Monthly Archives: June 2019



At first sight nothing might seem more reasonable than the new move among Catholic schools in Australia (and other places and doubtless soon many non Catholic schools as in Sweden ) to introduce gender neutral language around God whom it’s assumed  should be easier by this to relate to. To be dropped are such words as “Father” “Son” and “Lord”. It seems to be assumed, rather in line with radical feminist Mary Daly’s once groundbreaking Beyond God the Father, that such words bespeak only the patriarchy.

Since the bible anyway nowhere categorically states that God is male – there are even places in the OT where God is compared to a mother, nurse or wife, – the new emphasis would hardly strike anyone as an inappropriate adjustment. It can still seem reasonable even though, as Catholic journalist Ann Widdecombe insisted on TV, Jesus always referred to God as his Father  so that should be good enough for us. Even so, we have to consider that Jesus also maintains, God is most essentially Spirit (Joh 4:24). And Spirit is, and is reflected through, certain energies more personal than abstract. Disposing of common names and terms for God risks leaving us with only the impersonal deity of the philosophers.

I suspect that what is going on has more ramifications than meets the eye, and especially for Catholics these may be linked to the Pope’s surprising swerve, signed into being last February with Islam’s leading imam, towards a new ecumenism of faiths with special and surprising reference to the often hostile Islam.  (See article on this site “St Malachy’s Last Pope” )

Before going further, let’s consider three problematic biblical verses for the project of dropping such key, familiar words as “Father”, “Son”, and “Lord”.

“….and every tongue should confess that Christ Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).

“no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3)

“This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” ( 1 Joh 2:22).

These verses accord the “patriarchal”, non PC words a special spiritual status in the realm of belief;  and undeniably, if you aim for a very strong Chrislam union of faiths, Christianity would need to downplay or cancel out especially the third quote because the Koran (Sura 23:91)  is dogmatic that “God has begotten no Son”. Indeed for Islam anything Trinitarian is as good as pagan and polytheistic.

What is Christianity trying to say with and through its “patriarchal” words attached to a religion for whom God is Spirit?

I suggest the matter is a bit confused by the fact the whole of the West (including somewhat St Paul) until the Enlightenment and modern science, had what Thomas Lacqueur would call a one-sex theory rather than a two sex view of reality. Women, like children, were regarded as less and below men but in some sense the same sex; the understanding of human relating was hierarchal throughout. Had there been a two sex theory (as we implicitly assume today) it might  have been possible to speak in terms of something more like a continually interacting, equal but different energies in the style of Yin/Yang.

This doesn’t sound like it would be much help to a Christian view of reality, but in fact it helps quite  a lot and tidies up what might not seem to fit, everything from the Spirit impregnating the waters at creation to Jesus declaring himself subordinate to the Father in John’s gospel and not being the fully, mathematically equal being that Augustinian and western philosophy has made him.

Where sex and gender are  concerned, there is of course a spectrum which contains a fair amount of difference so that male and female display a variety of styles and degrees in expression of their masculinity and femininity; but the core/archetypal energies are, and always will be, basically more or less yang active first and yin receptive. Though God is Spirit and male and female only reflect, imitate or symbolize transcendent divine energies, the fact remains that Yang more nearly “begins” is “first” or creates just as the male impregnates the female, starting a process the female brings to term.

Accordingly, to refuse to admit God is “the Father/Creator” or to think of Jesus as “Lord” can amount to denying God orders things and represents order rather than chaos. The created needs to acknowledge the Creator short of precisely chaos – in contemporary life a fair deal of mental disturbance and crime is associated with males raised without fathers. Though historically women have too often suffered from male domination, the fact seems to be that many men themselves crave some degree of domination by other males. God may be imagined as anything from pure light to a figure enthroned, but a deity without the quality  of an initiating power and authority is no deity, or not one that spirit and soul can ever quite adequately interact with. And it belongs to religion’s duties to help keep the doors to spiritual communication open. Which is something PC revisions may not psychologically and spiritually assist.

