Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 27 (God as a She)

I was woken up this morning by the Apocalypse. Well, that's what I thought anyway. It was actually a bolt of lightning that struck incredibly close to my apartment, and since rain and lightning were the furthest things from my mind given the recent weather and the fact that I was ripped out of a deep sleep by one of the loudest noises I had ever heard in my life, I came to the natural conclusion that the world was ending. Thunder lasts a while, and when you don't know what it is, it sounds very scary. It sounded like the nearby mountain was being ripped in half. Then I saw some flashes of light, realized we were having a lightning storm, and breathed a sigh of relief. You need to understand that I hail from Ventura County, where thunderstorms are very rare. I've probably only watched one or two of them in my entire life. The flashes of light and thunder made it difficult to go back to sleep, so I opened my front door, pulled up a chair and watched nature's light show for a while. This was perhaps not my wisest moment, as I live on the top floor of a four story apartment complex and the railing is made of metal. But, I figured if lightning did happen to strike right there, it would probably find me no matter where in the apartment I was. The Native Americans of the area where afraid to go to the top of Mt. Tamalpais because they thought a witch lived on top of it. I can only imagine what they made of lightning strikes and thunder.

I'm just glad the rain came and cooled everything off. The temperature was actually quite nice today. :-)

I went to the Russian Orthodox vespers service tonight with 3 of my classmates: Julie, Terra and Tom. It was an absolutely beautiful service, but not really my speed. I'm more used to drum sets and electric guitars when I go to church. Nevertheless, it was quite beautiful with all of the candles, incense, icons and chanting. The funny thing is, as "conservative" as the worship service, and I assume the denomination, was, I found it to be very affirming of women. They had icons for the virgin Mary and for Mary Magdelene, women reading scripture and the female voices were the most dominant and sometimes only voices in the choir. Now, as a Presbyterian, I have no problem with women being pastors or of the idea that God is neither male nor female, but I did have issues with referring to God with a feminine pronoun. It was more of a English language limitation thing than anything else. I'm still not sure if I'm 100% OK with it, but I think I'm pretty OK with it now.

One of the Bible passages they read during the service was from proverbs, where Wisdom is referred to as a woman. I had somehow completely forgotten about these passages, but I remembered them as they were read during the service and how dynamic they were. The way I read these passages, Wisdom is an allegory for God, and Lady Wisdom dukes it out with Madame Whore for three whole chapters. The writer of Proverbs had absolutely no problem with thinking of God in female terms, and if that's the case, then neither should anyone else.


  1. Hmmm.....why were they so pro-women? I mean, I'm a tiny bit of a feminist at times, but I don't think God should be called "She". But then again, I'm Roman Catholic.

  2. I don't think Orthodox Churches are actually "pro-women" although I wouldn't call them "anti-women." I think it was just a personal experience I had during the service.

  3. Vespers is a beautiful service to visit for the first time. I am newly Orthodox- or not even, really yet- and while the church has very clear ideas on certain things like gender, I find most writers and all of the leaders I have met are quite willing to step outside of rigid dogma to describe God. They are capable of metaphor, and of turning ideas around in their minds without being afraid to make mistakes. This is hugely different from my (protestant, pentecostal) upbringing. I love the Church because Mystery is key, not failure to understand.

    Re-reading that it makes no sense, sorry about that. Nice to meet you here!