Rant and Rave On, O Jackass

Okay, go ahead and grandly sit when you should stand,
Stand when you should kneel, and make yourself a heel;
Make your deal with anger, and appeal to the detestable;
Raise your fist in defiance with reliance on bitterness,
And spew your hate-filled words as you skew the truth
To fit your twisted view of reality, assisted by cohorts
In a cause devoid of plausibility, lacking any credibility;
Tis your right to turn your sight from the light of good
And chew on the rotten food of lies that fly from hell. . .
But please don’t expect applause for your hostile cause,
For hate breeds only more hate, as a great man once said,
And only bright light drives out the dark of cruel night;
And only those who march with love and clove of peace
Win hearts and souls and bowls of reasonable justice
With virtuous character and untainted integrity bathed
In ethical equity and purity to be preserved as a legacy
For all future generations as an incredible inspiration. . .
And you? Yours is but one of desperation for attention,
An aberration of righteousness, deprivation of goodness,
An obfuscation of honesty, and cessation of sensibility;
So go your way of enmity and cecity today in your life
Of brevity, which will soon be swept
Into the blistery dustbin of history!


Falling Thru the Cracks

She broke her back and fell thru the cracks,
And it was a nasty basement, filthy encasement,
But nobody said ‘goodbye’ and no one heard her cry;
Sighing was all she had left, ‘cept lying to herself,
But one good lie would dry her tears despite her fear
Because she was alone with nobody near to hear;
No one missed her, and no one came for her,
                                                 And this pissed her,
But what could she do with broken back and lack of help?
Yelping would not keep her sane, so she chose to sleep
On a neat pile of rags, about which she could not brag,
But all in all she knew her situation was not unique;
Many had fallen thru the cracks with broken backs!

The Disposable Society: Go Ahead and Throw Me Away! The Landfill’s Nearby

doomsday1Product packaging, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, furniture, paint, batteries… We throw it away at a rate of about four and one-half pounds per person per day according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Every year, the United States generates approximately 230 million tons” of garbage or, as it is more properly called, municipal solid waste (MSW), and “less than one-quarter of it is recycled.”[1] Now that’s a lot of garbage!

It’s also an indicator. In 1960, the amount of stuff Americans threw away amounted to around two and one-half pounds a person each day. Of course, an increase in population over the last 50 years is a significant contributing factor in the overall increase in MSW, but it is not the only factor. Truth be told, we buy more in quantity, less in quality and, consequently, throw away more. In a very real and frightening sense, we live in a disposable society.

This is not shocking, really, when one considers just to what extent this undergirds the whole of the modern American economy. Indeed, as the chairman of President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors said in 1959, the American economy’s “ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.” And you only produce more and more “goods” with more and more consumption…[2] Is it difficult to connect the dots here? This entails, of course, inculcating and encouraging gross materialism, that is, materialism in the everyday sense in which we understand and most often use the word:

  • Materialism – (2) preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things; the concomitant desire for material wealth and possessions.

As Robert Bellah notes in The Broken Covenant, “That happiness is to be attained through limitless material acquisition is denied by every religion and philosophy known to humankind, but is preached incessantly by every American television set.”[3] Touché! And so like Lewis Lapham quips in Money and Class in America, “Nobody ever has enough.”[4] And so, generally speaking, we buy more in quantity, less in quality and throw away more.

The garbage collector may be happy with the marked increase in business, and we can be certain “big box” retail is, if not happy, satisfied and even dependent upon the cycle of mass production, purchase and consumption (attended with almost unbelievable waste.) Problem is, none of this has contributed to the overall well-being and happiness of society in toto. In fact, according to a June 2007 Reuters’ article, “Americans are less happy than they were 30 years ago.”[5]

Evidently, acquiring greater wealth and more material goods, not to mention working longer hours to do so, does not contribute significantly (if at all) to personal peace, joy and a healthy sense of satisfaction. But then, millions of Americans have traded in relationships for retail. It’s easier to purchase some trinket or new gadget than it is to invest the time and effort required to cultivate good, lifelong relationships. And here is where we need to mention the other kind of materialism … deeper, insidious, philosophically contributing to our collective sense of relativism, radical individualism, and hedonism.

  • Materialism – (1) theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter.

Stefano Bartolini notes in the same Reuters article that one of the “main causes” in the general decline in the happiness of Americans “is a decline in the so-called social capital — increased loneliness, increased perception of others as untrustworthy and unfair… Social contacts have worsened, people have less and less relationships among neighbors, relatives and friends.”[6] And yet we have more stuff; does one plus one still equal two?

If physical matter is all of reality, and reality consists of no more, then there is no such thing as the “spirit of friendship,” or the “spirit of love and compassion.” There is also no real reality in the supreme (divinely-human) ideas of Beauty, Justice, Virtue, Charity, and the like. These are, according to naturalistic-materialism, the results of the cognitive-psychological evolution of the homo sapien. So, too, there really are no entities such as mind, spirit, soul; much less, the numinous, dæmons, angels, gods and goddesses, or God. Indeed, all of this is said to be no more than epiphenomena.[7]

  • Epiphenomenon —  a secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process; particularly used to describe mental states arising from brain activity (by naturalistic materialists, who claim that ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’ are only epiphenomena of the physical/organic brain.)

Is this true, though? Ah! The question, so fundamental in our day and age:

Who is man? Is he ‘a gypsy on the edge of the universe?’ This is what the Nobel prize-winner for physics, Jacques Monod, called man in his famous book, Chance and Necessity. Almost at the same time as Monod was writing his book, the Second Vatican Council was maintaining yet again, with all possible solemnity, the exalted position of man – “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself.” Does man hold a privileged place?

Who is man? Is man a ‘someone,’ or a ‘something?’ Is he clothed in ineffable dignity – not because anyone has granted him this, but because he has always possessed it as man, because he is man? Or is man a ‘thing,’ who can only properly feel himself to be part of a greater whole? All the great questions relating to human dignity and human rights ultimately revolve around this question. The way we should deal with human dignity and human rights depends on how we answer this question. One thing should be said at the start: the answer to this question cannot be found by opposing faith and knowledge, religion and science, but only in a shared effort of thought, research, and also belief.[8]

The problem runs deep, deeper than the garbage in most landfills. As we buy more and cheaper product that we then turn around and almost thoughtlessly dispose of later (but not much later!), so we also tend to quickly enter shallow (might we say “cheap”) relationships that we later nearly mindlessly break and throw away … because there’s always another cheap relationship to be had for the asking! Might there be some socio-psychological and spiritual connection here? Yes.

We tend to say – out loud or not – of packaging, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, cheaply-built furniture, people… “Go ahead, throw it away; after all, it’s disposable!” And so we grind on and on, but this is about life and people, and the value and quality of life in community; it’s about meaning and purpose, and holding on to what matters and is worth holding on to – both people and the acquired, invaluable, immaterial possessions of ideas, virtues, arts, memories and so much more; it’s about looking out beyond corporate-business, “big box” retail parking lots and feeding our souls more than we fill our garbage cans. This inevitably entails recognizing, honoring and cultivating the divine-spiritual aspect of our humanity. As Protestant theologian, Kathryn Tanner, so eruditely observes from contemporary Catholic thinking:

human nature is itself fulfilled … by the gift of grace, which can be no mere extrinsic add-on to our natural state … humans have a natural desire, that is, a desire that is a fundamental part of their created constitutions, for a supernatural end – communion with God – they cannot achieve by their own powers. Because they have a natural inclination or tendency to something that only God can provide, the very nature of humans steers them to God’s grace. The account of nature and grace I offer also affirms that a reference to grace is part of human nature: humans are created to operate with the gift of God’s grace; human nature requires the grace of God for the excellent operation of its own powers and general well-being.[9]

Touché! To arrest the ongoing destruction of our planet, turning it into an overly polluted, scandalously trashed world, we must dethrone materialistic scientism…

  • Scientism – an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation, as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities.

And replace this holistic-philosophical paradigm with a more creative evolutionist perspective…

  • Creative Evolution – theory that evolution is a creative product of a dynamic, vital force rather than a spontaneous process explicable in terms of materialistic-scientific laws alone.

Which allows charitable room for the supramundane, with the consequent, reasonable allowance of teleological explanations.[10]

  • Supramundane – transcending the mundane; spiritual, celestial.
  • Teleological – exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature; consequently, teleology is the study of evidences of design in nature; a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes.

As Richard J. Foster shrewdly pointed out not so very long ago, “Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.”[11] No wonder we’re not happy. This is an empty life because it is a cheapened life. This is an empty life because it is largely a pointless life without purpose, a life of impoverished vitality and spiritual depression.

“Life” may not even be an appropriate word to use for description; this is an existence filled with convenience stores and artificial sweeteners, lotteries and movies-on-demand, and an “idiot’s guide” to almost every conceivable subject because, though we may not all quite be idiots, we certainly don’t have time to devout to serious study.

This is mere existence in which we have standardized “achievement” tests and schools that teach to those tests, in effect making everything else non-essential, kind of like an assembly line churning out the maximum number of product at minimum standards of quality. And over all this we might drape a thin veneer of religion that offers little more than miracle bubbles, cartoon Bible stories and cheap, plastic “Jesus Loves You” Easter eggs.[12]

And into this vacuous, pretend-life we pour more and more stuff; we consume. And we are told to consume, and to work and play, too, of course. But above all, we need more and more stuff, and we need it quickly and cheaply while make-believing we’re getting really great stuff at really great bargains, and that all this stuff is part and parcel of living “the good life;” the not-so-good life of consuming and throwing away, disposing of used products and used people.