A strong case for Christian understanding of the Trinity, especially against the background of our two sex apprehension of reality is as follows. It is not as per Augustinian, western  and less than strictly biblical notions of a total, mathematical equality of the persons, but rather a complementary union and semi-subordination in harmony with statements like “The Father is greater than I” (Joh 14:28).

…………………..GOD (the Father/Creator)


Jesus and the Holy Spirit, both as the Eastern churches even split from the West to affirm, proceed or emanate from the bosom of the Father (who can also be like the Mother) who contains both energies analogous to male and female. (The West makes the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son, which is most unlikely, not least in view of how much Jesus waits upon the Spirit!).  Son  and Spirit are however  the fundamental  ying/yang who together help materialize things “below” the level of the hidden and transcendent deity of which  however they are part. Christ and Spirit  in their different ways are both divine mediators of  the Godhead who being as immaculate as humanity is imperfect, cannot be directly approached or experienced in fullness.

While it is feminist trendy to propose the Spirit is feminine, the Holy Spirit, as Jesus insists (Joh 16:23),  is “he”, essentially male in terms of energy (like the Spirit who impregnates the waters at creation). It is Jesus –  who will do nothing until the father first wills or the Spirit moves him –  who is effectively the female principle hidden in plain view. He is self described as the mother hen who would like to protect Jerusalem and the world.(Matt 23:37). Practically and to human view obviously Jesus is male, the Logos or Word of God. But he is also called by St Paul the Sophia, the Wisdom of God which is feminine. Jesus is a face of, and the principle of “change” within the essentially unchanging deity; he is deity’s visibility and invisibility.  One needs to realize this, in effect a mystical realization in its own right, but as Jesus remarked, “Wisdom  is justified of her children”  (Luk 7:35).

All this and more would be much easier to absorb given only a few mystical and esoteric understandings that Christianity is by and large determined to pass over and dismiss. It cannot be adequately covered here.

However…sufficient to stress that though the historic and sometimes present misuse of terms like “Father”, “Son” and “Lord” can be acknowledged, any easy dismissal of their current usage is still a danger to Christian spirituality.  What has been to many the unexpected Catholic role in this radical change belongs to a wider problem, namely that Catholicism is at heart the least Judaeo-Christian and biblical of the branches of Christianity. It has too often, as now, inclined to impersonalize God, substituting relation to deity for a cult of saints, angels and especially Mary. The latter has received an abundance of titles and roles drawn straight out of especially biblical Proverbs and the Jewish apocrypha where they apply to the mysterious figure of Wisdom. Christians understand this figure to be the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, not any “Queen of Heaven”, a title that especially the prophet Jeremiah denies the right of existence to.

At a certain level, mystically, Catholicism is all of a potential  world faith though scarcely Christian with it but Neo-Platonic in the style of Plotinus.  This thinker would shape Christian mysticism from  St Augustine onwards right up to the popular Thomas Merton who from his many impersonal, as good as non-theistic realizations, easily slipped into the position of virtual or actual Buddhist convert. Questions can well be asked what Catholicism and its controversial Pope is doing and preparing behind its various adjustments to contemporary trends  and realities.


Trust not in princes” is a well known biblical saying (Ps 146:3). But ironically it is among those like evangelicals and fundamentalists who set so much store by the bible and always read it most literally that the advice is liable to be most ignored.

Partly this may be because if you are unswervingly, rigidly literalistic,  you won’t take the spirit of any message and won’t mentally paraphrase a statement like that of the psalm to render it: “trust not in presidents or prime ministers” . Politics is a pragmatic business at best. It’s nevertheless possible for Christians to outright disgrace themselves and their faith in the eyes of society when, through determination at all costs to have “Christian” rulers in charge or absolutist “Christian” policies implemented, they throw uncritical support behind dubious politicians apparently willing to serve them.

