This one is for the ladies

June 30, 2007 at 6:53 am 38 comments

Okay, the guys might be interested too. goddess_1.jpg

I thought I would share what finally broke me entirely from Christianity. I was reading a book entitled, “When god was a woman,” by Merlin Stone in which the author assembles some very strong evidence to show that early humans in the near and middle east worshiped female deities, lived in matriarchal societies and used a matrilineal line for determining family descendency and inheritance.

That in itself is very interesting. However, I then found out that the northern patriarchal tribes invaded these lands they brutally wiped out all goddess worship and replaced it with their warrior god. Thus, the beginnings of Judaism.

goddess_2.jpgIn fact, when you read in the Old Testament about the many cities destroyed by the Israelites at the behest of their god, those cities often worshipped female deities. The Israelites were supposedly told to kill everyone in the city as they conquered the lands because they worshiped pagan gods.

The truth, however, is that these were the goddesses who were worshipped in the near and middle east for thousands of years – longer than christianity has been around today, according to the author of this book.

goddess_3.jpgI struggled my entire life to be this good christian woman who submitted to her husband, but I just was not that type of person. I am a born leader and believe in equality between genders. So you can imagine how out of place I was in traditional conservative Christianity.

When I discovered that at one time there was a religion that supported my feelings, I found it quite enlightening. I was also very ticked off that I was never allowed to have a female deity to worship if I chose to do so. But more than anything, it was when I realized that long before the god of Christianity existed, there were hundreds – maybe thousands – of other gods that I realized religion was all myth and no substance.

goddess_4.jpgThis book might help others find the courage to finally cut that final thread that holds them to their religious upbringing. After all, when you are taught from the cradle to believe in something that you can’t see – it is very difficult to leave it all behind.

-Stellar1

Entry filed under: Stellar1. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Calvinism reconciles the character of the God of the Bible Christianity and the use of Anecdotal Evidence

38 Comments Add your own

  • […] This one is for the ladies […]

  • 2. rebecca shannon  |  June 30, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Great post!

  • 3. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 30, 2007 at 9:57 am

    steller1,

    I too read Merlin Stone’s book and along with Sjoo and Mor’s book “The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth” and Riane Eisler’s book “The Chalice and The Blade” I was pretty much convinced that there was a concerted effort to “kill” the Goddess in history. I was also pretty much convinced that the God of the Old Testament was one in a long series of tribal Gods attempting to wipe out all previous traces of what went before, especially if it gave women any power whatsoever. I couldn’t recommend these books highly enough.

    Here’s a revolutionary passage that literally shook me out of my blindness, from Sjoo and Mor’s book about the conquest of Christianity and it’s hold over people. (the word “sin” derives from the Latin word “to be”):

    “The Christian dream has already been written, from beginning to end. It says that only one life was worth living, and it’s already been lived, and it was his. The best believers can hope for is an imitation of Christ. Christianity promises to save the human soul; but, in fact, Christianity exists by saving humans from the experience of their own souls. If we will forfeit our own mystical journeys through the world, if we will give up the dangerous adventure of discovering and creating our own consciousness-in-evolution, Christianity will give us, in return: a script about Jesus. And this is the only choice Christian ontology offers: One can spend one’s life risking the sin of being, or one can submit, and spend one’s life following a dead script. The tragedy of Christianity is that it has kept untold millions of human beings from sinning, i.e., knowing their own souls. For it is life that Christianity promises salvation from–from life directly experience, for the first time, without the stale safeguards and blinders of a prefabricated script. (page 343)

  • 4. stellar1  |  June 30, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Wow, what a powerful passage, MOI. The Chalice and the Blade is on the top of my booklist to buy.

    I have seen some sources (like Wikipedia’s entry on Stone’s book) that call “When god was a woman” unscholarly, but then I have to question the motive behind that entry too. Wiki is not an unbiased source of info.

  • 5. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 30, 2007 at 11:22 am

    stellar1,

    It’s common practice to label women’s scholarship “unscholarly.” It’s a way to make sure that women do not encroach upon male domains. The quote above is from “The Great Cosmic Mother” by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor. That’s EXCELLENT as well. I wrote my Master’s thesis on the concept of the female hero (not heroine) and what that means as a female archetype to rival the male hero in Greek myth and also the Jesus as savior archetype. These women’s books were invaluable for that.

