I asked Karen to write this guest blogpost. She calls herself a "recovering Catholic" and that’s not the only reason her perspective has value.
In hindsight, it is telling that I gave little thought to Jesus until I was no longer Catholic. Growing up in the Bible Belt of New Orleans, a conservative Christian region of the southern United States, I was not encouraged to question religious authority, much less express dissent, but instead I was to accept as fact whatever was preached from the pulpit on Sundays.
When I actually identified with a spirituality that inspired my sincere mind and heart connection with the Divine, it was Goddess Spirituality, and it was as a Goddess Advocate that I began to really think about Jesus, Christianity and the institution that I’ll loosely call The Church.
Thinking back, Jesus was little more than that sad and suffering figure on the cross at the front of the church, or that little baby in the manger at Christmas time, while the sacrifice of his life to his father, our god, for our sins, never made much sense to me. I felt that the sacrifice, whether accepted or required, spoke volumes more about Jesus’ “heavenly father”—a deity I cared little to claim as my god—and I prayed to escape his notice lest I incur his wrath.
There was something about a god who condoned suffering and accepted the sacrifice of sons that seemed too remote from the wise and loving deity, archetype, or ideal I could lovingly and readily embrace as Divine. Even if this request of sacrifice was a test of faith, as I'm told, it felt more like the Mafia questioning my allegiance and loyalty to The Family.
I’m not sure when I actually languaged it, but I believe intuitively I rejected the Christian ideas of suffering and sacrifice. I wondered why a female face of divinity was so lacking. On some level, I think I wondered but could not actually put into words why life-affirming ideas seemed so lacking in this religion I was born into, but no one was talking about it. Everyone just accepted the dogma.
You see, we lived in a bubble. We only met other Christians. There just was little to no opportunity or encouragement to question the programming. Everyone I knew was a Catholic or Baptist and they all seemed to toe the party line, or if they did not, they were not openly talking about it. We never questioned and seemed to revel in singing lyrics in church on Sunday like “Onward Christian soldiers, marching off to war.” It was too easy to practice bad deeds all week and on Sunday or in confession get a “get out of jail free” card by saying a few Hail Mary prayers. Oh, and please let mass end before kick-off time!
But when I opened my eyes and took responsibility for my own education and gave myself permission to question, I began to see The Church dogma as giving license to a select few to control the masses and to the powerful to commit far too many sins—none of which seemed in alignment with the teachings of Jesus.
Reconciling Jesus within Her Spiritual Paradigm
When I first uncovered Goddess herstory from the sands of time, from patriarchal lies, and from subterfuge, I’m not ashamed to say I was livid. I was metaphorically on fire that I had been duped for the first thirty years of my life. And when I found out the role of the Church in the subjugation of women and destruction of other cultures, I was filled with utter disgust. I’m having trouble even finding the words for the toxic emotion inspired by these realizations.
At first, I hated anything related to The Church, including Mary and Mary Magdalene, Pope John Paul II, who loved Mary, and even the wonderful, warm and loving nuns who taught me. They were all guilty by association. I was ready to discard even these female faces who had once been the only figures within Christianity to provide any solace or heartfelt connection to this religion I’d come to see as despicable. Although this does not describe all Christians, when I saw how the Religious Right was using Christianity as a weapon to steer government in the United States, and as a wedge issue to fan the flames of fear and hate to divide people, I was disgusted even more.
And don’t even get me started on the hypocrisy. Many of these vocal and self-righteous Christians who were always telling everyone else the right way to live were the ones getting caught starting bogus wars, having affairs, soliciting prostitutes, telling lies, stealing, abusing their power, causing gay people to commit suicide with their abomination talk—all while failing to really live by the teachings of Jesus. Sure they would shout out at us from our television screens or from their multi-million dollar pulpits about finding Jesus, and by the way, don’t forget to increase offertory giving and mail them a check—but the teachings of Jesus were hardly what these church leaders and many Christians were practicing.
They stood for shooting exhausted animals from planes, for taking reproductive rights away from women, for denying gays equal rights, for teaching abstinence instead of sex education, then failing to commit funds to poor people who could not afford o feed their children. I heard many rationalize their greed by saying their riches were gifts from god, while the poor were sinners and thus earned their poverty. It seemed their god and his ideals were about power, control, and the mighty dollar.
When this veil was lifted from my mind and eyes, it was difficult at first to return to anything remotely related to The Church—even Jesus, who was being used as their poster guy to legitimize suffering, sin, and abuse of the masses. Church leaders seemed to count on no one opening a book or discussing ideas on the internet. They counted on everyone continuing to take their word as gospel and not question or give themselves permission to see history and spirituality through a fresh lens.