Yes, the garbage is piling up, the pollution is thickening, both literally and metaphorically, and we’re not happy; we’re not at peace… But, then, how can we be, if mere physicality is all there is to life? As Francis Bacon so rightly observed, “Our humanity were a poor thing were it not for the divinity that stirs within us.”[13]



[1]Garbage: How Can My Community Reduce Waste?” at Annenberg Learner, as accessed June 22, 2015

[2] Cf. “The Ultimate Purpose of an Economy is to Produce More Goods,” at Quote Investigator as accessed June 22, 2015; cf. also “The Boomer Way to Deal with Trash and Garbage,” at MisterBoomer.com as accessed June 22, 2015 who places the date of quote in 1953.

[3] As quoted in “Cultural Barriers to Sustainability and Environmental Learning and Action,” at GreenHeart Education as accessed June 22, 2015

[4] As quoted in “A Garbage Timeline,” at Rotten Truth About Garbage, as accessed June 22, 2015

[5] Deepa Babington, “Americans Less Happy Today Than Thirty Years Ago,” published by Reuters June 15, 2007, accessed June 22, 2015

[6] Ibid

[7] Cf. Jennifer Trusted, Inquiry and Understanding: An Introduction to Explanation in the Physical and Human Sciences, 88-89

[8] Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith, 112-113

[9] Kathryn Tanner, Christ the Key, 107-108

[10] Cf. Jennifer Trusted, Inquiry and Understanding: An Introduction to Explanation in the Physical and Human Sciences, 6-7, 61, 88-89

[11] Martin Manser, ed., The Westminster Collection of Christian Quotes, 119

[12] As one finds in such stores as Hobby Lobby; allegedly “Christian” products produced in self-declared atheistic nations, which have been documented numerous times over for human rights abuses, and this all for greater profit margins. One justifiably wonders just what Jesus of Nazareth would, or does, think of this sort of business practice.

[13] M. Manser, ed., The Westminster Collection of Christian Quotes, 180


‘Conversation With God’ w/Extensive Endnotes (Second Update and Expansion)

For those readers who might be interested in some basis for what some (many?) might consider my outlandish “Imagined Conversation With God,” concerning divine gender ~ God the Mother or Father or both ~ as well as my views on the strength of the feminine and longing for my ideal soul-mate, I offer this re-presentation of the dialogue with extensive, explanatory endnotes. The endnotes, in fact, offer commentary to the extent that one can both understand my line of thought as well as (if s/he desires) knowledgeably critique the whole of the dialogue. Needless to say, then, in this edition it is fundamentally important to read carefully the end notes!

Imagined Conversation With God

Yonatan –      I have long wanted to speak with you openly and honestly, laying bare my deepest pains and desires, of which you are doubtless already aware, to unburden my soul and, if you graciously acquiesce, to perhaps finally know some answers to my most plaguing questions, most kind and gracious and almighty Elohim.

Elohim –         Most assuredly, you are welcome, Yonatan, for have I not asked my children to cast their burdens upon me, assuring them that I care for them as a mother cares for her child? Have I not laid bare my breasts to nurture and sustain precious life? Am I not an advocate for the world, a pillar and refuge, who offers life-giving water to all?[1] Have I not also promised that if you ask, you shall receive? Even those, such as yourself, of little ability, by depending upon the great, may prosper. A drop of water is a little thing, but when will it dry away when united to a lake?[2]  No, Yonatan, surely I will not withhold answers to your questions, nor fail to explain the pain you feel, if only you’re able to understand. Know this, however: You may not be able to understand, nor may you be able to accept my answers even should you understand. Such is the gulf that divides us, dear child[3] –– the gulf of intellect, of spirit, of very being. Can you possibly expect to comprehend my ways any more than Job of ancient lore?

Yonatan –      Forgive me, then, for asking questions the answers to which I may not understand due to my own human limitations, but I will make bold by your invitation to ask anyway.

Elohim –         Yes, Yonatan, ask freely and without fear.

Yonatan –      Very well, then, I shall begin with the troubling question of how I might relate to you, whether as Father or Mother, for this has troubled me for quite some time, magnificent Elohim. Tell me, if you please, if I might without sacrilege refer to you as Mother, for in my weakness I feel very deeply the need for an almighty life-giver, nurturer, protector, who is maternal. That I do not despise fatherhood is well-known to you, the All-Knowing, but I am constitutionally inclined to pray to you and worship you as divine Mother. Is this wrong?

Elohim –         And here, dear Yonatan, you may not understand yourself as well as you imagine, for it is my very Spirit communing with your spirit that has led you to cry out to me as I Am.[4] You know well, Yonatan, that God is not bound by human gender;[5] this is seen clearly even in sacred scriptures. I Am above and beyond gender, yet divine Mother and Father. I Am the Progenitor of All, the Birth-Giver of the cosmos and all life therein. Could any truth be clearer than this from a clear and sensible reading of the sacred literature? [6]

                        I have revealed myself as the Birth-Giver of Israel, have I not?[7] Will any deny this? And who, after all, gives birth? I have revealed myself as suckling my children at breast, and who feeds their babes at breast but the mother? I have revealed myself as the nurturing hen, the protective she-bear, the mother eagle; why, then, would anyone question my being Mother? No, Yonatan, my Spirit has taught your spirit more of the truth of my nature, which is in pure accord with what I have revealed of myself from of old. And see, too, I have revealed myself by many names and titles: God, Elohim, Yahweh, Allah (which means God), Father, Shepherd, and yes, Mother.

Be not afraid, then, of your own desires for me, for I am for you all that you need for me to be. Be still, and know that I am God.[8] I will not be circumscribed by the petty narrow-mindedness of hypocrites and contemporary Pharisees, by those who strain at gnats and swallow camels.[9] Know me; believe in me; trust me and love me, Yonatan, not blind, flesh-and-blood guides. There are those whom I have anointed to teach and led, and they hear my voice and follow me. They are those who are filled with my love, joy, peace, and happiness; they are filled with warmth, and enthusiasm, empathy, and understanding. These are devoid of acrimony, spitefulness, deceit, and vindictiveness; they are empty of malice, cruelty, cunning, and folly.[10] Remember, you will know them by the fruits they bear,[11] and they are not those who condemn you for coming to me, wrapping your arms round me in your lively imagination, which will one day be reality, and laying your head on my bosom,[12] calling me Mother. No, Yonatan, they understand as I understand.

Yonatan –      Thank you, then, Mother Elohim. Your most gracious answer has made me confident enough now to ask another question: You deigned that I be a man, that is male, yet I have been long troubled that I do not measure up to the standard of manhood. As well, I also long for an intimate companion who is wise and strong and beautiful, my Lady-Lord. Is this wrong? Is there something distorted within me, perhaps because of my fallen nature? Because of sin? Do you intend the man always to be stronger, and to be in authority, to be the leader? Or might the woman in intimate companionship better fulfill the place of authority, or at least in primary decision-making?[13]

Elohim –         Ah! Yonatan! How we must unravel this tangled misapprehension for many people, not only for you, my child! First, how do you imagine God defines manhood? Would I not say you are a good man if you are honest, charitable, kind and gracious, obedient to what I’ve directed you to do in life? How much more a man can you be than to be my faithful child, Yonatan? And how much more a woman can a woman be who does the same?[14] That there are physical differences is obvious to even the most casually observant, young child! But, now, did I birth the male and female as two intrinsically, constitutionally different beings? No! Of course not! Have I not taught you, and everyone, that I fashioned male and female in my image, according to my likeness?[15] What more, then, is there to say? It is sin that has distorted relationships between men and women;[16] this was never my intention! And those who attribute to me the abusive distortion in such relationships with which you are familiar commit an act of practical blasphemy, Yonatan![17]

                        But let us go back to the beginning of all, to my creation of life. Do not both the science of humanity as well as my divine revelation teach that all life is lived in an interdependent symbiotic relationship?[18] And life, all life, sprang from the same Life, for I Am the One Life-Giver, and in the growth and maturation of this life, the mother of all humanity, called Eve, became the crowning achievement of my handiwork. She was the diadem of the whole cosmos, which is apparent in the very title I bequeathed upon her – my very own, as Helper.[19] The man, Adam, was incomplete, insufficient unto himself, and in need of physical, intellectual, and spiritual fulfillment. The female was that fulfillment, who herself was in no need of fulfillment, for remember I said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and also I said, “Thus the man shall leave mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one.”[20] Is it not apparent, then, even to the sensibilities of a child, that the woman was made greater than the man?[21]

Evil and wickedness distorted this, Yonatan, and men have been preying upon women ever since, just as the Adversary has been preying upon humanity.[22] Sinful man, then, follows the course of the Enemy in satanic rebellion against all that is divine – all that is good, and true, and lovely.[23]

Yonatan, I would have you know, though, that you are precious in my sight. You are not less the man I fashioned you to be. What? Will you be embarrassed for me to tell you that you are beautiful, instead of using the word handsome? You are beautiful, Yonatan, and intelligent, gifted, talented; you are kind and gentle and compassionate. You are like an amazing, spectacular flower ready to burst forth in a magnificent array of beauty to bless the world![24] Oh, Yonatan, do you not know that I know you need a strong and wise, beautiful and capable companion with whom to join yourself? Yes, child, I know you are pining to pour yourself – heart, mind, and soul – into the life of this kind of woman, and I know this strong and sturdy, level-headed and determined, righteous woman[25] is not easily found because they are so rare, and they are so rare because so many women have been abused into being grossly subservient to the almost complete obliteration of the gifts and talents with which I’ve bequeathed them… But do not lose hope!

