Through the writing of Mary Daly (who suggests we call G-d—“The Verb’), black feminist Doris Williams and Alice Walker I’ve deepened my understanding of Jesus Christ this week in my Women & Religion course.
It might be over-the-top tired mumbo- jumbo (I last night I attended the Stop Iran Deal rally in Times Square followed by my brother taking me out for authentic Chinese food in Chinatown) but thought I’d share with you my response paper on a re-thinking of the Christian messiah. Please excuse all grammar etc.!
In the 1970’s, Mary Daly boldly suggested that we start to think of God as “The Verb.” The 1980’s subsequently brought theologian’s Delores Williams’ argument that the depiction of Jesus on the cross was a “reminder of how humans have tried through history to destroy visions of righting relationships that involve transformation of tradition and transformation of social relationships” (Williams,12). This year of 2015 brings a new perspective from this writer. Let’s start referring to Jesus Christ as either “The Adjective” or “The Adverb”. An adjective modifies or describes a noun whereas an adverb does the same for a verb. Through the writings of Daly, Delores S. Williams and Alice Walker this idea of Christ and his relationship to God may (or may not) be supported.
All three women require us to look beyond our traditional conceptualization of Jesus Christ as a human being and more towards as Daly observes a “creative presence of The Verb [that] can be revealed at every historical moment, in every person and culture” (Daly, 71). If the attributes of Jesus Christ are indeed more of an anthropomorphic ideation of God and his message to humankind than perhaps the struggle to accept or not accept him would cease. The patriarchal structure of Christianity would start to deteriorate as we take away its central male figure and leave worshippers with what this writer attempts to acknowledge as an attributional essence.
Jesus the “The Adjective”
To consider Jesus Christ as “The Adjective” we must do two things. First, we must set aside Daly’s language of God as “The Verb,” and resume God’s traditional status as a noun ( a person, place or thing). Doing so helps us better illustrate the adjective qualities of the Christian “messiah.” Secondly let’s adopt the concept that Christ is at least God’s essence in human form. Alice Walker writes in God is Inside You and Inside Everybody Else, that “people think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back” [Walker,104]. She talks about God in an anthropomorphic way supporting his “noun-hood.” Happy, pleasing, compassionate, glorified, atoning and miraculous are all adjectives traditionally used to describe Christ. Christians go even further and use the phrase “Christ-like” to describe those who embody such attributes. To accept Christ as “The Adjective” Christians now have the permission to unburden themselves from the strings attached with his maleness.
Jesus as “The Adverb”
“The Adverb,” aka the entity formerly known as Jesus Christ (yes a play on the musician “Prince”) is supported by Mary Daly’s reimagining of God as “The Verb.” God as a noun was too static and fixed and further deepen patriarchy’s problem whereas a verb is active and flowing. To consider “The Adverb,” we must simply adopt Mary Daly’s language and embrace Christ as an archetype of attributes that God manifests through. If God “The Verb” is: beaming, appreciating, dictating, loving and omnipotent. Than through the manifestation of Christ as “The Adverb” is also: always, everywhere, happily and inside us. Walker’s suggests we get too caught up in the superficial dogmatic concepts of God. This hinders our ability to look around our temporal surroundings and not only observe but feel how its love manifests through the “flowers, wind, water, a big rock“ [Walker, 104]. The teaching of “atonement” can be reinterpreted as an empowering catalyst to end “oppression” as Doris Williams interpreted our sins.
If “The Verb/Noun” manifested itself through The Adverb/Adjective” versus the father-son traditional dynamic perhaps we can finally start to embody the ethereal “new-being” duo’s towards androgynous worship. Then and only then can we start to heal from the constructed patriarchal structure that prevails presently and historically has hindered womankind. “Women though encouraged to imitate the sacrificial love of Jesus and thus willingly accept the victim’s role remain essentially identified with Eve and the evil salvation comes only through the male” [Daly, 77] Casting off the traditional constructs of God and Christ and repurposing his message is unfamiliar but necessary to “castrate” patriarchy and reclaim the voice of all human beings. This more abstract view is additionally supported by Daly, Delores S. Williams and Walker.