How CAN you be religious if you are a feminist?

(227 Posts)

Given that misyogyny is absolutely inherent in Christianity, Islam and the rest (even when they try to dress it up as saying they 'revere' women and women are 'special' it;s still about women being defined by men as not quite human), how can a woman follow any of these myth systems without accepting that she's less than fully human and her imaginary friend thinks so too, otherwise why wouldn't it have smashed the patriarchy already?

lou031205 Sat 27-Mar-10 11:01:26

I think the problem with your argument starts with the word 'given'. I don't think that it is 'given' at all. I think that is a subjective premise, which in itself needs unpicking and debating, before you can move on to the subject of your title question.

DemonChild Sat 27-Mar-10 12:29:21

OK lou let's debate that assumption then. Because their are many examples of religion being used to control and subjugate women.

In Christianity women are not allowed the freedom to decide what to do with their own bodies, they cannot ascend to the highest authority (even in protestantism they cannot be bishops) and even though their main prophet said nothing bad about women and was openly friends with women (and undoubtedly married to one as it was illegal for jewish men to be unmarried in those days) by the fourth century christianity was already being twisted to promote male supremacy (look at the gospels they left out).

In Islam the gender apartheid is obvious. Honour killings, ritual genital mutilation and the veil are all methods of control. In strict Muslim states women have significantly less rights than men and many are executed on spurious claims.

In orthodox Judaism, women are considered unclean when menstruating and some men refuse any physical contact with any women who is not related (including a handshake).

In hinduism, the misogyny is revealed in the many she-demons and the characterisation of women as 'chaos' and disorder.

So, your premise is correct, one shouldn't assume a hatred of women in religion, but many examples can be found, you don't even have to look hard.

To answer your question SGB I don't. However if I believed in God(s) I would find it possible to reconcile God(s) with being a woman, but not any religion.

chibi Sat 27-Mar-10 12:39:06

i am a feminist, and (tenuously at the moment) a Catholic.

i have coped with misogyny by seeing it as part of the structure of the Church rather than inherent to Christ's message.

Christ loved women and valued them - they were the first to see him after the resurrection. I don't believe that he thought they were worth less than men. I think that came with the Church which as a human institution is fallible and capable of warping a divine message.

Probably this makes me a bad Catholic, you are meant to agree to all of it, not just pick and choose. I picked and chose the bits that suited my conscience - like how could my gay brother be sinning in his relationship with his partner? They are in love and he is v kind and a good man.

I was ok with the 'ignore the bits I can't agree to' until recently. At present I feel that my Church demands that I overlook too much (i have detailled this on another thread) in order to keep going and calling myself a Catholic. I have chosen to keep my relationship with God and sacrifice the churchgoing for now.

Blu Sat 27-Mar-10 12:42:38

Is there a difference between having a religious belief and being part of a reigious organisation?

Because many many examples you cite, DemonChild, are s a result of religion being bolted on to a patriarchal society. there is nothing in Islam which advocates GM, GM is a tribal / cultural phenomenum of some countries which adopted Islam. there are many Ismaic countries where GM would be an anathema.

Do you have to be in a church which doesn't allow female bishops in order to eb a Christian? The christian church didn't exist in Christ's time, after all!

I am nt religious at all. And I suspect that there are no mainstream woman-centred religions because there are no woman-centric societies from which they could have arisen.

In Christianity, as far as I know (am no scholar in the subject) the discrimination against women comes either from the old testament, or from the structured churches fo St Paul onwards - not actually from the reported teachings of Christ himself.

DemonChild Sat 27-Mar-10 13:10:16

Sorry, that was what I meant [longwinded emoticon] blush

If any gods exist I'm sure they're not misogynists (or racist or classist for that matter). It's the people involved who make such distinctions and until God joins the discussion, their's is the word we have to go with.

I'm a feminist and a (very liberal) Christian - it's only patriarchal society (and latterly capitalism) that has tried to make Christianity misogynistic.

In the Bible men and women are equal and in the early Christian church women had equal standing in the Church (were equiv. of bishops and stuff).

It's only interpretation that makes it seem misogynistic - same as being anti-homosexuality - tis not in the text (unless you interepret it as being there).

shonaspurtle Sat 27-Mar-10 13:27:39

I'm a member of the Church of Scotland where women (after many years of debate and reform) can hold any position of authority.

I think when you say Protestantism DemonChild you're actually talking about the Anglican Church. There are a lot of Protestant denominations.

cheesypopfan Sat 27-Mar-10 13:28:51

Yeah, i think much of your argument comes from the fact that organised religion has arisen from a parttriarchal prspective and is clearly sexist at times. The teachings of Christ were very often kind to oppressed women - haemorrhaging woman, woman at the well, adulteress etc. Yes, Paul's writings are tricky, but are also vcery contradictory, and very much need to be taken in the context of its time. He was very radical for his time and, once you study his letters, they are not as sexist as they first appear (esp if you cherry pick sentances). I can only speak for the Christian Church as this is what I have knowledge of, and it is very much still male dominated, which is frustrating. But I don't believe in the church persay, I believe in Jesus, and do voice what I see as injustice whenever I can - as do many others.

And your premise that it was illegal for Jewish men not to be married then is, as far as I know, wrong. It was unusual, but not illegal.

Rambling now.....

cheesypopfan Sat 27-Mar-10 13:31:55

And , yes, many Christian churches value women as equals -the methodist and church of scotland to name but two.

bloss Sat 27-Mar-10 13:35:26

Message withdrawn

Islam is also not necessarily mysogynistic either - the way it is carried out is to do with the culture of the country. If there are honour killings and genital mutilation that is to do with the society, not the religion.

Humans have always bent religion to fit their particular viewpoint.

bloss Sat 27-Mar-10 13:41:04

Message withdrawn

The fact that religions have been used to bolster up patriarchal attitudes does not make the religion itself mysogynistic, though may of the followers and the hierarchy may be. My church (Scottish Episcopal, part of the Anglican Communion) has had women priests for some years, without any of the "get-out clauses" which the C of E have. And they passed new rules a few years back to allow women bishops, though we don't actually have one yet (small church, few vacancies at bishop level since the rule was changed)

There is nothing inherently misogynistic about Christ's teachings and therefore by definition there can't be in Christianity (as it should be) even if there is in many Christian denominations even now.

Tinnitus Sat 27-Mar-10 14:18:06

@ cheesypopfan
@ Bloss

You are quite wrong, religious law took precedence in such matters and marriage was obligatory, Simply because procreation took place within marriage and most cultures at the time took steps to ensure continuation.

The idea that a man could be unmarried at the time and not have it used to defame him by the scribes and the pharisees is laughable.

Look to modern day rabbinical Judaism where they marry children off. Where do you think that came from.

OP You can of course be religious and a feminist. but there are quite a few misogynist faiths out there so just give them a wide berth and you should be fine.

If, as I believe, you are talking about the Abrahamic faiths then obviously not, they are clearly a boys club.

cheesypopfan Sat 27-Mar-10 14:28:42

Well, In all the theological studies I have done I have never come across that law as an obligation. Yes, religious law was dominant but that does not make it obligatory. Some prophets and holy men were unmarried and celibate. John the Baptist wasn't married. In fact the use and abuse of such laws was challenged continuously by Jesus during his time on earth. And he was, most certainly, defamed by the Scribes and Pharisees for the very fact that he did not abide by many Jewish laws such as healing on sabbath etc

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 14:40:12

I think there's a lot of double think going on. Women see the misogyny but think it doesn't apply to them somehow.

Patriarchal religion is based on the hatred of women and the idea of man equalling god and god equalling man. Women and goddesses need not apply. It's blatant.

As for being part of patriarchal religion and a feminist, lots of us do anti-feminist things to survive in this woman-hating world, so I don't think there is a contradiction between being part of patriarchal religion and being a feminist. What would be anti-feminist would be to try and shut other women up from talking about it or defending the misogyny.

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 14:41:22

Laurie, men and women are not equal in the bible. The bible is full of misogyny and edicts for women's submission to men.

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 14:44:53

Should have said, it starts with Adam and Eve and continues on from there. The very first thing the bible does is to blame a woman for man's sin. Men (as a group) have taken that idea and run with it ever since.

There is also a massive reversal in the ability to create life, where god creates Adam and then Eve comes from Adam's rib. I think a lot of it is because men can't bear the thought that women are the creators, not them, so they had to create a god that replaced women.

ImSoNotTelling Sat 27-Mar-10 14:48:24

Ha. good one SGB.

I think that how people manage it is the same as they manage to use contraception and be a RC. ie they take the parts that speak to them and carefully ignore the other bits. Doesn't bear close scrutiny but then how many of us live absolutely consistently all the time. I worry about global warming but sometimes i buy stuff which has come halfway round the world. Type thing.

The main organised religions aren't top-fab for women true, but lots of people have a personal belief system/adhere to smaller religions which are different. So in those cases there is no clash.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 27-Mar-10 14:49:54

I have a religious faith, well, because I do. I can't not have it, and believe me, it's not from a lack of questioning. I practise that faith in the religion into which I was born and in which I grew up. Which is undoubtedly sexist and has a whole bunch of bad things going for it. There's not a blind acceptance by everyone, and I don;t think my imaginary friend thinks I am less than human (I don't agree that the church views women as less than human btw, although the powers that be obviously see us as different to men, and not in a good way...)

thumbwitch Sat 27-Mar-10 14:51:58

depends on your definition of religious really - if you mean follows an organised religion such as the ones you have mentioned then yes, the two ideologies do rather clash.

OTOH it is perfectly possible to have a faith and be a feminist.

In fact I appear to be repeating what ISNT said.

ToccataAndFudge Sat 27-Mar-10 15:11:18

My Vicar said she never wanted to be a bishop anyhow as there were too many meetings with boring people and not enough preaching.

We're a female dominated CoE church, church wardens, treasurers, organist, vicar, majority of the PCC - all woman


And last time I checked it was actually Eve that took the first bite of the apple and gave some to Adam, Adam blamed eve, Eve blamed the serpent. Which if you do beleive in God is all a bit silly really all the finger pointing as God knew who had done it anyhow.

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 15:16:33

Lots of other people have noticed the misogyny in the Bible and have carefully collected quotes together:

"No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman.....Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" (Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24).

"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don't permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner"
(I Timothy 2:11-14).

"The birth of a daughter is a loss" (Ecclesiasticus 22:3).

"Keep a headstrong daughter under firm control, or she will abuse any indulgence she receives. Keep a strict watch on her shameless eye, do not be surprised if she disgraces you" (Ecclesiasticus 26:10-11).

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

"When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening" (Lev. 15:19-23).

"If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her saying, 'I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,' …and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of the town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you." (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

"A bad wife brings humiliation, downcast looks, and a wounded heart. Slack of hand and weak of knee is the man whose wife fails to make him happy. Woman is the origin of sin, and it is through her that we all die. Do not leave a leaky cistern to drip or allow a bad wife to say what she likes. If she does not accept your control, divorce her and send her away" (Ecclesiasticus 25:25).

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God…A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (I Corinthians 11:3-10).

I don't really understand why women would put up with this. Would men put up with a religion that taught them this?:

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christa, and the head of the man is woman, and the head of Christa is Goddess…A woman ought not to cover her head, since she is the image and glory of Goddess; but the man is the glory of woman. For woman did not come from man, but man from woman; neither was woman created for man, but man for woman. For this reason, and because of the angels, the man ought to have a sign of authority on his head" (I Corinthians 11:3-10).

Actually that makes a little more sense, because every man does come from a woman. Don't think men have to cover their heads though - patriarchal religion can keep its ridiculous hierarchies.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 15:27:46

Want to post quickly, will read whole thread later. SGB and DemonChild, you are both making the same mistake that many church leaders make - equating the Church with God/ Christianity.

Here are the differences as I see them:

The Church is a bunch of fallible, finite people of varied backgrounds, all with as many 'issues' as the rest of the world. Like everyone outside the Church, we all screw up from time to time in one way or another, and some people screw up bigger than others.

God - is an infinite being, therefore whatever we humans (being finite) try to do to represent or comprehend him/ her will always be in some way inadequate (i.e. how can a finite being fully understand an infinite being? Impossible).

Christianity - is the way that some of us try to understand and connect with this God. Again, it's inadequate but hey, we (mostly) do our best.

SGB, your feminism question is an interesting one and definitely worthy of consideration and discussion. In brief, I would say that Jesus was born into a culture which was in many ways very patriarchal. However, as ever, he stood outside the culture in order to challenge its prejudices. There are plenty of examples in the Bible of Jesus treating women of all backgrounds as equals. Seeing as the Church (i.e. the people) is meant to take Jesus as its example of how to be fully human, I think that's pretty conclusive.

So while some bigoted corners of the Church (people) may try to impose restrictions on women (don't get me started, grr), they are just betraying their own screwed-upness. Same as the nutters who bomb abortion clinics or claim that God created white people as the master race. All these different people's screwed-upness is about their problems, not the God they are trying to represent. So while I have a problem with all of them, I know that they and their ishoos are entirely separate from the faith that I practise.

That was meant to be a short post! grin

Hope this discussion continues, will be back in a few days!

thumbwitch Sat 27-Mar-10 15:29:20

important to remember that things like the Bible etc were written by men too... St.Paul was a raging misogynist.

sarah293 Sat 27-Mar-10 15:30:34

Message withdrawn

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 15:31:35

I don't think Jesus did much for women. If he'd told men specifically that they shouldn't try to have authority over women and that it was wrong to rape or beat us then I would be more convinced by the Jesus was a feminist argument. Or maybe if he'd said that the goddess was his mother, rather than talking about his dad all the time. Nothing like shoring up patriarchy by claiming god is male.

Somebody who is brave enough to claim to be the son of god, ought to be brave enough to stand up to male supremacy as well.

I think one of the things for women in these religions is that they don't have to have faith in god himself but they also have to have faith that the religion doesn't really hate them, even though there is mountains of evidence to the contrary.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 15:34:10

Just to add - part of the problem with the Bible is that the culture it was written in chose to put women in second place to men. So when those men wrote the Bible, they were writing from within that culture (as I said above, Jesus didn't accept those prejudices).

It's very difficult to tease out the societal assumptions made within an ancient Hebrew culture, and church folk (and I'm sure people in other religions) struggle with it ALL the time. In a similar way, someone looking at our culture in 1000 years time might just as well assume that we all consider it acceptable for little girls to be sexualised because there's so much within our culture that does this.

Fascinating discussion.

posieparker Sat 27-Mar-10 15:34:16

I am an atheist but studied feminist theology as part of my degree, very weird, anyway.... I think the most terrible thing about m ost religion is that 'tradition' means it never moves on. Texts reflect the time in which they were written and as most religions rely on the teachings they fail to evolve. I'm sure that if Jesus or The Prophet were to come again they would certainly have many different teachings to offer. I cannot imagine a omniscient, omnipresent and benevolent God would support such inequality. Which is a whole other thing isn't because I can't believe any creator would ever have created such an inequality in the first place.

posieparker Sat 27-Mar-10 15:35:15

Sorry after that rambling, I think the inequality between the sexes proves there is no God.

thumbwitch Sat 27-Mar-10 15:37:35

<<waves at speedy>> good post my friend - lots of what I wanted to say on there but haven't the brain power any more.

choosyfloosy Sat 27-Mar-10 15:42:59

I haven't found it to be possible.

