Friday, April 20, 2007

More Alastair McIntosh

In his Chapter, 'The Womanhood of God', Alastair McIntosh argues that post-Reformation theology in these islands has been necrophilic: obsessed with death, and what would happen thereafter. It hasn't been about seeing death as reuniting us with the soft soil from which new life can grow, but has been the outcome of fear-driven, victim-blaming, dominator-wins history. This is 'a politically constructed churchianity rather than the spiritual dynamics of cosmic love that Jesus actually taught.'

12 pages later, he quotes Sophia in Proverbs 8 (philosophy: philo - sophia means "lover of the Godess of wisdom").

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth -
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world's first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens,
I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him like a master worker
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.

And now, my children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
Happy is the one who listens to me,
waching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favour from the Lord;
but those who miss me injure themselves;
all who hate me love death.

McIntosh himself said that some of the sentiments expressed in his books would be dismissed by Christians as too Pagan, and dismissed by Pagans as too Christian. But when we celebtrate things, whether our religion, culture or anything else, we often underestimate its unexceptionality. The similarity, and possible universality, is illustrated by the poem that Robert Graves asserted should be the beginning of the study of Englsih Literature, The Song of Amergin. According to legend, it was recited by the Milesians as they first landed in Ireland from Spain to defeat the Tuatha de Danaan and banish them to the world of the invisible (think the line from the Corinthians that's quoted in
Pilgrim's Progress, "that which is seen is temporal, that which is unseen is eternal"). For the second time in the history of this blog, I'll quote the text of the Song of Amergin (there are several translations, this comes from Chet Raymo's essay The Music of What Happens.

I am the wind on the sea.
I am the ocean wave.
I am the sound of the billows.
I am the seven-horned stag.
I am the hawk on the cliff.
I am the dewdrop in sunlight.
I am the fairest of flowers.
I am the raging boar.
I am the salmon in the deep pool.
I am the lake on the plain.
I am the meaning of the poem.
I am the point of the spear.
I am the god that makes fire in the head.
Who levels the mountain?
Who speaks the age of the moon?
Who has been where the sun sleeps?
Who, if not I?

I am the god that makes fire in the head.

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