#0011 The woman clothed in the sun—the bride of Christ
In a posting a couple of weeks ago, we started to get into some symbolism in the Book of Revelations that we decided was depicting the Church. The symbols we were considering seemed to illustrate not one but two churches. The symbol for each was a woman; but the kinds of women were not only unique and different from each other, they seemed to be opposites. One of the most profound differences was in the depiction of the offspring of each of the women. The first woman was described as, among other things, being clothed in the sun. This woman had newly birthed a male child; he was an infant and he was in danger of being eaten by a dragon. The other woman was described as the mother of prostitutes. This phrase says much, not only does it clue us in on her unseemly character it informs us that she too has birthed offspring. These children evidently weren’t eaten as babies because they had since grown into women. It tells us these women are all prostitutes just like their mother. Today we are going to discuss the first woman and who or what she characterizes.
Before we roll up our sleeves and get into this posting, I would first like to make a couple of preliminary comments related to practices religious organizations or ministers like to use to sell their ideas or their views.
- They use the Bible, chapter and verse as irrefutable grounds for proving whatever they’re spinning. On the surface, quoting the Bible seems like the most logical and practical way of promoting Godly ideals; but if you begin to consider the larger picture—what with all the different denominations, each of whom purport this same Bible, chapter and verse—you can begin to see where this might pose some challenges to those of us who are listening to one of these spiels. Think about this next time you hear someone attempting to shut down any opposition to their tenets or beliefs by simply claiming their beliefs are based in the Bible.
- There are favorite books of the Bible and pet passages that clergy and audience members alike are well-acquainted with. Using these kinds of scriptures a preacher is better able to win over listeners to his way of thinking and his particular theology. The Book of Revelations doesn’t often tender these kinds of sentiments; and the main reason for this is that few people want to wrestle with the symbols and juggle all of their possible meanings.
- They like to proceed from a premise that everything God had to tell humanity is held between the covers of the 1-book Bible. This is a long-long-standing Christian tradition that courses through the central nervous system of its closed theology. But a narrow and confining resource such as the 1-book Bible is apt to find itself strung up and twisting in the winds of technological and socio/spiritual perspectives; so to prevent this from happening this safeguard of the closed canon of scripture had to be established. Once in place, true men of God would be able to select from a smorgasbord of the random smatterings of stories, fables and whatnots that’s supposedly God’s be-all-and-end-all body of comments to humanity. They can make the narrative their own (up to a point) and, though they often do so with great fervor and flare, their messages still tend to come sounding sterol and deadpan. Preaching the word from the 1-book Bible makes there weekly preaching assignments a much more manageable task: hitting dogma highlights, expounding the spiritual significance of tithing and reiterating the same-ole-same-ole. It’s a reference book that makes their job a plug-n-play arrangement; it lets them off the hook of having to deal with the kind of inspiration which emanates from a dynamic God.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record; my purpose for posting concepts that seem to undermine religion and doctrine isn’t to be deliberately vindictive; it’s to point out problems that are damaging to people both inside and outside of the faith and policies that—though they’ve been in place for centuries—have been eroding cultures for as long. My posting process isn’t just about pointing the accusing finger at systems and ideas; it also includes putting up on the table other ideas and applications which might find their way into a newer/better overall Christian narrative. Changing out the in-depth and complex doctrinally-based Christian paradigm with something simpler is the goal. Supplanting our spiritual psyche (thoughts and attitudes) out from the denominational muck and mire which is the current-day church reality then placed into the futile soil of the teachings of Jesus is paramount in the actualization of such a paradigm shift. The great challenge before the communities of believers in Christ at large is to close our eyes to the divisive Old Testament ideas that still cling and creep upon the face of the Mosaic Law then reopen them, as it were, to consider anew the gospel teachings of Jesus. If we can make this happen, our hearts will become free to migrate out of the land of manufactured fear and guilt and judgment and re-settle in a land of authentic peace and joy and mercy. As a collective Christian community this can be our new goal; but we, ourselves must first build the road that will accommodate us on this journey and will accommodate others who will come after us. Jesus referred to Himself as the chief cornerstone. What kind of structure will we build using an inspired blueprint initiated inside this new paradigm? Jesus reframed the Law in the two great commandments; both of which had only to do with love. Who will be welcome to this new community? Jesus illustrated many examples of the basics of forgiveness in the Sermon on the Mount. What empowerments will be manifested within a community of people who know how to forgive themselves and others? The more believers cultivate, feed and water these principles Jesus had always been teaching them, while relinquishing doctrines, the more in kind fruits will be forth-coming. These will become the indicators of the type of community they are. The more of these fruits spring forth the more they will become that which defines the community itself. It’s within this neighborhood of development that a transitioning or a kind of breaking away will occur. As this is happening, the old dogma-laced methods and concepts, once considered common practices and very comfortable, will begin to feel awkward and inappropriate. Like stages of a Saturn rocket, they will have to be jettisoned and allowed to fall back to earth. The old model of discipleship and spirituality—the doctrines and the hierarchy will have become obsolete. This community will be the woman clothed in the sun as John has depicted in the Book of Revelations. And the other communities—the other religious and otherwise communities which haven’t chosen to or have been unable to make this transition will appear to be, by comparison, prostitutes.