I begin by quoting a Catholic friend Bob Wedl:
Let us not confuse the church and the faith.Observing that the institutional church’s stance against women and homosexuals destroys faith and insults God—whose supposed error produced these deficient persons—Wedl continued,
We cannot permit the church to continue trying to destroy the faith.It cannot continue because cradle Christians are changing the church. I'm feeling optimistic because I spent the weekend with women who are helping to transform not only the church but the world.
Gather the Women connects women with each other to activate their untapped feminine well of wisdom and direct it toward solving problems of the world. The women I met this weekend glowed with Spirit’s power. I still see their love-filled faces. Working under and behind the glare of public headlights, they raise awareness by carrying out individual “assignments,” discerned through deep listening to the Divine. They "call on each other to BE the change we want to see." Learn more at http://gatherthewomen.org/gtw/index.htm
I was flattered to hear in the welcoming ceremony a paragraph from God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky explaining the unique set of attitudes, skills, and perspectives that women contribute toward healing the world from the patriarchal bias of several millennia.
To the independence-seeking male, let us add the connection-seeking female. To counter the adversarial inclination, let us apply relationship building. To counter warmaking, competition, and domination, let us apply peacemaking, cooperation, and partnership. To the image of a God or Gods up above, let us add that of living within the womb of Mother Earth, whose air, water, and soil we strive to protect.Anonymous commented: I was there at St. Benedict's with Gather the Women and I was very impressed with Jeanette's intellect, her passion, and her commitment to "starting the conversation." As someone who left the Catholic Church in the 1960's, I'm impressed with the ability of women (and men) who are stretching the centuries old boundaries of Catholicism and not finding themselves excommunicated! Things have changed—but not enough.
Barred from power for many centuries, women are able to practice power WITH instead of power OVER and AGAINST, as demonstrated by their disproportionate presence in peace advocacy. This has implications for global politics and economics as well as religion.
Jeanette: The only difference between me and many Catholics is that I confess my true beliefs publicly. A large chunk of the Catholic Church has moved past traditional belief but cherishes the tradition and does not want to roil the hierarchy or other Church members who insist on conformity of belief.
Shift toward the feminine
A Public Broadcasting program about a twelfth century crusade reminded me of the damage inflicted by the warrior mind. Richard the Lionhearted led Christians against the great Muslim leader Saladin for control of Jerusalem, considered a holy city by both. And both sides believed they were carrying out the will of God.
Saladin earned the adjective “great” because he stopped his followers from killing Christians after his victory in Jerusalem. Richard, on the other hand, after his victory there years later had thousands of captured Muslims slaughtered. Who was the better “Christian”?
But my bigger point is that the warrior culture of patriarchy valued warlike aggression and called it “heroism” and “bravery.” Seeing the raw brutality of the Middle Ages highlighted for me today’s contrasting movement away from glorified militarism. Even the most aggressive political leaders of today claim their activities are in the interest of peace. Such language was foreign to the Crusaders and Muslims of the twelfth century.
The story of medieval brutality impressed on me the ascendance of feminine values begun centuries past and continuing with growing rapidity today.
Females tend to value relationships more than males, and we tend to hold women accountable for all relationships. For centuries women have done men's emotional laundry--mothers for sons, wives for husbands, sisters for brothers, secretaries for bosses, and so on. Women are typically more sensitive to the needs of others, the empathic listeners, the referees in family disputes. Women are more conditioned to spend themselves for others. These are stereotypes that exaggerate and distort, but they’re useful for understanding what goes on in our lives.
Whereas the male seeks separation, the female seeks connection. While he has difficulty with intimate relationships, she is threatened by separation. He fears loss of autonomy; she fears isolation. While his unhealthy manner of dealing with insecurity is to fight, she wants to submerse herself in a dependent relationship. This information comes from In a Different Voice by Carol Gilligan, psychology professor at Harvard. Whether the male/female differences are the result of nature or nurture—I suspect both—the point is the differences.
The feminine value of peaceful cooperation is gaining ground. Between 1914 and 1918 a great Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan said:
I can see as clear as daylight that the hour is coming when women will lead humanity to a higher evolution.This statement, one of many such by thoughtful observers, expresses what I believe—not because I think women are better than men but because the globe needs a break from male combativeness.
The following message comes from a man in Africa, Credo Mutwa, a Zulu Sangoma (traditional healer).
Awaken the mother mind within every one of you human beings. Our people believe that every human being has two minds: the mother mind and the warrior mind. The warrior mind looks at things logically: the warrior mind sees two plus two is four. But the mother mind sees nothing like that. The mother mind does not think in a linear way as warriors do. The mother mind thinks sideways, and upwards and downwards. We must awaken the mother mind within each of us.I hope readers, male and female, can set aside their logical minds long enough to absorb this intriguing message from the feminine realm, albeit delivered by a man.
We must feel what is going on in the world. We must not listen to newspapers. We must ourselves feel! It is said by our Zulu people that women think with their pelvic area, where children grow and are born. We must think that way! We must no longer look at a tree but must see a living entity like us in that thing. We must no longer look at a stone but see the future lying dormant in that stone. We must think like grandmothers...that's all.