I’m really sick of hearing about “the Mind of God.”
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that God the Mother and God the Father are brainless. I’m saying there’s a lot more to our Divine Parents than 100% pure mind power. Well, sure, you say, of course God is more than just mind power — God has a loving heart, too! And you would be right . . . except the church wouldn’t agree with you officially. Off the record you’d probably get some senior church officials to agree with you that God has both mind and compassion. And lots of regular Christians instinctively understand this. But none of the mainline churches, either Protestant or Roman Catholic, have yet been willing to reexamine their official belief systems about God’s “substance.” As far as the church is concerned, God is a transcendent and trinitarian being who values “reason and righteousness” above everything else. God is “oneness” with three different forms of expression. This “oneness” is serene and detached and highly logical — just the way Plato described God four centuries before Jesus!
This portrait of God is very convenient, because it gives people an excuse to ignore the reality that God has feelings. According to the church, however, God doesn’t have emotions. Therefore nothing you think, say, or do can make God cry. You can make God angry, says the church, but that’s different. God’s anger is simply his (its?) logical reaction to your disobedience. There is a divine books of laws, you see, and even God is required to follow those laws. It’s all very logical.
Not only do I personally disagree with this assessment of God (because my work as a mystic has shown me a very different understanding of God), but I also think that Jesus himself was teaching his followers that God is more than pure, transcendent “Mind.” I think Jesus knew about the Platonic teaching of God as “One Mind,” and I think Jesus was trying to overturn this idea. I think Jesus was talking in a truly radical way about God as a “he and a she” who together watch over all Creation: Abba and Ruah.* Why do I think this? I think this because the Gospel of Mark says so.
Biblical scholars who study “the historical Jesus” have often tried to figure out what Jesus actually said and did that could have provoked such a strong reaction among both followers and adversaries. Some of these scholars see Jesus as an unextraordinary wisdom sage whose “golden rule” teachings weren’t much different from the teachings of his contemporaries.
While it’s certainly true that “golden rule” teachings had been around for centuries before Jesus taught and healed in first century Palestine, it’s not true that Jesus’ own understanding of God was a rehash of older ideas. Jesus had a unique understanding of God. It might be called “Modified Monotheism” — but it certainly wasn’t the monotheistic understanding of Judaism’s post-Exilic Yahweh, nor was it the monistic understanding of Plato’s Divine Truth. Jesus’ understanding of God was novel, untried, and inflammatory. That’s because Jesus thought of God as two people — a Mother and a Father — whose chief attributes were not transcendence, power, and Mind (as in both Hellenistic philosophy and in Second Temple Judaism), but instead were immanence, trust, and Heart.
True, there had been a minority religious voice in Judaism that saw God as immanent. But in the Zion Covenant of early Judaism, this immanence meant something particular: it meant that God physically lived in a specific location on Mount Zion. Since God had chosen to live in the temple built on Mount Zion, great status was conferred upon the people of the Zion Covenant.
This idea of God living on a particular mountaintop was not unique to early Judaism. Other Ancient Near East religions taught the same thing, except that the holy mountain where God lived was, of course, a geographical site within their own political borders. Yet in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 9:2-9), Jesus rejects the idea of living on the holy mountain in the company of Judaism’s revered prophets, Moses and Elijah, both of whom had followed a spiritual path of ascent. For far too long, Christian commentators have overlooked the significance of this passage in Mark. They focus on the fact that Jesus suddenly appeared in dazzling white clothes, but they forget the fact that Jesus wanted no part of the holy mountain.
For Jesus, who spent little time in Jerusalem (Jerusalem, not coincidentally, was the site of Mount Zion), the traditional claims of a male god who lived exclusively in a man-made temple were nonsense. For Jesus, the distinct male and female attributes of God were visible everywhere. So, too, God’s emotional attributes were visible everywhere you looked. How could people look at the wonder of all Creation and believe that God had no feelings?
For those biblical scholars who wonder why Jesus provoked such a strong response in people, they need look no further than his teachings on the nature of God. Even today, people are infuriated when you tell them that God is not a distant, unemotional, trinitarian “he,” but instead (and quite obviously) a “he and a she” who together infuse their love, courage, trust, devotion, and gratitude into everything they create. (Take the Son out of the Trinity, and what do you have? Abba and Ruah, except that in Jesus’ time Ruah was always feminine!)
That’s why I can safely say that “God don’t make no junk.” Our God is way too amazing to allow something so stupid as the “law” of Original Sin.
To our beloved Mother and Father I want to say to you today and always . . . you both rock!
* Abba is a masculine-gender Aramaic word for “father” or “papa.” Ruah is a feminine-gender Aramaic word for “breath, “spirit,” or “wind.” Because words in the English language don’t have gender, English-speaking people often forget that gendered languages give subtle shades of meaning through the choice of nouns. As in Romance languages such as French, Italian, or Spanish, the gender of the noun (that is, its status as male, female, or neuter) determines the conjugation of other parts of speech in a sentence.