Yonatan, you are a thinker, researcher, essayist, story-teller, poet and care-giver. You are what I want you to be, and I love you passionately, like only a mother could love you. I Am your Mother; you are my child. I will not leave you or forsake you,[26] my son. Should she never come – and I believe she will – or should she be blind and deaf to the treasure that is your person, your self, then the loss will be hers;[27] after all, the human is limited, but I am not, and I know ten thousand treasure hunters who would find in you an invaluable boon, my dear. Do not give up, then!

Yonatan –      Forgive me, great Elohim, for being so dull, but I must ask again, is there any sense in which you intended man to lead, to be the authority over woman and all of creation? This is, after all, what your Church has taught down through the ages.

Elohim –         Yonatan, are you so dull? Or is the weight of your own doubts so great that you cannot see reason? Let me answer, then, and say that if I created from lesser to greater, then the penultimate of my creation was humanity, and within humanity, the woman.[28] Is this not apparent? Also, consider my nature and what would be my divine intention, and then look at the record left by man. For tens of thousands of years, man has ruled the earth, and what legacy has he left? Violence, war, pain, suffering, disease, starvation, oppression, exploitation, marginalization, degradation, evils of all kinds. Is this the exercise of authority God intended?

                        Return to the beginning again, then, and know that I created woman to be life-giver, nurturer, and cultivator.[29] Even the simple child can understand this is leadership, for who could be greater than the one who births new life, who nourishes all life, who cultivates home and family and community? As an icon of the divine Helper, the woman as helper was intended not only to complete the man, but also to complete the whole of my created order. Is this not astonishing enough! Is this not answer enough! Within this order, then, I intended woman to naturally provide loving guidance and direction, as she was creatively constituted by me to do so, and why not? In the pristine purity of that paradisiacal time, there was no inequality, or grasping for power, or envy, or malice and the like. In my Christ, I have tried to restore this original relationship,[30] Yonatan, as in him there is no longer the man or the woman, but rather an interdependent relationship of love.

You do not quite understand this, as so many others fail to understand, but you do know this about yourself: You long for the strong, confident, wise and knowledgeable, attractive woman, whom you can completely love and trust, and to whose guidance and direction you can (and would) gladly yield. This is good, Yonatan, for you have gone beyond the foolish acrimony of the typical male into the peaceful, life-giving desires of an unsullied heart. Know, too, that the image of man presented by the society in which you live militates against the image of good men that I have presented around the world, in every language and culture, down through the ages. So too the image of the woman presented in your society; it is gross and degrading to the finest of my creation, and further serves to subjugate those who are meant for so much more; those who are intended to be an invaluable blessing to the world … and, yes, often in positions of authority.

Yonatan –      Is this, then, not such an absurd thought? That you, the Everlasting One, created woman wholly differently than we experience woman in this fallen world today?

Elohim –         Yonatan, the heavenly feminine, very real and alive in a manner beyond your understanding, was with me in the beginning: intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. She was and is my very breath, the pure emanation of my glory, the reflection of eternal light.[31] She is the heart of the way of Life and is immortal, the mysterious mother of all, of heaven and earth, of everything; invisible yet ever-present. She it is upon whom you can feed without any diminution to her whatsoever. She protected the first-formed man and for him I incarnated her from his very loins to be his heavenly-earthly companion-helper.[32]

                        Yonatan, she is the great portent that appeared in the sky in the vision of my servant, John the Revelator, the vision of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.[33] This woman imaged the re-incarnate Eve, the second Eve, the most blessed and ever-Virgin Mary, mother of your Lord Jesus the Christ.[34] And think now, Yonatan, how could these images be divorced from the constitutional being of woman and what I intended of woman? No, if humanity fell into darkness, sin, and death, as is apparently true, then everything in the whole of the created order was affected, just as you have been taught, just as you can see for yourself. This damage to the created order extends throughout creation into each of its parts, including relationships. Would it not be fair to say, then, that what you have seen throughout the history of the world is warped, skewed, so that you must know that typically common relationships are from inception twisted and marred?

Think, too, of this possibility: If what I have thus far told you is true, and it must be, so if you trust me, then what you have heard and read in your society about women trying to be like men in authority and leadership, and in so many other ways, may not actually be true.[35] It is at least possible, is it not, that for millennia upon millennia it has been men who have been trying to be what I intended women to be. Will you not admit this as at least a possible reason for the horrendously repulsive legacy of man? Perhaps it is not women imitating men, after all; perhaps, Yonatan, it is women returning to their divine-primordial being, raw and vibrant, naked in innocence, visceral in power… Ah, but there are so few!

Yonatan –      Will I ever meet such a one, gracious Mother? Will this servant of yours be joined to such as this woman? Will you so bless me, your child-servant?

Elohim –         This I will tell you, Yonatan, and this only, because I have so orchestrated the world that each individual must travel the course of their life much under their own compulsion, directing themselves down whatever path they may choose. I have left life quite largely open,[36] though not completely so; nevertheless, I can assure you that there is such a woman for you, yes. Whether she discerns this and acts upon this knowledge only time will tell, for I have chosen for myself to leave that knowledge as an open end. Know this, though: She struggles with an unimaginable burden peculiar to women, so that even though she would find in you everything she could hope to find in a man of your disposition, yet she may be quite hesitant all and only because she acutely feels the weight of the expectation of her community to be what society, and particularly the Church, has defined as woman.[37]

Yonatan –      In the meantime, though, my soul is in anguish, my mind is in turmoil, my very body hurts, compassionate Elohim. What am I to do, this lonely man who I am, to survive this plight? To be surrounded by people, yet ever deprived of intimacy with an intended soul mate, is so excruciating that it must be some form of hell.

Elohim –         No, Yonatan, this is not some form of hell, but it can be purgatorial. If you will allow, this time can refine and purify you in and through your suffering. What you should do is what you already know to do: Work as you have been working, for it is an invaluable service to another precious human; write as you have been writing, for in so doing you are giving vent to your soul, and there are those who appreciate and benefit, though you doubt this to be true; pray and meditate, for you know from experience that joining yourself to me in this way always benefits you because you know I love you with an everlasting love, and you love me, too; sing and praise, for the light of worship often drives out the darkness of despair; take your medications, for I have given humanity the capacity to work healing in many ways and this way is one way by which you are helped significantly; love your friends and family, spend time with them, and enjoy their company, for this, too, will help guard you against loneliness. Finally, though, trust and believe that your soul mate is even now coming to know you, forming within herself an important familiarity, contemplating you, praying for you, preparing for you. I Am your Comforter, Yonatan, and I will not leave you or forsake you. Trust and believe, my child, and never give up hope! You are on the right track; stay the course!

Yonatan –      Praise be to you, Elohim, Mother God, the Everlasting One! Praise be to you, Christ Jesus our Lord and Redeemer! Praise be to you, Spirit of Light and Life, Love and Truth! Praise be to you, Holy One, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



[1] I Peter 5.7; also, Psalm 131.2 pictures the psalmist with God “like a weaned child with its mother.” The Lord speaking through the Prophet Isaiah says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Also, That breast of Yours which is inexhaustible, health-giving, by which You nurse all that is noble, containing treasure, bearing wealth, bestowed freely;
lay that bare, Sarasvati [divine Mother], for our nurture.” Rig Veda 1.164.49 And also, “O Mother of Imupa, advocate for the whole world! What a remarkable Mother I have! O Mother, a pillar, a refuge! O Mother, to whom all prostrate in greeting Before one enters her habitation! I am justly proud of my Mother. O Mother who arrives, who arrives majestic and offers water to all!” Yoruba Prayer (Nigeria) as quoted in World Scripture.

[2] Matthew 21.22; John 16.24; I John 3.22; cf. also, Elegant Sayings 173 of Buddhism, as quoted in World Scripture.

[3] “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55.9

[4] Romans 8.26-27

[5] This is an admitted truth throughout the Christian faith. So The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective ‘perfections’ of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God.” (III.370) add to this the beautiful words of Dame Julian of Norwich, who said, “And thus in our creation God Almighty is our natural father, and God all-wisdom is our natural mother, with the love and goodness of the Holy Spirit. These are all one God, one Lord. In the knitting and joining he is our real, true spouse and we are his loved wife and his fair maiden.” And, too, Clement of Alexandria: ““The Word is everything to the child, both father and mother, teacher and nurse…. The nutriment is the milk of the father … and the Word alone supplies us children with the milk of love, and only those who suck at this breast are truly happy…. For this reason seeking is called sucking; to those infants who seek the Word, the Father’s loving breasts supply milk.” Cf. also Jenny Bledsoe, “Feminine Images of Jesus,” in which she observes that during the Middle Ages: “Clearly suggestive of the Eucharist, Quirizio da Murano’s The Savior (ca. 1460–1478) depicts Christ offering to a believer his blood from his breast, along with a wafer, symbolic of his body, both of which impart faith and thus nurture the spirituality of the believer (see fig. 1.1).23 An even more obvious allusion to the Eucharist appears in a German work titled Christ and Charity (ca. 1470).24 In this piece, Jesus’ blood spurts forth from his breast in a stream, as breast milk might. The blood streams into a cup held by personified Charity, obviously suggesting the Eucharist but also highlighting the nutritive nature of the Eucharistic blood by its connection with breast milk.” (41) In Eastern philosophy, Mystery is highly reverenced, which is certainly applicable to the Judeo-Christian conception of God, to wit: The way that can be spoken of is not the eternal Way; the name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth; the named was the mother of the myriad creatures. Hence always rid yourself of desire in order to observe its secrets; but always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations. These two are the same but diverge in name as they issue forth. Being the same they are called mysteries, Mystery upon mystery — the gateway of the manifold secrets.” As quoted in World Scripture, but note quite different trans. by Brian Browne Walker (St. Martin’s Press, 1995), although substantively the same.

