Tags

, , , , , ,

The Creation
credit: en.wikipedia.org

The Lord’s Prayer, Episcopal version:

Our being of indeterminate gender, to be debated by people who aren’t sure of such things either, who art in Heaven, or another place to be determined as woke Episcopalians evolve.

Hallowed be thy non-gender specific name, sexual orientation or thy preferred pronoun.

Thy people’s republic come, thy will be done, unless it interferes with diversity, inclusion, sexual orientation or gender equity, on Earth as it is in Heaven or that aforementioned other place.

Give us this day our daily trigger warnings, and forgive us our microaggressions, as we forgive those who microaggress against us–except deplorables, who shalt always be irredeemable.

And lead us not into conservatism but deliver us from white privilege.

For thine–who and whatever thine might be today–is the people’s republic, the exercise of socialist, non-gendered power, and the glory which we decide to allow thee.

For ever and ever, or until we decide a deity is unsustainable.

Amen–if we decide that’s OK too.

As a youngster, I had a vague acceptance of God, but full of myself and caught up in the relatively non-destructive yet stridently uninformed rebellion of youth, ignored much of God’s word, that little of which I was aware, that is.  Eventually I caught on, and while I am by no means a “Bible thumper,” I have no doubt of God’s existence, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and His mercy. As I perform the works of the masters, I cannot help but glimpse God’s hand and His glory.  As I live, I’ve survived innumerable times by his grace, and I’ve seen prayers answered, transforming lives and making the damaged whole, though not always in ways we would expect, and not always on our timetable.

It has been observed that to define God is to limit Him.  God is ineffable.  We cannot know His mind, His intentions, or comprehend His nature.  We can only read and try to understand His word, and try to see His working in our world.  We accept His word, as we accept Him, on faith–that’s just how He wants it–and we do our best to follow Him. If we are to be God’s people, we do not try to improve on his Word or define Him.  Not, that is, unless we are Episcopalians:

The Episcopal Church could change the wording of its prayer books to make it clear that ‘God is not male’.

The Book of Common Prayer, which is used in every Episcopal congregation, could soon start using gender-neutral language when referring to the supreme deity.

The proposed changes, which also include adding same-sex marriages to the liturgy, are being debated in Texas this week [July 3-6, 2018].

Hmmm.  I seem to remember quite a few references to God as male, the most common being “the Father,” such as:

Luke 10:22: ‘All things are delivered to me of my Father: an on man knoweth who the Son is but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son…

or:

John 14:10: Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

or:

2 Corinthians 1:3: Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

See what I mean?  The Bible makes it clear God is “the Father,” and Fathers tend to be male, but of course, that’s only if one buys the whole biology/two gender/God’s word thing.

However, some theologians argue that church leaders can use alternative service materials without altering the holy book.

That’s better, as such things go, than presuming to be able to improve on God’s word, but not much.

The leaders of the Episcopal Church and biblical scholars are having their triennial convention in Austin, Texas to discuss whether to make it clear God is not gendered.

Well, they chose the right city in Texas.  Austin’s motto is “keep Austin Weird.

They are looking to overhaul the religious book – which is seen by three million people in the US alone – for the first time since 1979.

One of those recommending changing to non-gendered langauge is the Reverent Wil Gafney, professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Texas.

‘As long as a masculine God remains at the top of the pyramid, nothing else we do matters’, Reverend Gafney told the Washington Post.

‘We construct a theological framework in which we talk about gender equality… then we say that which is most holy in the universe is only and exclusively male.

‘That just undoes some of the key theology that says we are equal in God’s sight, we are fully created in God’s image’, she said.

Let me see if I understand that logic.  If God is masculine, women aren’t equal in God’s sight?  Man is created in God’s image, which would seem to encompass all of mankind, male and female.  And silly me, I thought theology was much more about the salvation of the eternal soul than gender equality, but I’m a white male with all kinds of unconscious, sexist, non-woke privilege, so what do I know?  Oh, and we certainly can’t have God “at the top of the pyramid,” can we?  I wonder where God resides in the Rev. Gafney’s “theological framework?”  Is He wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, or just another symbol of patriarchal oppression and inequality that belongs anywhere but on high?

