Food For Thought -
Articles Submitted by Parishioners
The following pieces are quoted from the last two editions (Nov 18/May 19) of PASTORAL RENEWAL EXCHANGE published from St Joseph's, Dinnington, South Yorkshire
THE GENDER OF GOD
All mysticism and theology works off the premise that while God can be known, God can never be thought of, nor spoken of in any adequate way. This is also true regarding God’s gender. All gender terms we apply to God (‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘he’ ‘she’) are likewise highly inadequate. God is neither a male nor a female. Nor is God genderless, an ‘it’. Masculinity and femininity both reflect God and thus, although we cannot ever find either concepts or words to capture this, God is somehow both male and female. How? We don’t know. All concepts and language are inadequate here. There is no way to imagine, nor speak of God’s gender.
WE LIVE IN EACH OTHER’S SHADOW
We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. Any true ecological approach must become a social approach. ‘Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation.’ (South African Bishops’ Conference) (LS 14)
‘We need a conversation which includes everyone' … To what might the Pope be referring here? What kind of conversation and with what focus? In his writings he reveals a relentless belief in the sanctity of all things, of all creatures, of all people, of the whole cosmos. There are no exceptions to this vision. He is on fire with this deep compulsion about the presence of God everywhere. Spreading the joy of this good news is the constant motivation that drives his energy; it is constantly revealed in all he says and does.
THE CHURCH AS INSTITUTION
The Church with its authority structure, its bishops and priests, churches, schools and other organisations like Cafod is viewed as an institution and judged as such. While it may be viewed in the light of holiness, generosity and care many might point to the less favourable characteristics which it shares with other institutions. Institutions in society have changed enormously in the last three hundred years and attitudes to them have changed dramatically in modern times.
The main institutions in society were based on male authority dictating to those below them in a social system where everyone knew their place and in large measure accepted it. Women were on a second level when it came to leadership and power, only allowed to influence things indirectly. They had the shape of a pyramid with a small exclusive elite controlling them. At the base level were individuals of low status with little education and freedom, well used to being told what to do or how to behave. The elite and upper strata took on the responsibility of setting the ideals and values which were claimed to be necessary for the smooth running of society.
RECOVERING OUR BALANCE
Can you find out the depths of God? Or find out the perfection of the Almighty? It is higher than the heavens; so what can you do? It is deeper than Sheol; so what can you know? It is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. — Job 11:7-9 The Bible, in its entirety, finds a balance between knowing and not-knowing, between using particular and carefully chosen words and having humility about words, even though the ensuing traditions have not often found that same balance. “Churchianity,” by its very definition, needs to speak with absolutes and certainties. It feels its job is to make absolute truth claims and feels very fragile when it cannot. Then, we followers think we must be certain about things we are not really certain of at all (which is the beginning of the loss of faith)!
From Reflections by Hugh Lavery
Our contemporaries worry us about the relevance of religion. But religion was a word Christ never used. Over the years it has acquired overtones, suggestions of strange rites and eccentric observances, of practices unconcerned with making the lives of people good and purposeful.
Christ's word is not religion. It is life; no other would do. His interest was simply the whole range of common experience, his way relevant, with no whiff of the esoteric or arcane. The Lord was always a commoner. Yet life is a wide word and Jesus does not use it without qualification. He uses prefix — the life that I will give. He uses addition — life and a more abundant life.