It’s just not cool to be a Christian. I went to Integral Spiritual Experience (ISE) over the New Year – 500 people from about 30 countries, representing dozens of religious traditions. Studying, practicing, talking with these people, deepened my decidedly Christian faith. Still, I was knocked off balance by the following, recurring conversation. “What do you do, Sam?” “I’m a Presbyterian minister.” (awkward silence) “Really?”
God help me; why didn’t I say, “I teach meditation at a Vedanta center.” I suspect the response would have been, “Cool.”
Why Christianity is so un-cool? To be sure, there are dozens of reasons. Christianity has done a pathetic job of recasting a beautifully graceful image of God into the modern world. And let’s face it, Christianity has had an unhealthy relationship to power. While at ISE I began considering another dimension of that.
Warren Farrell, the only man elected to the board of NOW twice, and Marc Gafni, D.Phil., taught a seminar aimed at restoring the masculine. To be clear, they are talking about masculine and feminine, and specifically not about males and females.
Our culture has spent the last 60 years or so moving ever so slowly towards the restoration of the feminine. This has meant – appropriately – deconstructing masculine energy run amok. Now however the masculine needs some restoration of its’ own. They were talking about a healthy masculine, not some perverse resurgence of misogyny. Please God, let’s leave Mad Men in the past.
But as they spoke, it occurred to me, that as we deconstructed the masculine, Christianity became very un-cool. I’m wondering if the two are related.
Christianity describes a masculine God. “He” actively inserts “himself” in human affairs, speaks creation into being with a word, and insists upon clear boundaries – all masculine energies.
This is the god of the “revelation story,” and this god differs from the god of the “enlightenment story.” That god includes us in the evolution of new creation and seeks union through ever widening circles of care. I know I’ve overstated the difference; certainly each “story” envisions a god with both masculine and feminine aspects, but nevertheless, I think the basic point holds true.
I’m not advocating for a God who does everything while you and I, useless, miserable sinners that we are, do nothing of value other than receive the grace of God while living in abject fear of incurring his wrath. Still, as this view of god has been, appropriately, deconstructed, we’ve lost something.
I worry that we’ve lost a clear vision of grace. For when that happens, we will lose the freedom of knowing that whether we meditate enough or not, whether our theology is right or wrong, whether we are awake enough or not, we cannot keep God from being God. God continues to speak creation into being and, working in communion with the feminine, brings about the next beautiful moment of creation into being. It’s good news. Really.
What thinkest thou?
Sam Alexander is Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, San Rafael, CA. Visit his Patheos Expert Site here.