I remember, at about 7, living in NJ, pondering the Catholic class teaching that God would punish me if I stepped out of line, especially if I didn't swallow whatever story I was told. As a kid, it seemed to me: Well, God is Good. My dad is good. I would never fear my father's reaction to anything I did. His very intelligent sense of humor seldom let him get angry at me. My dad taught me kindness and understanding as a way to relate to others and he taught me the value of humor in gaining perspective.
Here's an example I particularly love. At 18, a freshman in college, I'm home for a weekend. I'm telling my folks about my first semester and how I met this lovely Black guy who seems fun to get to know. My mother stiffens in her Spanish roots and says; "Pues, no se te ocure traer un Negro aqui que mates a tu padre." (Don't even think of bringing a Black man here, you'll kill your father.) Now my dad is sitting right there with us. I look at him, then I turn to her and say: "De algo se tiene que morir." (He's got to die from something.) I will forever love the memory of my dad totally cracking up, laughing. My mom was not pleased, but we thought it was so funny.
When I ask myself how a supposedly loving father god can sacrifice to gory and early death, his only son, I can only say that the story supports a patriarchal paradigm in which the mother gives birth, but it's the father who makes the decisions and they usually involve bloody sacrifice.
That never made sense to me. My dad would have said, no; if a sacrifice is demanded, take me. I asked myself at that early age, and all the way to the present, how can that be a god of Love? It's love with strings, love you earn by pleasing others and serving the rules. There are a zillion things in the big three patriarchal theologies that a person can do to piss the patriarchal god off, and women seem to get blamed and punished for most of it. The patriarchal gods do not ooze love, no matter how you spin it.
With once exception, ironically enough, the young man who died on the cross, Jesus, (who was sacrificed to appease the Father) taught the most direct road to unconditional divine love that western Christian patriarchal civilizations have to offer. If you stick to his teachings, how can you have hate, war and greed? How can you have disdain for women; Jesus was a feminist. How can you have white supremacy; Jesus wasn't white. How can you be an asshole; Jesus was kind.
Divine Love just is; it finds a way through most things and endures. It doesn't use fear, force, shame and coercion to exact allegiance. For millennia before the "his-torical" rise of patriarchies, cultures celebrated the Goddess as the creator of all things. It's patriarchal thinking that splits us into dualities and calls it reason; goddess religions weren't the flip side of god religions. A divine paradigm that honors the feminine doesn't dishonor the masculine; perhaps there was a greater awareness that what ultimately matters is spirit. What feeds ones spirit is not what one feeds ones body, although one does feed the other. If our ancestors were more aware of themselves as spiritual beings, perhaps there was a common social paradigm based more on a circle than on a pyramid, cooperation as opposed to conquer.
Yet, history is the story told by the conqueror, a spectacular example of this was just set by the US Senate recently. Despite three accusers and his own bad behavior under oath, including perjury, the light shines on the chosen patriarchal son who will carry the torch of righteousness to the highest court in the land.
Patriarchy is the paradigm where any male of any color, rules over women of their own race. It also includes a hierarchy of supremacy based on race. At this patriarchal juncture in time, the white race believes itself dominant, and the white male bastion of patriarchy in America are trying to set American women's personal power back a few centuries. We've had it better than most, but the paradigm they are trying to tighten around us is going to hurt, unless we can change things.
To change this paradigm, we don't have to flip it so that women do what men would do, matriarchy is the patriarchy's idea of ancient goddess religions. Thanks to the work of excellent archeological scholars in the last century, we know goddess cultures did not promote the same psycho/cultural paradigms we endure today enslaving our bodies, minds and souls.
We live in a time of expanding spiritual consciousness that has it's sister parallel in quantum physics. Science and spirituality today are opening doors to mind boggling possibilities. Dreaming is the door I most enjoy exploring, but the fields of exploration beyond the border of patriarchal sanctions are as intriguing as they are numerous.
One example is in medicine; Functional and Alternative practices that are mainstream now offer paths to healing that include spiritual concerns. As beings of light living in physical bodies, female or male, we survive way beyond this particular physical manifestation we're living in a body right now. We don't have to earn salvation, we don't need saving to begin with. We've been taught that because the first humans disobeyed the divine, we are born in "sin." This is one of the doctrines that gives patriarchies the psychic reins to rule us, but it's a made up story.
Spirituality isn't a club the way religion is; spirituality is awareness of the multi-level nature of existence in the physical. For example, by day we live in waking consciousness, by night we live in dreaming consciousness. Paying attention to both is breaking from the paradigm that only waking consciousness matters.
Breaking through our own false beliefs is part of a responsible spiritual journey. If your beliefs justify you judging others and considering yourself superior, let alone entitling you to limit another's freedom, you are deluded in your thinking by a myth that doesn't support Love. If you think that it's ok for men to tell women what to do, for God to be only male, you have bought the story and drank the Kool Aid.
