Non-gender God-ness: Why God can’t be “he” to me

Climbing roses

God-ness in my mother’s flowers

It makes my shoulders rise and my teeth clench to I hear God-ness referred to as “he.” To me, there’s something misguided about that.

It’s not because I hate men or have suffered trauma at their hands; I haven’t. And I don’t have father issues; my father was what everyone would describe as a “good man.”

Describing God as “he” feels inadequate to me, off target. Dangerous even. It’s like referring to gravity as “he.” 

To me, making God a “he” personifies something that cannot, and should not, be personified. It turns the Source, the Manifesting Force, the Creative Essence of our natural world into the Old Man in the Sky, and that causes all kinds of problems. The minute we personify God-ness we give a non-human force completely inappropriate human intentions.

The Old Man in the Sky can be blamed for things, thanked for things, asked for things. 

We would not consider blaming gravity for an airplane that falls out of the sky, and we would not assume that gravity had evil intent. We would not thank gravity for holding our TV on the stand while we binge watch The Crown, and we would not assume it had done so as a special reward for our goodness. We would not ask gravity to alter its natural state to accommodate our favourite sports team and keep that home run ball from sailing over the fence. 

Good things and bad things happen that involve gravity, but we don’t blame or thank gravity for those events. We simply accept. We don’t personify gravity, and so it goes about being gravity without everyone making judgments about it.

We can’t change gravity, but we have learned to work with it and to leverage it for our purposes. Accepting it and understanding it helps us to navigate through our world more effectively. We can choose to not believe in gravity, sure, but we’ll stick to the ground just the same.

Good things and bad things happen in our ever-creating world, and I believe we shouldn’t blame or thank God for those events. Simply accept. If we don’t personify God-ness, it can go about evolving and creating our world without everyone making judgments about it.

We can’t change God-ness, our creative source, but we can learn to align with the flow and leverage it for our purposes. By accepting it and understanding it we can navigate through our world more effectively. We can choose not to believe in God-ness, sure, but we were created, we will keep creating our whole lives, and we’ll create something else when we’re gone just the same.

If you ask me, an Old Man in the Sky has nothing to do with it. 

My son, ready to make use of gravity.

My son, ready to leverage gravity.

 

 

 

A candle of hope, advent, and football

Advent. Something’s coming. Get ready. 

candle-of-hopeAt our house on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas we light Advent candles during a pre-dinner ritual: candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love lit one by one in a countdown to Christmas. Most of those candle-lightings take place at our dining room table. Quiet, dignified affairs.

Not the first one.

As it happens, the first Sunday of Advent falls on the same date as an important sporting event: the Grey Cup. [For non-Canadians, that is the final game to determine the championship of the Canadian Football League (CFL). ] As it happens, a group of neighbourhood friends traditionally gathers at our house to eat unhealthy food, drink beer and watch the Grey Cup game. [For non-Canadians, think Superbowl party.]

We don’t let the raucous game and the noisy gathering get in the way of our ritual. At some point in the evening—at the time it feels right—we still the TV, quiet the conversation and we take the time to be peaceful, to appreciate each other’s friendship and to light the candle of Hope. Sometimes the team we’re cheering for wins and sometimes the team loses, but there is always Hope. Something’s coming. Get ready. Then it’s back to nachos, ribs, beer and raucous cheering.

The Grey Cup and the lighting of the candle of Hope have become so linked in my mind that if the CFL ever decided to change the date of the final I would have to take a moment during the game to light a candle just because. I would have to take a moment to remember, there’s always Hope.

Yesterday our hometown Ottawa REDBLACKS played in the Grey Cup. They were the underdogs, a long-shot to win against a Calgary Stampeders team that dominated the league all season. We took our quiet time to light the candle of Hope after the first quarter. Our team was ahead, but against Calgary a lead did not feel comfortable. We lit the candle.

Hope. Something’s coming. Get ready.

Against the odds the Ottawa REDBLACKS won in an overtime nail-biter. We jumped around the living room. We cheered. We blew our air horn on the street.

There’s always hope. Something’s coming. Get ready.

__________________

Just for fun, you’ll want to see these spectacular photos of the game the REDBLACKS played in the snow the previous Sunday. LIFE IN A SNOW GLOBE: EASTERN FINAL THROUGH THE LENS OF LANDON ENTWISTLE

 

 

Two Americas on Thanksgiving

The morning after the American election, a friend of mine said, “There are two Americas: the one I love and the one that terrifies me.”

Before the election, we Canadians watched America like a sibling watching a family member involved in a bad romance. We wrung our hands as our loved one fell for a person with a string of failed relationships, a history of bankruptcy and little evidence of compassion. We despaired as they fell for the bad boy despite the braggadocio and narcissism that we perceived. We gasped in shock at the ugly and hateful words from some of his friends. We tried to warn our sibling about a history of infidelity and mistreatment of women but, as is often the case, the person we love was so blinded by the excitement, we became the targets of blame and mistrust instead.

And so, we awoke to November 9 like family members on the morning after a wedding day when they turn to one another and say, “I can’t BELIEVE they got married, but they’re stuck with each other now.”

It’s tempting to turn our backs on the unfortunate couple and say, “Best of luck to you then.” But we’re in this together as North American family. We have to support America through what is sure to be a tumultuous relationship.