Brazil’s rapidly growing Protestant/ Evangelical/Charismatic community never had any business to be supporting the likes of the as good as fascist Jair Bolsonaro who is now the nation’s president. Here was a man who has said he would never give one inch to his nation’s struggling, hard done by indigenous peoples, who is seriously indifferent to the dangers to the Amazon and the environment (he has silenced even his own ministers on this topic) and who has declared (in a country which has held the record for more homophobic murders than any other nation in the world) that he would rather his son were dead than gay.

There is pay day for the kind of mindless Christian voter policy that goes along with this and it occurred recently (on the 24th of last month) when to great ceremony, President Bolsonaro consecrated his nation to the Virgin Mary.

Nothing could have seemed more unlikely and out of character. Bolsonaro  who is married to a Protestant, has attended a Baptist church for a decade and has enjoyed some kind of relation to the Assemblies of God too. But he has never renounced his Catholic roots. So he has now done what will please the crowds  because Brazil, despite its many new Protestants,  is still the world’s largest Catholic nation even if devotion is often wildly syncretic, mixed with all manner of folk beliefs, spirit cults and superstitions. Images of Mary of Fatima now adorn the Presidential palace.

Arguably there is little more in this than pandering to sudden Catholic fears in the wake of the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka at Easter, that Catholics could be at serious risk short of overt dedication to Mary assuring them new and special protections. But many Protestants would insist, not without reason, that authentic Christian devotion today requires renunciation of a Marian cult that has come to obscure what and who Christ represents. (Just how far the obscuring can go I touch on in a recent article related to the Notre Dame fire: “Belated Idolatries and the stunning Stabat” ).

Whatever the precise motivation, I would suggest rather more  than is realized could be involved in the consecration at this point in time. It occurs during the pontificate of the ever controversial Pope Francis and at a period that especially many evangelicals would assume to be end of days itself and approaching apocalyptic and AntiChrist scenarios. (Celestially it is certainly the end of the Piscean era whose beginnings were around the time Christ was born).

As I wrote on this site  in “St Malachy’s Last Pope ringing down the curtain”?, Pope Francis has already opened the way towards a new world religion with special emphasis upon unity with Muslims. And for some time now some Muslims have shown reverent fascination for Portugal’s Fatima shrine (Fatima was a daughter of Mohammed). If there will ever be anything like a world faith and enabled through Rome, it is clear it will be through devotion to an ecumenical, universalized, paganized Mary, not any doctrinal and historical Christ. It has been seen how Hindus who have no interest in Christ can still be deeply attached to Mary as a mother goddess.

The attitude of Pope Francis towards Mary is peculiar. On the one hand he has appalled Protestants by shedding doubt on any claims to personal contact with Jesus while strongly recommending praying and talking to Mary, even calling her Mum. At the same time he has also shocked Catholics as last December when he spoke of Mary becoming holy and perfect, not being, as Immaculate Conception doctrine would have it, born perfect in order to mother the perfect Jesus.

The IC doctrine has always been incomprehensible to Protestants and rationalists – if Mary was born perfect, how and why weren’t all her ancestors perfect too? All humans are said to have sinned (Rom 3:23), so why and, where would the divine-imitating Marian perfection originate? Wouldn’t it be enough for Jesus to be fathered by the Spirit – how far need and should perfection go, especially given that Jesus’ spiritual destiny was, on the cross at least, to himself become sin for us (2 Cor 5:21)?

So…. while IC doctrine bristles with problems for Protestants, even the present pope at a certain level is conflicted about it. It’s just that no element of doubt prevents him from demanding extreme devotion to and intimate connection with Mary whether deemed humanly or divinely perfect, and in a way that will serve his questionable ecumenism of world faiths.

This new aim, however unintentionally, the half Protestant Bolsonaro via Brazil is now helping to make a reality as surely as he will let the Amazon increasingly deteriorate. At the end of the era there are all kinds of pollution, material and spiritual. The Protestants of Brazil have behaved foolishly, even ignobly, and now we see the results of trusting in princes.

 Maryianity: A poem concerning the Virgin: