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Did you know I’m moving home in two weeks? Two weeks isn’t very long to completely “finish” researching for my thesis… I’m working my way down my outline systematically, tackling every point before moving onto the next. I think this strategy might work. In any case, when the time is up, it’s up.
Researching and writing about the imago Dei and the Trinity in light of gender should be rewarding. And I think it is… But at the same time, it makes me disenchanted with my faith. And, of course, reading feminist writings reminds me that I believe in a religion that was communicated by men for men, historically. Throughout most of the written record of the Bible, women were viewed as little more than property. And this is the belief system I adhere to? It’s discouraging, to say the least.
One way or another, I’ll pull through. I’ll finish my thesis; I’ll graduate.
And then I’ll escape to Ecuador.
I presented at the gender conference today. And it went great. I was worried that folk wouldn’t get into the discussion or engage, but they completely did! I had great questions, all throughout the presentation, and several of the attendees told me afterwards that they had never thought about the Trinity or the gender of God (as beyond gender) before, or in the ways I was talking about. It felt so affirming. My opening questions did exactly what I’d hoped. I didn’t forget anything. I presented coherently. So glad.
The only bit of constructive criticism, which was really helpful to hear afterwards, was to not apologize for what I’m talking about, but to present confidently. I had to laugh at that bit, because I know my insecurities got the better of me. But it’s so true. You should never apologize for your passion. Everyone knows that I’m not the be all and end all of this topic, and that my views will continue to grow and change as I grow and change.
To reward myself, there is a free outdoor swing dance today, and I am going to go. Woo hoo!
So I’ve realized that the gender conference I’m presenting my paper at is less than two weeks away. What?! My goal is to edit my paper this week, and then be able to finish getting a presentation outline and notes ready early next week, if not this week.
I plan on starting with discussion questions in small groups. Such as: “Does it matter if God has gender?” “Does the gender of God affect your faith?” And other questions I will brainstorm. I’m mostly going to use actual questions I’ve encountered from others. That said, if you have any suggestions (or questions of your own in this regard), please let me know! My topic, if you’ve forgotten, is gender identity in light of a genderless, relational Trinity. The questions will hopefully serve two purposes: they will let me know where my audience is coming from, and they will help my audience start to see their gaps or awareness in this subject. Hopefully we’ll be able to start on the same page, in other words.
I also came across a fantastic blog that briefly touched my topic today, have a look: Be Careful How You Speak. It’s just a really good, practical example of why this stuff matters.
Here’s my paper, in all its glory: Gender Identity, the Trinity and Consumerism. I’d love to write a real paper on Gender Identity one of these days, but this will have to do for now.
Also, you know when you have things you want to talk about, but they just sound like bits of information, because you can’t say the significance of why you’re relating them? That’s when I don’t say anything.
I’m going to bed.
Here is the abstract I wrote for my Theology & Ethics class. It’s a bit longer than it’s supposed to be (I got excited), and excuse the format as it’s exactly how the professor requested. Frankly, I should like to say much more than I did, but I’m already 125 words over the limit. However, I thought you might like to see what I’m working on:
In this paper, I will argue that according to the nature of gender identity as found in the Trinity, it is not only a grievous wrong to view and treat women as commodities, but it expressly goes against the Bible and the desire that God as Trinity has for His created beings.
This subject is important to be personally for several reasons. One, my gender in and of itself makes the study of women and faith of utmost interest. I have long been a Christian, have been a woman my entire life, and have had quite the time of reconciling my gender to my faith. While in the United States, the problem is not even half as prevalent as it is in many other countries (especially third world and developing nations, but also including countries such as China), the attitude that many men, and many Christian men in specific, have toward women is nothing short of demeaning and wrongly placed. Much of it becomes an undercurrent, found in the language we use about God, about gender, about identity in the Trinity, and it undermines the inherent value of the female gender.
Two, I desire for men and women to be equals in faith, to have equal access to the Trinity without barriers. For this to happen, there needs to be a better understanding of gender identity. I would like to be a part of the solution in this widespread misunderstanding.
Three, I do not believe that women were ever intended to be treated as less than equals, but throughout traditional understandings of the Bible and culture, they are frequently treated as property and commodities. Even in the country we live in, as developed as we believe we are, there is still the implication that women are commodities for the express use of the men in their lives. One can find this in attitudes about the roles of women, what women are allowed to do, how women should be in subjection to men. All of these things, and more, set up the idea that men are in control of women, that men have some sort of ownership over women. This is plainly false.
In what follows, I will first develop a Trinitarian understanding of gender identity, primarily relying on Miroslav Volf’s work in this arena. I will then delineate the implications for true gender identity and how that plays out in faith and understanding. Finally, I will address the inherent wrongness of continuing to allow women to be viewed and treated as commodities within this framework.
Can we call the Holy Spirit a ‘she?’ NT Wright does, as do many others. My historical theology professor says ‘no.’ He says that by using the pronoun ‘she,’ we have introduced gender into the Trinity; whereas by only using ‘he,’ we aren’t using gender. That seems problematic to me. (Or, it could be that perhaps I am tired of not feeling included in my religion. I am tired of always being the gender who gets the short end of the stick.) He suggests, for one reason against this, that by allowing the Holy Spirit to be a ‘she’ we open the door to the possibility of the Holy Spirit being seen as a Mother, who with the Father begat the Son. (A slippery slope argument.) He also looks at the history of worship (in that how we worship shows what we believe) and throughout the history of the Church, we have worshiped God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit as masculine. So by changing it, he is afraid we will do damage to our faith.
Can we come up with a gender neutral pronoun, then? I want to be included as much as I am excluded.
One of my friends blogged about this recently. I don’t think he answered all the questions, but I do think he postulated some interesting ideas. Check it out.
I’m not really sure where I sit on this. But I do know that the longer I stay in academic theological learning, the more I want to be recognized by my gender in my own faith. And I’m not sure how that’s supposed to look.