[6] “Can you fathom the mystery of God? Or can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” Job 11.7 WEBA; “God moves in mysterious ways; His wonders to perform; He plans His footsteps in the sea; and rides upon the storm.” William Cowper (19th Century); cf. also Asma T. Uddin, “God is Mystery: Motherhood and Islamic Mysticism,” Tikkun, as accessed May 26, 2015

[7] Cf. Deuteronomy 32, 1ff, commonly referred to as the Song of Moses; Isaiah 46.3 as well, perhaps

[8] Psalm 46.10

[9] A good, close reading of the story of Job more than amply justifies this statement, of course. Who can truly comprehend the Divine and the ways of God? The Pharisees of old, and those of contemporary times, attempt to put “God in a box.” J. B. Phillips authored a book many years ago under the title, Your God is Too Small, which might provide and interesting read, especially if one expands the premises and application.

[10] Galatians 5.19-23 (NRSV); “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one bungler destroys much good.” Ecclesiastes 9.17-18 (NRSV)

[11] Matthew 7.17-19; 12.33; Luke 6.43-44

[12] John 13.23

[13] Cf. Jeremiah 31.22 in that “a woman shall protect a man,” which is presented as “a new thing upon the earth,” created by the Lord. (So the RSV, ISV, CEV, GNB) “A new world is at hand, however one interprets the verse,” (The New Interpreter’s Study Bible) and this new order comes via the imagery-personification of the woman. This must, necessarily, bear some significance … especially as the woman, especially in ancient times, was honored (to the extent that she was honored) as life-giver, nurturer, and cultivator.

[14] Who could claim to be greater, overall, than the legendary, wise Suleiman? Look, then, at how his character is presented in the Book of Wisdom and ask, “Is this not an instructive portrait of what any man ought to desire and strive to achieve, rather than the brawny, brute, gladiator-type so often present to us via entertainment media? So then, “if any one loves righteousness, her (Wisdom’s) labors are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for men than these. And if any one longs for wide experience, she knows the things of old, and infers the things to come; she understands turns of speech and the solutions of riddles; she has foreknowledge of signs and wonders and of the outcome of seasons and times. Therefore I determined to take her (Wisdom) to live with me, knowing that she would give me good counsel and encouragement in cares and grief. Because of her I shall have glory among the multitudes and honor in the presence of the elders, though I am young. I shall be found keen in judgment, and in the sight of rulers I shall be admired. When I am silent they will wait for me, and when I speak they will give heed; and when I speak at greater length they will put their hands on their mouths. Because of her (Wisdom) I shall have immortality, and leave an everlasting remembrance (that is, good heritage) to those who come after me. I shall govern peoples, and nations will be subject to me; dread monarchs will be afraid of me when they hear of me; among the people I shall show myself capable, and courageous in war. When I enter my house, I shall find rest with her Wisdom), for companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with her has no pain, but gladness and joy. When I considered these things inwardly, and thought upon them in my mind, that in kinship with wisdom there is immortality, and in friendship with her, pure delight, and in the labors of her hands, unfailing wealth, and in the experience of her company, understanding, and renown in sharing her words (that is, to be a wise man, renowned sage), I went about seeking how to get her for myself.” Wisdom 8.7-18 (NRSV) We might also refer again to the fruits of the Spirit as being most preferable qualities of both men and women.

[15] Genesis 1.26-27; 2.7, 21-22;

[16] Adam Clarke explains the situation of the curse in the narrative of the Fall, conjecturing in part that “at their creation both were formed with equal rights, and the woman had probably as much right to rule as the man; but subjection to the will of her husband is one part of her curse; and so very capricious is this will often, that a sorer punishment no human being can well have, to be at all in a state of liberty,” that is, this should be somewhat a remedy, “and under the protection of wise and equal laws,” i.e. this is the ideal now. I mention the comments of this erudite 19th century Methodist bible scholar to give some perspective to pre- and post-Fall conditions in the relationship of male and female, even as this was conceived (at least by some) in a still decidedly patriarchal society and church (although the Methodist tradition has an appreciable heritage of equal rights, women in ministry, social-economic activity, etc.) Also cf. (importantly) Donald Gowan, “Man and Woman, Male and Female,” in which he aptly points out, “This being is alone (v,18), without the kind of relationships necessary for life to be good. God then set out to make ‘a helper as his partner,’ as the NRSV renders words that have often been misunderstood. KJV’s accurate translation, ‘an help meet [i.e., appropriate] for him,’ became distorted to ‘helpmate,’ and it has been assumed that ‘help’ made the woman inferior to the man. When the OT uses this word (ezer), however, it refers to one with superior power able to meet a serious need… The woman God makes is thus depicted as more than a ‘partner;’ she is one able to deliver the human from solitude. She will be kenegdo, which can be translated several ways, but perhaps ‘corresponding to him’ is more appropriate … that is, not identical, but essential.” D. E. Gowan, The Westminster Theological Workbook of the Bible, 312. 

[17] An interesting aside on this point might be the observation found on Islamic Insights: There is truly no masculinity in males who subjugate females trying to dominate them with resentment or physical abuse. “True masculinity and harmony between male and female lies in mutual respect, and in the understanding of each other’s needs. We can leave the spurious battle of the sexes for the opportunists who want to earn something other than the true realization of human beings.” Also cf., “Not those are true husband and wife that with each other [merely] consort: Truly wedded are those that in two frames, are as one light.” Adi Granth, Var-Suhi-Ki, M.3, p. 788 and the very poetically beautiful, “I am He, you are She;
I am Song, you are Verse, I am Heaven, you are Earth. We two shall here together dwell, becoming parents of children.” Atharva Veda 14.2.71 as quoted in World Scripture.

[18] Cf. “Systems Theory: The Interdependence of Life,” on Paddle Asia as accessed on May 26, 2015; Said Elias Dawlabani remarked, “Leaders in business and government, who fail to see the holistic interdependence of our planet, are destined to cause its demise,” in his book, Memenonics: The Next Generation Economic System, as quote on GoodReads as accessed on May 26, 2015; also consider “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1.3, ESV), the primordial chaos, as the hen gathereth her chicken under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them, Mat_23:37 as the eagle stirs up her nest, and fluttereth over her young, (’tis the same word that is here used) Deu_32:11. (So J. Wesley, Notes) Life comes from the life of God, who maternally nurtures that life, the Life of the whole of the created order. “Even in a single leaf of a tree, or a tender blade of grass, the awe-inspiring Deity manifests Itself.” Shinto. Urabe-no-Kanekuni as quoted in World Scripture.

[19] Clarke notes, “If the word (ezer kenegdo) be rendered scrupulously literally, it signifies one like, or as himself, standing opposite to or before him. And this implies that the woman was to be a perfect resemblance of the man, possessing neither inferiority nor superiority, but being in all things like and equal to himself. As man was made a social creature, it was not proper that he should be alone; for to be alone, i.e. without a matrimonial companion, was not good.” Also, consider an appreciably more contemporary and accurate interpretation of Genesis 2.18: “In English, the word ‘help’ has a broad range of connotations.  ‘Help’ can refer to a simple, modest act or it can refer to something much more significant.  An example of significant help is the assistance and counsel provided by professionals such as doctors, etc.  In Hebrew, the word for ‘helper’ used in Genesis 2:18 and 20 is ezer, and it is always and only used in the Old Testament in the context of vitally important and powerful assistance.  According to R. David Freedman, the word ezer is a combination of two roots, meaning ‘to rescue, to save,’ and ‘strength.’ The word ezer is used only twenty-one times in the Old Testament.  Twice it is used in the context of the first woman.  Three times it is used in a military context.  Sixteen times it is used in reference to God as a helper.  All of these biblical texts are talking about a vital, powerful kind of help, yet when ezer is applied to the first woman, its meaning is usually diminished to fit with traditional and cultural views of women’s roles. The Hebrew word kenegdo, usually translated as ‘suitable’ in Genesis 2, gives the meaning that Eve was designed to be a corresponding companion and equal partner for Adam. There is no sense of subordination stated or implied, or even hinted at, in this passage in Genesis 2, whatsoever.” As found on New Life accessed on May 26, 2015. Note also, interestingly enough, that the very similar, related noun, nāgîḏ, means “prince or ruler.” However that may be, it is at least certain that “the new creation will be neither superior nor inferior, but equal. The creation of this helper will form one-half of a polarity, and will be to man as the south pole is to the north pole.” (V. P. Hamilton, Genesis Chapters 1 – 17, 175)

[20] Genesis 2.18, 24 respectively

[21] Admittedly weak in and of itself, but more in reaction to the line of interpretation classically used by some expositors to subjugate women to men. An interesting observation on this point: “Some of the same Bible commentators who believe man should rule over woman because he was created first take the exact opposite reasoning when they say man or humanity, being created last, is the most sophisticated of creation, and thus have dominance over prior creations. Following this chain of logic, the woman has to be considered the most sophisticated creation since she was created last, certainly more advanced than the man just as the man is more advanced than the animals that were created before him, and she will have lordship over man just as humans have lordship over animals.” Anon., “The Place of Woman in God’s Creation,” on Colorq World, as accessed on May 26, 2015; cf. also Gowan, Westminster Theological Workbook of the Bible, 312-313.

