, the Baha'i Faith and quite a few Sufi poets eschew the issue altogether by (usually) foregoing a 'personalised' description of God in favour of much more poetic and evocative/descriptive language. I think it's Rumi who refers to God as a Beloved, while the Long Obligatory Prayer of the Baha'is references God like so:

"Exalted art Thou above the description of any one save Thyself, and the comprehension of aught else except Thee."

although, admittedly, God is repeatedly referred to as "Lord" as well. In any case, my original point that God is not a male deity remains the same :p

As regards the RCC and allowing women to receive Holy Orders, that is a related but different issue. Priests are required to act in persona Christi during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; most specifically at the consecration of the Host. While God is neither man nor woman, Christ was unambiguously male (hello, hypostatic union!) and therefore women cannot act in the person of Christ. There's also the issue of Christ having specifically chosen men to be his disciples (the twelve apostles being the first priests), etc etc. It's more complicated from a theological standpoint than is commonly thought. I recommend reading John Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis for a fuller understanding of the issue.

 
Honestly, this all sounds to me like institutionalized/internalized sexism.  But that's just my belief.  I'm not here to convert anyone.  We'll simply have to agree to disagree.

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2015, 08:02:10 pm »
Quote from: LunaStar;183119
I was not putting words in your mouth, just asking a question.  I do wonder, if the Christian God is viewed as divine beyond gender, where does the stereotype of God as male begin and why not more is done to remedy this popular skewed belief.  

Also, thanks for the links.


I believe there has been a struggle between speaking about God in a masculine way and  speaking about God in a non-gendered way from the time around the Babylonian exile,  half a milennium before Christianity emerged. The masculine (and anthropomorphic) way of speaking about God belongs to a more primitive strata of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and Judaism inherited it from West Semitic Paganism. The anthropomorphic and/or masculine imagery is clearly present in such places as the henotheistic Ps. 82, which could have been a Pagan hymn to El, the monarch of the West Semitic pantheon out of which the Jewish name of and conception of God evolved (and many other Psalms), Genesis 3.8 where God takes an evening walk, Ez. 1.26-27, and Dan. 7.13-14.

As a counter-balance to the masculine imagery about God, Is. 66.12-13, talks about God as mother. Jesus call himself a hen (not a rooster) in Matthew 23.37.

The beginning of an abstract and transcendent conception of God is found in Is. 45.15-25, and in the subsequent centuries Jewish culture comes under influence of Greek philosophy, which favours a more abstract conception of the divine. Ecclesiasticus 18.1-7 and 43.27-33, Wisd. 9.13-18 and several segments of Job, are examples of this development.

When we reach the time of Gregory of Nazianzus, the integration of both the Jewish legacy and the Platonic legacy in Christianity is complete. God, as described in Gregory's Theological Orations, is beyond gender, beyond being and beyond non-being. This trajectory is further developed by Maximus Confessor and John of Damascus. In the west John Scotus Eriugena and Meister Eckehart develop this way of thinking.

A parallel development within Judaism took place thanks to Solomon ibn Gabirol, Abraham ibn Ezra, and others.

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2015, 08:55:16 pm »
Quote from: LunaStar;183115
Does the Roman Catholic Church allow women to have ranks within the institution that are equal to those of men?

 
In every Catholic institution besides the priesthood, women are equal to men. Female saints and male saints are absolutely equal (sainthood is the higher status one can achieve in the Catholic church). Monks and nuns are equal

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2015, 09:11:48 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;183123
I believe there has been a struggle between speaking about God in a masculine way and  speaking about God in a non-gendered way from the time around the Babylonian exile,  half a milennium before Christianity emerged. The masculine (and anthropomorphic) way of speaking about God belongs to a more primitive strata of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and Judaism inherited it from West Semitic Paganism. The anthropomorphic and/or masculine imagery is clearly present in such places as the henotheistic Ps. 82, which could have been a Pagan hymn to El, the monarch of the West Semitic pantheon out of which the Jewish name of and conception of God evolved (and many other Psalms), Genesis 3.8 where God takes an evening walk, Ez. 1.26-27, and Dan. 7.13-14.

