imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The male God of the desert

by RICHARD RODRIGUEZ Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001 at 3:15 PM

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all desert religions, brother-faiths that are male in imagination and tradition, writes PNS editor Richard Rodriguez. Eventually, their masculine principle will be challenged by a feminine spiritual force that is gathering strength behind veils print article

Since September 11th, priests and mullahs and rabbis and ministers in the United States have officiated at ceremonies of grief. What no priest or mullah or rabbi or minister confesses is how religion has brought us to this terrible moment.

Instead, it was British Prime Minister Tony Blair (albeit within a war psalm) who rehearsed a commonplace about the history of religion: Men have, through centuries, blasphemed the name of God to justify human atrocity. Blair recalled Christianity's Crusades against Islam amounted to little more than rape and pillage.

In Washington, President Bush has been careful to distinguish Islam from crimes committed in the name of Islam. His tact is commendable and shrewd. European diplomats have repeated Bush's assurance that the West is not engaged in a religious war; is not at war with Islam.

The face of bin Laden floats up from his cyber-cave to incite Muslims to war with the West. Osama bin Laden describes America as a "Jewish-Christian alliance." In Pakistan, in Indonesia, crowds of men cheer the prospect of jihad against the satanic West.

I am interested that Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are alike religions of the desert. They are brother-faiths, more like one another than any one of them is like an eastern religion -- Hinduism, or Buddhism. The religions of the desert are alike monotheistic, alike paternalistic. They are male in popular imagination, because male in tradition.

All three religions of the desert are revealed religions. God is an activist God; God works in history; God instructs men how He wishes to be worshipped and God makes covenants with men. In the case of Judaism and Islam, the covenant is cut upon the male organ. Christianity may be a feminine sprig of Judaism, but Christianity definitely found its he-man in St. Paul.

At their best, these three theologies instruct humans not to despair in their lives, in their histories, for "I am with you always."

Rescue workers at the site of the World Trade Center spontaneously erect a cross of tortured steel over the rubble, seeking to hallow a field of desolation. I do not gainsay such an impulse; my own impulse would be the same. Nor would I pause to question the symbol. The urgent thing is the reminder that God lives in relationship to men and women.

But at their worst, the desert religions have taken innocent lives in the name of God. Christian anti-Semitism gave rise to the Holocaust. Jewish settlers in the West Bank today enforce an eschatological claim on the land. Muslims justify murder by calling it jihad.

I was driving a friend of mine, a woman of 80 -- Jewish -- to a funeral two weeks ago. In response to nothing I had said (perhaps it was that we were on our way to a funeral) my friend announced her conviction -- another commonplace -- that the world would, in her opinion, be better off without religion. "I mean all of them," she said. An angry gesture of her hand, still a strong hand, wiped them all away.

As we drove on in silence, it occurred to me that I interpreted what my friend had said as something about men, though she had not said men. She had said "religion."

I think that if theology can inure us to the suffering of others it is bad theology. But perhaps partisan theologians would call mine a gelded theology, for it leaves out righteousness.

In latter days, fundamentalist Jerry Falwell sounded very much like an anti-American imam when he described the terrorist attack on America as representing God's abandonment, which he attributed to the activities of the American Civil Liberties Union, to gays, to pro-abortionists, and some others.

Before he was overwhelmed by a reflux of patriotism, Falwell was seconded by his rival, Pat Robertson. And, for a moment, amidst all the sorrow, the rhetoric, the malaise, Americans glimpsed a likeness that unites Jewish settlers in the West Bank to bearded mobs in Yemen to Christian fundamentalists in Virginia. They are united in their certainty of God's plan and their own situation within God's plan -- a righteous confraternity of hormonal clarity that accounts for much of the history of misery on our planet.

Most Americans are not so certain, though most Americans belong to one of the three great desert faiths. And most Americans, after September 11th, were willing to conflate, to confuse the political with the religious -- whether at street-corner shrines or in response to the oratory of politicians. (At my parish church last week, the congregation sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" during the Offertory.)

