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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Book Review: When God Was a Woman

In the beginning, or at least before Adam and Eve, we worshipped a Goddess. That’s the conclusion drawn from When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone and The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler.

It’s quite disturbing, but the idea that violent male invaders rewrote history would explain a lot. I am now trying to reconcile this new information with my existing religious beliefs. I am generally always open to other faiths, provided I don’t have to renounce my own, which is grounded in some simple tenets:

Matthew 7:12 – “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

That second one, having to do with the bodily resurrection, can be a real sticking point for Christians, especially conservative ones. I personally find it inconsistent that the Most High would be that automatic, and I don’t think it’s my call to insist that others share that belief. However, I choose to believe it myself, and I wouldn’t want to renounce it.

As far as I can tell, I would not have to. In fact, early Christianity may have been an attempt to restore gentler “feminine” values such as compassion, responsibility, and love. The crucifixion itself may have even been symbolic of pre-biblical legend. Some people pray to the Mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene is said to be the author of one of the Gnostic Gospels.

Many religious leaders have already preached that the Holy Spirit is a feminine entity. Christian theology teaches us that the Holy Spirit is God, as much as is the Father and the Son. As far as I’m concerned, the Holy Spirit can be a code word, interchangeable with Goddess or whatever name women give Her.

Goddess worship may have also involved figurines, as archaeological evidence suggests. With all the Bible’s warnings about idol-worship, I felt somewhat uncomfortable about this. However, just as when one prays before a cross, they are really praying to Jesus, when one prays before a figurine, they could be really praying to the Holy Spirit.

Having a clearer picture then of both feminine and masculine religions, we now have the opportunity to choose the best of each. Research hints that the ancient legends may have involved incest and pedophilia, while the Old Testament outlawed those practices. Since then, modern science and research has shown that incest leads to genetic abnormalities, and pedophilia is harmful to children’s psychological development. Conversely, the newer, masculine-originated sociopathy of empire has pushed us to the brink of extinction.

A number of ancient Goddess worship practices were described. One idea I find objectionable is the ritual sacrifice of the younger male consort. This would be a violation of Matthew 7:12. Even if he wanted to go of his own volition, no mortal human could possibly assure him it was in his best interests. In other words, if it were me I would not want a killer as my high priestess. Perhaps a substitute ritual could be devised. Some consorts may have been sacrificed after only a year.

Could this be a case of a desire gone too far? It seems that these rituals and practices could possibly yield clues as to the innate natural behaviors of women and men. If I may speculate, this may have been the manifestation of conflicting emotions. For no matter how much a woman loves her man, she may begin to grow weary of him after about a year, even if he does everything right. She may not even realize the source of her restlessness, leading to feelings of denial and unspecified resentment. It may explain why daytime television dramas, historically targeted toward women, consist of an ongoing procession of new husbands and boyfriends.

If monogamy, as the research suggests, was indeed imposed on women through force and intimidation, it then becomes more difficult to blame those who are, shall we say, “candor-challenged.” I would expect a great deal of repressed anger, and, perhaps, repressed desires. This might also explain the supposed female attraction to men with money: An ingrained survival reaction by those compelled to buy into the androcratic power structure. Instead, the authors encourage us to envision a gylanic world where women and men work cooperatively to meet their economic needs. Once a reasonable level of comfort has been achieved for adults and their offspring, attention can be turned to pleasure.

Trying to guess the true hidden desires of women may prove to be an exercise in futility, as I suspect they love surprises. Based on some of the rituals described, my impression is that feminine desires are constantly changing, often opposite whatever men want, and potentially without end. Of course I am wrong on all this, but that too would make sense under the new paradigm!

While I found the second book more up-to-date, comprehensive, and scholarly, the first book really captured my imagination. In both books I was most intrigued by the Minoan civilization. It could be a good model for intentional communities.

2 Comments:

At Tue Sep 11, 10:50:00 AM CDT, Blogger Phil said...

God is a BITCH?!
I'm thinking of starting a website for Fletcher and posting comments on what assholes pet owners are.

 
At Wed Sep 12, 05:31:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Life’s a bitch and then you die and face the Goddess.

 

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