As a counter-balance to the masculine imagery about God, Is. 66.12-13, talks about God as mother. Jesus call himself a hen (not a rooster) in Matthew 23.37.

The beginning of an abstract and transcendent conception of God is found in Is. 45.15-25, and in the subsequent centuries Jewish culture comes under influence of Greek philosophy, which favours a more abstract conception of the divine. Ecclesiasticus 18.1-7 and 43.27-33, Wisd. 9.13-18 and several segments of Job, are examples of this development.

When we reach the time of Gregory of Nazianzus, the integration of both the Jewish legacy and the Platonic legacy in Christianity is complete. God, as described in Gregory's Theological Orations, is beyond gender, beyond being and beyond non-being. This trajectory is further developed by Maximus Confessor and John of Damascus. In the west John Scotus Eriugena and Meister Eckehart develop this way of thinking.

A parallel development within Judaism took place thanks to Solomon ibn Gabirol, Abraham ibn Ezra, and others.

 
Similarly, Allah, the Islamic God, is neither male nor female.

Arabic is like traditional English in that the the default gender is male. Additional suffixes need to be added to masculine words to make them feminine.

MeadowRae

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2015, 09:32:17 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;183110
The three largest proselytizing religions are: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Buddhists generally proselytize less aggressively than Evangelical Christians. Nichiren Buddhists, though, are traditionally known to proselytize in an oddly aggressive way*. It's called shakubuku. Some Pure Land Buddhists in Taiwan use pop-music and televangelism in a way very similar to American Evangelical Christians, but there are many different 'flavours' of Pure Land Buddhism, so that description does not apply to all. Pure Land milieus are nowadays very diverse.

Thank you for the correction. I had no idea that Pure Land Buddhists existed.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 09:34:03 pm by MeadowRae »
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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2015, 02:44:37 am »
Quote from: Zephyrine;183083
I'm just wondering if some of the occasional Pagan hostility toward Christianity was more a matter of the Christianity that people grew up with and not Christianity itself.

 
I am not hostel towards Christians or Christianity, but I am wary of them. I was raised atheist and believed that science was the only measurement of reality. However, religion fascinated me and I tried to get my church going friends to explain it to me. I really did my best to keep an open mind, but I asked too many questions and eventually got some Christians angry. They called me a devil worshiper and some even threw rocks at me. They said I was going to hell and their parents told them they didn't need to be friends with people who were going to hell. We were in 5th grade.
Now all this happened over 20 years ago, but I never forgot how fast they turned on me, how it felt to be hit in the head with rocks, and that the sight of blood didn't stop them. They had no empathy and that scared me more than anything. I decided then that I could never be a christian. I did marry a Christian, but he is only still one because of his family's culture.

Floofy Bunny

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2015, 12:33:07 pm »
Quote from: LunaStar;183115
I've never heard of Mary helping sailors, besieging cities, etc.  I'm genuinely curious.  Where can I find more information about this?


There's a real cool sort of "subculture" for lack of better word of active, and even radical women in Christianity, but when histories are written, they often get left out. Nuns and nunneries have a fascinating history of radical practice that challenges patriarchal views and interpretations of Catholic doctrine. Additionally, some of the work of female Christian mystics is fascinating. Have you read Julian of Norwich or Margery Kempe? I highly recommend them if you are interested in finding influential women in Christian history.

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2015, 12:55:04 pm »
Quote from: Castus;183118
One may readily concede that all God-language is in some sense figurative, that human language and understanding are unable to grasp the Ultimate. However, it does not follow that all figurative language is therefore equal in approximating the mystery of the divine. Though we never penetrate to the inner reality of God, we do encounter Him in certain relationships that are humanly describable, however imperfectly. To address God as Father or Lord or King does not identify the sex or describe the essential being of God so much as it defines certain relationships between Him and us. While the God we pray to is beyond male or female, He has chosen to disclose Himself in distinctly masculine ways that are structured into the meanings of the Torah and the prayerbook, and cannot therefore simply be altered at will.