President Bush, who describes himself as "a born-again Christian," describes the United States as being on the right side; describes the enemies of the United States as "on the side of evil."

Federal phrasemakers -- who decides such things? -- initially titled the American retaliation project as "Infinite Justice." The title was withdrawn as offensive to "Muslim Americans.") It was offensive also to me. Men, however large their hat-sizes, do not wield infinite justice.

America owes its civic organization to pagan Greece and to Enlightenment France. America was founded as an alternative to the sectarian nations of Europe, where

wars within religions and among religions saturated the soil with martyrs' blood, infidels' blood. Secular America protects and tolerates persons of every faith. The Constitution of the United States protects the right of each to worship God or Goddess or daemon or Redwood Tree or Nothing At All.

For all our tolerance of separate faiths, we behave as though we are oblivious of the ways our religions overlap and imitate one another in sin as well as in goodness. Many American Christians and Jews were shocked by the blowing up of the Buddha by the Taliban government.

But Northern Europe was full of broken Madonnas (the Protestant Reformation). My own church, the Roman Catholic Church, made something of a specialty, during the Spanish colonial era, of erecting churches atop Aztec or Inca temples and calling the practice syncretism.

What alone moderates the three religions I call "masculine" have been intuitions of the "feminine" within each. I speak not of men and women but of masculine and feminine impulses. These impulses, furthermore, are responses to the self-same

God.

The masculine impulse is to stand, to prophesy, to defend the faith, to convert the infidel or to slay him. Prophesy and its interpretation are masculine, as are schism, holy war, inquisition, reformation, excommunication. The masculine impulse will fight to defend its theology against a variant theology of the same God.

The feminine impulse recognizes itself among all religions. The feminine impulse touches bodies, rescues the Samaritan, accomplishes charity, regardless of male permission or orthodoxy.

In my own church, John Paul II has insisted that orthodoxy is male -- forever. My suspicion, however, is that the age of post-modern Catholicism will be remembered more for the tough, pragmatic humanitarianism of Mother Teresa than for the

charismatic, sentimental authoritarianism of the Polish pope, who is credited by his defenders as having, like some ancient Crusader, "defeated" communism. Perhaps our age will be remembered more for the feminine, pan-religious cult of Princess Diana than for either of the above.

The feminine impulse (again, I speak not of men and women) tends toward the mystical, toward listening rather than utterance, toward the imagination of one's neighbor as oneself. Though the admissibility of the mystical tradition into orthodoxy has always been under the jurisprudence of the masculine.

The notion of relinquishing one's will to God -- God as lover, bridegroom, revelator -- is feminine. Joan of Arc is an example of the feminine mystical impulse attempting to enter into the male cult of action. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a heretic.

I find magnificence in the masculine tradition of the great cathedrals and mosques and green deserts and towering Buddhas immemorial; religious universities and their libraries; the human desire to write the summa.

But the summa seeks to limit God by defining Him. What I find abhorrent in religion -- admittedly what we have most sought from religion -- is certainty, refutation of imagination, churches militant.

In many societies, including my own, religion is often and easily dismissed as something for women, and old women at that. Very well, then, why is it that only women know -- another commonplace about religion -- that all religions are one, despite the funny hats; that theological differences are minute, as minute as differences in DNA and undetectable by satellite; that contradictions seemingly irreconcilable can be resolved, as in an arabesque.

Whether one lights a candle at the shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows or at the shrine of an elephantine God, feminine spirituality will acknowledge that the impulse is the same --to plead for the protection of a fragile world.

If we survive the coming war of the 12th or the 21st century among the three desert religions, my suspicion is that a deeper reflux awaits us. The masculine principle in religion will be challenged by a feminine spiritual force that is gathering strength behind veils. And that force might best be characterized as something very like what my friend at the funeral expressed: If religion can bring us to this pass, who needs it?

Rodriguez is author of "Days of Obligation: An Autobiography With My Mexican Father" and the forthcoming "Brown." - Pacific News Service

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Celebrates 25 Years with the House of Hope Gala S24 7:10PM

Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation! S24 11:56AM

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy