Mothering The Chosen Ones: A Review of The Story of God

As a Jesus Freak, I always look for Jesus. As a feminist, I always see the women. And there was one woman in particular who stood out for me as I watched the upcoming episode of The Story of God, which airs on the National Geographic Channel on January 16th at 9pm EST.

She was only on the episode for a few moments, and remained silent for that entire time. Men got a lot of airtime in this episode. Women, not so much. Just like in everyday church.

But her face said everything we needed to know.

Because, just like in the Bible, just because women are silent and nameless doesn’t mean we don’t have a huge part to play in God’s story. We are the mothers, the life-bearers, the holy hookers who rescue men in baskets. We are the healer of wounds, the hands that rub the spices on the dead bodies. It is our hands that prepare the meals around which communions happen; it is our money that supported the most famous ministry of all.

This episode of The Story of God profiles (among others) nine year old Jalue Dorjee, who many Tibetan Buddhists believe is a reincarnation of a guru who has been returning to earth for centuries. He lives with his parents in Minnesota, where they moved from Tibet in 1999. But when Jalue turns ten, he’ll leave his parents to go live abroad, to continue his studies and life as a Buddhist monk.

As Morgan Freeman spoke to Jalue’s family about his impending departure, his mother’s face was tight and stoic, her eyes downcast, her mouth set. The expression of sacrifice, of mothering the chosen.

My mind immediately went to Hannah, who longed for a son and then, when she was finally blessed with one, weaned him and left him at the temple, a spiritual and emotional sacrifice to God.

And of course, I think of Mary, who bore her son with very vague instructions from the Big Guy Upstairs, and in the face of great personal danger. She bore her son, and he taught us all how to live before He died. But I can’t imagine what Mary felt as she saw her boy tortured, humiliated, and nailed to a cross.

Sacrifice is a theme in this episode — this idea that all religions have A Chosen One — one who sacrifices for the common good, who bears the weight of the community. We see the (male) Christian missionary who went to prison for spreading the Gospel in North Korea. We see the Shia men (all men, not a single woman) commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who sacrificed himself for his faith. We see Taoist mediums (male) pierce their bodies with swords to call down blessings for their town.

I can’t help but wonder here: Does God really only choose men? Or does society only choose to see the men that God has chosen, and not the women?

I also can’t help but notice that in the Biblical story of God, if men do the personal sacrificing, it’s women who are losing them to their ministries, giving up their babies in service of the Lord. So if we are created in His image, male and female we are created, women of the earth are the maternal God image, the ones whose children are being torn from them, separated from them, and sacrificed.

God loves his son Jesus, and I believe that Jesus’s sacrifice was incredibly painful for God the Father. And it was painful, too, for God the Mother, the female aspect of God of the Angel Armies.

Like the men in this episode of The Story of God, the paternalistic nature of God gets a lot of airplay in the history of the world. Look at our patriarchy and our chosen ones — spiritual, political, relational. Look at the way our stories name men but not women. Look at how many people will freak out because I said God the Mother.

But the women are there, too, if you look. We’re there, doing the work of our hands, stoic and strong, sacrificial and holy.

We’re there, in the history, mirroring God in the story of the earth, the maternal creator, made in his image. And when we pray, and when we cry out to God in our mourning and loss, we whisper to our father, I get you on this, God. Because I know you get me, too. Look, now, at our sacrifice. Look at what you did for us — for all of us. Because we are all chosen. 

And soon, the resurrection.


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  • I love this! Thank you for the courage to call God Mother. It matters–to Her and to women and girls everywhere.

    • It’s so true, Susan! We forget about the maternal aspect of God, and by doing so we ALL, men and women alike, lose out. But Her maternal nature is clear in Scripture. 🙂

  • jekylldoc

    Of course God is a mother. Domination and aggression are spread by violence and arms. Caring and faith are spread by feeding, soothing and inspiring. With all due respect to men who have seen the importance of holiness and non-violence, women have been at the center of God’s presence and promises since the beginning.

    • It’s true! We have been there all along, and it’s so unfortunate that society chose to not record much of our stories, or when they did, they chose to either leave us nameless or change our names to masculine ones. It’s one of the things I love so much about Jesus — his subversive nature. 🙂

  • candide

    The only god we can find is the creator God. the God of Christians, Jews and Muslims is a fantasy.

    • I am not sure I understand what you mean by “the creator God”, or how that is different from the God of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Can you please explain?

      • candide

        The Creator God is the God of Deism: he created. But he does not hear or answer prayers; he does not concern himself with people. He is the god of our Founding Fathers.

        • Thanks for the clarification. Of course, we don’t share the view that my God is fantasy, but I appreciate the info! 🙂

          • Alicia Poore

            Bible was written by man not a Creater of the universe. And Constantine made Jesus a god!

          • Thank you for your opinion. Respectfully disagree (obviously). Much love.

  • James

    It’s too bad that history has missed out on the strength and courage of women who have had to live their faith in silence yet endure more hardship than men could handle.
    This was a question I thought of a couple days ago in relation to evangelical/fundamental views, If men are the only ones that can lead in church or temple and are the supposed preachers and priests does that mean that a woman can’t know God as fully or deeply as a man?