Mmmm. That’s a profound one. It’s an old Yiddish proverb by the way… I didn’t just make it up for the darn fun of it…
And I am being serious. It’s an interesting thought. I’m guessing that it’s making a comment on how societies construct gods in their own image from what they understand of the world. It is very interesting, though, that the proverb has come from a Yiddish context… I’d like to meet a three-sided God. Maybe I should have been born a triangle…
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. What has been going on in the world of religion this week?
Well, the talk of the town is Brangelina‘s adoption of yet another poor, unfortunate soul who now has the golden opportunity to come to the land of milk and honey and paparazzi. Although this is not, strictly speaking a religious event, one could easily argue that Brad and Angelina, both winners of numerous glamour and good-looks polls, are among the new gods created in Western society today. Although they are not quite in the image of many of the population of the world (unfortunately, as that would be a very good-looking society…) they do epitomise the longings of Who Weekly readers the world over.
On a more traditional note, here’s what else has been happening recently….
American ABC News reports on a new movement called GodMen, an uber-accepting, in-touch-their-feminine-side, intelligent group of Christian men whose self-proclaimed mission is to toughen up other men of a less butch Christian persuasion in Group Advocates Macho Christianity. Founder, comic Brad Stine decided one day that he was sick of walking into church and seeing ferns – an icon of sissiness and femininity – and did something about it. GodMen. The new macho way of meeting God. “It’s about men stepping up and being strong again,” Stine said. HUWAH. (That was an ultra macho karate chop, by the way…)
The group conducts its masculine business from a Tennessee shopping mall, performing “daylong sessions of stunts and speeches.” All fern-free.
Men need movements like GodMen because Christians have been taught about a Jesus who’s too nice to be real, said life coach and Christian radio show host Paul Coughlin. The leaders of GodMen contend that church, as most men know it, has gotten too sissy.
“A meek and mild Jesus… eventually is a bore,” he said.
GodMen is inspired more by the Jesus who went after moneychangers with a whip — a Jesus that’s assertive and courageous.
“What we’re saying is that… we’ve been taught the loving guy, the beautiful guy… When we walk into a church, we see ferns. We’re not used to that. We want something that shows the masculine side as well,” Stine said.
Meanwhile, in other news…
The New York Times religion brief was remarkably interesting this week (15th march). That is why I shall proceed to remark on it.
A lot has happened in the sensational world of homosexuality and religion in recent times. The University of Judaism’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles has made history this week by accepting its first homosexual students following a legal upheaval by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards which allows synagogues to decide for themselves whether or not to accept homosexual people. Although the school’s website yielded nothing more recent than a 2005 statement banning the knowing admission of sexually active homosexuals into the school, the wikipedia article on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards enlightens a little as to the details of this controversial decision.
According to wikipedia,
“In December 2006 a majority vote of the CJLS … accepted an innovative and controversial responsum which allows homosexual Jews to become rabbis and cantors, “Homosexuality, Human Dignity, and Halakhah” by Rabbis Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel S. Nevins, and Avram I. Reisner.”
The move reportedly led to the protest resignation of four members of the Committee. However, the article continues that another contradictory responsum was adopted which maintained the traditional prohibitions on homosexual conduct. So I’m not entirely sure what the legal conclusion of the episode was. Regardless, it appears the Ziegler School has made a brave move in accepting homosexual students. Although this may seem a basic civil right to a non-Jewish, relatively queer-friendly society, it is seen as a crucially important move for a traditionally conservative group. As is clearly apparent from the resignation of four members over the decision…
And speaking of basic civil rights… The NY Times brief also reports on the controversy inspired by a Lutheran minister who announced to his congregation that he had found love. Rev. Bradley Schmeling had disclosed (that makes it sound like such a crime, but I can’t think of a better word… Sorry) his sexuality to both his congregation and his bishop before being employed to lead Atlanta’s oldest Lutheran church.
When he made the announcement to his 350-strong congregation, they held a party for he and his partner, however, when church authorities heard, he was asked to step down from his post. His refusal to do so led to a court case which is still in progress. The president of his congregation said before the trial that the congregation wished to keep Schmeling on as their pastor, even if it meant being thrown out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Good for them, I say.