[22] I Peter 5.8; cf. also John 10.10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (RSV) Cf. also, W. Sibley Towner, “Satan,” D. E. Gowan, ed., Westminster Theological Workbook of the Bible, 447-449 for good overview of the evolution of the satanic/diabolic idea in Yahwehism and subsequently NT Christianity. Also from Zoroastrianism, “The Evil Ruler spoils the Word, the plan of life, by his teachings. He, indeed, deprives me of the exalted goal of Good Thought. With the word of my spirit, I pray to You, O Wise One, and to truth!” Avesta, Yasna 32.9 as quoted in World Scripture.

[23] John 8.44, “You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies.” (GNT)

[24] In other words, I am not here being self-deprecating; point in fact, I am consciously realizing my invaluable worth to God and the beauty with which God has endowed me as a unique creation, with gifts and talents and purpose.

[25] An untarnished understanding of the Proverbs 31 passage on the ideal woman, along with subsequent re-casting into contemporary context is precisely this woman.

[26] I Kings 8.57; Matthew 28.20; John 14.27; II Thessalonians 2.16-17

[27] Assuming free will rather than fatalistic predestination

[28] See above n20

[29] Cultivator here used to mean “one who prepares and fosters the growth of” in multidimensional life of family and community.

[30] So again A. Clarke, “Neither male nor female – With great reason the apostle introduces this. Between the privileges of men and women there was a great disparity among the Jews. A man might shave his head, and rend his clothes in the time of mourning; a woman was not permitted to do so. A man might impose the vow of nasirate upon his son; a woman could not do this on her daughter. A man might be shorn on account of the nasirate of his father; a woman could not. A man might betroth his daughter; a woman had no such power. A man might sell his daughter; a woman could not. In many cases they were treated more like children than adults; and to this day are not permitted to assemble with the men in the synagogues, but are put up in galleries, where they can scarcely see, nor can they be seen. Under the blessed spirit of Christianity, they have equal rights, equal privileges, and equal blessings; and, let me add, they are equally useful.” Cf. also Elizabeth Johnson, “Commentary on Galatians 3.23-29,” on Working Preacher as accessed May 26, 2015: “The Babylonian Talmud includes a morning blessing to be recited by every Jewish man, thanking God for not creating him a gentile, a slave, or a woman (Menahoth 43b). While it is not certain that this prayer pre-dates Paul, it demonstrates the power these three categories held in the ancient world. Paul’s declaration that in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, is a radical dismantling of these primary identity and boundary markers. Differences in ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status do not magically disappear, of course, but Paul declares them to be irrelevant in the body of Christ. For one to be baptized into Christ means being clothed with Christ and finding one’s primary identity and value in Christ.” Cf. also, Richard B. Hayes, “The Letter to the Galatians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, “This suggests that he did not understand the baptismal formula to prescribe merely a spiritual equality before God in a way that had no social implications. …. The  evidence  … is sufficiently ambiguous enough to suggest that Paul’s vision did, in fact, destabilize traditional assumptions about power in a way that had practical implications in his communities. For example, he counseled mutuality in sexual relations (I Cor. 7.304), and women did prophesy (I Cor. 11.5) and exercise roles of leadership in the mission (Rom. 16.1-7); Phil. 4.2-3). Whatever we may think in retrospect about the adequacy of Paul’s implementation of the vision articulated in the formula, it is hard to deny that he believed the church to be a new community brought into being by the power of God’s grace in which old social inequalities were being overturned and transformed. (see also I Cor. 1.18-31). 11.278

[31] Wisdom 7.21-23, 25-26

[32] Wisdom 10.1

[33] Revelation of St. John 12.1

[34] An ancient interpretation now gone by the way-side, although there is still a “minority opinion” that sees in this imagery a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary rather than the Church, or at least both. For example, many in the Eastern Orthodox tradition still give this passage a Marian interpretation. Cf. “Mary as the Queen of Heaven,” found at The Orthodox Faith as accessed on May 27, 2015

[35] Another interesting note, this time anthropological: “Interestingly, women, it seems, were not simply objects for their male counterparts to own and dominate, nor were they helpless slaves relying on the food supplied by men, quite the contrary in fact. Men relied on women in many of these cultures just as much if not more than women relied on them. The evidence shows that in most cases the food consumed by males and females, the positions held by males and females, the attitudes towards both males and females as well as expectations and behavior during day-to-day life and even the treatment after death of both males and females was virtually indistinguishable save a few carved mementos displaying an adoration and appreciation of women alone proving that modern cultures may be more than a bit misguided when it comes to the nature of gender separations…

“With all of the evidence gathered from unrelated cultures spanning thousands of years and thousands of miles it is difficult to ignore the fact that women in prehistoric time were regarded as highly as men and were most certainly honored as such. As anthropologists, historians and scientists continue to uncover new evidence we must ask ourselves if our current perceptions of gender divisions truly serve any purpose. The idea that this is how it has always been is definitely dispelled without question. So how then can we continue to justify the persisting misguided version of the past as natural? The truth is, we cannot nor should we. The time has come to put aside all previous, widely held perceptions of cultural diversions, specifically gender based theories, the time has come for our culture to move forward by looking to the past. Our ancient ancestors understood that men and women alike where intricate parts of society, culture, and ultimately survival each relying on the other for support in a variety of capacities, which is why their day-to-day lives in all aspects were virtually indistinguishable as they should be still.” Myranda Grecinger, “Status of Women in Prehistoric Communities: The Start of the Division of Labor,” on HubPages as accessed May 26, 2015

[36] At least a nod to the possibility of open theism…

[37] “Many women are expressing now more bluntly how they see themselves subtly but effectively ignored or stereotyped by the ecclesiastical establishment. Certainly this is not true of all women, but the wide extent of this fact cannot be ignored.” Michael A. Fahey, “Church,” Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 2.10; also an interesting historical-background read is Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches, by Cipriano Vagaggini (Liturgical Press, 2013)


Lay Psychological Thoughts on Authority, Decision-Making and Thought-Action Trajectories

By no means am I a psychologist, hence the title of this article, but I would like to offer some thoughts inspired lately by considering the subject of men, women, gender traits, and traditional roles. Specifically, I’d like to focus on authority and leadership, especially given the fact that, though women are still far behind men in leadership positions, the trend is definitely upward and will likely continue, as former U. S. Assistant Secretary of Defense and now Harvard professor Joseph Nye notes:

In the past, when women fought their way to the top of organisations, they often had to adopt a “masculine style”, violating the broader social norm of female “niceness”. Now, however, with the information revolution and democratisation demanding more participatory leadership, the “feminine style” is becoming a path to more effective leadership… That is a trend, not (yet) a fact.[1]

He is commenting more about high-level leadership positions in society, which is quite interesting, of course, but here I’m more concerned with the intimate personal-companional level. At this level, as well as the “higher” and, perhaps, more visible levels, it’s always been (mostly) “a man’s world.” This is stating the obvious, but I have to believe that traditional stereotypes and expectations are changing – being given the liberty to change – and that what is occurring, however slowly, at very visible, higher-level leadership positions is also occurring in the home. Is this good? First, is it understandable? To answer this question, I’d like to first present a scenario to introduce a couple of new (to myself, anyway) ideas, then move on to answer the former question.

Suppose James is in an awful, debilitating depression and, consequently, practically unable to function. In such a depressive state, and unable to effectively make sound decisions, he might say, in so many words, to his life companion, Jessica, “Take over, please,” or “call it, if you will, because I’m not thinking clearly,” or “take the wheel, please, otherwise I’m going to wreck.” This handing over to another willing and able person, in this case Jessica, thus alleviates the cognitive-emotional pressure the subject, James, cannot bear – as in bearing the load, the weight of the load – and then, consequently, renders recovery a greater possibility. Hardly anyone with whom I’m acquainted would disagree that this is an obvious, very understandable request-decision for James.

Of course, the person being asked must be wholly trusted by the subject, especially in a state of suffering, and also capable and willing, even decided, to lead and make decisions. The subject must also invest this person with full authority at that point, in order to make the complete transference of the weight of decision-making, thus voluntarily and completely removing the burden being assumed by the other. At this point I’d like to answer the question of whether or not Jessica is capable of assuming authority and leading, while noting that each individual is different, naturally, but Jessica is an example for the purpose of this illustration only; therefore, I’ll assume she is and this time take my queue from Professor Ronald E. Riggio:

There is a growing body of research that has studied the leadership styles and leadership “potential” of men and women, typically men and women managers (but also women in non-managerial positions). For example, using the theory of transformational leadership as an indicator of successful leadership (transformational leaders are inspirational, positive role models, concerned about followers, empowering, and push followers to be creative and take chances), research shows that women, as a group, have more transformational qualities than men. In other words, and based on this research, women have more leadership potential and tend to lead more effectively than men.[2]

In this excerpt, we should note that the research to which Dr. Riggio points includes “women in non-managerial positions,” as well as “women managers;” consequently, the scope extends beyond the corporate world (and mentality, thank God!) into other areas of life and, yes, women are able to lead. To put it another way, there is nothing innate, or part of the woman’s constitutional nature rendering her, generally speaking as the female of the homo sapien species, unable to assume authority, make decisions, and actually lead. Point in fact, the archetypal woman may be more distinctively qualified to lead than the “typical” man. This is especially good for James, who has been debilitated, but not to the point of not being able to realize – in the sense of realization – one possible, viable solution to his painful conundrum (who will make the important decisions now, while I’m in this awful state?)

