The Mail

The Mail

April 29 1996
The Mail

The Mail

April 29 1996

The Mail

The April 8 cover package, “Is God a woman?” provoked an exceptionally emotional response from readers. Several tore off the cover and returned it to Maclean’s with indignant notes. Others wrote that they found the cover so offensive they

threw their magazine in the garbage, unread. Many, however, thanked Maclean’s for raising a complex and intriguing issue. This week’s Mail section is devoted to a selection from the flood of letters that the issue produced.

Your article on the practical implications of women’s spirituality leaves one with empathy towards the feminists. In spite of the archdeacon of York’s literal belief that only men are created in God’s image, isn’t it time that we acknowledged that that belief is the supreme example of male arrogance, conceived long ago when, in our ignorance, we considered Earth the centre of the universe. Our egocentric assumption that we resemble God implies that the four billion years of evolution on this planet has reached its zenith with Homo sapiens and will now stop. Might I ask why religion cannot consider that an omnipotent and omniscient God is synonymous with nature and absolutely beyond our comprehension? Alas, it appears that our ego will not allow us to abandon man’s arrogant self-image of God be-


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cause religions have taught us that we are the whole purpose of this planet’s design. Is God a woman? No, and neither is God a man.

Irving F. Kennedy, Cumberland, Ont.

I received the April 8 issue of Maclean’s on Holy Thursday, the start of the Christian Easter triduum, and the day on which Christ instituted the priesthood. I have no doubt that this was planned as another attack by “the gates of hell” against the church. In light of the person you chose to lead off your cover story, may I suggest that you would have made a bigger impact and be nearer to the truth if you had titled it “From convent to coven.”

John E. G. Stone, President, Society for Catholic Life and Culture, Pickering, Ont.

I grew up with Maclean’s, but the love affair is over. Please stop trying to be so bold.

Ann Topp, Lakeview, N. S. ®

This anthropomorphic concept that a god in its natural state looks like a human being is so patently absurd and medieval that I find it hard to believe anyone could still seriously hold it to be true.

Jeffrey W. Tighe, Winnipeg IS

Who authorized you to denigrate the religious symbols of a nation as troubled as ours? An apology is in order.

David M. Newell, Listowel, Ont.

Thank you very much for the cover story at Easter time. Many of us who have been

Rituals, rites, cults

Those women who turn to rituals, rites and New Age cults in their search for a feminine side to spirituality ignore a fundamental of religion: the belief in the act. Religion is not a trend observed with events and incantations that are amusing as a pastime; it is rather a belief that these rituals are supposed to have a higher significance. Praying to gods that one does not believe exist does not fulfil this role. Those who turn to this New Age spirituality will find themselves no closer to an answer. In addition, neither conservative nor revisionist should read too much into the fact that Christ's disciples were all male. In the absence of a quota system, perhaps the 12 most qualified people at the time happened to be men.

Brad Parr, Cambridge, England m

moving consciously towards a woman-centred image of ourselves appreciated the respect and resultant interest. Having made such a good beginning, I hope that you will continue to review programs, books and other events that represent a major and formative way of viewing women that is healthy and holy.

Betty Donaldson, Faculty of education, University of Calgary, Calgary III

When I became a witch in 1983, joining the tiny religion of the goddess as it then was, the whirlwind had barely begun to blow. I agree with the conservative Christians that images of powerful women and the divine female are incompatible with Christianity: Christianity is patriarchal to the core and has been for virtually all of its history. But leaving women out of the world of the spirit or keeping them subordinate is an obvious travesty. Even more, when all life is threatened by the heedless actions of a humanity that overwhelmingly sees the world of nature as soulless and dead, we need to reawaken the goddess in ourselves. We must find the goddess, the soul of nature, for more than gender justice— for the salvation of life on Earth.

Samuel Wagar, Abbotsford, B. C.