There is no divine right granted to males to limit the life choices of women, and there is no divine right granted to the white race to dominate and limit the wellbeing of other races. If we are, by nature, spirit residing in matter, immortal in a way that is beyond what any of the paradigms used to indoctrinate us suggest, then it behooves us to find out more and stop giving power to these toxic paradigms.
Religion dominates at a psychological level, the state dominates at a physical level through force. When those two branches of patriarchy align themselves completely, wielding the law of force and psychological brainwashing, human beings do not do well. People get hurt, we lose our personal freedoms and choices and we lose our spirit, individually and collectively.
The big three patriarchal religions love to champion men and shame women; the double speak they use to explain the rightness of this is mind boggling. They want us to believe that "sin" is a blemish on our existence, by sin they mean whatever they want. They've distorted our natural inclinations with taboos on our sexuality, creating a morality that usually ends up burdening women in the extreme, but that involves so much distortion of the human spirit that we end up with atrocities like the rate of child abuse in the Catholic Church, the church of eunuchs for Christ.
And what's the myth underpinning this mess? God is a male patriarch, in the big three mainstream religions, he has no partner in the Feminine Divine; in fact, he takes a dim view of women, projecting all sexuality on them, as if it doesn't take two to tango. Men are just duped by women, so they should beware. Adam should never have listened to Eve because she listens to the serpent.
From there the story deteriorates into the God who demands obedience and is willing to use shock and awe to enforce his rule. If my dad was so much better than that at parenting with love, how can God be anything less? My God was always Love, could take a joke and worked with you, on your behalf.
Unfortunately, after more than 6,000 years of patriarchy, that's not the experience of so many growing up, but fortunately, things can change, if we believe they can.
Love is love, it's a practice, not a doctrine. If I've known so many human beings capable of such great love, how can God be any less? In fact, Love is always urging us to be our very best selves.
Love doesn't include treating any other living being as less valuable than me based on supremacy and force. I join William Blake in bemoaning war and it's cost to the young male gender. But patriarchy is the culture of war. If it's the form of social organization practiced world wide, the world order, there will be wars. It's obvious what has to change.
Once you live in more than this world order, once you trust death and your own living path to it, once you believe in the power of Love to teach the way, in dreams and synchronicities and just plain human experience, you need a broader, happier paradigm to walk with spirit on this earth. Once we practice Love, each as much as possible, there won't be any need to follow absurd dictums that are detrimental to both the female and male psyche, not to mention the psyches of our children.
There is no superior race or gender, there is only the human spirit. We probably, as spirit, have lived in both female and male bodies on this planet. The path Of Love never follows bitterness, anger and hate. The path never follows condemnation, subjugation and force. Ask Jesus; what would he say?
Patriarchal religions suck. They are destroying the world. The multi-national cadre in power right now is worrisome in so many ways, but at their root, they really don't like or respect women. Example after example are blatant around the world, but the glaring moment right now is a bunch of old white geezers denying American women reproductive freedoms in the USA, the land of the free, especially the land of freedom from religious dogma ruling all. Sen. Kamala Harris's question to the Republican nominee for the SC says it all; "Can you think of any law giving the government power to regulate a man's body?"
I don't want these wizened old patriarchs making rules that limit the freedom of women in my country. I don't accept their newspeak justifications. They can't plant the flag of theocracy, proclaiming what everyone must do to please Almighty God. Patriarchy is government by patriarchal mysogynists hell bent on controlling women and the surest way is to get God, the Father, to do it. Without the Feminine Divine, women are not equal in the culture; the more constricted women's role is in a culture, the more overbearing the patriarchal God, especially where her life choices are concerned, like her freedom of sexual and reproductive choice. Patriarchy is a very unhealthy organizing social principle.
The good news is that it's a paradigm, thus, it is possible to change our individual and collective minds and thereby, change the paradigm.
Same for planting the flag of privilege over others. We all came in the same spiritual nappies, we each manifested in an assortment of races, gender and places, but we'll all dissolve into somewhere else. Just like we all do so in dreams, regularly. There are so many wonderful mysteries that go so far beyond the dogma and the rigid rules, why should we waste another minute in fear and doubt?
No one is in charge of me and I'm not in charge of anyone. I love to help, as does anyone who practices Love, but I'm also here to learn, to grow and to promote dreaming. I"m responsible for the state of my soul, just as for the health of my body and mind. I must do what I can for myself, especially my spiritual security, and for others, too. Another teaching of all the great mystics is that we are all one in spirit; if spirit is eternal, perhaps it's what enlivens everything, as native Americans taught.
The Fall of the patriarchy would solve a lot of problems. I see the passion in women speaking out and stepping up more and more, everyday and it makes me dream that patriarchy may just fade away, lacking any sense, any rhyme or reason for continuing to be the way we do things. Women and men of spirit and character, with love and compassion, can figure out ways to bring things around.
And if we don't succeed in our own lifetimes, there will probably be even greater opportunities to help once we've crossed; it doesn't end. What we choose to create, we can create, here "as it is in heaven."