But I eventually began to reclaim Jesus within my spiritual paradigm as a Goddess Advocate. In fact, I came to believe if Jesus would ever appear back on this Earth, his heart would be broken by the deeds perpetrated in his name. I remembered that Jesus was not part of the status quo. In fact, in his day he would have been a heretic, a terrorist, certainly not one of those endorsing suffering of the many for the benefit of the few. Neither can I believe he would want his followers to be a herd of “sheeple,” following some repressive dogma without critical thinking.
Jesus was trying to show humanity a new way of being. In his day he railed against the abuse of Temple elders, as he surely would today. Forever seared in my memory is that “Jesus Christ Superstar” movie where he over-turns the tables of the money-changers, walks with the poor, and treats women as his equals. The figure of Jesus became rehabilitated in my mind—and he had nothing to do with the institution that is The Church.
Jesus - The Sacred Masculine
I began to see Jesus in many new ways. I saw him and his mother Mary as the last figures in the long line of Pagan Goddesses and their consorts, with Jesus the dying and rising lord or king. Just as several of the Goddesses such as Isis and Artemis passed their baton on to Mary, Jesus was the Green Man, Attis, Tammuz, or Osiris. In fact during the season of Ostara, near the Christian holy day of Easter, I traditionally read to our group a meditation wherein we see in our mind’s eye the face of the consort of the Goddess morphing from one god to another, finally ending with that of Jesus. And now Christmas time becomes an opportunity instead of a farce as I use my radio show and platforms to publish articles or open discussions to remind Christians of their Pagan roots. December 25th has associations not just with Jesus’ birthday, but with Pagan traditions, Winter Solstice, Pagan gods like Mithras, and Yuletide Goddesses.
With my new-found relationship to Jesus came my embrace of his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene. I also feel less hesitant to walk into a Christian Church. I go in and look for the female faces of deity; Mary, Mary Magdalene, Guadalupe and Black Madonnas. And when I see Jesus sitting in the lap of Mary, I see Horus in the lap of Isis, and I also see Jesus as the consort of Goddess and Jesus as the Sacred Masculine. He is the Sacred Bridegroom of Mary Magdalene, herself an aspect of Goddess, and in their pairing is the balance of the Divine Couple—Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine, our sacred life force, in wholeness, in balance, in equality, as it always should have been. I see in this Divine Duo the common ground where Pagans and progressive Christians can come together outside of the confines and dogma of The Church to build a new and healthy society, culture, and spirituality that serves the many and not just the few.
The facts of history do not support Christian insults to pagans, who in early Christian history were their religious relatives and rivals.
God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky
I am so glad I asked Karen to write a guest post. She helps us to re-imagine Christian images and to integrate Christianity with its pagan roots. The Judaeo-Christian tradition portrayed Goddess spirituality as the reviled enemy, segregated from and opposed to us, but Karen’s post shows how they can be merged.
She gives new perspective on Jesus—Jesus as both child of the Goddess and paired with Goddess as Sacred Bridegroom and Sacred Masculine. Unfamiliar images for Christians, to be sure, but less irrational than the Christian myth of a father generating a son with no female around.
Mythologists like Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Mircea Eliade, and feminist theologians like Sandra Schneiders have been explicating similar insights for many years, but the all-male Church hierarchy represses these advances in understanding.
As we enter the post-Christian era, I hope schools of theology will recognize their responsibility to provide context for the Christian story. They should require readings in mythology and feminine theology. Every Christian priest and minister should know that “Father” is a mythic image, not a fact. Every presider at a liturgy should avoid terms that perpetuate male-dominant conditioning—“Lord” and “Father.” Every presider should introduce terms that invite deeper understanding of the Holy One—“Mother” and “She.”
Adversaries of the Sacred Feminine tried to sweep awareness and knowledge of Her under the rug—that’s why I am dedicated to uncovering new facts and theories. . . . if you remember, one day people thought the world was flat and the sun revolved around the Earth! Every day we learn new things, uncover hidden history, and perhaps the truth of our planet and species has not yet been definitively written—perhaps there is a frontier with much yet to be uncovered. Here at Voices of the Sacred Feminine, we look behind the locked door and peer into the abyss of the past.Please be aware that I do not advocate exclusive WORSHIP of the Goddess, substituting one deity for another. Neither does Karen. In appreciation of mythologists’ insights, we offer alternative myths to the Christian myth. Seeing alternatives may awaken recognition within the less educated Christian community that the Christian story is indeed a myth. I say “less educated” while wondering how many theologically “educated” Christians have any awareness of this at all.
Belief in the Sacred as exclusively male defies rational sense as well as violating our innate sense of justice. To correct the injustice and irrationality, we offer sacred Goddess images.
DrTom said, You might be familiar with something Catholic theologian, Sr. Sandra Schneiders has said: "The Trinity is a lot more than two men and bird."
It did not endear her to heirarchy.