Oh, America, I give exuberant thanks for all about you that I love with a big open heart: the America of that creates the best entertainment in the world; the America that welcomes us when we travel and gives us food in gigantic portions; the America of outstanding baseball; the America of white sand paradise beaches and snow-capped mountains; the America that swoops in and saves the day.

And on this Thanksgiving, I pray that all about America that terrifies me—racism, guns, threats to women’s rights, oppression of LGBT citizens—that has been dredged up to the surface by Donald Trump as president-elect (full body shudder) somehow—in the way that reaching rock bottom leads to recovery—opens America’s eyes to the path to the highest good.

Come to my house, no need for a hostess gift

I hearken back to the simple times of my youth as part of a large extended family in a rural community. Those were the days. Back then, at that time, when we visited our friends or relatives there was no such thing as a hostess gift. How I miss those simple visits with no obligation to bring a “little something.” Pot luck sure, there were plenty of those. But hostess gifts, no. Thank God.

I love that we went to visit people knowing that they wanted to see us and to share what they had with us with open hearts. We were enough.

When people came to our house we shared all that we had with open hearts. Their company was all we wanted. They were enough.

When I read this piece “5 Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party (and Seeing Your Friends More Often)”  on thekitchn.com I thought, “Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!”

Here are the rules to follow for a pre-arranged Crappy Dinner Party

  1. No housework is to be done prior to a guest’s arrival.
  2. The menu must be simple and not involve a special grocery shop.
  3. You must wear whatever you happen to have on.
  4. No hostess gifts allowed.
  5. You must act like you’re surprised when your friend and her family just happen to show up at your door (optional).

Come to our house. We’ll share all we have with open hearts. No need for a hostess gift.


http://www.thekitchn.com/5-rules-for-hosting-a-crappy-dinner-party-235815?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=tracking&utm_campaign=article-share

 

Attention! Beating ploughshares into swords: Remembrance Day

poppies-in-franceOn Remembrance Day last year, I journeyed to my hometown in the Ottawa Valley to honour our veterans at the ceremony there. In her tribute that day, the minister, Rev. Patricia Van Gelder, spoke about the old testament passage from Micah about “beating swords into ploughshares.” The passage assures us that someday—that elusive someday—peace will reign so unequivocally that weapons will be redundant and the metal from them can be turned into tools used to provide us with food.

But, she said, when she attended a presentation by the local historical society, she noticed something. The presentation was about a shift in farm machinery that took place in the early 1900s from horsepower to tractor power. Tractors allowed farmers to work faster, cover more ground, and they didn’t need to worry about horses breaking legs in groundhog holes or other similar tragedies. Farmers adopted the technology and soon there were tractors on almost every farm. Early versions had flaws so there were rapid changes and turnovers. Tractors, tractors everywhere.

So why then, asked a person in the audience at that presentation, were there so few old tractors of that vintage still around?

The answer? The war.

The metal from implements that farmers used to grow food for us was donated to the war effort to turn into weapons. Rev. Van Gelder realized that what happened was the opposite of what the passage in Micah talked about. “The stuff of life turned into the stuff of death. Isn’t that a grim thought?” she said. 

So, how do we hold onto faith when faced with that grim truth?

Rev. Van Gelder suggested that the passage reminds us that war, hunger, fear have no place in this world. We need to pay attention when we make choices that contradict that. If we wake up to the incongruity of what we’re doing, maybe we can change our course.

We need to re-think choices that take us toward death and away from life. If make the better choice, if we feed each not kill each other, perhaps that elusive someday might actually arrive.

 

Some thoughts on life and death for El día de los muertos

screen-shot-2014-07-18-at-7-05-39-pm

I recently read Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. The woman behind The Order of the Good Death gives readers an interesting perspective on the life/death experience (if you don’t mind some occasional gory passages).

In her book Doughty references a 1961 paper in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology that outlines seven reasons why humans fear dying. The paper suggests that fear of death arises from concerns about

  1. Grief caused to relatives and friends
  2. Plans and projects that coming to an end
  3. The process of dying being painful
  4. The end of  being able to enjoy life experiences
  5. No longer being able to care for dependants
  6. What will happen if there is life after death
  7. What will happen to the body after death

To that list I would add my own personal concern: my house needs a thorough cleaning and things are a little disorganized. I don’t want to leave a mess behind for others to clean up. I know I’m not alone in that: an acquaintance told me she never leaves her house without making sure the kitchen is clean and the beds are made, in case something happens to her when she’s out.

In Europe and North America we don’t like to talk about death. We are “death phobic,” as The Order of the Good Death describes it, which makes it all the more difficult for us when the inevitable happens. Regardless of which of those seven fears resonates most clearly with any one person—and I suspect it’s different for everyone—death comes to us all one way or another.

People in Latin America have a more open approach. Beginning on November 1, El día de los muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a two-day celebration that recognizes death as a natural and necessary process and part of the human experience. During El día de los muertos, the dead share in the celebrations, eating, drinking and being merry with their loved ones.

“. . . let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.” —Isaiah 22:13

Today I will eat, drink and be merry with some departed loved ones—after I clean the bathrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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