In purely practical terms, I have got tired of being handed the child-care/food preparation elements of religion as soon as I set foot in a place of worship. Not very theological I know, but then I don't live in a theological college.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 17:18:35

Chibi: "I have chosen to keep my relationship with God and sacrifice the churchgoing for now." - Oh, I've been there too, spent many a year outside the church and I think my faith has greatly benefited for it.

dittany - I wish I were a better theologian, I would like to be able to answer the fullness of your statement. However, you should be aware that Jesus never actually explicitly said he was the son of God. That much of your statement I can answer with certainty. As for the question of him speaking out against female oppression, that's an interesting point. I think it's difficult to live in our time and culture and appreciate how radical his treatment of women was at the time; we can only read about it with 21st century Western eyes and say 'so what?'. But if we were 1st century Palestinians I think we'd appreciate the shock value much more. Sometimes he chose to speak out explicitly against injustices; sometimes he demonstrated his antipathy through actions rather than words. Also don't forget that the biblical records are incomplete - who knows what stories may have been missed out? Not that we should rely on 'what ifs', but my point is that the picture is more complex than you're assuming.

The biblical quotes that you've posted make grim reading, I'm not going to pretend that they don't. And so I can see how someone outside the faith would take them at face value and be turned off; I'm sure I would if I did not understand my faith as well as I do. But they all fit into what I was saying earlier about the 1st century Hebrew culture. I could just as well quote the bit in Genesis where God says (I paraphrase) 'I created them both male and female, in my image' - in other words - male + female together = the image of God. Not male alone.

thumbs - thanks! How you doing, girl?

Posie - I'm surprised that you come to that conclusion about the existence of God. Do you think, then, that inequality of any sort could not come about through screwy humans inventing it? I see this everywhere I turn: people oppressing each other because they choose to, not because a God has made them do it.

bloss: "I think, too, that if you seriously wanted to engage believers in a debate (as opposed to ranting at them) you would do better to avoid calling God an imaginary friend. In another context, you can make your point that way repeatedly (as I know you do). But basic courtesy is usually a better basis for a serious debate (if that's what you're after...)" I totally agree. I think SGB is clearly trying to bait people, and comes across as not wanting thoughtful discussion so much as a bit of a ruck. Is that the case, SGB?

Alouiseg Sat 27-Mar-10 17:24:14

Great post SGB. I can't believe in any spirit filled lunacy but I can believe in women.

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 17:30:40

From what I read of the new testament I think he did ,speedy. I'd have to check though.

From googling there's a bit about it here:

www.ccci.org/how-to-know-god/who-is-jesus-god-or-just-a-good-man/index.htm

"C. S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once an agnostic, understood this issue clearly.

He writes: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -&#8209; on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg &#8209;- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse."

Then Lewis adds: "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

In the words of Kenneth Scott Latourette, historian of Christianity at Yale University: "It is not His teachings which make Jesus so remarkable, although these would be enough to give Him distinction. It is a combination of the teachings with the man Himself. The two cannot be separated."

Jesus claimed to be God. He didn't leave any other option open. His claim must be either true or false, so it is something that should be given serious consideration."

"And so I can see how someone outside the faith would take them at face value and be turned off; I'm sure I would if I did not understand my faith as well as I do."

This is exactly what I'm saying about having to have faith in your religion as well as god. Why don't you take the sexism at face value. The patriarchs who rule christianity certainly do. Yet women in christianity end up with this double think of "they don't really mean it". They really do mean it.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 17:33:12

Just quickly, dittany - he never said it explicitly. He implied it by the way he spoke, but it was never explicitly stated. That's what the writers you quoted are referring to. And that's also an example of what I mean when I say he chose different means to communicate different messages - sometimes preaching on a hill, sometimes chatting with his mates, sometimes leading by example, sometimes implying and sometimes stating things explicitly.

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 17:42:09

Well here are the implications:

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:6-9)

"All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:37-40)

The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:24-30)

In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that he is not merely a mortal man:

"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:56-58)

Finally, though we do not have a record of Jesus saying, "I Am The Son of God", in those exact words, he did say plainly that He was the Messiah. On several occasions when asked if He was the Son of God, he either affirmed that He was, or did not deny it. Here are the most revealing passages:

The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." (John 4:25-26)

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:15-17)

The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:63-64)

They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am." (Luke 22:70)

Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. (John 10:36-38)

I think that second last quote from Luke is pretty explicit as is the last one from John.

Clarissimo Sat 27-Mar-10 17:49:08

I see it from noth sides I think, I knaow htehre is much in faith that is mysogynistic but equally there is much that is empowering, it is not a one way road at all.

It also depends on how you see your faith- if you are someone who is book led I think chances are you are going to acept feminism is not your bag

Equally though if you are someone who follows a branch that teaches you should follow your conscience and your God inspired beleifs over any book or human preaching then you will be OK.

So the answer SGB I think withong Christianity is Quakerism (OK it is for me anyway)

'As for being part of patriarchal religion and a feminist, lots of us do anti-feminist things to survive in this woman-hating world, so I don't think there is a contradiction between being part of patriarchal religion and being a feminist. What would be anti-feminist would be to try and shut other women up from talking about it or defending the misogyny.' I think thats very true Dittany. I also think though that many peopel do not accept the Old Testament in any real way within Christianity- the key texts for many are those of Jesus which are about love and acceptance, and of course the Bible is divinely inspired not divinely written: we know (as Christians) that mankind was involved in the writing of it.

And then there are many other faiths- Buddhism and Jainism has had female mendicants i high regard as far back as the faith writings go though there is certainly mucgmysogeny in Jainsim (the concept that males can go underssed but a female who did would cause the males to be tempted for example). But then you are looking at a faith way older than Christianity (we don;t know how old really)- so perhaps even having female mendicants was incredibly huge at the time, and that should be taken into consideration? What is passed onpaper or learned verse as doctrine created thousands of eyars ago should be viewed from the time it was written in when beinga ssessed (as well as for relevance in the modern world).

Then you get Hindusim and Sati, conmcpts of impure and you want to scream. Hindy feminsits tell su that sati actually emphasised the power of teh female but really it's just nasty shit isn't it? Cultural crap masquerading as religious obligation. Your hubby died, we don;t want to have to support you and our scoiety won't allow you to support yourself so off you go into the fire. AFAIK the alst incident of Sati was @ 20 yaers ago but nmy lecturer in Hindu studies tells em she thinks it still ahppens in the most rural areas: I don;t know. I hope to God not. To any God.

And Islam- the Islamic femionists are an interesting bunch. Sometimes you read them and think- it sounds like justification over reality. And of course its harder to be accepted as arguing with a divinely given book than a divinely inspired one. Theya re wonderful people though:annd they also illustrate just by thir being the truth about teh differnece bertween Muslim faith and Islamic culture. The Islamic cultures being the palces that wouldn;t allow them the chance or education to even spread their ideology. The places where a harsh interpreatation of Idslam is used to justify torture and murder of woemn (eg teh rules aroun rape in sharia law). I think when you jusge an actual religion for what it is there is much value in looking at how it exists in palces where it is not a dominat faith- and there is plenty of eviddence of female emancipation and feminsit ideology in those palces within Islam.

So. To sum up there are loads fo faith sand they all differ, but to find a place for real feminsim chances are you need to be looking at liuberal interpretations and eitehr where branches have evolved in more recent times (the last 500 yaers at elast) or where a faith has moved outiside the cultural references that it evolved within.

Ohalmost forgot Sikhism. Not sure about Sikh femionsim tbh, never encountered one but there is a big equality move behind Sikhism from the outset and any faith that can combine langar and being anti- caste has the right roots for freedom for all.

Clarissimo Sat 27-Mar-10 17:51:53

Dittany can't find my onotes atm (Somewhere in the attic, graduated inworld faiths in 2008) but I am sure that whether Jesus actually said he is God's son etc depends on the BIble version. There is also the fact that everything recorded has been under male interpretation; men wrote the Bible, not God or women.

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 18:02:33

I don't think the versions of the bible differ that much that in some versions jesus wasn't going around claiming to be the messiah and that god was his father.

And seriously if you're going to say that the bible was written by men so we can't take whatever it says seriously (at least when it makes us uncomfortable), then why would you even believe that Jesus existed or that anything within it is a record of his teachings? If you don't, there's no basis for christianity whatsoever. The idea of christianity is based on the idea that jesus existed, that he did teach what is included in the bible (and yes you can have arguments about the apocrypha but that's pretty much beside the point) - you can't pick and choose.

If you're not using the record of jesus's teachings in the bible as your starting point, then your version of christianity is imaginary and has nothing to do with the insitituion that has existed for the past 2 millenia.

It really does seem that the only way women can fit in with this is to try and have it both ways - accept that jesus existed and that his life and teachings are recorded in the bible, but at the same time writing off the uncomfortable bits with "They didn't mean that/he didn't mean that"

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 18:06:53

Well, Dittany I am slightly blush as I had forgotten about some of those quotes which you’ve posted! Most of them are implicit, but yes – some of them are as close as you can get without saying those exact words! Still, it doesn’t change the fact that he communicated different things in different ways, and while we may wish that he’d said certain things in a less oblique way, it doesn’t change the fact that his intentions in behaving differently, for example, towards women, were intended to challenge the status quo.

Speaking of which, I’ve just noticed the last para of your previous post, in which you’re wrongly assuming that I believe the religious bigots “don’t really mean it”. I’ve already made it very clear in earlier posts (such as where I called them screwed-up bigots and nutters) that I believe they do mean it, but that their prejudice and messed-up attitudes do not change the way I feel about my faith. People can use something beautiful such as sex to hurt and damage others, but this would not make me change the way I feel about sex; I would see it as an example of those people being messed-up.

Just to clarify - I am not looking for ways to have or retain a religious faith, I think all organised religion is toxic bullshit and I don't see the need to invent new forms of imaginary friends who are woman-friendly, myself (though I was wondering if anyone was going to appear who knew more than a little about the ancient matriarchal religions?).

And no, I can't be arsed to use polite euphemisms for people's imaginary friends in public debate.

By the way Dittany, I am impressed with your Biblical knowledge, mine is far more sketchy.

Clarissimo Sat 27-Mar-10 18:11:40

Dittany Bible versions digffer hugely

And we know that jesus exisred because of non faith contemporaneous sources. It is not the fact that men wrote it either bvut the fsct that men who existed in a time of non challenged patriarchy where women were not even sonsidered capable pof education etc may well, ahve absed assumptions on what was common belief at the time. If you understanding of women is only that they are not as capable as men why would you even assume or consider a feminine alternative to the notion that God is male etc?

You wouldn't.

I can try and dig out some of my olf Theology stuff about the Son of God thing- it's not my main field (Buddhism and a dissertaiton on role of christianity in salvery was that0 but I am certain there was some serious debate on it at the time.

Clarissimo Sat 27-Mar-10 18:13:34

SGB PMSL- I am Peachy, I assure you I know your take grin wink

But still I align myself with Quakerism so really am not bothered. Doesn't worry me one bit, my right to beleive is equal to your right to beleive as we both choose.

Miggsie Sat 27-Mar-10 18:19:26

Religions that are/were female friendly:

Irish Christianity until 10th Century (then Catholicism triumphed as it offered men more power).

Paganism with the God and the Goddess. The Goddees is dominant as she brings life.

Buddhism isn't too bad either.

Clarissimo Sat 27-Mar-10 18:21:23

'If you're not using the record of jesus's teachings in the bible as your starting point, then your version of christianity is imaginary and has nothing to do with the insitituion that has existed for the past 2 millenia.

You misunderstood me I think

I know many mainstream Christians (as you see I am not mainstream) who do not accept the OT: most accept the NT but idifferent interpretations and translations.

Translation is an evil thing: and just becuase we know what something was meant to mean does not mean it will ever be accepted. Most Theologists I know accept that what was translated as virgin for example actually just means young woman.

But absolutely I agree with you: If you are starting from a MS faith viewpoint (mine after all is based on personal relationship with God and I am more inspired by Vivekananda than any Christian writer, just have an unshakeable faith in the existence of Jesus and the truth in his teachings) then really you either need to accept what the BIble does say, accept that you differ in that respect or deleude yourself to beleiving that the Bible says something it doesn't really. or as many do, accept the difference between Christianity in term of the Cult of Jesus and Christianity as Church and all it's trappings. After all even Atheists like my parents who ahve much in common with SGB's take can beelive in the existence of Jesus and his philosophy- what they would snigger at endlessly would be my faith in any higher power or acceptance of Jesus as anything more than a bloke who had nice ideas.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 18:27:26

SGB - "And no, I can't be arsed to use polite euphemisms for people's imaginary friends in public debate." Fair enough, that's your choice. Just know that as a direct result of this, people won't take your opinions as seriously as you'd like.

Just heard a snippet of something about women and religion on Loose Ends on R4; not sure what they were saying (DS's voice was much louder than the radio!) but it might be interesting - it was in the first 10 mins of the programme.

TheCrackFox Sat 27-Mar-10 18:31:52

I don't believe in God mainly because I am a feminist. I refuse to believe that I am a second class citizen (being made from one of Adam's ribs) and therefore, just can't buy into any of it.

JeMeSouviens Sat 27-Mar-10 18:37:38

We aren't second class citizens.

The Bible clearly states that

God is not partial
The Women are a large army (they are valued and have a job to do)
At one point, God told Abraham to listen to the voice of his wife (showing her view was just as valid, and in this case, more so than Abrahams)
It was women who had the privelege of first seeing the resurrected Jesus

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 18:45:21

Plus the whole Adam's rib thing means that men and women are made from the same stuff, and therefore equal. The Bible also says that 'the first shall be first and the last shall be first', meaning that the way our society places people above/ beneath each other is at odds with the way that God views us. So the apparent ordinal priority of male over female in the Adam's rib situation is just another example of the way that certain humans have chosen to reinterpret the Bible to suit their own prejudices.

TheCrackFox Sat 27-Mar-10 18:52:46

There were 12 apostles - all male. Still we are good enough to clean the church so I guess it all evens out. hmm

Earthymama Sat 27-Mar-10 18:56:06

I make no claims to know lots about matriachal traditions and don't feel I could argue the case for the Goddess as eloquently as in the discussion above but will tentatively dip my toe in the water......

This is the Reclaiming defintion of Witchcraft, my path that I follow.
(As I was brought up as a Christian, I had to think long and hard about the word 'Witch', please don't be put off as a kneejerk reaction.)

"Reclaiming is a tradition of the Craft. (1) To us the Goddess is the wheel of birth, growth, death and regeneration. Therefore we embrace as sacred the living world, the body as well as the spirit, the cycles of nature, sexuality in its diverse expressions, and the elements of air, fire, water and earth that sustain all life. We know that to name these things as sacred is an inherently political act, for what is sacred must not be exploited or despoiled. We also know that action in the world in the service of the sacred is one of the core expressions of our spirituality. Each individual is a living embodiment of the sacred. The divine experience is equally available to all, and each person’s experience of the divine is valid and important. (2) Spiritual authority is located within us. We are each keepers of our own conscience.