Some Episcopalians aren’t so anxious to improve on The Lord:

“Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee said he thinks religious leaders should spend more time studying the existing book rather than revising it.

‘We can’t define God. We can say something profoundly true about God, but the mystery we dare to call God is always bigger than anything we can imagine’, he told the Post.

And where do we find profound truths about God?  In the theological frameworks of progressive clerics?  American Episcopalians aren’t alone in thinking they can improve on God.  Christianty.comreports on the efforts of the Swedes:

The Church of Sweden is urging its clergy to use gender-neutral language when referring to the supreme deity.

The national church, which is Evangelical Lutheran, asks priests and other staff to refrain from using terms like ‘Lord’ and ‘He’ in favour of the less specific ‘God.’

The Lord’s Prayer, which in Swedish as in English is commonly called ‘Our Father’, shall continue to be referred to as such.

Nice of them to allow that much.

The move is one of several taken by the national Evangelical Lutheran church in updating a 31-year-old handbook setting out how services should be conducted in terms of language, liturgy, hymns and other aspects.

The decision was taken at the end of an eight-day meeting of the church’s 251-member decision-making body at the end of last year, and took affect in May this year on the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, some 37 miles north of the capital, has 6.1 million baptized members in a country of 10 million.

As of 2014 it is headed by a woman, Archbishop Antje Jackelen.

Sweden has become a nominally Christian country with few practicing Christians.  Most of its churches, well maintained, are essentially abandoned, as The Local.se reports:

H.B. Hammar, former dean and associate professor of ethics, writes in an opinion piece in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, that as so many churches are used rarely if ever across the country, pulling them down entirely would cause less uproar than selling them on for speculative redevelopment.

The figures are alarming, he writes.

The number of confirmations has dropped from around 80,000 in 1970, to some 35,000 today and over the same period, regular church visitors on a Sunday have slipped from nine million to about 4.6 million.

Today, says Hammar of the 3,384 churches in Sweden, many are used at most, once a month.

It appears their decision won’t affect very many Swedes.  Let’s travel back to Austin:

Reverend Gafney says she already changes words like ‘King’ to ‘Ruler’ or ‘Creator’ so the gender is not obvious.

She sometimes changes ‘He’ to ‘She’ in her services and believes that ‘men’ and ‘God’ should not be in the same category.

credit: lds.org

I’m not a degreed theologian, but it has always been my impression that men and God are not in the same category, God being God and all.  Doesn’t the Bible make that rather clear?  The whole “I am your God and you are my people” thing?

Some religious leaders want to make other revisions to the book, including making it clear Christians have a duty to protect the Earth.

I knew environmentalism and climate change had to be in there somewhere.  Can ritual condemnation of President Trump in God’s–whoops! Whoever’s–name be far behind?  A whole anti-Trump liturgy?  I can just imagine the texts of the hymns.

They are also considering adding same-sex marriage ceremonies to the liturgy as well as a ceremony to celebrate when a transgender person adopts a new name.

Uh, that belongs in God’s house?  I thought new names were something the courts did.  I wonder where one finds that in the Scriptures?  Apparently all of this has to be brought up and voted on several times before it become official church policy.

I’m kind of old fashioned, but who am I to argue with highly educated and well-intentioned clergy?  I read a passage like Exodus 3:13-15–

Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

–and I think “I am who I am,” and say “right.”  I would no more presume to change that written by the finger of God on the tablets Moses brought down from the mountain than to change His word, particularly His–not hers, it’s xe, xir, etc.–when he, and Jesus, tell us who He is: Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, I take it on faith.  God issues the definitions.  I do my best to act on them.

Apparently some Episcopalians know better.