  • 6. John  |  June 30, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Your experience with Christianity was an unfortunate one. You were told that you couldn’t be who you were made to be because it didn’t fit with the “traditional Christian” model. Sjoo and Mor’s opinion of Christians living by a “dead script” is evidence of a similar experience. To say that “The Christian dream has already been written…only one life was worth living, and it’s already been lived and it was His” is a complete lie. This so-called Christianity is a dead religion, a set of rules that condemn the soul. A true Christian knows that religion is no longer needed; it is relationship that truly matters. The rules defining faith are no longer left up to an establishment, they are determined by your individual relationship with God.

  • 7. karen  |  June 30, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    That’s a fantastic quote, MOI, thanks for posting it! That one goes in my file. I had never thought of it that way, but that’s really so true.

  • 8. Heather  |  June 30, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    What I found most fascinating about the book is the fact that the serpent was considered a feminine symbol, and a source of wisdom in the matriarchal cultures (something along those lines. It’s been a while since I’ve read it). So I found it *incredibly* convenient that the one animal that tempts Eve happens to be a serpent.

  • 9. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 30, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Heather,
    Yes, in her book Adam and Eve and the Serpent, Elaine Pagels explains the real meaning behind the myth in Genesis. The serpent is always associated with women’s wisdom, but the male writers of the Old Testament had to portray the serpent as an interloper in the garden of their tribal god. Therefore, when Eve listened to the serpent for wisdom, as she should be doing, she angered the male god who banished her from his garden. It was probably the best thing to happen to the first woman in mythic terms, because then her eyes were opened and she wasn’t fooled by this god again. :-)

    Unfortunately some are still re-enacting the garden story over and over to no avail. Hey, step through the gate ladies!! It’s great out here!

  • 10. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 30, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Karen,

    Yes, I loved the book, which is full of such wisdom. It opens our eyes to numerous things men want kept hidden away.

  • 11. stellar1  |  June 30, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Speaking of things *christian* men want to keep hidden away, ask me how much I would love to share the information from that book with all of the christian women I have known throughout the years.

    Some would reject it, simply because they are told to do so, but others would give it some thought and a light might come on for them too.

  • 12. agnosticatheist  |  June 30, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Here’s a quote from Brad’s introduction blog to his Top 26 most influential thinkers:

    First, a couple foreword notes. I stated my age, sex, and geographical position for a reason. This is my list of influential people. It is of no use to others other than to be used as sparks of curiousity. It is not meant to be my view of who are the most influential people that have ever lived for everyone, but who are the most influential to me. That said, you will regrettably not find many women or thinkers outside of the western intellectual traditions. The majority of my studies have been in religious traditions and western philosophy, both of which have been notoriously patriarchal (although I do love Virginia Woolf’s quote, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”).

  • 13. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 30, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    aA,

    Oh, how you love to stir the pot! I think I should share my list of the most influential thinkers in my next post!

  • 14. stellar1  |  June 30, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I suppose here is a good place to say that Stone asserts that it was during the matriarchal system that writing was invented, humans learned to till the land instead of just hunt for food, and justice systems were initiated.

    On the contrary, the patriarchal systems of the northern tribes had none of this when they invaded these civilizations.

  • 15. laura  |  June 30, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Interesting post. The goddesses did exist in early agrarian societies and were the main deities worshiped at that time. But I think it is a mistake to completely blame Judaism for their demise. Gods and goddesses have taken different forms to meet the needs of the times. In the hunter/gatherer period, the gods were most often animals or the sun or the moon. In agrarian times, the gods were personified females – fertility/birth, etc. That the goddesses were wiped out in favor of gods wasn’t the fault of a religion but was the workings of a government administration that was trying to create civilization. Monotheism (loosely translated) came into existence with the creation of civilization. Most civilizations made this shift by organizing the gods into pantheons and assigning one god as ruler over all of them. But this was difficult to do in the middle east because there were so many different divulgent cultures So they created One God and declared all the rest blasphemous. But this didn’t happen until way late in the history of Judaism. Not until the Jews had almost been completely wiped out by the Babylonians. Abraham’s God was a pluralistic God (a god cloud, so to speak) and contained female deities. Sophia (wisdom) was a major figure within Judaism.

    As far as Christianity goes, clearly the early Christians did not discriminate against women and many held services. Mary was likely a disciple and most definitely was not a prostitute. Whenever there is an administration that wants to gain control of the people in order to get them to buy into a particular way of life, they do it through the manipulation of religion. Unfortunately, administrations have been predominantly male in the civilized world.