Our training, rituals, and spiritual practices are designed to develop personal and communal empowerment, that combination of self-confidence, independent thought, intuition and engagement with the world that enables us to live by our principles and stand up for what we believe in. (3) We see all systems of domination and exploitation, whether based on gender, race, economics, ancestry, beliefs, sexual orientation, physical appearance or capabilities as harmful to individual development and communal harmony. Liberty, equality and social justice are key values in our tradition.

Because we value freedom of thought, we accept no dogmas nor implement any required beliefs. We do, however, have a working model of the universe that includes interconnected realms of matter and spirit. Most of us prefer the term "Goddess" for the weaver of this web, but we also recognize an eclectic pantheon of Goddesses and Gods, each of them particular constellations of power, with whom we are co-creators of change and fate. At the heart of the cosmos is mystery, that which can never be defined nor controlled. Any images we place around that mystery are tools to help us more deeply encounter the sacred. Individuals need the love, support and challenges offered by a strong community in order to survive and thrive. Our definition of community extends to include the dead and the as not yet born, and we honor the ancestors, the beloved dead, the Mighty Ones of the Craft, the Fae, and all the Mysterious Ones"
Reclaiming

Starhawk is my heroine, she lives what she believes. I am terrified of the changes I have to make to truly folow the Goddess.

I feel as though I have tried to fit the Goddess into my life when to truly respect the Earth and all who live upon her I need to live my life differently and not just choose the bits I like and that are easy for me.

I came to this path through a love of Nature, love of growing things especially food, love of other people, ie social conscience, socialism, trade unionism, feminism. It's drawn me towards environmental awareness, anti-capitalism..who knows where else?

Please ask me if you are interested, I'll try to answer or find a link that will explain.

i'll pop in and out as I am getting ready for a romantic candle light dinner for Earth Hour, so forgive me if it's tomorrow before I can give this my full attention.

Tinnitus Sat 27-Mar-10 18:58:09

Mmmm...

Worth putting a few things straight first...

There is NO God, if there was, whose image did he use for the dinosaurs?

Jesus was not the son of God, because God doesn't exist.

The Bible is neither contemporary to Jesus nor original and has been translated from Hebrew, to Greek, to Latin and finally English.

The Bible was written by MEN, and is thus NOT the word of God, as he doesn't exist.

Jesus was not killed by the Jews as crucifixion was a Roman punishment used * EXCLUSIVELY* for sedition.

The whole church was set up hundreds of years after Jesus died, and Women were kicked out of positions of influence from the start.

The whole thing is a fairy tale built on a myth, fluffed out with lies and enforced with brutality.

So no I do NOT feel I have to use respectful language to describe it just because otherwise intelligent women feel obliged to believe it.

chibi Sat 27-Mar-10 19:00:52

I am confused - what do dinosaurs have to do with anything?

Clarissimo Sat 27-Mar-10 19:01:36

You know Tinnitus

My faith is founded on something I can't intellectualise or reason myself out of so have to disagree with first few lines but otherwise yep, pretty much agreewith your entire post (I know thats very disparate too)

JeMeSouviens Sat 27-Mar-10 19:08:36

As a side point Tinnitus, when the Bible says we were created in Gods image, it is not a reference to physical image. It is the qualitys of God that we are endowed with, well I should say, the capacity to reflect those qualities, love, mercy, forgiveness, wisdom etc...

I have certainly encountered misogyny in my church attendance and I have disagreed vehemently with my fellow believers on a number of issues related to this. That doesn't make any difference to my knowledge that Christ died for me.

dawntigga Sat 27-Mar-10 19:19:43

I'm Pagan.

SometimesIt'sQuiteSimpleTiggaxx

piscesmoon Sat 27-Mar-10 19:21:41

I don't see any conflict. The Bible was written more than 2000 years ago and reflects society at the time. Anything to do with women being second class citizens is entirely man made and has nothing to do with the message of Christ.

onagar Sat 27-Mar-10 19:27:51

It may be possible to claim that god didn't plan for religions to be anti-women. However since they are, how can any self respecting woman (or man) support them?

Surely anyone who claims a particular religion (as opposed to just being spiritual/believing in a god) is effectively helping that religion continue.

If you claim openly to be Catholic or Muslim or whatever then by your example you encourage others to embrace those religions and for them to be taught that misogyny is a good thing sent from god.

The better a person you are the more your example helps attract people to the religion which then teaches them things you despise.

I'd suggest Reform Judaism. Complete equality for all.

And belief in god is not essential either! wink

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 19:36:15

"Plus the whole Adam's rib thing means that men and women are made from the same stuff, and therefore equal."

Speedy, that isn't how the bible itself interprets it:

"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don't permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner"
(I Timothy 2:11-14)."

This isn't men further down the centuries trying to twist the bible to suit their ends. The misogyny is there from the beginning.

If you look at these patriarchal religions for what they really are - jealousy of women's creativity (hence it's a male who is the creator and women's divinity is completely erased or put to the service of men e.g. Mary is holy because she got to be the mother of god) it's quite clear why this stuff is included, it's central to it. And hey what about the misogyny that the good mother, the mother we're supposed to worship is a virgin? Fetishisation of virginity is vile, yet it's right there at the centre of christianity.

"Speaking of which, I’ve just noticed the last para of your previous post, in which you’re wrongly assuming that I believe the religious bigots “don’t really mean it”."

I wasn't just talking about the "religious bigots" though, it's far to easy to try and hive it off on to a few bad apples. What I mean is that women have to persuade themselves that the religion itself they follow "doesn't really mean it" despite all the evidence to the contrary. I

SGB, I don't have much knowledge of the bible I've just been googling quotations, although I do remember reading the new testatment and going OMG! when Jesus was going around Palestine telling everybody he was the messiah and god was his father. That was quite a thing to do.

It used not to bother me until I realised that I'd spent every day when I was at primary school being made to pray to "our father" and having to thank "him" for everything around us. What a load of bollocks that is. Not to mention being dragged along to christmas and easter services at the grim granite protestant church round the corner from the school - if they wanted to put people off christianity that had to be a good way of going about it. I mean, church services are boring. That's probably terribly sacriligeous or blasphemous to say, but having to listen to some bloke whose decided he's holy and has some moral superiority over the rest of us and thus ought to be able to tell us how to behave isn't my idea of fun.

Christianity gave us Tony Blair thinking that he was only answerable to god after he waged war on Iraq. People who think that god is on their side and thus what they do must necessarily be right can be very dangerous (not saying all christians are like this of course).

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 19:39:36

There is of course the Women's Bible, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton with a committee helping her, maybe for people making the argument that the bible was written 2000 years ago so we shouldn't pay attention to the misogyny within:

www.sacred-texts.com/wmn/wb/

Haven't read it but maybe it finds a way around the misogyny of the original version.

I am Episcopalian. Our presiding bishop is a woman (Katherine Jeffers). At my current church the vicar and the deacon are women, two of the postulants are women. I chose that church because the woman was a vicar. I look for strong female role models for my daughters and she is a good one.

I also like the open minded approach of Episcopalians, anyone can come up to take communion, when we looked at getting the DTDs Christened (as it happens DH won't let them until they are old enough to make up their own minds) the vicar at our last church (also a woman) said our Jewish friends could be godparents. Our last church shared the building with the local Jewish congregation and the vicar wanted to set up a prayer room for moslems when the church expanded.

There are huge differences in approach to feminism in Christianity depending on which denomination you look at. The Southern Baptists decided women could not be teachers of males and stopped a 68 year old woman from teaching Sunday school, which she had been doing for 50 years, as she could not be in a position of authority over boys/men. This is why I would never attend a Southern Baptist Church.

madhairday Sat 27-Mar-10 20:14:28

I am C of E (though don't really define myself as such, would prefer to simply say christian) and have come across a good deal of misogyny in this denomination. However this doesn't conflict with my faith because thankfully my faith is not based on the church, it is based on Jesus, who was radical for his time in how he treated women. It also goes back for me to that passage in Genesis, rib-from-bloke notwithstanding; that says 'God created man in God's own image, male and female God created them'.

Therefore OP I can't see God as seeing me lesser than human as I am made in God's image. God is female and male, and described thus through much of the bible.

Dittany, you have referred to lots of biblical texts that are tough reading. But it's all down to context. For example,

"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don't permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner"
(I Timothy 2:11-14)."

This is quoted often as proof of St Pauls inherent misogyny, but elsewhere he acclaims women as leaders (equivalent to bishops) of the churches, leading one to the conclusion that what he writes here is somehow contextual to the situation he is addressing specifically. And in fact merely using the words 'let a woman learn' is feminist for the time, it would have been unheard of for women to learn the scriptures etc; and he was thus likely to have been telling them to keep quiet because they knew nuffin. The whole Adam was formed first thing, I'm not cutting that out as it would be easy to wuss out to do, will come back to you on that one (my theology brain is far too tired and worn down by manic dc ;D)

Interesting thread.

frankfrankly Sat 27-Mar-10 20:30:04

People discussing Christianity might find this radio 4 program on women in the church interesting: Banishing Eve. I think it is what Speedy half heard on loose ends.

Thanks for the link on Banishing Eve! I heard reference to it in passing.

I've never understood why it's so important to the Catholic church to have Mary, mother of Jesus, as a virgin. She was a married Jewish woman who happened to have sex with her husband and had a son. Why is this dirty?

dittany Sat 27-Mar-10 20:51:16

Well if you make a woman having had sex a stigma for her, you can disrespect and stigmatise pretty much the whole female sex, particularly mothers, every one of whom will have all had sex. No woman can measure up to Mary - a woman who gave birth to god's son.

Madhairy, please don't come back with the context claim. The church's history is a history of misogyny and exclusion and disrepect of the female. Women have to work really hard to do the mental gymnastics to claim that the misogyny that is right in front of us isn't there. Doesn't there come a point when that energy would be better directed towards other areas, e.g. women ourselves, rather than the rehabilitation of woman-hating religions?

blinder Sat 27-Mar-10 21:17:57

Feminist theologians would agree with most of the points in this thread. They point out that organised religion is inherently bound up with patriarchal control of society and is a vehicle for oppression. The control of the canon of accepted scripture is undertaken by the male elite and so is its interpretation.

But there are feminist theologians nevertheless who attempt to revise Christianity from a feminist perspective. They sometimes use non-canonical texts to support their positions. For example, the so called dead sea scrolls are a collection of texts mostly contemporary to the gospels but never granted canononical status. Some of them mention Jesus' female disciples, many of whom had been prostitutes. Some of the texts are apprently written by women. The 'beloved disciple' referred to in John is probably Mary of Magdala, who holds almost equal status with Jesus in a couple of texts from the dead sea scrolls.

Rosemary Radford Reuther has provided a feminist critique of Judaism which reinterprets the Eden story as the victory of patriarchy over previous matriarchal hunter gatherer societies. The snake was a symbol of rebirth (think skin shedding) and part of the veneration of childbirth and femininity. The demonization of the snake probably refers to the suppression of that belief system. Her book Gaia and God is one of my fave all time books!

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 27-Mar-10 23:50:48

Earthymama, I'm intrigued by some of what you said, particularly about your views of nature and all beings as being sacred and therefore should not be violated. Although we have a slightly different take on what exactly 'sacred' means with regard to nature, I'm pleased to see that we both agree that nature must be respected - I often think of the Native American view of Mother Nature and think that if only we had all learned from them, the world would be facing a far different ecological future today.

Also, when you say "Most of us prefer the term "Goddess" for the weaver of this web, but we also recognize an eclectic pantheon of Goddesses and Gods" - this is pretty much the opposite of what's done linguistically in the three 'main' religions, isn't it? Do men within your faith feel that this use of language is on the gender exclusive side?

I can't speak for Hebrew (Judaism) or Arabic (Islam), but certainly the limitations of the English language give Christianity no gender-neutral personal pronoun to refer to 'he and she as one', and the word 'God', while it generally is used to refer to the male, is sometimes used to convey the sense of both genders (or, as I said earlier, both aspects of God's character). Some people within my faith prefer the definite gender neutrality of the term 'the Creator'.

So people of faith work within the limitations of their language, and we also accept that our sacred texts are limited, being born of distant cultures which vary enormously from our own.

onagar - a person of faith who believes in love above all, social justice, total equality among all people, etc, is clearly not reinforcing the bigotry within certain corners of their religion; if anything they're confronting and shaming it. To say that religion is bigoted because some religious people are bigoted is like saying that humanity is bigoted because some humans are bigoted and have incorporated this into the way they live/ define their culture. Or, as I said earlier, my example of sex being used for harm.

dittany - thanks for that link to the feminist bible, I will take a good look at that. However, you later show in your post to Madhairy that you've perhaps not read my post which draws a distinction between the church, God and Christianity (or other religions). I did say also that some believers fail to draw this distinction, so it's not just you! But the result in your case and theirs is misunderstanding.

Also, I feel as though you're still pulling out quotes from the Bible without understanding (or accepting) my and others' explanations. Look at it this way: the Bible is a bloody difficult text to understand. Respected theologians accept this, and for centuries people have struggled with its barbarism, contradictions, and legalism, as well as the beauty of poetry and frankly bizarre statements of prophecy, let alone allegories which some people take as historical fact, and historical facts which are backed up by evidence. So it is extremely complex. You said yourself that you don't know the Bible very well, you're just pulling quotes. With this in mind, and bearing in mind that people with multiple degrees in theology struggle with it and disagree with each other over it, I think the way you're using it is not helpful nor insightful - though I understand why you're doing it, and the points you're trying to prove, you're scratching the surface of something which is deeper and more complex than the deepest ocean.

To correct your points about Mary and virginity and the Catholic Church, as a non-Catholic it seems to me that the issue is not so much that it's applauding her for being a virgin, as that it's saying this is evidence of Jesus not being Joseph's son. And that in itself is a whole kettle of fish which I'm still exploring so can't give you a definitive answer on what that means wrt the divinity of Jesus. I may be wrong - perhaps a Catholic can explain better? Also, (to ilovemydog) she wasn't yet a married woman - she was engaged to be married, and within that culture, especially at her young age, it is highly unlikely that she would not have been a virgin.

Thanks also to frankly for the Banishing Eve link - I'd heard an ad for the prog and had forgotten about it. Will definitely listen to it. Ep 1 is available until tomorrow afternoon, everyone!

Can I ask for some ground rules here? Well, just one at the moment! Whenever I've had discussions about religion on MN, I and other posters - both religious and not - have always been sorely disappointed by certain posters whose approach appears to be to fling arguments or accusations, and then when someone refutes those arguments conclusively, rather than admitting that they didn't know that or that perhaps they were wrong, the poster ignores the refutation and flings the next argument. This turns it into a tennis match and not a thoughtful discussion. I can see this thread going the same way.

I would really like to be able to have a thoughtful discussion about religion on MN, so how would you all feel about agreeing to not take the tennis match approach, but instead being open enough to accept that ideas which you had not considered may have some merit? I think if there's no willingness to do this I'll bow out because it will make the thread a waste of time IMO.

onagar Sun 28-Mar-10 00:08:43

SpeedyGonzalez, I didn't say reinforcing, but supporting and in this context it means something totally different.

