The Goddess MECA Blog

Is God a Man or a Woman?

Posted by Mary on Saturday 29 December 2012 in the Blog Category.

 

 

Jumping up on the windowsill, his dancing eyes scanned the room. After searching our faces one by one he smirked as he fired out a loaded question;-

“Is God a man or a woman?”

Silence fell, broken only by the sound of us shifting uncomfortably in our seats. I picked up my pencil and began chewing it nervously, head bent to cover my acute embarrassment. What the hell was he up to? An Irish Dominican priest teaching theology in the late 1970’s to future teachers. Was he trying to provoke us? Then again most of us thought he was nuts – a wired up jack in the box leaping about from table to podium and back again, wild eyes gazing at us in earnest through shaky wire spectacles.

“God is a man because he’s ‘God the Father’.” Came a steadfast reply from the back. A collective sigh ensued as we felt relieved to be let off the hook and I for one hoped he would change the topic. No such luck! As though ignoring the response he prodded further:

“Why could God not be female?” He paused to look at our blank faces before pointing to the tall girl seated in the middle of the front row.

“Fiona what do you think?” Obviously he presumed the one non- Catholic among us was the only student capable of lateral thinking.

“It is possible that God could be a woman or not have a specific gender, like a tree. It seems we need to personify God in order to understand the concept of God.” she answered.

 

 

What she said was beyond our understanding at that time, so conditioned were we in believing the dogma that had been forced down our throats since childhood. To not believe what we were told would have been to question the ‘Word of God’ and therefore a sin. An urgent need to defend our beliefs and save our souls compelled a few of us to blurt out some form of protest, beginning with:

“But it says in the Bible …”

Yet the wisdom of Fiona’s words struck to the core of an inner knowing.  Furthermore our comments appeared to have no basis in logic when faced with the weight of theological and historical knowledge of our Woody Allen-esque teacher. Yet it was deeply unsettling for many of us to have our belief system overturned, like being sent to sea in a boat with neither compass nor rudder.

Over the coming months, the priest went on to tell us about earlier Matrifocal societies, where Mother Earth and the Goddess were worshiped. Bit by bit we began to take him seriously despite his jumping around the tiny lecture hall. Instead of nattering about how weird he was and dreading his classes, we began to look forward to his unorthodox teaching methods as he opened us up to learning the various philosophies behind different spiritual traditions. He knocked many theories on their head including ‘Eve as temptress’ and ‘Mary Magdalene as scarlet woman’. For the first time in my life I began to feel considerably less tainted, less disempowered by my heritage as a Christian woman.

Sadly he did not return to teach us the following year and we were left wondering had the college authorities dismissed him on grounds of over eccentricity, as had happened with a psychology lecturer who was rather too fond of Freud’s sexual theories. Many years later as I began to research my novel Love & the Goddess, I realised the lasting impact of having been taught by the quirky priest who obviously was a very wise fool indeed.

 

My novel is due for publication on the 25th of  January 2013! I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support so far.

I ‘d love to hear your opinions on this, so please comment.

 

Love, Mary E.

 

 

11 responses to “Is God a Man or a Woman?”

  1. Mary says:

    Just in case you’re wondering about the setting of this story. I attended a teacher training college with very small student numbers. Home Economics was our major subject but we also took theology in order to have Religious education as a second teaching option.

  2. SelIna says:

    He really did influence you …how amazing! The key is you resonated with it and ran with this theme. Great that you have acknowledged him and his work which I am sure seemed thankless at the time. Thank God and Yes Goddess for those way showers…

  3. Mary says:

    Thanks for your comments Selina. Yes his work would have appeared thankless at the time and he needed to be strong to over ride the negative feelings towards him. At his lectures we initially regarded him as a fool, at best a little amusing. It was a very conservative college and he would have encountered opposition from the college authorities. Sometimes it is only years later that we can truly appreciate the positive impact someone had in our lives.
    Wishing you a very Happy New Year,
    Mary x

  4. Debra Eve says:

    What a wonderful vignette, Mary! So looking forward to your book.

  5. Mary says:

    Great to hear from you Debra. Wishing you an abundance of great health, prosperity, joy and peace in 2013.

  6. Sharon says:

    Hi Mary. I was fortunate to have had a great education from a nun in catholic high school. She asked so many of the important questions in our senior religion class. She taught us to go deeper and learn about all perceptions and styles of beliefs. She was reared during the 60’s and had a passion for truth and enlightenment. I wont forget her:- she educated my mind and this way of thinking remains with me. She left the convent that Summer;- I hope she has managed to reach a wide audience because she is amazing. I asked each of my kids that question – “How do we know if god is a man or a woman?” They were about 7 at the time. One son said “God is a man on one side, a woman on the other side and a child on the other”. The other said “he is able to be all of them”

  7. Mary says:

    Sharon your comment makes me smile. I am so delighted to learn of your experience with this wonderful woman and so pleased for you to have been inspired in the way you describe. I love your story about asking your children this question. Out of the mouths of babes comes the simplest truths. Blessings to you and your family 🙂

  8. Hi Mary, got this from my friend Marcella. What an inspirational Priest but then many orders; Carmalites, Franciscans and even Jesuits had some very knowledgable and radical priests. I went to school some years ahead of you to the Lotetto nuns. I got my revelation as to who God was and is when I was about 11 or 12. However it was years later before I could talk about it when I met like minded people. I would love to have been in your class. God is neither male nor female, but is both. “I” am the way the truth and the light is one of the most profound sayings of Jesus and is often said so quickly that it is not registered fully by our minds. This was brought home to me at a funeral mass I was attending when the priest rushed over these words so fast that their meaning was lost. So thank you for writing your book. I will look out for it or maybe you can let me know where it is for sale. Good on you Girl. We need to praise the goddess who is gentle and firm and always love.

  9. Mary says:

    Thanks for visiting my site and commenting Josephine. Yes it is wonderful to meet and share with like minded people and you are so right about that line from scripture. It is very profound (controversial even) because the ‘I’ can be interpreted to refer to the ‘I’ in each of us. Jesus never proclaimed himself to be better than any of us and in fact he said to Mary Magdalene ‘God is within you’. The ‘I’ is the part of us which is pure spirit and may be referred to as our Christological essence or Goddess essence. When we connect to divine love and still the mind we can be fully present to who we really are. We are not our minds or our bodies. We are so much more, just as God cannot be defined as either masculine or feminine. Through devotion and listening to inner guidance in meditation, we too can transcend our conditioned thought patterns. We can transcend the will of our egos and touch our true nature which is God like. May we all become the ‘the way, the truth and the light’. Thank you for your gentleness and wisdom Josephine. Your beauty and authenticity shine forth in what you write.
    Drop me a line and let me know where you are living – perhaps you can attend one of my book launches in either Galway, Athlone or Dublin.

  10. Cathy Mc Geeney says:

    Hi Mary, it’s a shame there are not more like your teacher even today. We all need to think about these things more. I’ve started your book, it’s insightful, funny and moving all at once. Best wishes, Cathy

  11. Mary says:

    Thanks Cathy. You were so good to travel to Athlone for my launch. I hope you enjoyed your weekend break.
    I know what you mean about teachers – As a former teacher I think we are all becoming more open minded in society and that will trickle through everything including the educational system.
    Delighted and so grateful with your comments re. my book ‘Love & the Goddess’, Cathy.
    Mary xx

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