  • 16. Stephen2  |  July 1, 2007 at 6:46 am

    Good post. Your comment:

    … these were the goddesses who were worshipped in the near and middle east for thousands of years – longer than christianity has been around today, according to the author of this book.

    reminded me of one of Internet’s must-read essays:

    The proper reverence due those who have gone before

    If you haven’t already read it, do so. You’ll be glad you did.

  • 17. stellar1  |  July 1, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Stephen,

    I just read that essay and I am totally blown away. Thank you for posting it. It certainly puts things into perspective.

  • 18. notabarbie  |  July 1, 2007 at 10:05 am

    What an amazing essay–so thought provoking.
    Stephen, thanks for sharing the link.

  • 19. Thinking Ape  |  July 1, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    MOI: ‘It’s common practice to label women’s scholarship “unscholarly.”’

    Hmmm… This sounds like something I’ve heard before… like maybe in evangelical circles.

    I apologize in advance for my candor, but this simply is not true. I have been in feminist groups for a long time and not many of them would ever take the stance of the persecuted scholar. This mentality has actually hurt women’s studies more than anything.

    Rather than going out and following the rules of academia, which thousands of female scholars do, you get the odd un-scholarly one that wants to make sensationalist headlines. To think this is exclusive to women would be unfair – just compare it to the pseudoarcharology of Graham Hancock, Semir Osmanagić, or *shudder* James Cameron.

    There is no doubt that the Yahwehist religion of the Hebrews was just one of many, and probably evolved from the Egyptians and incorporated Canaanite religion.

    The fact is, we have very little artistic (Stone’s area of expertise) or textual foundations for anything about ANE religions. What we do know is that there were many female fertility goddesses and even some female warrior goddesses – yet like Hindu’s multitude of divinities, these female goddesses were always overshadowed by many more male deities.

    This, of course, is not an absolute, since there was never one over-arching ANE deity system. The closest system we have before Constantine was the emperor worship in Rome (and maybe Alexander’s attempt).

    Anyway, back to the scholarship. Whenever something comes out about the ANE it is almost always sensationalist because we very rarely have any new evidence coming in. Revisionist history can create power-inducing myths, but do women of today really want to be empowered on such shaky grounds?

    My point is, don’t fall into the same trap that the theologians do: “Everybody says I am unscholarly because I am ‘x’.” In academia you cannot simply say someone is unscholarly – you have to prove it.

  • 20. Thinking Ape  |  July 1, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    P.S. My post was not to take away from stellar1’s de-conversion experience. Although, through my research, I believe the details are false or exaggerated, the means can justify the ends as a consciousness-raising experience. I would just be careful in holding on to revisionist history – thats how religions are created.

  • 21. My Cervix, Myself « The Grumpy Humanist  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:01 am

    […] out this great article by De-Conversion, which says it a hell of a lot better than I […]

  • 22. James  |  July 3, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Why does everyone keep saying this book is labeled un-scholarly simply because the writer was a woman? If you actually go and read reviews of it, you’ll see reviewers complaining about sources, history that’s plain wrong at times, and how the book breaks down at points and just bashes “male run” religions.

  • 23. Thinking Ape  |  July 3, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    James, no one is saying that it is un-scholarly “simply because the writer was a woman.” It is unscholarly because it is un-scholarly. In fact, the vast majority of books on the shelves of your bookstore are un-scholarly, even if they are written by an academic. No one would consider “The God Delusion” a scholarly work. It isn’t peer-reviewed. The thing is, it isn’t meant to be a scholarly work. Its a mass produced polemic against theism.

    I purposely compared the aforementioned book to Graham Hancock’s works. Sure, there might be some things in there that are correct. But don’t call it scholarly. The reason academics put these books out is to bring out an idea, convince some non-academics, and to make money.

    But honestly, saying that anyone is labelling this “un-scholarly” becuse she is a woman is, frankly, bs. This is akin to being critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians makes you an anti-Semite. No, some things are the way they are on completely rational grounds. You simply cannot say whatever you want and then hide behind a persecution complex. Like I said, there are thousands of legitimate female historians, anthropologists, sociologists, etc. that have their ideas published in a peer-reviewed journal.

  • 24. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 5, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Thinking Ape, et al,

    My point is that women’s scholarship is labeled un-scholarly because men write history. Any new scholarship in that area, that threatens the prevailing idea of history is threatening to men’s scholarship, which is pretty much always accepted at face value, unless someone comes up with an absolutely resounding rebuttal. It all comes down to he said-she said. It’s similar to the literary canon which has been delegated by elite white males for centuries. You have yet to prove that Stone’s, Mor’s, or any other matrilineal focused scholar’s writing is unscholarly, yet I have to prove it is scholarly? Double standard anyone? I say that’s sexist bias without investigation to back it up.