People don't trust a church because they see evil people going there, but because they see good people going there and take that to mean it must be a safe place that teaches good things.

SpeedyGonzalez Sun 28-Mar-10 00:15:27

onagar - oops! Apols for misquoting you. However I would still say the same thing - as a black woman I am not more supporting the misogyny in some aspects of the church than I am supporting the racism in some aspects of the church.

However, I do find that if people have set views about any organisation, religious or not, they tend to make more sweeping generalisations about the individuals within that organisation. Perhaps that's why you see church attendance as 'supporting' bigotry? I would always urge religious bigots to spend time getting to know and care for people who they have prejudices against, and I would say the same for people who are anti religion.

SpeedyGonzalez Sun 28-Mar-10 00:16:16

Off to bed now - it's officially 1.15!!! Aaaaarrrgh!!! Night.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 00:48:24

"Look at it this way: the Bible is a bloody difficult text to understand. Respected theologians accept this, and for centuries people have struggled with its barbarism, contradictions, and legalism, as well as the beauty of poetry and frankly bizarre statements of prophecy, let alone allegories which some people take as historical fact, and historical facts which are backed up by evidence. So it is extremely complex. You said yourself that you don't know the Bible very well, you're just pulling quotes. With this in mind, and bearing in mind that people with multiple degrees in theology struggle with it and disagree with each other over it, I think the way you're using it is not helpful nor insightful - though I understand why you're doing it, and the points you're trying to prove, you're scratching the surface of something which is deeper and more complex than the deepest ocean."

I don't think the bible is that hard to understand. It's a patriarchal document that sets man up as god (god made man in his image) and women to be subordinate. Just because a lot of people subscribe to it, doesn't mean there is a deeper meaning than what we read in the words on the page (well maybe apart from jesus speaking in parables, but even then they weren't that complicated)

The struggles you're describing with theologians, is mainly about power and who gets to define the word of god. If you can prove god is on your side you get to wield a lot of power. Which is why there have been so many bloody struggles within and between religions, and why someone like Tony Blair, with blood on his hand, says it's only up to god to judge him (not voters). In any hierarchal organisation of men you'll often find men fighting over the rule book - trade unions spring to mind.

I dont' think you need to get into minutiae to see what is blatantly staring you in the face. Also I'm not sure about being told by you that I don't know enough about the bible. You'd forgotten that jesus agreed he was the son of god and constantly described god as his father in public - I think to understand the new testament that's a pretty basic starting point.

"To correct your points about Mary and virginity and the Catholic Church, as a non-Catholic it seems to me that the issue is not so much that it's applauding her for being a virgin as that it's saying this is evidence of Jesus not being Joseph's son"

To correct you (or maybe we should just state our own arguments and not say we're correcting each other which is quite rude actually), it clearly matters to christians, particularly catholics as she is referred to as the Virgin Mary and the whole issue of christ being born divine is the fact that she was a virgin (in fact what is described is the rape of a teenage girl), her virginity is what creates christ's divinity. If you can't see that that might have an effect on how women see themselves and how men see women, I'm not sure I can help you. It's certainly one of the mainstays of the virgin/whore dichotomy which has been used against women for so long - the idea woman who men worship turns out to be a virgin.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 00:50:13

"ideal woman"

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 00:55:24

I mean god could equally have gone the route of joseph and told him he was putting some supernatural god-sperm into his body which he would then have to impregnate Mary with. But then nobody would have been virgins.

Is god a virgin? Has anybody ever asked? Or is it only women's virginity we have a hang-up about?

Earthymama Sun 28-Mar-10 09:47:32

Just wanted to say that I don't think of my belief as a religion, I would be surprised if two people who identify as 'pagan' believed exactly the same thing!
Certainly in my little group of six, there are six differing opinions on daily practice, embodiment of the Goddess. No-one is bothered by the differences, in fact, we learn from each other.

We do attend group ceremonies that celebrate the Wheel of the Year. I love these and the sense of community.

I think for me what is important is my relationship with the Goddess. I am lucky in that I live in a beautiful semi-rural area and have the good fortune to grow some of my own food. I see the Blessings of the Goddess on a daily basis.

There is no central text to argue about discuss, though there are many writers who have brought an awareness of the Goddess to the forefront of current spirituality, Monica Sjoo, Diane Stein, Kathy Jones, Glennie Kindred and my beloved Starhawk. I would say to anyone who is interested to read their books and follow them online.

I feel that these beliefs push me towards being more aware of politics and environmentalism. I would say it's not easy or comfortable as, if you accept the responsibility towards the Earth, you end up being the awkward friend who is 'religious' about recycling, transition, peak oil, traffiking, feminism, equality etc etc.

So to answer the initial post, maybe not a prescribed religion, but you ^can^ follow a spiritual path ^and^ be a feminist.

And to think I used to be a full on consumer and party animal grin

Earthymama Sun 28-Mar-10 09:49:02

But you can't use the 'emphasis' on MN. blush

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 10:10:26

The Bible was written by people explaining the world as it was at that time. If people today were to write something similar they could only write about life as it is today-it will be completely different in 2000 yrs time (if it is still here). No one can possibly write about how they think life will be in 2000 yrs-if they try you can be sure that people living then would roll around the floor laughing at our quaint, way out, notions!The message is important-not the fact that women didn't play much of a part in the Bible.

Women are represented in the whore/virgin mould, and defined by their sexuality. Mary, the virgin mother, and Mary Magdalen, although my understanding is that all that was said was that she had 'sinned' and the assumption being that she was a prostitute. (after all, how else could a woman possibly sin other than sex? hmm)

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 12:56:21

That's it piscesmoon - that's why I was trying to go back to the contextual argument, because I can't see how it could be approached otherwise - study the context and retain the richness of the message. Or go for the everything is literal approach, which imo is the approach which has supported the misogyny in the first place.

This book is a good place to start, although does assume some theological knowledge.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 13:35:15

"The message is important-not the fact that women didn't play much of a part in the Bible."

Well given that the message is that man was created in god's image, women brought sin into the world, and women are excluded from divinity (unless they're someone's mum and a virgin - and even then the protestants have been able to erase her from the equation), you're right the message is important, and the message is one that has been pretty much uniformly awful for women.

Even jesus didn't right the wrongs, no matter how desperately women try to squash him into a feminist mould. I find it quite offensive that he would be cast as such given that he had literally nothing to say about rape, male violence against women, or male supremacy. He did go on a lot about how god was his "father" though. The father-son relationship and worship of the same is what patriarchy is built on. Jesus shored it up.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 13:37:23

Madhairy, could you be specific about which contexts erase the misogyny of those quotations from the bible.

Also I think it's quite common for biblical teachers to arrange whole lessons/sermons on one short quote from the bible, so it's hardly as if it's a new idea.

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 13:45:57

I can dittany when I've regained some brain cells (sunday lunch, no sleep etc. Back later.) grin

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 15:52:12

Jesus was alive 2000 years ago and living in the society of the time-I don't think that he can be expected to be living life according to the way it is lived in the western world in 2010! If he was to come back today he would be in society as it was today, to have any meaning-he would be a fat lot of good if he was living according to what they think in 4010-he would be dismissed as a loony and no one would listen. You have to be relevant to the times you are in.
I didn't realise that the Bible was taken literally. I thought the main message was 'love your neighbour as yourself'. Even the 10 commandments have to be updated-there is no chance of me coveting my neighbours ox-even if she had one! However the message of not coveting is fine, as long as you put in BMW instead of ass.
60yrs ago married women couldn't work in this country -100 yrs ago the couldn't vote-you do have to get things in context. If you want to make changes you have to start from where people are at the time-not where they will be 100,200, 2000 yrs later!!

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 16:32:39

Exactly. How can we not interpret and reinterpret an ancient text in the light of a) its context and b) the society we now live in.

You asked me to be more specific, dittany, so I'll take a couple of the passages you mentioned and go into a little bit more detail and try not to be too tedious.

1. "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

Firstly, there is some confusion about this passage; it is not included in some of the early manuscripts and is almost an add on. It is strange because in 1 Cor 11 Paul obviously assumes that women will and do speak out in churches, referring to women praying and prophesying, so therefore there would seem to be a specific scenario that Paul is addressing here (if he indeed wrote these words which is uncertain), rather than issuing a blanket command. Looking into the context of this passage we find that most of this chapter is about building order in public worship, and thus it is addressing problems in the congregation the letter is addressed to. This goes back to what I referred to in my earlier post - public worship in Corinth would have been conducted in Greek, which most of the women (only knowing their local dialects) would not be able to grasp. Paul is not saying this is a good situation; he is merely dealing with the immediacy of what is happening. It seems that there would have been bored chatter and enquiring of husbands etc (however weird that seems to us) and general disruption.
Basically, the passage is addressing a particular problem at a particular time, and it is made obvious by many of Paul's other statements that this was not a general 'decree'.

Another one:

2. "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God…A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (I Corinthians 11:3-10).

Now I'm not going to go greatly in depth into the whole head covering thing, as most people know the contextual arguments (women who didn't cover their heads tended to be prostitutes, etc) but I will just look at the whole man as head of woman thing. Unfortunately this passage has been misused countless times through history to oppress women, whereas looking at it in context can give a more liberated angle on it, and show Paul not as a woman hater but as someone who really means 'there is no male or female, for all are one in Christ', as he says elsewhere.
There is some evidence that Paul in verse 3 is referring to the 'head' not as someone with ultimate power, but in the sense of a 'source', of a river for eg, which is substantiated somewhat by him referring to the creation story (woman coming from man etc.) So as God is the source of man, man is the source of woman (I always like to think of it as blokes couldn't survive on their own, so God made something stronger to keep them going grin ) - and not 'head' as in headship, derogatory power usage type of meaning. This is where diving into the context and also the original texts shines a different light on stuff.

I could go much further into this but would be too boring, and I am probably not making an awful lot of sense anyway. I could go into more of these passages if you like (I wouldn't touch ecclesiasticus though, I don't really tend to go for the apocryphal books and it does sound nasty!!)

The main point I want to make though is that I am fully convinced that as a woman I am equal to a man in God's sight, because I am fully convinced God is male and female.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 16:58:42

"Jesus was alive 2000 years ago and living in the society of the time-I don't think that he can be expected to be living life according to the way it is lived in the western world in 2010!"

I'm not going to argue with that. So why attempt to apply a 20th century concept like feminism to him when it clearly doesn't fit? Jesus was a patriarch - he valued the father-son relationship above all else, he wasn't going around preaching about how great his mother was, he was telling people they had to worship his dad.

He wasn't a feminist or anything coming close, so I don't understand why women think he has anything to offer in that line of thinking or action. Feminists work for women's freedom, whatever else jesus did he didn't do that.

"I thought the main message was 'love your neighbour as yourself'. Even the 10 commandments have to be updated-there is no chance of me coveting my neighbours ox-even if she had one! However the message of not coveting is fine, as long as you put in BMW instead of ass."

It means don't covet your neighbours property, that's as relevant today as it ever was. No commandment about rape or child sexual abuse though, funny that.

But as men historically haven't viewed women as neighbours but rather property to be owned, they weren't applying the first commandment you mention to their dealings with women, but rather the second to dealings with other men over women.

And if that sounds far fetched don't forget there are still parts of the world where men sell women to other men in return for cattle.

"60yrs ago married women couldn't work in this country -100 yrs ago the couldn't vote-you do have to get things in context. If you want to make changes you have to start from where people are at the time-not where they will be 100,200, 2000 yrs later!!"

This thing about context - for a good part of the past two millenia in the west, christianity and the bible were the context. Trying to pretend that christianity was outwith culture when it actually set the culture and told people how to live (and in some cases had power of life and death over them) is disingenuous to say the least.

The bible is the document of a patriarchal religion which worked to erase and destroy women's divinity and female goddesses and set man up as the only divine creature on the planet. It supported male superiority over women. For goodness sake, christians spent quite a bit of time debating if women even had souls.

I don't understand why it is necessary to ignore this.

posieparker Sun 28-Mar-10 17:01:49

Historical Christ I can accept would have had different values and lived in a different time, but how could the Son of God not have delivered the message of equality....how did God create Man so unequal....it is proof there is no God.

The two most important women in the bible committed the greatest sin and a virgin birth....

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 17:23:32

madhairday- dual gender god as in Hindu faith you eman? Whatever you describe me as, that is what I am not?

I always found a lot of meaning in that. The whole concept that we have little sparks of the divine in us that go back when we die- that would make us all equal wouldn't it?

Vivekananda, religious universalism etc. All good stuff that works for me.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 17:29:40

Hindus also invented sati where women had to step on to the fire when their husbands died. If it was a dead king sometimes thousands of women went to their deaths because he had had so many wives.

India now has literally millions of missing women and girls because of the practice of sex selective abortion and infanticide which has come out of a culture (helped created by religion) that devalues women and girls. Devalues us so much our existence is not required.

It may be equal in theory (unlikely) but it certainly isn't equal in practice.

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 17:33:45

Clarissimo - I don't know a lot about the Hindu faith, but in some senses that's sort of what I'm saying, but in the context of Christianity. Sparks of divine, image of God, whatever you want to call it - yes, I think God is both genders or transgender and we are all in God's image - therefore equal. This is made clear early in the bible, and God is often referred to in the feminine, and for me can be celebrated as God the father and yet also a mother figure. It is a mystery. Some feminist theologians have gone down the path of trying to find a word which would describe the pronoun of God, so not calling God 'him', but have not really come up with anything suitable. I would probably still say 'him' often but do try to use inclusive language, eg 'Godself', when I remember!

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 17:42:54

Dittany- absolutely agree about Sati (see my post right at the start). I have no truck with that. In fact tehre's a whole thing in Hindu studty atm about teh separation of Brahmanistic tradition (so what I described ) and village tradition (Sati, numerous deities etc).

I remaiun to be convinced but it is out there.

The Brahman thing though- spark of the divine- stands alone as a good efinition of my take on the divine. There's no need to buy into a faith wholesale. IN fact the whole point of Vivbekananda was his status as one of the first voices of religious pluralism- I have a lot of respect for that. I think there are things to be elarned in all traditions (and things to be dumped). Look at Sikhism- the notion of everyone sitting down together to eat a meal regardless of caste or tatus (triple astounding in teh caste system in whcih it arose). Sikhism has not relevance to my way of thinking and yet I see a beauty in that tradition.

I am a Quaker. That means (to me) switching off from what I am told by books that have authors and translations and the like, and churches that have to make money for roof funds or whatnot and listening to the voice within when considering God. Listening to the silence really. conscience imagination whatever you call it- a powerful force nonetheless.

There is no system in existence created by humanity that has not been influenced by people and their myriad motivations, for positive and negative. That doesn't mean there isn;t something to be found in each system though, just that if you want a whole truth you might (I might) need to look further. I studfied 7 afiths for my degree and I have as yet to find one that has all teh answers or one that has no answers. Buddhism looks at persdonal repsonsibilty and middle road; Islam at the community ; Christianity at the power of love; Brahmanic tradition at the spark of the divine in all of us. I can learn from all of it without taking any on board wholesale.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 17:43:00

"Some feminist theologians have gone down the path of trying to find a word which would describe the pronoun of God, so not calling God 'him', but have not really come up with anything suitable."

