I woke up this morning from a dream, which amused me enough to try and recall elements of it and share it with you.
Basically I was having a light-hearted bit of banter with a woman who may well have been a feminist, but somehow it kicked off with my assertion that God was clearly a man. This clearly outraged the lady in question who demanded proof and so I started.
‘Well obviously God is a man because he is always referred to as “The Father”. Nowhere do we have prayers that start “Our Mother which art in Heaven”. Nor does any of the Bible ever refer to him having irrational impulses every 28 days or so.’
‘It is for that reason that there have never been any female Popes (apart from that rather sneaky wench way back in the middle ages, good old Pope Joan). In fact even this is a bit of mythology as it turns out. It is also a myth that every subsequent Pope is carried without any undergarments so that all the Cardinals could check out his credentials and declare “Testiculos habit et bene pendents!” “He has testicles, and they hang well!”’
By now I was well into my stride and carried on with a whole list of male based myths such as the fact that Eve was made from the rib of Adam, so clearly God had made only Adam in his own image. (I seem to recall that bit of nonsense from an early catechism class, so please do not beat me up for it, OK!)
God is also quite capable of making hard and fast judgements and certainly in the Old Testament was never going to try and see both sides of the story. I mean if God had been a woman then she would never have allowed Noah to build an Ark without provision for such creatures as the duck billed platypus. No wonder the poor creature is so confused all the time.
It is clearly a mammal, but it lays eggs and is also the only venomous mammal around. In dreamtime legends of the Aboriginals it is thought of as being a cross between a duck and a rat. In fact they do say that it was invited by all the various animal groups to join them but decided to stick on its own.
Now if God was a woman then she would have clearly counselled it and explained how important it was to be part of a group so as not to face extinction pretty swiftly. Then we would have had something far less deranged and marginalised. But as God is a man he clearly said “Well it’s your choice buddy,” and left the platypus to its own devices.
Once again, if God was a woman then wars would have been forgotten millennia ago. We would simply have had intense negotiations every 28 days, with tears and apologies a week later! That is unless someone had made particularly bitchy remarks about weight issues in which case you can be sure that famine would be high on the agenda for whoever it was who made the unfortunate comment.
I carried on in this vein for quite some time in my dream and eventually managed to have the lady laugh sufficiently so that she asked if I was going to turn this into a stand up routine. Fortunately that was when I woke up and so you will be spared my appearance on the comedy circuit.
It did however remind me that the idea of God as a man is actually a pretty recent concept. By recent, I mean basically from the beginnings of Judaism and the other religions that have sprung from that root.
Previously in most religions God was almost invariably a woman. In fact all the more productive and benevolent societies before the Judaic tradition were matriarchal. Fertility was highly regarded and women headed the hierarchy.
In fact at the oldest known religious site Gobekli Tepe on the Syrian-Turkish border, a temple complex almost 12,000 years old, there is a raunchy image of a woman ready for action! After that you have plenty more, from Isis in Egypt, Cybele (‘Great Mother’) in Phrygia and Gaia in Greece.
But this is no golden age headed up by gentle, maternal Goddesses. These Goddesses had a lot more going for them and were much more dominant, as befits a God of course! In fact they were often depicted as fierce, sexual and voluptuous, inspiring both reverence and fear.
Another characteristic of divine women has been a delight in wisdom – virtually all deities of wisdom, and their acolytes, are female. Curiously almost all the male Gods tended to be much more interested in the brawnier side of things, from slaying to general conquering. You certainly don’t have major Gods delighting in settling down with a good book.
But don’t think that the idea of female gods or Goddesses is limited to ancient times. Indeed in some parts of the world, Goddess worship is still alive and thriving, just think of India where Kali and Durga still have millions of followers.
I had better finish now before this becomes too thoughtful. But I will leave you with the single biggest argument that God is a man. Any self respecting woman would have made the birth process far less painful and she would certainly have come up with a far more sensible solution than menstruation. Either that or she would have made men give birth, just to balance the pain scales!