And, after all, in James’ case, this may have nothing to do with innate ability, or lack thereof, but rather the mind thinking along one particular trajectory, resulting in acting along same trajectory – one of sickness (depression) and recovery (healing.) One will usually think along some particular trajectory, such as, perhaps, the creative-deconstructive trajectory. If someone is thinking along the trajectory of creation – deconstruction, for example, then she might write a story or poetry, compose a song, paint an attractive landscape portrait, etc. (or, for that matter, on the deconstructive side of the coin, edit or revise or commit some work to the flames. By deconstructive, I mean in the sense of dismantling and/or “taking away from,” not that the process engaged in is not ultimately, in the end, constructive.)

There are any number of trajectories, I believe, such as:

  • Authority/Leadership – Consent/Compliance
  • Creation – Deconstruction
  • Preparation – Improvisation

Having made this observation, then, I’d like to offer two more examples, or hypothetical cases, if you will:

Let’s say James is an artist. He spends most of his time and energy in the thought-action trajectory of creation – deconstruction. Consequently, he has very little time or energy to expend in the thought-action trajectory of authority/leadership – consent /compliance (which might also be, in other contextual settings, better described as discipleship, mere obedience, etc.) Now Jessica happens to be an intelligent, discerning, confident woman, who cares deeply about James – she is compassionate with wisdom – and also is inspirational, and all-in-all provides an excellent, trustworthy role model. She possesses the capability as well as the willingness to think-act along the trajectory of authority/leadership – consent/compliance; ready, willing, and able to take on the mantle of shepherdess, priestess, and regent, so to speak. She will be the matrona capita, not feminam tyrannuas, though.

Let’s now look at another hypothetical case. Let’s say Jessica is a nurse practitioner with advanced degree in health and human services, to boot. She spends an awful lot of her time and energy along the trajectory of health/healing – sickness/disease. While she may not have much time to think-act in an authority/leadership – consent/compliance trajectory, if James is an artist, then it only stands to reason that where the health and welfare of their household is concerned, Jessica will naturally think-act along the authority/leadership – consent/compliance trajectory subsumed under the primary health/healing – sickness/disease trajectory, i.e. the one becomes the lesser, parallel trajectory of the other.

What the first hypothetical case shows is that there are situations in which one is quite unable to assume authority, make decisions, and lead … even, or perhaps especially, where it concerns the subject personally. The second hypothetical situation exemplifies, hypothetically, a situation in which the subject is, perhaps, capable enough yet simply not able to take authority and lead (for the most part) because he is largely thinking-acting along another trajectory; he is largely invested in an ongoing, demanding, time-consuming occupation that will not allow him to think-act effectively along the trajectory of authority/leadership – consent/compliance. And part of the reason for this, too, may very well be that his thought-action trajectory is not very compatible with the other. (Creative artists, writers, musicians, etc. often do not guide, direct, administrate well.) The third hypothetical case exemplifies the subject, this time Jessica, as one having specific skills and capabilities above and beyond her companion, such that in that life area she naturally assumes authority and leadership. She is simply better qualified, so it would be reckless for James to insist on making health and welfare decisions for their household (how many ever members it may include, although the presence of children makes this much more crucial.)

One can (hopefully) easily see that in different situations and circumstances, the woman might just as easily take the lead as the man, and sometimes far more successfully. One might also conclude that, as is fortunately the case at least some of the time, leadership on an intimate personal-companional level is not either the man or the woman, but both the woman and the man. Here now I’d like to factor in personality types as another possibly important consideration. I’m not going to delve into specific personality tests, but some say there are sixteen types. Using this as a benchmark, then I’d like us to suppose Jessica ranks high in nurturing, inspiring, and decision-making. On the other hand, James ranks high in aestheticism, thinking, and reflective idealism. Who would naturally be better qualified, given their dominant personality traits, to take authority, make decisions, and lead? James or Jessica? If James is more the thinking, reflective-idealistic artist, who spends the greater amount of his time and effort along the thought-action trajectory of creation – deconstruction, then might he actually appreciate Jessica, his nurturing and inspiring companion, who is fully capable of good, sound decision-making, picking up the responsibility of authority and leadership within their relationship and domestic life? Would he probably not be extremely grateful to allow her to be whom and what she is naturally, that is, in her constitutional make-up? And, for that matter, wouldn’t Jessica also be grateful? After all, there’s nothing like trying to turn an aesthetic into an administrator!

Back to our first two questions: Taking situations and circumstances, personality types, character traits, gifts, talents, abilities, desires and willingness, etc. all into account, then I believe we can see that women certainly can lead and, more often than many may want to admit, ought to lead. This is by no means an universal conclusion. As stated above, every individual is different; however, one proposition ought to be certain, and that is that the man in such a relationship as that of James and Jessica ought not to feel ashamed, or less than a “real” man, for deferring to his counterpart in an interdependent, healthy relationship of deep and mutual love, respect and trust.



[1] Joseph S. Nye, “When Women Lead the World,” as published in Aljazeera on February 27, 2012, and accessed May 21, 2015

[2] Ronald E. Riggio, PhD, “Do Men and Women Lead Differently? Who’s Better?” as re-published by Psychology Today earlier published by Cutting Edge Leadership on March 23, 2010, accessed on May 21, 2015


United We Stand?

american-eagle-wallpaperOn Memorial Day we remember those who gave their lives for this country. Patriots proudly wave the flag, which represents all Americans through space and time, and politicians adeptly quote founding fathers to support their ideas and proposals. We remember, honor and celebrate our country from its humble origins in pilgrims seeking freedom in a new world to the miraculous birth of a nation following her struggle with a mighty empire, through the darkness of war that divided families and pitted brother against brother, to our own day and time.

We are Americans — the fact hardly ever escapes us — and we almost vigorously proclaim this when we are threatened or attacked.  We proudly speak this truth when we send our sons and daughters to foreign lands to fight, and very possibly die, for those ideals we hold so dear … ideals we also call “American.”  And these facts alone would seem to unite us, except for one glaring characteristic of what it means to be an American today:  namely, radical individualism, an odious quality cherished now perhaps more than any other.

Americans have tragically become so utterly individualistic that we have to a great extent lost any sense of community and the collective conscience.  Individualism is defined as “personal independence in action, thought, interests, etc.;  the state of being separate or individual; self-interest without regard for others; the social theory that emphasizes the importance of the individual and his/her rights and independence of action.”  Economically it is the equivalent of laissez-faire.  Psychologically it is nothing more than rank egoism.

America has always had a strong sense of individualism, but that sense, until fairly recently, has been balanced by a realization that we rise and fall together — a realization that inspired the motto, “united we stand, divided we fall.”  Today, however, American society has moved beyond mere individualism as social theory and practice into the wasteland of radical individualism that, unless faced with a monumental and unifying tragedy such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all-too-often asks the question, “What’s in it for me?”  Especially when whatever issue or problem being considered does not directly impinge upon the individual.

We have fractured into a multiplicity of lonely islands floating on the tumultuous ocean of what used to be the United States of America.  It would do well for us to remember, if it is not already too late, what it means to be community.  This is the fact of any society, any kingdom, any nation:  to be one community comprised of communities.  And as simplistic as it may sound, there is no community without unity.  As community, we are more than simply a group of individuals living in a particular geographical area, being subject to the same laws.

As community, we lay claim to the same history and share much of the same heritage with all of the persons, places, events and documents, traditions and customs that entails.  As community,  we share many of the same values and interests and characteristics.  As community, we are bound together in our responsibility to and for one another, as well:  rich, poor and middle class;  strong and weak;  old,  young and middle-aged;  of whatever race or ethnicity, occupation or level of education.  As community,  we see past the differences to what unites us,  to what makes us more than merely the sum total of individuals … to what makes us uniquely who and what we are together,  in unity.

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”
~  W. Somerset Maugham  (Early 20th Century British Playwright)

“Where there is unity there is always victory.”
~  Publilius Syrus  (Ancient Roman Writer)

Marriage Civil, Religious, Both … or Maybe Neither?

MarriageIs marriage a civil or religious institution? The question seems to be rather popular at the moment and, probably, for obvious reasons. I recently read a quip that claimed “churches perform weddings, not marriages,” and went on to put marriage completely within the province of the state. Sad, to say the least, because the claim betrays a great deal of ignorance commonly shared by many pushing their particular socio-political agenda.

Who can say whether marriage is either civil or religious in origin and constitution? Marriage predates recorded history, and then comes to light in a world that made very little (if any) distinction between the religious and civil. If anything, one would have to say that marriage was originally, and for most of human history, both  civil and  religious, not either-or.  The alternative to this is the at least somewhat legitimate claim that marriage was neither. (Although, given the current controversy, it is perhaps worth nothing that however derived and defined, marriage has always been understood and practiced heterosexually. But anyway…)

Case in point:  It was not until the 14th century that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony was formalized and the marital union sealed during the Divine Liturgy (including Holy Communion), although specific rites of marriage in the Church can be confirmed as early as the 4th century in extant records of rituals and liturgical prayers. (And, of course, marriage was always and still remains held as sacred within the Christian tradition … as well as the other religious traditions.)