  • 25. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Oh, and what makes you say these academic women’s work is not peer-reviewed? Examples? Are the “peer” reviewers all men? Well of course they are.

  • 26. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:21 am

    MOI,

    Do you honestly believe what you wrote? I see in your profile that you yourself are an academic of sorts. I am unfamiliar with researching in the English department, but how many journals in archaeology, anthropology, psychology, religious studies, history, etc. have you read? I am not trying to call you out, but I read at least 30 articles a month for my research in various journals in varying disciplines that are related to religious studies and I simply find the basis of your criticism entirely false.

    If you want a rebuttal to the entire book, I would write you book in return. If I was getting paid to do so, I would. Maybe someday I will, but disproving a book meant for the laymen that did not require any peer reviews is not exactly on the top of my to-do list.

    “You have yet to prove that Stone’s, Mor’s, or any other matrilineal focused scholar’s writing is unscholarly, yet I have to prove it is scholarly?”

    You make scholarship sound as if its this status one bestows upon another by the elite classes of society or the like (definitely male). No one needs to prove that their work is scholarly, it is or it isn’t, and it has nothing to do with their subject matter or their conclusion. Obviously you are skeptical of the academia of social science and humanities, but it is what we have, and it is based on the same principles of the scientific method.

    The fact is, as I mentioned before, all evidence points to varying pantheisms of gods and spirits, male and female, with no overarching god or goddess ruling them all. One must completely dismiss the anthropological data from thousands of tribal groups and kingdoms in order to believe otherwise.

    And again, if your fallback is simply to call me sexist, then there has to be something wrong. I could call you the same, but it doesn’t mean anything. You obviously want to agree with Stone or Mor for the same reasons Starhawk does, which confounds me. Even more important is that you seem to assume that I myself have something to gain, apart from the truth, in keeping the status quo of historical scholarship – that most tribes and kingdoms has nothing to do with each other, including their “religion”, and that many of them had egalitarian pantheons.

  • 27. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:25 am

    “Oh, and what makes you say these academic women’s work is not peer-reviewed? Examples? Are the “peer” reviewers all men? Well of course they are.”

    Are you serious?

  • 28. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I would encourage anyone interested in this post to check out the works of Cynthia Eller, notably her “Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future”. Or rather, if you dare to read a work of an evil man, Philip Davis has a great book called “Goddess Unmasked.”

  • 29. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:39 am

    *I say “great” mainly because I believe Davis is not only a little sexist, but certainly close minded in many regards. However, his portrayal is worth looking at.

  • 30. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Thinking Ape,

    Are you serous? “academic of sorts?” OOOO a sword fight about who’s read more academic journals than who. Do you ask male academics that?

  • 31. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Thinking Ape,
    If you find the basis of anything I say entirely false, then why are you wasting your time with it?

  • 32. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    MOI, this is not a sword fight about who is more academic. My comment about “academic of sorts” was a literary device and I apologize if it sounded callous, but you would certainly be proving any point I may have unintentionally made.

    The majority of my professors and peers are female and none would so blindly take the position you have. The only thing you have argued is that I am sexist based on my position that I disagree with you and Stone about an hypothetical goddess movement.

    “If you find the basis of anything I say entirely false, then why are you wasting your time with it?”

    This is what we do. This is what people of a critical nature do. This is what academics do. If we don’t, we turn into thoughtless fundamentalists. I had no problem with the work as a opening into critical thinking as Stellar had originally posted the article. I have found truth in the “unscholarly” work of Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas (I continue to this day to believe that the Shroud of Turin was probably Jacques de Molay). Yet in this case people have created entire new religions, have used this as the basis of their feminism, and are completely disinterested in the truth.

    I believe in not only the equality of women, but in many cases, the superiority of women. I believe that a women should not just be given a fair shake in academia, but that she should be given the opportunity to excel – BUT WITHOUT SACRIFICING THE CREDIBILITY OF THE INSTITUTION. And like I said, I believe Stone is a scholar, just as Richard Dawkins is. But this was not one of here scholarly works, just as The God Delusion isn’t his.