'Her'? It's not that complicated really is it? Unless of course it turns out we do actually live in a partiarchy and the common religion reflects and supports that.

It's why people can make that joke about god being black and a woman, because whatever lipservice people pay to the idea that women are included, deep down everybody knows it's a male they are worshipping:

Our mother who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy queendom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 17:45:30

I believe the central message to be 'love your neighbour as yourself'-surely that means that rape and child abuse is out? If you wouldn't want to be abused as a child then you don't do it to others.
I don't think that the gender is the least important-the Bible was written by men- and men in a patriarchal society-they were hardly going to give women a fair say! They were men of their time and you have to take the Bible as it was at the time man's explanation of the world. I expect that if women had written it it would be different! (but they didn't write).The Adam and Eve story is one interpretation of the world beginning-different religions and different cultures have different stories-generally written by men. We now know that it didn't start that way so we just take it in the historical context.
God's message can only come through the people at the time-and they were men. If he sent it via women it wouldn't have got through-they didn't have a voice. The Bible can actually say anything you wish it to say-if you search hard enough!

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 17:45:31

I'm a feminist, I think it sucks that people are trying to claim patriarchal religions are either feminist or good for women.

Every single one of those religions you've mentioned there is a patriarchal religion.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 17:48:02

That last post was addressed to Clarissimo.

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 17:48:24

'Our mother who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy queendom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

I just find this sort of thing irritating -like saying 'chairwoman'-it doesn't really matter! I don't think God is male or female and so both are wrong.

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 17:50:04

There is quite a lot of usage of 'her' as a pronoun for God. Some variate between him and her, some use only her, some neither. I find it helpful to think of God as both, but will never be able to explain this fully.
Clarissimo, I studied a similar amount of faiths too, I agree that they all have positive aspects to think upon and we can draw the good from them. However, I have found that Christianity for me fulfils everything I am searching for. Christianity as Jesus taught, and what he did, not necessarily as the church through the ages has interpreted. Like you say, every religion is man made and thus flawed.
I think Quakerism (is that a word???) is interesting and has a lot to be said for it. I am interested by how you describe the listening to the silence. I would say that as a Christian that is an important part of how I practise my faith.
Unfortunately I am C of E and the bloody roof costs do too often get in the way!

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 17:50:22

Was that to me Dittant? I think you are missing my point.

My entire point is that just becuase you don't like something key about a faith (philosophy / whatever)) does not mean tehre are no grains of truth in there anyway. your own truth of course. A faith text you read that you not subscribe to is a philosophy. There's no rule to say that because line 27 has soem meaning to you that you ahve to accept anything else. Jesus do to one another as you wuld be done to- can you only accept that as a phislophical guide if you buy into the whole patriarchy? Of course not. it's a good motto for lilfe even if you think that Jesus never existed (and despite evidence many do think that). Liewise Do Not Steal, or the Buddhist thing about everything is constantly changing.

Is Quakerism patriarchal then? Why do you think that?

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 17:51:19

Patriarchal relgion, like rape, like pornography is one of the root causes of women's subordination. It didn't just happen, you can't say "oh well men at that time were sexist, so we couldn't expect any more". Women were people then too. Women and their ideas were actively erased from society by patriarchal men.

Christianity wiped out pagan religions that involved goddess worship. Women who followed them were denounced as witches and burned. I don't understand women letting christianity off the hook for this. It's participating in your own destruction.

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 17:51:41

There is quite a lot of usage of 'her' as a pronoun for God. Some variate between him and her, some use only her, some neither. I find it helpful to think of God as both, but will never be able to explain this fully.
Clarissimo, I studied a similar amount of faiths too, I agree that they all have positive aspects to think upon and we can draw the good from them. However, I have found that Christianity for me fulfils everything I am searching for. Christianity as Jesus taught, and what he did, not necessarily as the church through the ages has interpreted. Like you say, every religion is man made and thus flawed.
I think Quakerism (is that a word???) is interesting and has a lot to be said for it. I am interested by how you describe the listening to the silence. I would say that as a Christian that is an important part of how I practise my faith.
Unfortunately I am C of E and the bloody roof costs do too often get in the way!

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 17:52:21

Sorry....didn't mean to repeat myself, twas tedious the first time grin

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 17:54:38

"I just find this sort of thing irritating -like saying 'chairwoman'-it doesn't really matter! I don't think God is male or female and so both are wrong."

Do you feel equally irritated by "Our father...." then, Pisces? Because if they're both wrong the irritation should be equal for both.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 17:55:03

Madhair- LOL at roof costs.

Quakerism better be a word, I used it often enough in my dissertation without being hauled up over it wink

I ahve friends who are former missionaries who identify completely with the silence thing also, it is funny really- our ways of explaining what we belive are so different yet when we get together for wedding we can both cry over make me a channel of your peace at weddings LOL (I know I know, but nobody is perfectand frankly I stopped trying long ago)

Vivekananda. One of those books that just spoke to me I guess when I picked it up for 'boring revision'. His stuff on prayer and lilfe story are pretty interesting too.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 17:58:24

Christianity didn't wipe out pagan faiths though absolutely it did decimate them (someone I syudied with pre-Uni was a high level pagan, used to run their prioson visitng service and library IIRC). There's an awful lot Christinaity has done that is shameful. Equally there is an awful lot that humans ahve done that is shameful. We don;t write them off in entirety becuase of it do we? Awful as much of it truly was (and is in some places, the use of Christianity to deny condoms to people in high riak HIXV areas is despicable) we must condemn the people that carried out the atrocities- but the excuse thery hid behind>

OK, while I personally have no interest in or need for imaginary superpowered all loving invisible friends why, if you are a woman and intelligent and a feminist who does feel the need for Something Out There, a higher power or a deity, why stick to the sexist clunking myth system you were brought up with, why not work out your own myth system, your own traditions (hey, pirate all the good ones from the pre-existing cultures by all means as that's what Christianity and probably many other myth systems did).
It's not at all unheard of for people to swap myth systems in adulthood, moving from the one they were raised in to a totally different one, and I must admit that when an adult woman who wasn't raised with it adopts one of the abrahamic faiths it shocks me. Why? Why would you, as a functioning adult, adopt a belief system that involves pretty much painting on your forehead 'I am scum, I am property, I am second class'.

It's interesting that the Old Testament had very strong women in it; Bathsheba, Ruth, Esther, Rebecca amongst others.

I don't know whether Jesus was a feminist or not. There was an interesting debate that Mary Magdalen was actually one of his disciples, but that the New Testament is more a reflection of those who compiled it, than the doctrine of Jesus.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 18:02:23

Hmm

I am not convinced how much choice there is in heartfelt beleif- in fact I suspect that for some the emasure of a faith is in its extremes- miracles and the like.

ANd I would describe my faith as both Abrahamic and progressive

But I have tocompletely agree with you that trehre are many out there and just sticking with what you know is the easy option. It may be after you read all the other main faith philosophioes that you come back to your starting point but at least you will be more informed about the world in whcih we all live in.

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 18:07:28

I feel irritated about splitting hairs about whether it is 'our father' or 'our mother'-I couldn't really care less. I have always understood father to mean mother too, in a religious sense. All the strident feminist part of changing something puts me off completely-it isn't important and sidetracks from the important issues.
The more I hear about the Quakers the more interested I become-I think I must give it a try.
(Strong women have always just quietly got on with it-they know they are superior!!)

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 18:13:30

I think that men must be laughing-while women are discussing petty issues like 'should it be our father or our mother'-it keeps them off topics that are important!

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 18:14:37

Our guide in Heaven
Hallowed be your name
Your world will come
Your will be done
As it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive
Lead us not into temptation
Deliver us from evil
The love, the power and the glory

Works for me

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 18:18:42

Works for me too Clarissimo-way superior to gender.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:19:29

Why not say our mother though, as women's divinity has been erased from christianity for so long.

"I have always understood father to mean mother too, in a religious sense."

This is what I was talking about again about the doublethink that women have to undertake to include themselves in patriarchal religions when they are blatantly being excluded.

"All the strident feminist part of changing something puts me off completely-it isn't important and sidetracks from the important issues."

If you don't think women's rights are important that's up to you, but this is a question about feminism and religion.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:20:48

It's amazing that for women, even ones who are claiming they are being included, it's unthinkable to be explicitly female in reference to god. The only alternatives are male or neuter.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 18:21:36

It's part double think

But in a lot of faiths there is an assumption of dual gender in divinity. So thre may be some sense in it as well.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 18:25:07

You see Dittany in my personal understanding changing it to Mother is as abhorrent as having ewverything as father

There is no superior gender, either way

There is one promoted throughout history of course as superior but all that means is that they were )wrong? culturally deluded?)), not that the polar opposite is true/ INdeed, very few absolutes are true. Middle road every time for me <<goes off to retrieve cope of dhammapada and wave at image of Green Tara in house next door>>

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:30:30

I'm just not sure how to talk about this to you, Clarissimo. I guess the closest we can get to agreement is that this is about faith, so anything else will not impinge on that.

Do you think that if Our Mother had been repeated for the past two millenia or whatever it is, that the history of the church had been one of excluding men and stigmatising them for being sexual, that all the church hierarchies until the past 20 years had been female, that the document the church was based on raised up women and put down men and made women the centre of the story, that men would accept that the religion really meant them too? That it wasn't harmful to them and their interests? I don't.

That's why I did the rejigging of Our Father, not because I think it ought to be replaced, but to give lie to the claim that women are equal in christianity. If they were, hearing Our Mother wouldn't sound uncomfortable. It does though and that's because this is a religion for men and about men. Women are a sidenote when men even think about us.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:31:44

Do you ever repeat the Lord's prayer as is Clarrisimo?

posieparker Sun 28-Mar-10 18:33:08

Even in the deepest rooms of the vatican one of the revered women(can't remember who but she was a founding father's mother and has a statue in the same scale and importnace as the Saints) has her title scrubbed out and an attempt to disguise her as a man.

Besides Jesus wasn't a woman was he?

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:33:51

"Besides Jesus wasn't a woman was he?"

LOL

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:38:15

Oops I read that as "Jesus was a woman" in case you're wondering why I'm randomly laughing.

I mean hell if he can be a feminist, why can't we rewrite history a bit more and make him a woman too?

We'll all be equal then!

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 18:42:05

By SGB "Why? Why would you, as a functioning adult, adopt a belief system that involves pretty much painting on your forehead 'I am scum, I am property, I am second class'."

Why would anyone? I don't.

Because that is the polar opposite to what my 'belief system' says about me.

More 'I am loved, I am fulfilled, I am first class.' (said not in a 'look at me, I am wonderful manner - more an amazed thankfulness.)

Going back to the whole Our Father/Mother/Guide in heaven thing. I see what Clarissimo means - changing it to 'Our mother' would kind of be equally as 'bad' as keeping it to Our Father, as neither gender should supercede. Our guide...hmmm. Just doesn't sit right. I guess I am with Clarissimo that saying 'Our Father in heaven' encapsulates all that God is, male and female, although again, this can't be explained logically and reasonably. Faith comes down to that in the end. Copout possibly? Never mind. grin

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:48:56

I'd only believe people's objections to "our mother" if they currently refuse to say "our father". But you don't instead you say you believe that father actually means mother too. Doesn't it worry you that christianity is expecting you to swallow these crazy ideas?

Also "our mother" wouldn't be as bad as "our father", it would be a step towards redressing 2,000 years of sexism and exclusion of women in the christian church.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 18:53:07

Dittabny- LOL, I made that version up as I typed it.

I don;t really say teh Loard's Prayer: that really is not aprt of my faith.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 18:56:49

Well do you or dont' you say it clarissimo, there are circumstances where it comes up.

It's absolutely not part of my faith, but some events - christenings etc, means you're in a group where people are expected to repeat it.

madhairday Sun 28-Mar-10 18:58:03

Thing is, the Lords prayer as taught by Jesus is what is said in the christian tradition, so it would be difficult to do the Lords prayer as anything else - like twisting Jesus' words. However there are lots of prayers round it using the language of mother or father and mother, and I don't have a problem with these.

I have tried not to say I think 'father actually means mother too', I know I can't always get it across in words, but it's more for me a sense that when I am praying to God as father, I have an awareness that God is more than a male, has female characteristics as much as male, is in fact so much more than I could describe in language. So it's not as simple as 'father means mother too' at all.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 19:05:49

BTW I think I said further down that I agreed the Church is PAtriarchal and all that.

As for men thinking of us as an afterthought- I guess we have very different people in our lives. The ida that there are things I cannot do as a female etc hasn't really been something that has affected me- I am lucky. I am pretty sure I ahve passed that to my boys as well- was explaining to ds1 about restrictions on females historically and he was just amazed.

I am not a girly girl though: when we get together in our theatrical group I would rather weld than sew. I domsetimes look at the otehr woman and think I ownder if theya re truly happy there but I also appreciate teh fact that nobody stops me sitting quietly in a corner with a pieve of cable and a screwdriver either.

I am siure there is soemthing we agree on Dittany- well I know ther is, that women are in no way any less than men. Other than that- yellow? can't stick iy- you?

wink

you and I are seemingly cut from the same cloth I think- opionated, bright- matbe in rl we'd get along in rl who lnows?

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 19:11:43

If people quibble about the language it really puts me off organised religion altogether!

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 19:36:42

Dittany- yes and I would say it as it is said at whatever group I wat with as a matter of respect. My boys attend a faith school (there is no other option anyway, apart from ds3'sd SNU- small Welsh village) and they are taught all of the traditional stuff but whilst I do get them to talk about things like being told anyone who prays hard enough can geta nything they want (what a stunning thing to tell a child with AS but anyway..... 'Mummy why won't God listen to me when I pray for friends' 'Mum if ds3 prayed mroe would his autoism go away?'- bastards) I try not to give thema nswers any way, just get them to think about things they repeat and what they mean IYSWIM?

Spidermama Sun 28-Mar-10 20:58:32

Absolutely gripping thread! I've been glued to this for the last couple of hours.

Dittany I am a very big fan of yours.

Earthy I am fascinated by your beliefs. Deep down I know they are closest to my own views, but they won't get my kids into the great school at the top of my road and out of the Russian roulette-style lottery system which blights secondary school admissions in Brighton.

I'm now off to listen to Banishing Eve. Many thanks for the link.

Yup, if you find it weird to say 'our mother' rather than 'our father' it means you have bought into the idea that the default position of humanity/deity is male (ie 'mankind' is a valid word for 'human beings' when 'womankind' means a separate category of human beings.)

Now this is one of my (new) favourite quotes on the whole business. I think that fundamentally This Will Do.
'Civilisations all over the world worshipped the sun as a god that gave birth to Earth. Thousands of years later we discovered that the Earth WAS actually created from the sun as part of the debris that whas wirling around it four and a half billion years ago... But they were worshipping the wrong sun. Our sun isn't actually hot enough to fuse hydrogen to helium. The sun that 'gave birth' to us died billions of years ago in a supernova which created the higher elements that make up our solar system. And that means that every one of us here is literally made of stardust.'