However, it is true that, with few exceptions, until the middle of the 16th century, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, however broadly defined, and of course the actual physical union of the parties, i.e. consummation of the marriage. The couple would promise verbally to each other (often with consent of their families, or fathers) that they would be married, in which case the presence of a priest and/or witnesses was not required.

And, yes, one of the functions of the Church beginning sometime during the Middle Ages was to register marriages, but even this was not obligatory. Although, having said this, the Church always taught that it was advisable for the couple intending to marry to seek and obtain the blessing of the Church, which was certainly common enough; consequently, the presence of rituals and prayers dating back to at least the fourth century. But, again, this was not obligatory.

A requirement for banns of marriage was introduced in England by the Catholic Church early in the 13th century. This required a public announcement of an intended marriage. The banns would be posted in the parish church, for at least three Sundays prior to the planned wedding, for the purpose of giving ample opportunity for anyone to make objections to the marriage. Even still, failure to post the banns did not necessarily affect the legitimacy of the marriage.

Marriage licenses were introduced in the following century to allow the (by then) customary notice period under banns to be set aside, upon monetary payment along with a sworn declaration, usually made by the bridegroom, that there was no impediment to the marriage. This license was usually granted by an ecclesiastic, not civil, authority, and marked significantly greater institutional regulation of matrimony.

Only in the mid-18th century, did Parliament finally affirm the centuries-old ecclesiastical regulation and codify it into statutory law. From this date, then, a marriage was only legally valid if it followed the calling of banns in church or the obtaining of said license, although some notable exceptions were made for members of some religious communities, including Jews and Quakers.

In the United States, no license was required to marry at all until around the middle of the 19th century, and only then did some states adopt marriage licenses specifically to restrict the wedding of interracial couples. In other words, the issuance of the license was for the express purpose of regulating against “miscegenation,” the fancy word for interracial marriage. More specifically, and in reality, it was to maintain the “purity” of the “white race.”

Finally, in 1923, the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act was passed by the federal government. A mere few years later, marriage licenses were being distributed in every state to all couples, and this is when, at least in the United States, marriage became more a “civil” institution rather than what it had been throughout history; that is, an intimate, personal – and most often sacred – matter with no state, or even ecclesiastical, control or regulation.

Having said all this, then, perhaps it is time to remove government altogether from the marriage equation. Perhaps the state never really had any business in the marriage business in the first place. And perhaps religious groups, including Christian churches, can simply choose to bless whatever marriages they deem appropriate to bless. And perhaps these same churches can continue to define marriage, or holy matrimony, as they have defined this covenantal union, or sacrament, for centuries now – that is, the intimate, physical-spiritual union of man and woman by the Spirit of God, in the presence of God, by the everlasting bond of divinely human love.

If so, then, would marriage be civil or religious? Well … marriage would certainly still be recognized culturally, throughout society, as the fundamentally important bedrock-institution it has always been, down through the corridors of time. In this sense – and only in this sense – marriage would be “civil.” Yet it would no longer be state regulated, being outside the province of government.

On the other hand, marriage would still be cherished by the overwhelming majority of couples as something divine (or supernatural) in origin and, thus, sacred. In this sense, marriage would be “religious.” Yet the decision would rest with God (or the divine) and the individuals intending to wed, with the Church (or other religious community) being invited in alongside the couple to witness, affirm and bless their covenantal/sacramental union.

So, again, would marriage be civil or religious? Well … both and neither … but then, perhaps, no longer something we need to debate. And wouldn’t that be nice? What say you???

Who Will Tell Me Who I Am? Thinking About Identity in Early Childhood

young-children3Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.  (Martin Luther King, Jr.) And thus my prayer:  “God have mercy; may it not be said of me. Yet, too, help me season ‘hard, solid thinking’ with love and humility. Amen.”

Even commonly used terms and terminology ought to be defined, perhaps especially in addressing serious subjects, something this writer failed to do in an earlier article on the subject of gender-identity questions in early childhood development. Thankfully, there is almost always opportunity to correct such mistakes, as I shall endeavor to do now. And in so doing, we might begin with the whole idea of what it means to actually be male/female, man/woman, masculine or feminine, and for this a brief quote from the World Health Organization proves helpful:

Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term “gender”, and how it differs from the closely related term “sex”.

“Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

“Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

To put it another way:

“Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.

Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.

To recapitulate, then, “sex” is biological, physiological characteristics, while “gender” refers to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes largely defined in community, by society. And so, too, when we say “male” and “female” we are referring to anatomy, whereas “masculine” and “feminine” are words used of gender traits, i.e. those largely socially-defined “roles, behaviors, activities and attributes” mentioned above. Alright … so far, so good.

(Except, perhaps, that we need to also mention what might otherwise seem so obvious. That is, that “anatomical” derives from the word “anatomy” and means “of or relating to bodily structure, physical anatomy.” There seemed to be some confusion on this point in at least one article I read … or, at least, an obvious misuse of the term. However, having stated the obvious, one wonders if it might not be preferable to refer to “anatomical sex,” although that might seem somewhat redundant, rather than “anatomical gender,” which is actually more common.)

Consequently, my son was born an anatomical male; my daughter, thirteen months prior, an anatomical female. However, they each displayed various gender traits in varying degrees, at least as we are using the definition of “gender” and “gender traits” as mentioned above. Moreover, these traits were (and continue to be) varied and somewhat fluid, an observable fact that never particularly bothered me. They shared toys and games, liked various colors at different times, even shared some clothing items (depending on where they were in their growth spurts!).

And harping back to an even earlier blog, what if my daughter had displayed “masculine” characteristics such as confidence, courage, determination, integrity, fortitude and compassion? Well, she did and that was wonderful! Of course, all these are virtues admirable in anyone and not particularly masculine or feminine anyway, as I contended in that earlier blog article, and my then-wife and I actively worked to instill these virtues in both of our children.

And if my son had displayed characteristics such as gentleness, empathy and sensitivity? Again, wonderful and, in fact, he did and still does. Again, very desirable, virtuous qualities that are not particularly masculine or feminine, a truth upheld in the sacred writings and traditions of most religions, even though they are commonly associated with femininity (or seemingly so), at least in Western culture(s). But now for the tougher question, and more to the point:

How would we have felt and reacted had our son approached us with the declaration that he was “really a girl,” or “felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body?”  Before attempting an answer to this thorny question, we need to look at two more terms, more complex than the ones we have already defined, which have been fairly “simple,” (where simple simply means “not overly-involved, complex, or elaborate;” as in, “short, simple and to-the-point.”) We need to introduce the concepts of “individuation” and “socialization,” and briefly consider what they mean.

Individuation, according to Jungian psychology, is a process of psychological integration, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. “In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated (from other human beings); in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.” (So said Jung.)

Socialization, is an ongoing process whereby an individual acquires personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position, status and/or identity-in-community.

The idea of socialization should be held in tandem with individuation. Distinct concepts, they are nevertheless complimentary, even interdependent, though contradiction and conflict invariably arise in the process of both, as might reasonably be expected, of course. Point in fact, individuation does not occur in isolation or, put another way, on one’s own. “No man is an island unto himself” may be a cliché but true nonetheless, and no one “self-identifies” completely apart from the “other,” the larger surrounding community.

Perhaps Oscar Wilde overstated the case when he opined, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” But he was not far off from author Chuck Palahniuk, who veritably howls, “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” Or the writer David Sedaris, who wittingly submits that “all of us take pride and pleasure in the fact that we are unique, but I’m afraid that when all is said and done the police are right: it all comes down to fingerprints.”

Ah, yes, and whose “fingerprints?” The “fingerprints” of many would be the vague and general answer, but most especially and specifically that of parents and family. And these “fingerprints” are left in virtually every facet of life, including physiological cognitive development. As noted by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child:

We have long known that interactions with parents, caregivers, and other adults are important in a child’s life, but new evidence shows that these relationships actually shape brain circuits and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes, from academic performance to mental health and interpersonal skills.

There are, of course, other important contributing factors in early childhood development, specifically with regards to a maturing sense of personal identity, such as: economics and environment, religion and education, media and entertainment, art, literature, music, etc. To a great extent, then, perhaps the 19th, early 20th century Russian author, Lev S. Vygotsky, was right in his assertion that it is only “through others [that] we become ourselves.” Well, maybe not completely, but to an important extent this would seem to be true.

Realizing all of this is, it seems to me, imperative in answering the tough challenge, “How would you have felt and reacted had your son approached you saying he was ‘really a girl,’ or ‘felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body?’” Almost certainly some questions would have immediately come to mind, such as: “Why is he saying this and what exactly does he mean?” and, importantly, “How has he come about believing this, or feeling this way? What has he seen? What has he heard? Where is this coming from?”

As parents, we would have almost instinctively, commonsensically known that this is not anything a three or four-year-old boy would believe or conclude on his own, completely divorced from those important contributing factors earlier mentioned. Now, beyond explaining anatomical reality in language he could understand, what we would have done specifically and proactively is admittedly difficult; however, I can say what we would not  have done. We would not  have loved him any less, nor would we have shamed, embarrassed, disgraced or  dishonored him as an invaluable person, finely and divinely formed by God.