    Some short articles I wrote on women and religion:
    Buddhism
    Christianity
    Hinduism
    Judaism
    Islam
    More Buddhism

  • 33. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Thinking Ape,

    I thought Steller1’s post to be of ultimate interest to women regardless of what men think of it. I was offering women who are interested in Stone’s work other female scholars’ viewpoints about the same subject. I could care less whether men or women think these women’s viewpoints are scholarly or not. That’s neither here nor there.

    Forgive me for intruding where I obviously do not have the proper credentials to speak.

  • 34. agnosticatheist  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    :) Being me, I have to jump in the middle of this….

    Let me first say that I have only skimmed Stone’s book, so I do not claim to know as much about it as those who read it in it’s entirety but that won’t stop me giving my “scholarly” opinion.

    I believe at the beginning of Stone’s book, she admits that all of the pieces of the puzzle are not there to form a perfect hypothesis because much of this evidence has either been destroyed by malintentioned men or misconstrued during analysis because of the bias of sexism.

    From there though, if the left over pieces were to form some sort of a picture, Stone then shows what that picture might have looked like. It is an artistic approach at the history of women. However, it is Stone’s assertion that a fully scholarly approach is impossible – because men have made it so.

  • 35. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    “However, it is Stone’s assertion that a fully scholarly approach is impossible – because men have made it so.”

    This is the indication that I get as well. There is certainly nothing wrong with unscholarly works – lets just call them that. Some of the greatest discoveries have been made by people who are not scholars or scholars doing something unscholarly.

    I would not put it past our “kind” to destroy any remnants of a matriarchal society and overarching goddess religion. But without solid evidence, it sits on the hypothetical shelf. This is why I suggested Cynthia Eller’s work. Not only are there much better reasons for feminism, but that pseudo-history could actually hurt more than help (i.e. creationism, geocentrism, etc. has probably hurt Christianity more than it has helped it).

  • 36. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    aA,
    I appreciate your viewpoints on this. My only reason for commenting on steller1’s excellent post is to show that many women are doing this much needed work, even though many try to silence it, and that many women need to read it. That’s it. Thanks again for being “you.” :-)

  • 37. matt  |  September 28, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    whoa whoa whoa, you are wrong lady.

    Not about the Goddess thing, about the Judaism

    Since when were they ever a powerful tribe capable of killing 100’s of other tribes?

    Considering they started from the humble origins of thieves and outcasts, almost gypsy like….hardly considered nation worthy.

    I’ll agree the Middle Ages ruined any chance for women, but to blame the Jews is just wrong, despite how sexist they were as a whole. They were just too frail and weak to do much about it.

    Romans erased a lot of religion, as did others. Please do more historical research. My Pagan ancestors fought ROMANS, not Jews.

    And a lot of other tribes fought other tribes, not Jews. They are almost non-existent. If they were SOOOO important, why does Egypt have very little to say on them?

    Eygpt will mention the Canaanites and others documented by Jewish text, but nothing big to say on Jews. In fact, contrary to popular belief, many “slaves” of pyramids were well fed Egypt born workers.

    How do we know this? We dig up bodies and study them.

    Just because the Jewish people have some of the oldest historical texts, is no reason to credit it as all true.

  • 38. matt  |  September 28, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Also, reading these posts are very much amusing.

    Saying things like “That isn’t scholarly because it isn’t peer reviewed”

    I am sorry, but when did something scholarly mean “put under a microscope” or truth?

    We were so sure the Earth was flat once. We had scholars of our time decide that, Then scholars corrected themselves. It’s all opinion, regardless of how factual you say it is.

    But we strive as people to make the best darn guesses we can. That in itself is scholarly….humanly flawed…humanly biased..all the things that follow us no matter how well we can temporarily detach ourselves from it.

    Also, good stuff!! I did say I agree with the Goddess stuff. It’s all worth making main-steam for sure. Not going to be easy though.

    Also…lol For women to have their “fair share” means equality…not the “opportunity to excel that…without ruining the institution”

    To me, that sounds like this “really really very kinda sorta”

    You know…fluff…political bs. Stuff that has no real value or content.

    Equality is equality and fair is fair and there is no greater or less than it, As that would destroy its definition.

    Please do not bastardize our English language more.

    YES! I am very bored to be writing this :-P

    Also, this world is corrupt, to get your goals 100% you would probably have to dirty your hands and feel horrible about it. The choice is yours.

    If you can gain this perfect equality without having to bastardize your own standing morales, awesome.

    I do not appologize for upsetting people. I like to make people think. I didn’t post this to make friends and agree with everyone.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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