-- from God and Gender in Judaism, by Matthew Berke; June 1997 issue

I am a bit perplexed by this example as it reinforces LunaStar's original claim of Christianity as strongly patriarchal in its elements (elements influenced by Abrahamic religions). First of all, language is figurative as language is abstract and not tangible - language is symbolic. Therefore, the symbols we rely on the convey the relationships mentioned above are important in that they convey the relationship of God to human as a relationship defined by the attributes we associate with fatherhood. One can claim God is beyond gender, yet our tangible recordings (texts, specifically those decreed holy) represent God as male which incurs associations to masculinity.

The example you use circles in on itself because it attempts to argue for a gender neutrality but then asserts that not all figurative language is in fact equal in how we describe the divine. That figurative language that is in fact the superior is masculine - and because this language is recorded in texts we decree divine therefore male-centered language is the superior.

#imnotsexistbut...

This argument reeks of my experience with Christian fundie churches where they claim men and women are equal, BUT different and must serve different roles however the value attributed to these different roles is hierarchical and not in fact equal.

I guess I am confused as to your stance because you seem to be saying the divine is beyond gender, but they way we should describe divinity should still be male. That stance reinforces patriarchy - which is what LunaStar highlighted earlier.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2015, 12:56:46 pm by Floofy Bunny »

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2015, 05:42:48 pm »
Quote from: Floofy Bunny;183144
There's a real cool sort of "subculture" for lack of better word of active, and even radical women in Christianity, but when histories are written, they often get left out. Nuns and nunneries have a fascinating history of radical practice that challenges patriarchal views and interpretations of Catholic doctrine. Additionally, some of the work of female Christian mystics is fascinating. Have you read Julian of Norwich or Margery Kempe? I highly recommend them if you are interested in finding influential women in Christian history.

 
My favorite example of this is Hildegard of Bingen. She was a prolific songwriter and many credit her with writing the first dramas in the West. She was quite the mystic, and had a place of authority even amongst the monks. I listen to her work while meditating sometimes.
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Castus

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2015, 09:16:26 pm »
Quote from: Floofy Bunny;183145
I am a bit perplexed by this example as it reinforces LunaStar's original claim of Christianity as strongly patriarchal in its elements (elements influenced by Abrahamic religions). First of all, language is figurative as language is abstract and not tangible - language is symbolic. Therefore, the symbols we rely on the convey the relationships mentioned above are important in that they convey the relationship of God to human as a relationship defined by the attributes we associate with fatherhood. One can claim God is beyond gender, yet our tangible recordings (texts, specifically those decreed holy) represent God as male which incurs associations to masculinity.

The example you use circles in on itself because it attempts to argue for a gender neutrality but then asserts that not all figurative language is in fact equal in how we describe the divine. That figurative language that is in fact the superior is masculine - and because this language is recorded in texts we decree divine therefore male-centered language is the superior.

#imnotsexistbut...

This argument reeks of my experience with Christian fundie churches where they claim men and women are equal, BUT different and must serve different roles however the value attributed to these different roles is hierarchical and not in fact equal.

I guess I am confused as to your stance because you seem to be saying the divine is beyond gender, but they way we should describe divinity should still be male. That stance reinforces patriarchy - which is what LunaStar highlighted earlier.

 
You're not confused at all; and have perfectly understood my position on the issue. ^_^ It is my stance that the divine is beyond gender, but the way that the Judaeo-Christian god should be described is male. God is gender-neutral, but not all language used to describe God is equal. Using masculine language to describe God is preferable and superior, because that is how he is described in divinely-revealed texts in the Abrahamic traditions. I understood why LS described God as male; I merely pointed out that God in Abrahamic tradition is not male in the way that, say, a pagan deity such as Jupiter is male. Rather, he is above such things. Neither do I deny that such language and asserting that such language is superior is 'patriarchal'. I just don't see that as a bad thing.
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Kaio

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2015, 11:15:16 pm »
Quote from: Zephyrine;183083
I'm just wondering if some of the occasional Pagan hostility toward Christianity was more a matter of the Christianity that people grew up with and not Christianity itself.

