Monday, September 10, 2007
badass listening jesus
i don't know for sure where the image/model of jesus as a nice wuss came from or why it caught on in western culture. i was reading an interview with the franciscan priest, teacher, writer, and activist richard rohr. THAT man is anything but a wuss. he's a badass for jesus. i talked about rohr's insights into masculine spirituality in an earlier blog entry. he says thta the church's spirituality has been around feminine energy. since that's the case, of course jesus would represent feminine energy. long nicely washed and combed hair. gentle features. quiet. receptive. sensitive. like the jesus in these movies. the cross becomes about this poor sweet man. his mother's suffering becomes a major focus.
but jesus was also the tribal god, the hero of the patriarchy, the kingdom, the army, the campaign, the judge, the jury, the boss, the lord. so how does that work? how does the suffering nice man become the tribal god mighty in battle and on Our Side? if we're the empire taking over the world for god (which jesus said not to do), then isn't god on our side? and if we're going to war, isn't god a warrior?
i think some things had split from each other. as rohr says, the two weren't integrated.
so there was the feminine energy expressed in spirituality:
prayer, listening, being good and nice, thinking, caring.
and then there was the masculine energy:
serving on a committee ("i will win that vote!" "let's build something [building, organization, numbers, programs, structures] bigger!") or using god as a weapon to strike down one's enemies. studying, acquiring, teaching, "equipping." spiritual warfare. going to conventions and practicing democracy and robert's rules of order. wearing suits and/or robes. (john gray says in men are from mars, women are from venus that men love wearing uniforms, like cowboy and soldier and superhero and policeman outfits).
in the 60s, something happened. the counterculture movements brought an awareness that many americans just weren't living on the outside - perfect, well-behaved, happy - the way they really were on the inside - angry, stuck, alcoholic, shame-based. and the counterculture's leaders blamed the mass hypnotic trance (rohr's word for it) for enslaving the mainstream culture. we're not all ozzie and harriet, they said, nor do we wish to be. they said that racism and prejudice of all kinds, as well as the desire to rule the world by war, are sick and need to be reformed. enter a more integrated masculine energy, paired with feminine energy, the two twined together. meditation, peace, flowers, activism, confrontation. a significant paradigm shift. our culture continues to respond to that shift.
and so, as culture changed, the church changed (slowly), and the american model of the jesus changed. for a lot of people jesus is still the nice jesus in the paintings and stained glass. but for many people now, jesus has become much more active. someone who fought against the powers that be. a revolutionary. a hippie. a teacher. an exorcist. confrontational. countercultural.
some of that may be due to the men's movement that started in the 1980s as well. and then comes john eldredge and wild at heart and the rise of corporate male weekend warrior christianity, and it spins the other way. and then there's the model of the christian right - we're right and y'all are wrong and we'll make sure you know it.
i'm for the integrated model. how to follow jesus? this jesus?
that's it. listen first. be taught. receive. slow down, stop, shut up. unlearn. break open.
then, act. love. heal. confront the systems that enslave people. forgive. reconcile. make peace. be poor. be rich. be awake. step out.
receive, then respond. and then receive again.
shut up, then speak up. and then shut up again.
the two poles aren't opposed; they become connected. like a healthy human being. both masculine and feminine energy. both action and contemplation. both "come and see" and "i send you out" - things that jesus told his followers.
so, which comes first? they aren't separate. they're the same thing. following jesus involves not just both extremes, but everything in every situation that enacts what jesus called "the kingdom of god" - the life in which god is at work in all things. this requires listening. and acting.