WHAT ARE MEN SO AFRAID OF?

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” 12 Mathew 32

The religious traditions that exclude women from a central role vis-à-vis God flagrantly sin against the Holy Spirit. By imposing strictures against women’s relationship with God, especially in preaching and teaching, men, in direct opposition to Jesus’ admonition, are forcefully diminishing the Holy Spirit by restricting it to one half of the human race – since the Holy Spirit is, of course, freely available to all human beings, not just to a single sex, and, certainly – not just to males.

So, what is it that men have been so afraid of? Is it that women’s natural love of nature implies they might also have the potential to be more intimate with God as well? And is that why men, so very long ago, felt an urgent need to manufacture a male “exemplar” God to prima facie exclude all images of women from the godhead? Or might it have been an even deeper fear – that God might actually possess strong feminine aspects?

There’s also been a lack of “inwardness” in our postmodern lives. It’s far easier to project human intelligence “outward” into science and technology, finance and politics, than “inward” where thinking inevitably has to confront emotions and feelings. Ironically, the outward “male” path is easier to follow than the inward “female” one because it’s so difficult for one’s rational thinking to sort out one’s emotions and feelings – especially when we become so “attached” to the latter. However, that’s where most of the “juice” in human life resides – along with an ability to get “real things done.”

Here’s the problem: in men’s traditional approach to religion, “spirit” has not been taken very seriously, while materialism has been avidly worshipped. As a result, the spiritual visions of Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed have, over time, become transformed by the religious institutions established in their name into a kind of ersatz spirituality – shading into frequently violence-tinged “spiritual materialism.” This has created the kind of spiritual imbalance that, one day, might flip humanity into a final tragic cycle of self-destruction.

The “hard” male-dominant social structures that have created this spiritual imbalance – i.e., the world’s vast, almost child-like, yet extraordinarily expensive military organizations, the constantly morphing multinational corporations, and the West’s “sacred” capitalist economic structures – by common consensus have now gone too far and are currently threatening humanity’s very existence.

In light of all of this, isn’t it time – even past time – to think about spiritually starting all over again – and modestly and respectfully requesting women’s help?

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CHURCH LIKE A MUSEUM

Jesus had this idea
That, one day, we might become complete human beings
Instead of remaining, in some part, human animals –

That we might set aside our materialistic desires and fantasies
And live in “reality,” that is, in spirit.

To Jesus – spirit was God,
And the reason we’re prevented from seeing God, face-to-face,
Without dying,
Is the very real danger of seeing ourselves.

In light of this, Jesus preached death to artificial selves
And the rebirth of our true self –

The “pearl” –

After he died, Church officials rushed to designate him as “God” –
But, of course, by then, he was no longer able to stop that from happening.

His finest gift to us was the validation of an active, open, loving human spirit –
While his successors spent their time constructing a spiritual/materialistic empire.

Everything they did, at least in part, led away from God –

So, today, we attend church, reverentially, like entering a museum.

EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE

The trouble with costume parties –
Especially Halloween ones –
Is that we already wear costumes every day.

For us, the world’s a stage –
With set pieces –
Produced for family, work, and friends.

We always play “ourselves” of course,
But, as director, we’re
Capable, at a moment’s notice,
Of changing script, actors, location,
And even meaning.

We do this faster than eye can follow –
Faster than memory encodes –
And it’s a seamless entertainment –
Performed for an audience of one.

We find ourselves living inside our own movie –
A production of hope, pathos and tragedy –

But we can never touch it
Since nothing produced in this manner will ever be fully real.

Instead, we hold life close, like a secret deck of cards,
And postpone true reality
Until the moment after death –

So, for now, everything can appear – so far as the world’s concerned – to be
In its rightful place.

NO RETURN ADDRESS

Love has no teeth
Or appetite.

Speed, size, and charisma
Are all subordinate to it.

Love is secretive – so even when fully open –
You’ll never be able to guess its timing.

Love has its own weather –
And its own meteorologists.

Love doesn’t calculate
Or attempt to gain control.

Love is immortal because, once in existence, it can’t be lost,
Eternal, because its light will never go out.

Love knows everything without thinking about it –
And is the reverse of self-importance.

Love is a letter sent to oneself
With no return address.

REINTERPRETING GENESIS

The snake was both friend and foe –
Friend because it enticed us into opening up to self-awareness
Foe because it gave no hint about the consequences.

Once, long ago, we lived as happy human animals,
Doing what we wanted or needed –
Without reflection.

But, one day, just before biting into a ripe pomegranate,
We stepped back, looked at what we could see, and
Made a conscious choice.

For the first time, we could see ourselves, in context –
And were shocked –
Because, suddenly, we realized we were responsible
For our actions
And that we were no longer going to just do “what comes natural”.

After that, we had choices:
To be anything –
To do anything –
And we would be able to see it all.

After that pivotal moment, we no longer could stop seeing ourselves –
Because once you know – you know
And in that archaic instant, we lost all naturalness –
We lost “Eden”.

The gap between a human animal
And a human being is virtually infinite,
(not qualitatively different from the gap between the spark or “touch” that created the universe and God),
Now, however, we’re compelled to continue crossing that gap,
Because, once started, there’s really no turning back.

The snake knew this, of course –
That’s why its gift was a curse,
And its curse a gift –

Humans had to lose themselves
In order to become themselves.

This is the cross shared by every human being –
And it’s never a matter of sin
But of consciousness of the responsibility for our own suffering.

All of us, also, need to suffer for future generations
Who’ll need to cross that gap as well
To become full human beings.

So, each of us is presented with the same choice as Jesus –
That is, whether or not to act as God
Would act
If God were human.

For us, it’ll always be a matter of direction –
Individually, as well as for the entire human race.

DANCING WITH A WILD GOD

God is so wild,
That the authorities decided to seal the Holy Spirit up
Inside stone buildings with long narrow aisles
And steeples like tall
Pointy fingers.

God is so wild,
That people aren’t permitted
To say anything that’s not already been said a million times before.

God is so wild,
That we wear business suits
To worship –
In order to demonstrate our good order.

When we pray in public, we do it all together –
But, generally, quietly –
Because we don’t want to risk sending God
Over the top.

God is so wild
That we lock our hearts up in tiny jeweled theological boxes
So we’ll never be tempted to reject our lifetime of clichés.

God is so beautiful
So true, so loving –
That without all these solid protections:

We might start dancing, wildly, along with God –
Out there –
In the violet twilight
Of our beautifully naked streets.