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 21:30:12

Spidermama if you're interested in feminist arguments on christianity, a good book on this is Beyond God the Father, by Mary Daly - the feminist theologians' feminist theologian. She basically created the whole field. She also stood her ground teaching feminist analysis of patriarchal religion, particularly catholicism at a jesuit college in the US. They persecuted her and tried to sideline her but she didn't give in. I never saw patriarchal religion in the same way after reading her. Myth-making is very important to human culture, which is why the patriarchy has pretty much cornered the market in it through religion.

"Thing is, the Lords prayer as taught by Jesus is what is said in the christian tradition, so it would be difficult to do the Lords prayer as anything else - like twisting Jesus' words"

But you don't mind twisting Jesus's meaning deciding that he was really talking about mothers too, when there is absolutely no evidence for it MHD?

Clarissimo, that's interesting. You find a feminised version abhorrent, but you'll say the male version out of respect. When does respect for women come in to it? Do you ever tell people that the father version is abhorrent?

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 21:33:59

Exactly SGB, men wouldn't stand for "women" referring to all of humanity. They'd be insulted. Why do women not take the actual insult as it is meant to be and stand up for themselves instead of making apologetics for it?

Men erase women from the culture and from divinity. In India and China they even erase us from the earth - because of patriarchy's overvaluation of boys there are 100 million women missing. Femicide.

All these things are connected.

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 21:35:46

Good quote SGB that pretty much equates with my understanding of the old faiths I know about (didn't do much on Pagan faiths though).

Default position is that deities are genderless: the rest all came later. Doesn't have to eman it is untrue- a lot of stuff we learned thatc ame later is true after all- but nonetheless it is proven that the faiths absorbed the cultures and faith systems they moved into.

Thing is though that whilst I absolutely agree that there are no mainstream feminsit faiths etc (I amt old Pganism is, but as I said...) I am very much a pragmatisit. What I care about is what happens now- that Muslim women aren't stoned for the 'sin' of sex; that females can become Bishops and influence their faiths now.

I definitely don't do semantics., I leave that for otehrs, I am too much the real time activist I guess.

I suppose it must take a mix, learn from the past and change the future.

Sorry but anyone who claims that the Bible they read is the Literal Word of God sets off my Idiot Alarms. Unless you can prove to me that you actually speak Aramaic/Ancient Hebrew like a native, you're not getting the original version, it's gone through half a dozen translations before you got to read it. And if there was a BigSkyDaddy who wanted you to read his literal words then wouldn't He have arranged for no one to speak anything but Aramaic? Or for translation to be invariably easy and flawless? Or if that was what he meant only he kind of forgot to see to it, well he's a bit rubbish at being completely all-powerful then, isn't he?

Clarissimo Sun 28-Mar-10 21:51:05

Anyone who thinks the Bible is the lieteral word of God makes me sob quietly too SGB.

I don't mind you beleive (within parameters absed on decency to otehs and the like) but fgs, make sure you know the actual reality of it.

But then the Prof at Uni tells me that he ahs real issues with Muslims too who walk out of the lecture where he questions the progeny of the Qur'an. persoanlly if someone signs up for a degree in world faiths and then walks out on such things i'd fail them (regardless of what they walked out of and what faith-we had Christians doing it too, apart from that it was 1 sikh girl and many atheists) but I am a hard cow like that. Refusal to ehar anyone elses opinion esp, in a uni setting pisses me off endlessly.

It's interesting what happens when Catholicism goes head to head with feminism. Where I went to high school (all girls), the nuns wanted to live in the community, not cloistered away, and they didn't want to wear a habit. They did real grassroots stuff, feeding the homeless, helping drug addicts, raising money for women's refuges. So, Pope Paul ex communicated them shock. They continued doing what they felt was right as women in Christianity.

They were later re instated as being in good standing, but what I loved about them as an order of nuns, is that they didn't notice that the Pope had re instated them as their status in the church didn't matter. It was the work they were doing that was important. smile

Somehow these nuns reconciled their religion with what most would deem real Christianity.

I don't think women should have to apologize for being Christian and feminist. I think one can disagree with aspects of one's religion and still be a feminist and vice versa. They aren't mutually exclusive, imo.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 21:58:51

"Default position is that deities are genderless: the rest all came later."

Where does this claim come from Clarissimo? The evidence is that there were plenty of ancient goddess worshiping religions that the abrahamic religions replaced.

Also do you really think that the "truth" of religion is based only in the dim and distant past - that no-one can ever actually know given that not a single one of us was there? The point is we have patriarchal religions right now and have done for the past two millenia. The fundamentalists in the US say, who are all doing their bit oppressing women, aren't misreading chrisianity - they understand it. It's the people trying to claim christianity for feminism and for women who are making the mistake.

Spidermama Sun 28-Mar-10 22:06:07

Ilovemydog that's my experience of the nuns at my church.

Why exactly were they ex communicated? Was it because they wouldn't wear habits?

Peabody Sun 28-Mar-10 22:09:32

Christianity has done some terrible things in the name of religion, including its treatment of women.

The British Empire has also done some terrible things, including its treatment of women.

But I like living in England and being British, because I judge this country on how it is now, not how it was then. And for the same reason I am happy to be part of a Christian church because of what it is doing now, not what it did then.

dittany Sun 28-Mar-10 22:19:35

The british empire doesn't exist now. Mainly because the colonised refused to be colonised any more.

Women on the other hand have yet to turn their back on the church in any large numbers.

spidermama think the habit was a symbol of oppression to them, and part of the bigger power struggle. They made a point of not wearing the habit (and favored polyester wink) and not living together, but (shock) as individual women in their own apartments, some shared, but the point being that it was their decision.

They were considered quite liberal in that we discussed openly issues such as abortion, contraception, divorce, and how it could be/couldn't be reconciled with the doctrine of the church. It was OK to disagree as long as one could back up the argument.

Oh, and they would demonstrate quite openly about nuclear power and workers rights.

They were ex communicated for papal disobedience, I think, but in essence it was because they were a strong group of women. smile

And I really wonder why these women aren't in charge of the church? It would be infinitely more sane if they were.

piscesmoon Sun 28-Mar-10 22:39:05

Women are not turning their backs in large numbers-they are fighting to take part! I would say that more than half of Cof E vicars are women and they are fighting to be bishops-it will come eventually.Things move on.

AbricotsSecs Sun 28-Mar-10 23:54:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 01:21:08

Dittany: "I don't think the bible is that hard to understand. It's a patriarchal document that sets man up as god (god made man in his image) and women to be subordinate." - did you read the bit I wrote yesterday saying that the bible itself says man and woman together represent God's image? Why don't you check it in one of your online Bible sources?

Now, since you're the one who said to SGB that you don't know much about the Bible, could you explain why you suddenly appear to be rejecting that very statement - perhaps because it's suddenly inconvenient to the new point you're trying to make? When you say the Bible is not that hard to understand, are you saying that despite the scant biblical knowledge which you yourself professed, you understand it far better than the millions of male and female scholars who spent decades wrestling with it for the past two millenia? The fact that you say that the parables weren't that complicated, for example, is a classic example of what I said about you scratching the surface (without realising that's what you're doing) - without knowledge of information such as the culture,, language and assumptions of the time, of course you would see them as simple! Did you know, for example, that the 'camel through the eye of a needle' statement was actually a joke, which would have had his listeners wetting themselves laughing? I only discovered this recently, and I've followed this faith all my life.

If you were writing about Shakespeare or Chaucer, would you still be denying the relevance of understanding the culture within which these people were writing?

As for your objection to my statements about Catholicism, did you notice the bit where I said I may be wrong and that perhaps a Catholic can correct me? As a non-Catholic I do not presume to understand Catholicism better than a Catholic. However you, despite professing scant knowledge, do presume to understand Christianity better than Christians. How are we meant to have a thoughtful discussion on this basis?

This is exactly why I asked earlier for a ground rule where posters would agree to show openness to the thought that that ideas they hadn't considered might have merit. This convo has SO much potential but is sadly taking the usual predictable route - ironically the traditionally 'male-brained' war-mongering route of defending one's territory, launching attacks and flatly refusing to engage or try to understand the other. How very sad and ironic in a conversation about patriarcy. I haven't caught up on the whole thread but I so far haven't seen a single response to my request for openness. I know that not all posters on this thread take the 'war-mongering' approach; maybe there's still room for discussion with those posters.

I shall read the rest of this thread later but from what I've seen so far am feeling very depressed by the predictable way parts of this convo are turning.

piscesmoon Mon 29-Mar-10 08:00:59

If women want to change things they need to do what the are doing-stay within the system. Nothing changes if you just take umbrage and leave! Thousands of years of patriarchal society isn't going to change overnight!

Coming to this thread late, but just wanted to make the point that not understanding the Bible and not knowing much of it (there's a lot of it!) are two different things. I think Dittany was saying the latter.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 09:39:16

Dittany- not talking about the Abrahamic faiths, theya re relatively recent: talking about the really most ancient Indus Civilisation beliefs, Paganism etc.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 09:40:53

;Also do you really think that the "truth" of religion is based only in the dim and distant past - that no-one can ever actually know given that not a single one of us was there

And that's not what I said

But no matter what we do now we can't get a tardis and go back there. We simply cannot. We can't wipe the faitjhs out even if we wanted to either so we have (or rather I find it is best to) work with what we have in the here and now.

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 09:43:42

I hope you don't end up getting to make the rules Speedy. This is a thread about feminism and religion, not you getting to be authoritarian about religion and wanting to have the final word. Everybody's arguments stand and fall on their merits. People can decide for themselves whether I know what I'm talking about or not.

Although if I was to request one ground rule it would be that this doesn't become yet another Mumsnet thread where people act like they are in an academic tutorial and try and one up one another with what they've been taught by their lecturers. There are other sorts of ways of coming across knowledge apart from doing it on a degree course. But of course that would be controlling, so I'm not going to ask for any rules.

Also, it's feminist criticism of religion which is the new idea, not apologetics for christianity which are as old as our culture.

When I said I didn't know the bible, I meant that I don't have a list of quotations at my fingertips which I think is what SGB was complimenting me for, I'd have to go and look and search to find support for my arguments. I do know that the evidence is there though.

But if you don't feel it's productive to have a discussion with me, that's no skin off my nose. You may notice that at least a couple of other people have said they've found my posts useful. Feminist criticisms of religion, and in our culture in particular christianity, are given next to no airing (I only came across them in an obscure part of the internet) so I'm quite happy to keep expounding them here.

Bumper, yes, that's exactly what I meant. I'm not a bible geek. That doesn't mean I don't know what it's about or the message that it's sending. It's pretty direct.

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 09:48:30

"And that's not what I said"

What did you say then Clarissimo? I point out that Christianity expects us to worship a male god, and then we get all the stuff about how god is neither male nor female, despite all the evidence to the contrary in christian documents and teachings, then you say deities were "originally" neuter. I don't see what that argument (which is impossible to prove given that it was so long ago) has to do with christianity getting us to worship a male god.

Also why do we have to work with them? They aren't set in stone, they are just human (men's in this case) creations.

I'd suggest that women should turn our backs on religions that disrespect us and put us in a second class position and disregard or even desecrate female divinity.

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 09:55:51

"Dittany- not talking about the Abrahamic faiths, theya re relatively recent: talking about the really most ancient Indus Civilisation beliefs, Paganism etc."

I didn't say you were talking about the Abrahamic faiths. I said the religions that were replaced by the Abrahamic faiths worshipped goddesses. Part of the story of christianity is the story of the destruction of the goddess.

You're saying that there were faiths even further back that worshipped a neuter deity. Which were they? I hadn't heard of this.

Earthymama Mon 29-Mar-10 09:57:45

Well, I'm quite happy for women to believe what they want but would wonder at their choice to believe something that told them they were inferior!

I think that posters on here hold strong views and are listening to other opinions but then stll disagreeing and arguing their POV? Isn't that what we are supposed to do in a debate, honour other people's voices but stick to our guns?

I didn't post thinking you would all go, 'Of course, the Goddess is for me!' I thought I would explain why my spirituality is not distinct from my feminism, that it is based on the matriarchial belief systems of the past and challenges how I live in this patriarchial, capitalist society.

Spsidermama, the school won't be able to police what you believe! You don't have start wearing symbols of your belief, though I do, or 'hippy' clothes, though I do, or patchouli, though I do grin Luckily as the Christian Church based so many of its Festivals on the Pagan Solstsices etc, you can decorate the house for Yule, get out the eggs for Oeastra, though we have celebrated the Spring Equinox already (against the evidence of my senses as it feels like winter today)

The best thing I did for Spring Equinox was a celebration at Chalice Well in Glastonbury. Chalice Well is a Peace Garden, open to all, whatever path they follow. 'One Source, Many Paths'

Spring Equinox
We gathered at the Well Head, Natasha talked about Spring and everyone stood silent amongst the trees under the Tor as the birds sang around us. Then we all greeted those around us and made that Divine connection into human reality.

It was profoundly moving, my Goddess of the Earth was definately present.
Afterwards around the Fire, people shared their journeys and experiences and all were different and many deeply moving.
There was even a Pagan Christian there, that would have interested all of you, (I hopesmile).

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 09:58:06

I want to work with them becuase I want to work towards my concept of good with the here and now without alienating people.

And there are positives in faith. I beleive that anyway. Many bad things have been done in the name of faith but so have many good: am not one for throwing abby out with the bath water. At teh very e4xtreme end if we lost our slightly mysogynistic old Vicar we would also lose the service he runs as an article of faith that fills in forms for immigrants to the area who do not speak English or Welsh.

That's not a bad person who should be eradicated (on many levels actually- he is someone who amazed me with his depth the more I tlaked to him about his life, his first duty as a Vicar was to be sent to Aberfan to dig sad and he tries to base his services on that).

I have stated repeatedly that I don't disagree that teh Church is patriarchal (that does not mean IMo that everyone in it is - I am sure I remember some stats years ago showing not all worshipers at a CofE Church beleived in a God or the resurrection: if they can't get together on that well the rest won't be following) but I honestly beleive more good can be done now by working with what we have and trying to create a balanced entity. You disagree, that's fine.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 10:00:32

'I didn't say you were talking about the Abrahamic faiths. I said the religions that were replaced by the Abrahamic faiths worshipped goddesses. Part of the story of christianity is the story of the destruction of the goddess.

You're saying that there were faiths even further back that worshipped a neuter deity. Which were they? I hadn't heard of this. '

I have to go sort the boys but will find some links later Dittany. But the one I mentioned later- Brahmanistic (earliest) Hindu tradiiton is one. I will see if I can find the texts showing that, they make for good reading. (If i fail to return feel free to harass me - Dh in the middle of Uni exams and occupying PC a lot so I forget what I am doing sometimes)

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 10:02:23

Why does saying that women could turn their backs on religion that consigns us to an inferior position to men equal eradicating a vicar as a person? For starters men could still go to church.

