Queen's counsel XXVII

November 2003

My third and last year at Queens started with a residential weekend during which we spent some time exploring feminist approaches to faith and understanding of life. We were asked to place ourselves somewhere on a line between knowing little to being widely read in this area and then how much does it matter. Where do you think the men went? Where would you place yourself?

Men and patriarchal images appear to dominate most of history and much of scripture. Kings rather than queens have ruled us and we have relied on male priests for most of our religious ceremony and development. Even our artistic and industrial heritage seems to have been created by men though if you take the time to explore, there are innumerable contributions from women too. The problem, after so many hundreds of years of unquestioned assumption, is in our conditioning and perhaps in not being prepared, or even allowed, to delve and be open.

Language has something to do with it and it is generally recognized that scripture has been recorded with a patriarchal bias. However, it is worth pausing and considering that the wisdom of God, the source of meaning behind the whole universe, is known in the Greek as sophia, a feminine noun. So also is the Spirit or breath of God, in Hebrew ruwach, that moved across the face of the waters to bring the creation into being. Jesus who becomes man in order to redeem the world (more of that next time we're studying Salvation this term) commissions Mary outside the tomb to take the good news of his resurrection to the Apostles and thus become the first Apostle. Nowadays there is much more insistence on inclusive language, and rightly so, but we need to recognize the challenges that different approaches bring and rejoice in their diverse gifts.

November starts with us commemorating All Saints and remembering the souls of those loved ones who are now with us only in Spirit. In the spiritual realm, there is no particular distinction between male and female all are special in their own way and all are one in the great company of all who have gone before us. Perhaps Lady Julian of Norwich should have the last word:

And so I saw full surely that
Before ever God made us, he loved us.
And this love was never quenched
Nor ever shall be.
And all this we shall see
In God without end
Which Jesus grant us

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This page was last updated on 2003-09-27

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