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. It is LGBT friendly (the current moderator is a lesbian and her predecessor was a gay man), divorce, sex outside marriage and remarriage were OK, social justice was a big deal, God was all-loving and sin was never, ever mentioned. The Christianity I knew was friendly if somewhat gutless. The idea of a judgmental, patriarchal god is completely foreign to my experience.

I feel Pagans can sometimes be very hard on and make blanket statements about Christianity, while Buddhism and Judaism get something of a free pass.


 I think there are liberal/humanist forms of Christianity where liberal/humanist notions appeal to a large part or to most members of a society. This happens only in the so-called Western world.
 
 Western Christianity seems to be "light" today because most of its organized (and usually old school) forms are politically powerless. In Western societies it seems that Christian leaders understood that Christianity's survival chance depends on its willingness to integrate a great part of its criticism into itself.

 In some parts of the world, like where I live, the commonest forms of Christianity aren't liberal/humanist, and many large Neo-Pentecostal Christian churches clearly have as their only purpose making their leaders rich.
 Not being Christian is neither common, nor usually approved of where I live. Saying that oneself is not Christian can be a really bad idea in some places here; even drug dealers are Christian, mostly Pentecostal or Neo-Pentecostal nowadays and they don't allow Candomblé priestesses and adherers to dry their ritual garments outside, in the public gaze, otherwise they can get banned from that neighbourhood (or end up killed); on the news it's not that uncommon to hear that a group of Christians destroyed an Umbanda temple (and Umbanda is definitely Christian) or even historically valued, ancient Catholic saints' images; a few years ago a well-known Christian politician wrote on Twitter that the mark of Cain is black people's black skin; homophobic hate speech often includes biblical content here, and I could go on. OTOH the common Christian here usually regards having premarital sex, cheating on his wife, drinking alcohol and being generally violent, for instance, as unproblematic.
 
 As of history, I think Christianity and Islam are too much associated with the worst of proselytism, colonialism and encounter of cultures in general to this day.
 I know next to nothing about Buddhism, but it seems some forms of Buddhism also included (and/or still include) proselytism.
 Regarding Judaism, I think the worst Judaism gave to the world reached non-Jews maybe mainly through Christianity, and maybe through Pauline Christianity more specifically.
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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2015, 03:15:39 pm »
Quote from: Zephyrine;183083
I'm just wondering if some of the occasional Pagan hostility toward Christianity was more a matter of the Christianity that people grew up with and not Christianity itself.

 
Some people can't justify a breakup without hating their ex afterwards.

Other people have a really damn good reason to hate their ex.
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HappyWiccan

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Re: Hostility to Christianity
« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2015, 02:20:33 pm »
Quote from: Zephyrine;183083
I'm just wondering if some of the occasional Pagan hostility toward Christianity was more a matter of the Christianity that people grew up with and not Christianity itself.

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. It is LGBT friendly (the current moderator is a lesbian and her predecessor was a gay man), divorce, sex outside marriage and remarriage were OK, social justice was a big deal, God was all-loving and sin was never, ever mentioned. The Christianity I knew was friendly if somewhat gutless. The idea of a judgmental, patriarchal god is completely foreign to my experience.

I feel Pagans can sometimes be very hard on and make blanket statements about Christianity, while Buddhism and Judaism get something of a free pass.

I'm gay, and happily married to the woman of my dreams. I'm wiccan, she's Christian. I think it really is inherited by family and not taught by the religion itself. My wife being a perfect example, as I suppose I could be too. Neither of us were taught to dislike the other person's religion.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 02:23:00 pm by HappyWiccan »
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