Australia and Contemporary Religion

Wonder Full. The Australian reaction to the terrible attack by a self-styled Islamic extremist was just that – wonderful. At the moment of grief – they deliberately reached out to all in their society, particularly in fact to peaceful Muslims. Peace is surely the anti-dote to terror. We knew that “an eye for an eye” failed over two thousand years ago.

The bearded men (men, funny that..) who machine gun children in Pakistan, hack soldiers in London and behead and sell women in Iraq – aren’t religious – Islamic or any other type; any more than were the IRA Christian Catholics when they bombed civilians indiscriminately.

Vladimir Soloviev put it like this (contemporary for him was the 1870’s):

“ I shall not dispute those who maintain a negative attitude toward the religious principle. I shall not argue with the contemporary opponents of religion, because they are right. I say that those who reject religion are right because the contemporary state of religion calls for rejection.. Speaking generally and abstractly, religion is the connection of humanity and the world with the absolute principle and focus of all that exists. Contemporary religion is a pitiful thing. Strictly speaking, religion does not exist as the dominant principle, as the centre of spiritual attraction. Instead, our so-called religiosity is a personal mood, a personal taste. Some people have this taste, others do no, just as some people like music and others do not…” Vladimir Soloviev. Lectures on Divine Humanity. St Petersburg 1878.

His point of course, is that true connection to the Divine is quite different from a self-styling religiosity. It’s easy to tell one from the other. Peace or war. Tolerance or dictatorship. Social justice or division. Joy or hatred.

As Christ said: “by their fruits shall you know them”. As Teilhard de Chardin said “Joy is the unmistakable sign of the presence of God”.

So – glory to Australia – for their wonderful reaction. Peace, compassion and social cohesion in the face of terror. Thank you. We’re not even on seven – never mind seventy times seven.

Feminine Divinity

The male societal domination of the past thousands of years has led to the casting of God as essentially male. Think Islam, modern Judaism and Christianity as incorporated into the Roman empire. They have excluded the feminine from their portrayal of the  Divine. I hadn’t realised this until reading the work of Vladimir Soloviev, who was led in his Christian philosophy with his encounters with Sophia, who he described as the feminine principle of ultimate wisdom, power and love. He equated this with the Holy Spirit – the female aspect of God. This, for me anyway feels intoxicatingly true.

The equal duality of God as feminine and masculine simply feels right. It is surely a device of man – and I mean male man –  to portray God, or at least the powerful aspect of the Divine as male. With the female figuring as a rib as the revered only semi-divine aspect of a God that is essentially male (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

All of the thinkers at least that touch me – think Jung for instance – point to the dynamic balance between opposites in the creation of reality. Surely then God is as female as male – and mystically represented in their integration.

… and think about a world where there was a true balance between male and female. The stark atheist tyrants of the 20th century were all brutally masculine. Can you imagine a feminine Hitler, Pol Pot, Mussolini, Chairman Mao, Stalin? Can you imagine feminine leaders of IS beheading journalists?

I for one would be inspired by a world where for a century or two we let the feminine aspect of the Divine (within all of us, whether man or woman) lead and inspire us. As Emma Watson points out men have as much or more to gain as women.


*(By the way I don’t in any way demean Roman Catholicism, but rather the take over of Christianity by the political establishment, which Christ would have resisted)