Difficult issue with which to grapple? Yes, very likely so, but something else we would not have done, I can posit with a fair amount of certainty: Precisely because we so passionately love and deeply care for our children, we would not have put him in dress, jewelry and make-up, and sent him off to kindergarten with the attendant expectation that the school and surrounding community would capitulate and conform to his “self-identity” as “a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.” And herein healthy socialization overlaps and interlocks with the ongoing process of individuation, both of which necessarily entail fundamental parental responsibility.

Young children depend upon parents for more than basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. They rely upon us, too, in cognitive learning, emotional stability, moral guidance and direction, and in their formation of healthy self-identity, which is inextricably linked, as already indicated, with their identity-within-community. They go hand-in-hand (some would say unfortunately) along with all of the cultural norms of society. And where some of those norms may not be good; nevertheless, parents completely ignore such to the detriment of the child.

Consequently, part of my responsibility as their father – and the responsibility of their mother as well, of course – is not only the love, nurture, and affirmation of my children, but their spiritual, mental, physical health and welfare, too, which necessarily includes reasonable, social adaptation and integration; always bearing in mind that as protective, loving and nurturing parents, we have been and will continue to be fundamentally important in their continuing growth and maturation

Yes, and so we do this humbly and circumspectly, to the very best of our ability, as intended and ordained by God, who lovingly created them in his divine image and likeness; trusting the timeless promise that if we “set our children upon the right course, then when they are of age they will continue along that path,” the path described in an ancient Zuni prayer as “reaching on into the Dawn,” where there is everlasting fulfillment. May it be so. Amen.

Gender Questions and Children Self-Identifying … Really?

male-and-female-relationship-signApparently, the world has escaped me. While focusing on current events and hot topics, I’ve apparently fallen behind the times in some important areas, such as trans-gender issues and, specifically, young children allegedly “self-identifying.” So … I was rather surprised when I read this from the parents of Coy Mathis, the “transgendered first-grader,” over which there has been quite some stir recently, at least in Colorado:

‘It was kind of a long process because she had been telling us for some time, and we thought, Well maybe it’s a phase, maybe if we just confirm to her that she really is a boy? you know, try and encourage her toward boy things, then her phase would be over maybe,’ Kathryn Mathis said. ‘So it really took a lot of learning, research on our part because she was consistently telling us the same thing, that she was a girl. So we read lots of books, we contacted lots of support groups. We contacted her pediatrician and a child psychologist and it was very lengthy. And eventually we were told that we needed to support her and how she was, and you know, how she really was.’

Really? So “she” had been telling “her” parents “she” was really a girl “for some time?” But Coy is now, what? Six-years-old? So I am reasonably supposing that since s/he was three or four-years-old, s/he has been telling them this? At four years old, this child just knew “he” was (is?) really a “she?” At the risk of sounding indignant, sorry, I’m not buying! Not at all, and I deeply suspect what I am sure many others believe, that this is merely a case of adults abusively using their child to make some socio-political statement. What is even more frightening and really rather pathetic is that this “issue” is actually being taken seriously … again, at least in Colorado.

Obviously, the question that reasonably comes to mind is, would any three or four-year-old child even have the cognitive ability to raise “gender identity questions,” much less “self-identify” as a gender other than the anatomical gender into which they were born? This is very improbable, indeed; in fact, one might dare say impossible. (Remember, we are talking about very young children, not adolescents or teenagers.) For the sake of argument, though, let us suppose for the moment that this is possible.  Let us suppose that a four-year-old child, who is anatomically male, “self-identifies” as a girl, such as is allegedly the case with Coy (and, apparently, others).

However, young children are naturally prone to change their minds – their wants, likes, dislikes, preferences, perspectives, attitudes, etc. – quite often and often unexpectedly in the process of natural growth and maturation. What happens, then, when Coy suddenly decides “she” is no longer really a “she;” when, in other words, “she” switches and “self-identifies” as a boy?  After having caused such an ordeal and having made an arguably tremendous social, emotional, psychological investment in defense of their child’s “self-identity” as a girl, will the parents then so easily capitulate and accept his/her new “self-identity” as a boy? (A speculative question, I know, but I believe an important one.)

Probably not, and herein (perhaps) lies an as-of-yet unacknowledged danger:  that is, that this child may very well be compelled to continue denying anatomical reality in favor of “self-identifying” as a girl even when he no longer desires this identity.  He will be virtually imprisoned for life by the “self-identity” he supposedly made when he was but three or four-years-old.  Abusive? Yes, of course … but, then, we do well to consider the possibility (probability?) of some form of emotional/psychological abuse having occurred in the very notion that any three or four-year-old child would ever raise “gender identity questions” or “self-identify” in the first place. What is, perhaps, even more tragic is the glib capitulation of (apparently) a sizeable portion of society, and more so the mainstream media, where instead there ought to be moral-ethical outrage over what can probably be fairly described as a kind of emotional/psychological filicide.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog article, though, in my own growth and maturation I have learned to fully embrace the fact that I may very well be wrong. (I certainly don’t believe so in this case, but hey…)  This being true then, as always, I welcome your comments and feedback…  Just be polite and thank you in advance!

Pondering Morality, Marriage and Civilization … Again

PonderingRecently an erudite reader responded at length to my blog, Same-Sex Marriage Runs Afoul of Non-Malfeasance Principle, which was actually the continuation of at least two previous articles, Is the Exception Acceptable? By What Standard? and Addendum to ‘By What Standard,’ both of which examine how we communally, or at the level of society, go about deciding important moral/ethical questions.

In Addendum to ‘By What Standard,’  I raised the possibility that our society could, theoretically, adopt as its ‘moral compass’ the principle of primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm,’ the principle of non-malfeasance. The reader took exception to this and in so doing forwarded some ideas to which I’d now like to respond:

Our ‘moral compass’ is nothing more than the logical consideration of the potential outcomes of possible behaviors or actions.

Very utilitarian, indeed; I think Jeremy Bentham would be proud. Unfortunately, this is simple false, something patently obvious from mere observation of life lived daily in community with other humans. No, most people do not engage in “logical consideration” of very much at all, including “potential outcomes of possible behaviors or actions.” Would be nice if all of us did! (And I include myself!) But, alas, we do not.

Point in fact, the ‘moral compass’ of communities, or societies, no matter how good or bad, adequate or inadequate, derive from some spiritual-religious source – i.e. Hinduism in India, Confucianism (for centuries) in China, Yawehism/Judaism in ancient Israel, Roman Catholic Christianity in Ireland, etc. As I point out in Marriage, Society and What Informs Us, this has been, until historically recently, true of our country/society as well.

The fact that humans broadly agree on general areas is due to our desire to see ourselves and our loved ones treated well (by accepting the principle of treating others well). There is nothing to be replaced, as we will continue to make decisions based on this rationale.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The ‘golden rule,’ as it’s sometimes called. It is also sometimes stated negatively as, “Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” Very close to the principle of primum non nocere, or non-malfeasance, and one with very ancient spiritual-religious underpinnings. Also one that is woefully neglected.

So far as nothing needing to be replaced, well … that’s already happening. My question from previous entries has simply been, “With what?” Even if we cannot quite answer this question, though, it would be an exceptionally fine alternative to the current atmosphere of bitterness and animosity if we all could agree and put into practice the ideal of “treating others well.”

Confusion generally occurs when religions make up rules that go against our better judgment. A prime example being that homosexuality is ‘wrong.’

And this strikes at the heart of the subject I’ve previously addressed. What exactly is “our better judgment?” When someone says “our,” they are pointing to some community. So in this case, what community is being referenced? And whence cometh this “better judgment” if not from religion? Philosophy perhaps? Or maybe evolutionary instinct? And how does one go about discerning this “judgment” as being “better?” By what standard is “better” measured?

Also, in response to the idea that religion “confuses” matters when it “makes up rules,” another blogger approaches the subject with an article titled, Is Being Gay a Sin?  The writer offers a very clear, straightforward and compassionate answer from an evangelical, Protestant Christian perspective, and though one may not agree, it is anything but an arbitrary, confusing application of made-up rules.

The ‘do no harm’ idea is unrealistic. The best we can hope for is that people carefully weigh up the positive and negative consequences of their actions and make reasonable decisions… By your ‘do no harm’ principle, heterosexual couples shouldn’t make new human beings as undoubtedly harm will come to their creation at some point in their lives.

The “do no harm” idea is very ancient and has been accepted as an ideal, ethical standard by physicians (among others) for centuries upon centuries. Is it really “unrealistic?” But then, the reader has already recommended the “do no harm” principle earlier in his remarks, albeit in slightly different terms.

And “heterosexual couples” not “mak(ing) new human beings” because “harm will come,” misses completely the idea of primum non nocere, or non-malfeasance. Doctors adhering to the principle still operate on people, even with the possibility of being unsuccessful … or, for that matter, knowing the patient will eventually succumb to death even if the surgery is  successful. Are they thereby violating the “do no harm” principle?

Finally, in searching through various blog articles recently, I ran across another very interesting perspective on homosexuality and marriage:  Gay Marriage: A Churchwarden Ponders  is written by an English female Anglican, who argues that “it is wrong for a relatively small group of people to hurriedly re-define marriage” for an entire society, although she “believes in equality, diversity and fairness.”

Point in fact, she goes on to explain this as having no qualms with marrying divorcees in church, appointing gay vicars, and “women bishops – please God! My beloved brother is gay; I have gay friends and I know couples in civil partnerships who have adopted children.” But she is also “struggling with this one. It has (I think) very little to do with my faith and much more to do with a thousand years of cultural understanding.” An interesting, intelligent thought on the subject.

Till next time, cheers to one and all!