Friday, April 17, 2009

On Beyond Jesus

Many people have already posted excerpts from this, reported by the Catholic Key, which helps explain why some women religious are being investigated:
When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s, they took seriously that the world was no longer the enemy, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed. The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices. The emergence of the women’s movement with is concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls.

As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God. Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it.
I couldn't help but be reminded of a story:

On Beyond Jesus (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Said Sister Androgina Guevara Mao,
(An old friend of mine who worships the Tao):
You start out by studying Adam and Eve
(Though I find that story too hard to believe)
Then you go through the prophets; you study the kings
Who all hated women (misogynist things!)
Some poems called psalms, and some proverbs, and then--
You get to the Gospels; and that's where it ends.
You read about Jesus, you learn His whole story,
With good bits with women, and other parts gory,
And then you should know, from the very Creation,
The whole of the story of humans' salvation.

I was nodding--because that is how it should go--
When she frowned and said sternly: No. Oh, dear, no!
That's what they tell you, that's what they try
To make you believe while you live till you die.
But some of us know this is no place to stop!
I could keep finding prophets and myths till I drop!
You can stop, if you want, with the Lord Jesus Christ.
But not me!
I won't stop here, not at any price!

If you stop here with Jesus, you'll never explore
The non-androcentric religions galore:
The ones that have goddesses, holy and wise
With perhaps a bit more than their fair share of eyes,
The one around Buddha--you really should try it!
If nothing else Buddhism's good for your diet.
And then there are legends of spirits that come
When you carve a big totem or beat a big drum.

So, on beyond Jesus! To Zeus and to Hera!
Don't let a word like "heretic" scare ya.
There's so much empowerment you'll never know
If you stop at Jesus. So go, go, go, go!
Go on to the Norse Gods, to Freya or Thor
You'll learn so much more than you could have before.
Cosmology, circles, spell-casting and chant--
But not the old sort. No, that kind we can't.
We've forgotten the words, if we ever did know them,
Besides, we worked hard so we could overthrow them.

On beyond Jesus! There's so much beside Him!
The gods of the Romans, (though they crucified Him)
Are interesting sorts, like the two-headed Janus.
We'd put up an altar to him, but they'd ban us,
Those narrow suspicious ones coming to check--
They've seen our free writings, but called them all dreck.
They stopped at Jesus, and now you can see,
Just what would happen to you--and to me!
If we stopped at Jesus, and never went past Him.
We'd be just like them--but we will outlast them!

Oh, maybe some orders are doing quite well,
Who stopped at Jesus. It's hard to tell.
They have new members, and growth, and much joy.
But what we have is better. Oh boy, yes, oh boy,
We went beyond Jesus! Our convents are empty,
Young Catholics avoid us, or say things contempt-y.
We have no future, we turned from our past,
We built nothing permanent, nothing that lasts.
But we did explore all the gods ever prayed to!
Except the real God, unless we were paid to.

So what if our convents are left now in tatters?
We went beyond Jesus. And that's all that matters.

I shook my head sadly as she finished talking,
Said my goodbyes, and quickly left, walking
Straight through the big labyrinth inside her foyer,
She shouted at me, but I just ignored her.


Will Duquette said...

Oh, my. That is simply outstanding. Thank you.

LarryD said...

Bravo!! Phenomenal!

Now do "Green Eggs and Ham"...

Rebecca said...

That was really, really funny. Chesterton would have loved it.

freddy said...

I don't claim your lyrical excellence, but that didn't stop me!

The Foolish Virgin's Lament

A chill wind was blowing,
I paid it no mind.
What was beyond!
I was destined to find....
And in the darkness
As I strained to see;
Heard Satan's voice, mocking:
"Out here, only me."

Sean said...

Erin, is that poem your original work? I'd love to share it (with attribution) with my classes if that's o.k. It's terrific.

The big (but certainly not only) problem with feminist and other alternative theologies is the belief that "All have sinned" is an oppressive construct of the patriarchy that doesn't really apply to me.

Red Cardigan said...

Sean, it is my own work, though it's a (brief) parody of the Dr. Seuss book I linked to in the post. You may certainly share it with your classes--I'm honored that you think it worth sharing! Thanks!

Magister Christianus said...

Erin...this is great! Not only is it a fun read, it is also painfully accurate. Interestingly, it reminded me of a poem I wrote back in 1997 called "A Seussian Look at Feminazi Theology." I just posted it at

Francisco said...

This is hilarious! You have a talent for scathing indictment, Erin! (in a good way, I mean)

Maggie said...

This is fantastic. Could you do one about liturgical dancing, too?

Wendy in VA said...

Hee hee! Well done, Erin!

Daddio said...


:) I love it!