I'm looking at a link on Indus civilisations and it's saying they worshipped a mother goddess:

ccrtindia.gov.in/induscivilisculp.htm

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 10:12:29

Quick oone then-

'Brahma satyam jagan mithya
Brahman is real; the world is unreal.
Ekam evadvitiyam brahma
Brahman is one, without a second.

Prajnanam brahman
Brahman is the supreme knowledge.

Tat tvam asi
That is what you are.

Ayam atma brahma
Atman and brahman are the same.

Aham brahmasmi
I am brahman.

Sarvam khalvidam brahma
All of this is brahman.
'

Atman is the equivalent of the soul and Brahman (one of them, don't google and find links to the Brahman of the Hindu trinity- I stills truggle tyo get the right one at times and I have a blinkin degree in it all!)is the supreme in Hindusim: it is generless. The things I have read on Indus suggest other than pure mother goddess, for a start the imagery is all phallus based but I will drag it out later.

Concept of Brahman = whatever you say I am that is what I am not. Under that it cannot ahve a gender can it?

And Buddhism- well Buddhism proper (as in the most ancient form) compeltely denied any God (I know it changed, Tibetan Buddhism etc ahs powerful female deities though but all a half to Amhitabha etc). At teh roots it was an atheist faith though. Dhammapada is good on that one (It would be, collected lessons of the Buddha)

Am not sure about Jainism- certainly alst tithankara on Earth (they preach on different planets and you ahve to be reincarnated on a aplcenet with a practising tirthankara to reach release) was male, dont knwo if there were any females- again will grab my book later.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 10:14:40

And yes of course omwn could turn their back on the religion.

Point being, to many women the Church is the most important, or one of the most inportant, things in their life and nothing outside will challenge that. isn;'t that the nature of beleif?

So I work within the aprameters on offer. If women here rejected their faith there wouldnb't even be a school for their kids. That's not going to happen.

And my point about the Vicar was that whilst there are negative things ion the established Church there are also many positives. IMO.

birdofthenorth Mon 29-Mar-10 10:26:45

In my particular church (fairly liberal CofE) I have never felt or been made to feel my strong feminist beliefs are in contradiction to my faith. I accept that some biblical passages and and lot of the Church's history is steeped in patriachy and sexism -but let's not forget much of that was true of all cultures at the time of writing/ perpetuating it! In the modern context I find my church one of the least sexist environments in my life (and for good measure we now have a trainee woman vicar).

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 10:40:03

So are you arguing that matriarchal religions replaced neuter religions then Clarissimo?

"If women here rejected their faith there wouldnb't even be a school for their kids."

Of course there would. The funding would go into secular schools. The idea of faith schools is abhorrent.

Ah, separation of church and state smile

I have really mixed feelings about this. I think faith schools should be able to exist, but I do have an issue with them being state funded. But also think that religions who discriminate should have their charitable status revoked.

onagar Mon 29-Mar-10 10:51:14

SpeedyGonzalez you say "Perhaps that's why you see church attendance as 'supporting' bigotry? I would always urge religious bigots to spend time getting to know and care for people who they have prejudices against, and I would say the same for people who are anti religion."

So which am I speedy? Prejudiced or a bigot?

What I am not is the one helping people (by example) to come to a church which supports the domination of women and the abuse of children. Which unless you say "I'm speedy, I'm a catholic, but beware my church condones the abuse of women and children" you effectively are.

Most churchgoers/catholics won't have thought of this at all being too busy just being nice people so it's not like I blame the average person, but it should be something everyone examines for themselves. Accepting the churches attitudes even in a passive way by being openly a member is effectively a vote for those attitudes. One person only has a tiny effect so must decide for themselves how much that matters.

AbricotsSecs Mon 29-Mar-10 14:12:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 14:21:48

I'd be happy if people would just stop claiming that jesus was a feminist or that "god the father means father and mother" or that the bible is so incredibly complicated we can't be sure of the misogyny staring us straight in the face. If you have to twist the meaning of what was actually said and done that much to get it to fit with what your own conscience demands, maybe it's time to look again at what you're actually supporting.

Catholics actually have a better approach to this. They don't try to pretend that the anti-abortion or anti-contraception stance is somehow OK for example (the ones that dont' support those things that is) they are quite open that they are picking and choosing.

I bet you'd never get a catholic claiming catholicism was feminist either.

madhairday Mon 29-Mar-10 15:29:05

OK dittany, I did try to explain to you before that it wasn't as simple as saying 'god the father means father and mother,' and did attempt to explain that for me is was more of an awareness that God includes male and female seeing as I believe God created male and female in God's image. But I obviously didn't explain this well enough.

Sorry for not coming back and joining in. Have had bad news today so not in best place for it. Have enjoyed the debate though, all the best to you all.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 16:28:47

Quickie

'"If women here rejected their faith there wouldnb't even be a school for their kids."

Of course there would. The funding would go into secular schools. The idea of faith schools is abhorrent. '

Agree about faith schools, bane of my life. One of them anyway. OTOH they may well say I am the bane of their life., so hey ho.

there wouldn;t be a school though, land belongs to Church and there's nowhere else to build becuase alla round is greenbelt or golf course. or site of special interest. The other school is already at capacity.

Obv, that's just here but it's the way it is nonetheless.



Madhairday hope nyou're OK dn the bad news isn;t too bad.

madhairday Mon 29-Mar-10 16:34:08

Thanks Clarissimo. a friend died unexpectedly, so a bit raw.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 16:36:50

I'm sorry. At risk of being somewhere inappropriate to say it, I woill say a prayer for you all X. God bless

madhairday Mon 29-Mar-10 16:45:27

Thanks Clarissimo. much appreciated.

Madhair - a friend of mine died 'expectedly' a month ago and I'm still reeling - I can't imagine how hard today's news must be for you sad. Thinking of you.

Dittany, I don't understand your point about Catholics pretending about anti abortion and anti contraception.

madhairday Mon 29-Mar-10 19:08:54

Thankyou NL. To be honest, I don't know how I feel at the moment. nothing feels quite real at the moment. I've carried on with the day, getting ds to Beavers etc, but theres this awareness that something isn't right any more, if you know what I mean. I feel like I want to cry but can't.
sorry to hijack thread a bit

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 19:14:41

mhd hijack away

You know, the ay you say you feel sounds like absolute standard start of bereavement shock to me. It will need to sink in before the tears come.

Be kind yto yourself and take it as it comes, thats all you can do

Dittany, Sorry, not pretending.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 21:46:51

madhair, so sorry to hear about your friend, that's really awful. I hope you have lots of supportive people around you.

dittany: "I hope you don't end up getting to make the rules Speedy". I very clearly made a request, and asked people how they felt about that. That is totally different from 'making the rules', isn't it? Twist it if you like.

Now, as for this point about not knowing much of the Bible vs not understanding it, yes the two are different. However, if you don't know much of it, how can you possibly claim to understand it? And how can you claim to understand it better than academics who have made it their life's work and confess that it's taxing? I know a little about how the brain works, but never in a million years would I claim to understand it better than a neurologist.

Speaking of which, my knowledge of the brain may have come from my degree course but my knowledge of the Bible hasn't. I know some people on this thread have degrees in theology, but you shouldn't presume that that's the basis that I'm arguing from.

Have you searched for that quote from the Bible that says that male and female together make God's image? You seem to keep denying it exists, yet I note that you're happy to search for other biblical passages which seem to confirm what you want to believe.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 21:48:51

I'm gutted to have missed episode 1 of Banishing Eve, however, my DH summarised it as follows:

Until around the 10th century (I think I've got that date right), if you had asked anyone who built the Christian church, they'd have said: women. Women were instrumental in every aspect of running the church, leading, teaching, etc etc. It was only later on that certain male church leaders decided to clamp down on this and dominate the women in their communities.

There's also information about certain books of the Bible which were either written by women, or which primarily tell the stories of women, which were long ago cut out of the Bible.

This says very clearly to me that it is the 'standard' patriarchy that stems from bigotry within society which has led to the patriarchy which has dominated women within religion.

With this in mind, it seems a relevant question to ask the following: since 21st century life still places women in a lower position to men in many ways, why do women not simply absent themselves from male society and go ahead and create their own society which is devoid of misogyny? This is the same question which is being asked on this thread of women's involvement in religion. Certainly there are pockets around the world where women do this (dittany, I believe you once posted on a thread about a group of Kenyan women who created a women's village because they were so fed up with the maltreatment they were being subjected to - it was you, wasn't it?). So if the answer to the problem of patriarchy within religion is for women to remove themselves, surely the answer should be the same for the problem of patriarchy within society as a whole?

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 22:39:46

I think women need to create our own cultures and stop trying to twist male patriarchal culture to fit us.

A religion based on worshipping a male god, who sent a male messiah to earth, who had 12 male disciples isn't a religion of women, even if some of the apocrypha were written by women. Of course women were involved, we always are and we're always written out, that doesn't mean we led anything or that it is about us.

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 22:40:22

Madhair, I'm so sorry about your friend.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 22:49:00

onagar, I was actually referring to you in the first part of that post you quoted, where I wrote about people who have set views making sweeping generalisations. Apols if I'm wrong here, but this is very much how some of your posts have come across, for example you said: "People don't trust a church because they see evil people going there, but because they see good people going there and take that to mean it must be a safe place that teaches good things." - you're referring to all churches here, saying that women who participate in church life are supporting the patriarchal aspects of the church. Yet this statement assumes that (1) all churches are patriarchal; (2) all churches are not "safe places that teach good things". Neither of these statements is true. There are good and bad people within churches, just as there are good and bad people within society as a whole. There are certainly some churches (and other, non-religious organisations) where a culture of causing harm has developed, but they do not represent the whole and it is erroneous to assume that they do.

I think you've also assumed that I'm a Catholic, which I said earlier that I'm not.

Clarissimo Mon 29-Mar-10 22:49:38

Am not coming on to debate, bit sad though in no way like Madhair who I hope is OK tonight.

Speedy that development of the Church (mainly women) is how I learned it happened. The patriarchy developed. Women were significant- some of the non-used gospels (Is it Thomas?) show that.

If you have a genuine faith you cannot remove yourself from it. Any more than you can remove yourself from this world. It is too fundamental.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 22:56:21

Earthymama: "I think that posters on here hold strong views and are listening to other opinions but then stll disagreeing and arguing their POV? Isn't that what we are supposed to do in a debate, honour other people's voices but stick to our guns?"

Yes, that's what debate is about, but not discussion. Debating is a game, whereas discussion is about connecting, which requires a level of openness that is detrimental to debate. I'm not the first person to say MN (and surely won't be that last) that it's very common to have a debate/ discussion mismatch between two posters, and where that happens neither person understands each other, everyone gets pissed off and there's no progress. That's probably what's happening here!

Clarissimo - I'm so sorry to hear that you're having a tough time as well.

I'm not sure whether Thomas is one of those non-used Gospels...this whole area of the historical role of women in the church is one of the billion life issues which I intend to investigate far more deeply as the years go on.

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 22:57:36

Clarissimo you're not arguing that the patriarchy was a recent development are you? Patriarchy was firmly in place when jesus came on the scene. See the old testament which was the religious document they were using at the time for the kind of thinking that was around.

Maybe women did make slight inroads, once again that doesn't make christianity a non-patriarchal religion, in the same way having a few female vicars doesn't' make anglicanism non-patriarchal now.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 22:58:35

dittany: "I think women need to create our own cultures and stop trying to twist male patriarchal culture to fit us." It sounds like you're saying that your ideal way of life would mean living without men altogether. Is that right?

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 23:01:15

Earthymama - tell us more about the Pagan Christian you mentioned. Never heard of such a thing before, so I'm intrigued!

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 23:14:31

No that's not what I'm saying Speedy. I think women need to centre on ourselves rather than trying to fit ourselves into male cultures that exclude us. Considering men have managed to create male cultures whilst still living with women, I don't see why you would jump to the conclusion that women would have to actively exclude men from their lives. There's an extra leap of logic you're making that isn't implied.

I'm sorry but I find that question a bit aggressive. Did you mean it to come across that way?

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 23:28:05

Feminism is female created culture for example. It's made an enormous difference for women.

Much more than christianity has done for women say.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 23:28:13

No, dittany, that question was not meant to come across as aggressive. I was seeking clarification of what you've been saying, rather than jumping to conclusions.

What you're suggesting about women 'centring on ourselves' is rather vague, though. Since we know that society (and therefore our culture) as a whole (in the UK, at least) has run along mostly patriarchal lines for centuries, how else can women 'centre on themselves' and create their own cultures without rejecting patriarchal cultures in order to do so? You have been arguing that women should do exactly this with regard to religion - hence my 'leap of logic' as you put it. I was extending your own argument, not mine. Why do you think women should do things one way for religion and another way for society as a whole?

dittany Mon 29-Mar-10 23:32:13

I know why it came across as aggressive - because you personalised it to "my" ideal way of life. Why did you feel the need to personalise it there speedy? This isn't about me.

Don't know if that is a x-post but feminism is a great example of women centering on ourselves.

I think women have to find their own way with regards to religion, I'm not telling anybody what to do, but there are certainly female-centred religions - Earthymama, appears to be involved in one. Alternatively it's not necessary to have religion at all. It's possible to have a spiritual connection with the universe (creation) without following any particular religion.

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 29-Mar-10 23:55:09

dittany, I addressed my question to your ideal way of life because you stated what you think women need to do. I'll post it again: "I think women need to create our own cultures and stop trying to twist male patriarchal culture to fit us."

I'm off to bed now.

dittany Tue 30-Mar-10 00:04:56

Exactly, it was a generalised point. There was no need to personalise it into my "ideal" way of life unless you were trying to make it about me for some reason. That seems to me to be aggressive.

And like I said, women are already doing this, creating our own cultures like feminism, like joining female-centred religions. It certainly isn't about me and what I want in particular. It's a political point about how women as a group defeat or turn away from patriarchy. Its not an unreasonable topic to discuss on a thread about feminism.

madhairday Tue 30-Mar-10 12:41:05

Just wanted to say thanks for all your messages of support. It's just typical of MN that on a heated thread about feminism and religion that people take the time to show concern for someone. I really appreciate it.

Probably not quite got the headspace to join back in for now, though.

Clarissimo Tue 30-Mar-10 18:42:10

Dittany- no not a recent development that would be absurd! Just that the earloy inoput of women in the faith (adn what I wearlier referred to as the Cult of Christ rather than Church) was wiped out by the developing patriarchal role of the Church

IYSWIM

Clarissimo Tue 30-Mar-10 18:44:23

'Maybe women did make slight inroads, once again that doesn't make christianity a non-patriarchal religion, in the same way having a few female vicars doesn't' make anglicanism non-patriarchal now.'

Agreed but I like the fact that it moves forward. That is progress and I celebrate progress.

Madhair I nknow I said it yuesterday but anyway- hugs again.

Speedy thanks. Dh's Uni timetabling meant I have to give up my MA for the time being (DH's place funded for income mine not) so am a bit sad but no childcare is a sod at times.

