I picked up a book, The Incredible Woman: Listening to Women's Silences in Pastoral Care and Counseling, to add to my CPE bibliography (that and our final is due on May 9) and get all the required number of pages read. I've just read the first chapters which have a lot to do with language for God. The thing that kills me is that despite the book being published in 1996, this issue--language for God--is still a major issue in most churches. I know it's huge in my churches--if I were to use Mother God, Holy Mother, or heaven forbid, Goddess, I'd probably get kicked out of my pulpit. Seriously!
I try to use non-gendered language for God because I believe it is faithful to a bigger image of God, it is faithful to the reality of God. In the first few months of being here I had a conversation with someone about this. The person pleaded with me not to repeat his thought that perhaps, just perhaps, the Holy Spirit was feminine. He was ashamed to even think such a thing! I went on to ask him if he seriously thought it was important that God had a penis. His response was yes! I was blown away. A bit later during a women's Bible study, I breached the subject of God language again. Once more I was surprised by the resistance. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised but I was.
As I continued to read and my frustration mounted that this is still a tremendous issue I was also frustrated by myself. In three years, I've broached the subject twice. That's it. No wonder the issue hasn't changed...if I'm not willing to risk educating the people in my churches, then how can I expect anyone else to do so in theirs?
Our newsletter is due out tomorrow...so do I make God language the focus of my pastoral letter? i wish I could just whole heartedly jump in and say yes. But our little corner of the world is the most conservative place I've ever lived. The newsletter is there in black and white. I'm not sure it would be the best way to go about it. There's no (or little) opportunity for feedback and questions. I do believe that this is best done when in a relational kind of class,study, conversation. So there, I just talked myself out of the newsletter but I'm not letting myself off the hook. Mother's Day is just around the corner and that is a perfect opportunity to bring it up.
What do you do in your setting?
PS...I'm thrilled to watch Christina Aquilera on The Voice!