Is misogyny related to homophobia?  We have long noticed that the leading spokesmen against the ELCA gay-friendly policies often sound sexist tones in their rhetoric.  That trend continues with the Lutheran CORE response to the Rite of Reconciliation service in California last week.

The blog of Lutheran CORE offered the following commentary yesterday:

A worship service formally receiving seven gay and lesbian persons as ELCA pastors included elements that many Lutherans would find offensive or even heretical.

The service also included elements of pagan and goddess worship (emphasis added) reflecting the practice of some of the congregations of the new ELCA pastors.

What the blogger referred to as “pagan and goddess worship” were prayers that recognized feminine and other images of the divine.  I guess that can be pretty scary to the patriarchy. 

Here are  the offending prayers; is this pagan and goddess worship?

Our Mother who is within us we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come, your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits and we let go. You support us in our power and we act in courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen.

God, lover of us all, most holy one, help us to respond to you to create what you want for us here on earth. Give us today enough for our needs; forgive our weak and deliberate offenses, just as we must forgive others when they hurt us. Help us to resist evil and to do what is good; For we are yours, endowed with your power to make our world whole. Amen.

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven. The hallowing of your name echo through the universe! The way of your justice be followed by the people of the world! Your heavenly will be done by all created beings! Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth! With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us. From the grip of all that is evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen.

Walter Brueggemann While the image of God as father may be the most prevalent Biblical metaphor for the ineffable and transcendent YHWH whose name shall not be spoken, it is not exclusive.  The esteemed scholar of the Old Testament, Walter Brueggemann, suggests “No noun for Yahweh can be taken at face value; each must be attended to in its rich, contextual density”, and Brueggemann offers the following lists (The Theology of the Old Testament, pp 233-263):

Old Testament metaphors of governance

  • Yahweh as judge
  • Yahweh as king
  • Yahweh as warrior
  • Yahweh as father

Old Testament metaphors of sustenance:

  • Yahweh as artist
  • Yahweh as healer
  • Yahweh as gardener-vinedresser
  • Yahweh as mother
  • Yahweh as shepherd

The Hebrew reluctance to name the one who cannot be named is rooted in the understanding that to name and define is to domesticate and control.  How revealing is it that CORE would claim a metaphor of control as the sole and exclusive way of speaking about the divine? Is it “pagan and goddess worship” to call on other metaphors, especially those of sustenance?