I'm still not sure who to direct this anger towards. Maybe it's not the kind of anger that can be directed towards a "who"...maybe it's more suited to be attributed to a "what" instead. What preceded this midnight brawl was a relational experience that brought my mind to the book of Job. I have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with that particular book of the Bible. I have found great comfort in it's presence in the Bible - it showcases the utter despair associated with suffering that makes no sense. On the other hand, I have also wanted to hurl my Bible against the wall when I can't quite make peace with God's words to Job beginning in chapter 38. God begins his response to Job with these words:
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off it's dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were it's footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:2-7)
It dawned on me the other night why this particular book has left me feeling extremely ambivalent. I realized, maybe not for the first time, that experiencing God primarily as male has not only hindered me from developing a deeper connection to God, but it has held my theological imagination hostage for far too long. You see, as a woman I have been on the receiving end of similar tirades from men who believe they are superior many times over in my life. I have experienced the violence of others in a world married to it's hierarchies. And up until recently (as in the last 3 or 4 years) I have been conditioned and trained to perceive God as a masculine figure (a masculinity that is defined by culture of course). After all, "HE" is above and beyond all of creation...right? (side note: so fascinating that in a culture that has had repeated love affairs with hierarchies, we often focus more upon God's transcendence than Gods immanence.)
But this is where I caught myself, I uncovered the nasty trap that I keep falling into. In a certain sense, my experience of the world, or more specifically, my experience of certain men, has led to my own projection of attributes...or attitudes upon God. What if I projected feminine attributes (again, acknowledging the cultural-constructions at play here as well) upon God? How would this impact my experience of the text, my reading of the story and relationship between God and Job. I had a conversation about this particular dynamic with a girlfriend the other day and as we attempted to imagine the tone of this conversation between God and Job things began to shift substantially. We envisioned God as a mother assuring her child of the goodness and the beauty that surpasses the sufferings of the world. She's not shaming her child or putting him in his proper place in the cosmic hierarchy. Instead, she is painting a picture of the beauty of creation in a time before his arrival.
I am a product of a certain cultural context where God has been primarily viewed as masculine. I'm now longing for a season of life where I can see God through a feminine lens. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we trade one culturally-constructed projection for another, but I have been reminded this week of how much our own experiences, our own notions of power, our own ideals and perceptions, influence how we perceive God. In any relationship we seem to struggle with letting the other simply be just that...an other, which in essence requires acknowledging the other as a mystery.