I would like to correct the remark attributed to me regarding the importance for Catholic women of Mary Malone’s decision to rescind Christianity. The isolated remark makes it appear that women are on their way out of the church in droves because Mary has left. That shows great disrespect for the struggle, individually and

communally, of many Christians with church history, language, structure and decisions. It also does a disservice to those who respect Mary, as I do. She speaks straight up of that struggle, knowing that thinking, seeking people will find their own relationship with God. For me, and for many other women and men, that continues to be within the community of the Catholic Christian church.

Louise Slobodian, Toronto

Having read your cover story, all I can say is—I am an atheist, and I thank God for it.

Steve Morris, Wilmington, Calif, ill

I hate to disappoint the ladies, but we in North America, at least, know that God for certain is a man. Why, only a few weeks ago he was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the St. Louis Blues.

Dennis J. Taylor, Campbellville, Ont.

You people ought to be jailed for discrimination against a religious group.

Domenico Celli, Surrey, B. C. Ml

As a conservative Christian, I have become accustomed to my beliefs being ridiculed by the media. This was not the case with your article and I am glad. Frankly, I do not think of God as a man or a woman. God has attributes of both. That the writers of the Bible chose to use the male pronoun for God is something I choose to accept and not tamper with. As a woman, I do not find this offensive: I know that God esteems each woman as highly as any man. Out of respect for the sacredness of scripture, I cannot use the pronoun “she” for God, although I believe that God truly is both my Father and Mother.

Heather Seargeant, Edmonton

The picture on the cover, which gives the appearance of a female Christ hanging on a cross, trivializes Jesus’ crucifixion and

death in a way that is insulting, shameful and disappointing. To publish this cover during Holy Week, when Jesus’ suffering and passion are being especially remembered, hurts Christians in a way too deep to express by mere words.

J. Laurie Hart, Nepean, Ont.

As one who has been involved in the development of the new Presbyterian hymnbook since 1989,1 was surprised to see the word “stormy” used to describe the pro-

The church is better off without these women and their radical views

cess. Beginning in 1991, successive general assemblies of the church have enthusiastically received and approved reports from the new hymnbook task force, including the adoption of guidelines relating to inclusive human language and the use of metaphors to describe God.

Rev. Keith E. Boyer, Convenor, The Task Force on the Revision of the Book of Praise, The Presbyterian Church of Canada, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Superstition belongs to the age of ignorance. It’s time we outgrew this kind of pointless speculation. There are real issues waiting to be solved.

Victoria Branden, Waterdown, Ont.

In one of the five great spiritual sayings of Mahavakya of the Upanishads, the Hindus have distilled this idea down to a more elegant form, namely: “God alone is,” or as I like to render it, “God, all-one is.” And this accords with the Judeo-Christian account, that God created the universe out of

His/Her own self. As such, nothing stands apart from God. As one enlightened yogi once said: “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”

Paul H. LeMay, Ottawa

Never have I heard such slop. The church is better off without these women and their radical views. This new “female spirituality movement” can be summed up in one word—witchcraft.

Melanie Emde, Victoria

I wish Maclean’s would give as much space to defend my God as they gave the female activists.

Herman Rempel, Morden, Man.

Satan is once again using “she” for his misdeeds. Satan knows that man is but putty in the hands of women. We are in the end times, and God did say beware of false prophets.

Paul St. Jacques, North Bay, Ont.

Unfortunately, the concept of one God must include the concept of unlimited existence. To argue gender, or any other aspect of God, is to argue God’s limitations. If God is subject to limitations, the entire concept of God becomes invalid.

Brian Haskell, Penticton, B.C.

Your cover and article sickened and offended me. Anyone who has read anything in the Bible knows that God is always referred to as “Father,” “He” or “Him.”

Doris E. Munoz, Regina

Fitting that your cover story came just three weeks after I witnessed the birth of my first child. I can safely answer this question by saying that if God was a woman, men surely would give birth.

Brian Welsh, Elora, Ont.