SpeedyGonzalez Wed 31-Mar-10 15:01:22

dittany, tbh I find the way you're posting - both here and on other threads - quite manipulative. I'm not the first person on MN to tell you this: you come across as someone who's playing games all the time, which is not what I'm here for at all. Your claim that I came across as aggressive because I asked you about what are your ideals is one example of this. Life is personal, and feminism, religion, and all other major life issues are personal. How could they not be? To try to have a discussion about these issues without involving the personal is to cut out what makes them meaningful.

Clarissimo - oh, that must be really frustrating. I'm sure it's hard enough trying to balance academic study with family life and everything else, but to then have to give that up for any length of time and for any reason must be gutting.

Madhair - huuuuuuuge hugs to you. And more huuuuge hugs.

Madhair, my [belated] sympathies to you as well, I went to the funeral of a dear friend on Monday.

As to women's societies and particularly women's religious/spirital environments without men, there's Aristasia. Which, while most definitely NOT for everyone (or everyone female for that matter) is interesting on dozens of different levels.

SpeedyGonzalez Wed 31-Mar-10 17:34:03

SGB, really sorry to hear about your loss as well. Huge sympathies to you.

Your Aristasia link looks fascinating. Quite alien to me, but fascinating nonetheless.

dittany Wed 31-Mar-10 17:53:22

Clarissimo, I think the christian church like other revolutionary movements used women when it needed them for their numbers, but as soon as it was entrenched and unassailable, made sure that power returned to men. Which is why I'd say women shouldn't get involved in men's struggles but take part in our own. Women's energy and input is not generally rewarded by men unless we fight very hard to get our due.

SGB I'm sorry about your friend.

Speedy you're missing my point and you're getting quite nasty now. Please back off.

Clarissimo Wed 31-Mar-10 18:57:30

No I don't think the original Christians used women: I think rather that OWmen were the main instigators and men possibly rather heavy handedly took it over from them. It's complex though; men absolutely wrote the woemn out when selecting tetxts but equally they beleived they had prayed and were guided by the divine hand of God etc. I imagine it was really just teh not so divine hand of bog standard historical patricarchal culture.

Your point about doublethink- I had a bit of thought on that over a few days. TBh I thin a lot of faith is doublethink, it certainly is not limited to feminsim. I am quite opejn on MN that my faith ahs beena crutch to get me through some really ahrd times and if all it is really is a crutch then that is OK with me tbh. But absolutely faith for me is doublethink in many ways- the OT for example makes me gasp with disgust in palces (blessed is he who takes their children and dash them against the wall) and much of it is completely against my world view- anti gay movement for example.

But there is a lot of fodder for thought in there too, and that has value. I did a project on Dinah in year 2- have a great books oemwhere all about her and the culture at the time (feminism, rape, female sexuality etc) and I am mroe than happy to lend it out asuming I didn't give it to the library (dont think I did but I did some). If women all turned our backs entirely on Christianity and walked away tehre would be muich left unlearened, many avenues unecplored. Instead I think it is better to point out where women are short changed, to consider how it can be rectified. I knkow a few very nice female Vicars, both RL and online, and every day they wake up, go to work and succeed in their role does a thousand times more for feminism than any anger about the past an do.

SGB sorry about your friend. I've lost close friends over the years and it is a really, really shit thing to happen.

Speedy: Aristasia is kind of alien to everyone who is not an Aristasian. I know a bit about them and have met some of them (in the days when they had an 'embassy' and would socialise with 'Tellurians') - don't want to become one but they do fascinate me. Partly because they are an example of a group of women building a women-only culture and spirituality/philosophy. On one level I think they're nuts but no more nuts, and certainly no more socially harmful, than a lot of other religions/cults/alternative societies.

nooka Thu 01-Apr-10 08:06:55

My sister is a vicar who was/is perfectly content that that was as far as she could go, which I found personally extraordinary as she is an incredibly intelligent and dedicated person who quite clearly had the capacity for great success. Fair enough that she might not feel that she personally wished to become a bishop, but to be happy to be deliberately excluded just seems extraordinary to me.

I also find the well it was just the culture line difficult to swallow, given that we have the concept of an all powerful god communicating with his followers on an ongoing basis, either he didn't really care that women had been effectively written out, or everyone was totally ignoring him. Neither of which make me feel any great desire to subscribe to Christianity (the faith I was brought up in). In fact God seems incredibly absent in an awful lot of religion, if one subscribes to the concept that God is essentially benevolent.

For these intellectual reasons, as well as the fact that I have no faith, I am an atheist.

Earthymama Thu 01-Apr-10 10:58:39

Have been away having sinusitis and moaning quietly about it!!

I know nothing about your debates about Christianity, I didn't realise at first that this thread was about how women can be practising Christians and feminists or I wouldn't have posted. I'm not objecting, just acknowledging that is not about 'spirituality' but Abrahamic religions.

Re the Pagan Christian, I only met the guy fleetingly; he seemed genuinely to revere his Christ and the Earth, the Elements etc. something I don't think main-stream Christianity does very well, in my limited experience.

I hope you can achieve some consensus, as it says on a feminism thread,

"This thread is great because there are so many different types of feminists on here and however we decide to do it, we're all striving to battle against sexism and misogyny"

Hopefully, you are all the same about your faiths,

'Many Paths, One Source'

Earthymama Sat 03-Apr-10 00:14:46

I'm hoping that all of you who are Christians are busy with Easter services/activities and the others busy with family things and that I didn't kill the thread sad blush

antoinettechigur Sat 03-Apr-10 15:04:30

I haven't read the whole thread (which I find an irritating thing in other posters, so please excuse me).

Has anyone mentioned Quakers or Unitarians? Quakers have their roots in Christianity but don't view the bible as a literal text or guide to life. One of their central tenants is equality, there aren't even any clergy etc and there are no prescribed beliefs. Perhaps the holyish grail of a feminist religious group?

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Apr-10 16:31:12

Wow, dittany. What an excessive reaction. That's a perfect example of what I was saying.

Clarissimo - yes, what you said about the role of women in the church being eventually taken over by men is exactly what the experts in that Banishing Eve programme were saying. As for the other bits of the Bible which you described as 'double-think', these are aspects which I've always had a problem with, too, as have many believers over the centuries. There are so many problematic/ difficult things written in the Bible, and for me it's not enough to just take them at face value - either by saying 'oh well' and pretend they're not there; or by trying to find a way to make them acceptable; or to assume they can be read and understood with 21st century eyes. This is one of the reasons why I think it's dangerous to take the whole thing literally - for example some parts of the Bible are poetry; some are analogy; some are historical records/ letters - both written from a particular person's viewpoint; and some have a completely different function for which we have no real equivalent in modern Western culture.

I have been thinking about this whole question of women's roles in religions and women's roles in history full-stop. It seems to me that every aspect of life (in Western culture, at least) has largely been characterised by men dominating and pushing women out: in family life, academia, medicine, politics, farming, business, industry, the arts - even pregnancy and childbirth, where many of us on MN know that the traditional role of midwives was (and still is, in countries such as the USA) usurped by the male-brained (or just male) approach which led to women's bodies being controlled and unnecessarily damaged.

Yet women are now making admirable moves to reclaim their position in the world and, however slowly the pace might feel, are regaining our rightful position of equality. To my mind this is no different from what has happened within my religion (I don't know enough about how it's worked within other religions) and although the area of faith is one aspect of life where this historical domination shouldn't have happened, we can see that the pattern of domination has been much the same as in other areas of life. I wholeheartedly welcome the way that women are reclaiming our rights to equality, and whether it's within religion, medicine, politics, the family or any other area of life, I think we do better for ourselves by continuing to take back what has always rightfully been ours.

inveteratenamechanger Sat 03-Apr-10 19:54:45

Speedy, you wrote to dittany:

"tbh I find the way you're posting - both here and on other threads - quite manipulative. I'm not the first person on MN to tell you this: you come across as someone who's playing games all the time, which is not what I'm here for at all."

Dittany replied:
"Speedy you're missing my point and you're getting quite nasty now. Please back off."

I wouldn't call that an overreaction - just a response in kind.

There are many reasons I rejected the Baptist faith that I grew up in but one of the biggest problems for me was the inequality between men and women. My daughter had started asking about religion and I couldn't bear for her to grow up being told that she should be subserviant to a man.
This is why I started looking into Quakerism and have since started attending meetings.

The Quakers believe that all people are equal regardless of Sex, age or race.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Apr-10 22:02:56

inveterate - the reason I told dittany that I find her posts manipulative is because while she's perfectly happy to pose probing, personal questions to others, when I did the same to her - in kind - she refused to answer them and accused me of being 'aggressive'. I find that manipulative.

dittany Sat 03-Apr-10 22:09:50

Please back off Speedy. Your hostility towards me is peculiar and you obviously brought it to this thread.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Apr-10 22:24:58

dittany, I will back off - in fact I had already. You could have chosen to ignore my last post, but instead appear to be trying to incite a row here which I for one don't want to have. I am therefore quite entitled to defend myself. You are either imagining a 'peculiar hostility towards you' or trying to magic it in order to make me look unpleasant. How sad. I certainly don't feel any hostility towards you, only pity.

As I've said before, I'm not the first MNer to observe this manipulative style in your posts; I've seen other posters have discussions with you which have taken a similar trajectory. And those discussions have ended as this one is about to: let's not ever have a conversation on MN again.

dittany Sat 03-Apr-10 22:32:25

You know I'm going to carry on asking you to back off until you actually do Speedy. You could have decided to agree to my last request and done exactly that and left me alone, but you have to keep attacking.

You aren't defending yourself from me. You asked me a hostile question which you thought you were justified to do because it was "in kind", then got upset because I called you on the veiled aggression. It turns out you do have negative feelings towards me which you've carried to this thread, I wasn't imagining it. So the next time you feel like having a go, don't be surprised if the person on the receiving end asks you to desist.

Here's some free advice - I avoid people I dislike on Mumsnet.

So once again, please back off.

nooka Sun 04-Apr-10 07:06:53

Speedy I think that if faith and religion are a purely human construct (which is my my personal understanding) then it is of course fine to say that everything else is male dominated so hardly surprising that religion/faith is too. But if faith is superhuman (in an outside our understanding type meaning) then it should do better than that. I have no problem with the idea of the Bible as a historical document - it's a very interesting document with a fascinating history behind it. But as a guide to life from all all-caring God to his people I find it highly problematic, and really I guess I think that God could and should have done better. Of course people are highly fallible and much could be lost in the translation, but then why bother to say that the Bible is special or that it contains anything approaching the truth?

SpeedyGonzalez Sun 04-Apr-10 18:00:37

nooka, I agree. I was discussing today with DH how I just don't get the concept of misogyny, and why it's dominated so much of human life for so long - he heard the second episode of Banishing Eve (damn! I missed it - goes to show who has more time to themselves in our household wink), which further emphasised this point about how the Church in particular started out as a totally egalitarian organisation and then for whatever reasons succumbed to the culture of misogyny which was pervasive throughout the rest of human life - and how this has only really been challenged in the last, I don't know, maybe 50 years? Less?

In my opinion and experience, faith and religion operate both within and beyond the normal realms of human experience. It is both ordinary and extraordinary. Sadly, misogyny is not the only aspect of life in which the ordinary (i.e. human) has often (but not always) held more sway over the extraordinary (i.e. superhuman), and from my experience and knowledge of my faith, I would say this is actually a very deep issue connected with our free will to choose to live as we wish. We have free will to accept or reject faith, and we also have free will to choose how to live within whatever faith we choose.

I have seen and heard stories of people's lives being transformed in extraordinary ways because of their openness to transformation through their faith. I have also seen and heard stories of people keeping themselves tightly closed off from any potential for this transformation, and surprise, surprise, they don't change and they keep all their old prejudices/ hang-ups/ whatever. Hence misogyny and the seemingly endless other crap that damages people and destroys the image of all religions.

I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface with this explanation - being human is such a complex thing, even before you start to examine the possibility of a spiritual life.

As for your questions about the Bible, I would love to be able to give you a full answer. This thread has brought up lots of life issues which I would love to learn more about and plan to do so as the years go on. So at the moment the questions you've raised about the Bible are still questions for me...maybe we should have this chat again in about 10 years' time when I've hopefully advanced in my understanding?!

nooka Mon 05-Apr-10 02:03:05

I have to admit my experience of those who have had religious experiences is that they have become if anything more closed minded. I can see that faith is incredibly important to some of my friends and family, but from the outside looking in it doesn't feel like something to aspire to. I was brought up Catholic and feel no wish to return to my roots. I feel that it is perfectly possible to be open to the wonderfulness of the world and (in general) other people without the straitjacket of a religion telling me what to think,feel or do, and part of that is the ability to celebrate being me without ever feeling that I am a second class citizen in anyone's eye, let alone a powerful all-seeing god, who just happens to not think very much of me because I am a woman (especially given that he supposedly created me). But of course that's just my view!

dittany Mon 05-Apr-10 12:40:31

I dislike the idea that religious people are the only "good" people, an idea that has been promulgated from the church for centuries. Everybody else is going to hell. On the other hand if you've got god on your side it's OK to go to war against Iraq.

I find it quite obnoxious the idea that you can only have conscience if you believe in god. What happened to internal moral compasses? If you need god and a set of rules to tell you how to behave like a decent person then you're probably a sociopath.

Nooka, I'll always remember meeting some christian neighbours for the first time, and the very first thing the wife telling me was that the 15 year old girl living on the other side of us was a prostitute. I know it's not fair to judge a religion on one person (although she was obviously following the age old christian idea of women as virgins or whores) but I thought that if that's what christianity does to a person they can stick it.

dittany Mon 05-Apr-10 12:50:39

Is there a single woman in the bible who isn't marked by her sexuality or her relationship to men - as a whore, or a wife or a mother, or the product of a chap's rib-cage?

Are there any female leaders whatsoever? Or wise women who stand alone? Are any of these given the admiration they deserve?

chibi Mon 05-Apr-10 12:56:10

I am probably wrong, but maybe Esther?

Possibly also the relationship between Naomi and Ruth?

My old testament knowledge is v shaky, happy to be corrected.

dittany Mon 05-Apr-10 13:07:15

Esther was in the King's harem. Her actions related to her relationship to him, although she does sound like a stand-up woman.

Doesn't sound like Naomi or Ruth fitted in to what I described either.

Pogleswood Mon 05-Apr-10 15:18:08

Deborah (Judges 4&5)
"Deborah,a prophetess,the wife of Lappidoth,was leading Israel at that time." (New International Bible)
And it goes on to describe how Barak the King will not go to war without her,and then to become the story of Jael,who killed Sisera with a tent peg (does that count as being marked by her relationship to men??)

There is also at least one female prophet I think but cannot remember where - she is described,as is Deborah,as being someone's wife,but that isn't why she has the role she has.

NameWithDrawn22 Mon 04-Mar-13 13:16:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Mar-13 18:17:47

bump

Hi olivia - can I ask why you bumped? I don't mean that in a curmudgeonly way, just curious and since your HQ I figure you have a good reason! grin

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Mar-13 22:57:21

grin

Fair enough. I'll trawl through tomorrow ... I was wondering how the heck I missed this!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 06-Mar-13 23:46:55

It was quite cool having Olivia as the last poster on half the FWR front page for a bit!

blush

Oops. I didn't see.

Maybe she'll post again.

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