“I am woman, hear me roar…”

So God created man in his own image and likeness; male and female created he them. – Genesis 1: 27

Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God… The ideal man corresponds to creation, to intelligence, and to Truth. The ideal woman corresponds to Life and to Love. In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity. – Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy

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As a Christian Scientist, I believe God to be both Father and Mother, and all men and women to be made in her likeness. I believe that if we, as a society, fail to appreciate or value the expression of God’s feminine nature, we’re not appreciating the full expression of our Father-Mother God.

Tonight, as I was giving thought to the financial, political, and social challenges that women around the world are currently facing, an old Helen Reddy song came boldly bounding into my thoughts:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

CHORUS
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
’cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

CHORUS

I am woman, watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand…

– Helen Reddy and Ray Burton

This song was a kind of anthem for me as a young woman. It was one of the songs I hummed to myself as I climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier.  It was with me as I launched myself into my career, and it was with me as I tried to figure out my place as a woman in American society. It inspired me to be strong and brave and confident. “I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman,” sang Helen Reddy, and I sang right along with her.

I married, had children, raised a family, entered a teaching career, climbed more mountains and hiked more hills.  New songs took the place of I Am Woman.  I suppose at some point I began to think of I Am Woman as too simplistic or schmaltzy or shallow or something.  And finally I am Woman faded completely into the distant recesses of my mind.  Until today, I don’t think I’d thought about that song for years.

But today it came back to me – and it didn’t enter my thoughts in a dainty or delicate way, either – it came bursting in, all unapologetic and vibrant. I found it on youtube and listened to it again, and felt myself becoming inspired, just as I had as a young woman three decades ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUBnxqEVKlk&feature=list_related&playnext=1&list=AVGxdCwVVULXdW3YgNT-BsHvNXAaqMSO2y

Biologically, I have brothers, and I have sons, but no daughters or sisters.  Although I love all the wonderful men in my life – right now, today, I want to take time to celebrate women.   I’ve been blest to have a wise, wonderful mother, and, even though I have no biological sisters, I’ve had a life filled with the inspiration and support of “sisters of the heart” – strong,  courageous women who’ve been an example to me of the power of womankind. Today I want to celebrate the courage and daring of the pioneer women who helped build our country; the suffragettes who worked tirelessly so that other women, like me, could vote; and the courageous female leaders who are working right now to ensure that women’s lives and rights are protected.

And I want to make a commitment to being the best representative of womankind that I can be, too.  Today I resolve to fully express the courage, strength, and love that are attributes of my Father-Mother God.  “I am woman, watch me grow; See me standing toe to toe, as I spread my loving arms across the land…”

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Christian Scientists must live under the constant pressure of the apostolic command to come out  from  the material world and be separate. They must renounce aggression, oppression and the pride of power. Christianity, with the crown of Love upon her brow, must be their queen of life. – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

(This post was originally published in March, 2012  and November 2013. In celebration of International Women’s Day, I bring it up again. May Malala Yousufzai and all others who are working for women’s rights around the world see their hopes fulfilled.)

On Politics, Voting, and Separation of Church and State

“Do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes of your day to do what young people all over the world are dying to do: vote.” – Rick Mercer (Canadian Wit Extraordinaire)

“Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so, and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others.” – from Prose Works by Mary Baker Eddy

I appreciate that in the Christian Science movement there’s no official authority telling its members how to vote on issues, or which politicians they should try to elect.  Members are expected to vote as individual conscience and understanding dictate.  And this, I believe, is as it should be.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, was a strong believer in separation of church and state.  She writes, in Miscellaneous Writings: “Progress, legitimate to the human race, pours the healing balm of Truth and Love into every wound. It reassures us that no Reign of Terror or rule of error will again unite Church and State, or re-enact, through the civil arm of governments, the horrors of religious persecution.” (No and Yes, p 44) And, warning against the tendency of religious institutions to try to dictate the workings of government, she writes: “It is the pulpit and press, clerical robes and the prohibiting of free speech, that cradles and covers the sins of the world, – all unmitigated systems of crime; and it requires the enlightenment of these worthies, through civil and religious reform, to blot out all inhuman codes. It was the Southern pulpit and press that influenced the people to wrench from man both human and divine rights, in order to subserve the interests of wealth, religious caste, civil and political power.”

Although there’s no one within the Christian Science church telling its member which political candidate should get their vote, Mary Baker Eddy did describe, in Prose Works, the type of individual I want representing me: “The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the sane, – at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen…He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, – full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means.”

My conscience and understanding lead me in the direction that points towards individual freedom and choice. One of the guiding questions for me, as I vote on ballot issues, is: “Is this any of my business?”  As the Bible says, we all need to work out our own salvation. We all need to be allowed to have our own experience, and to make our own choices – so long as those choices do not cause harm to others.

In the Bible, Peter had pretty strong words to say towards those inclined to be a “busybody” – putting it in the same category as “murderer” and “evildoer”:  “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” – I Peter 4: 15

(Whoah, right?)

And when considering the workings of politics, and separation of church and state, I’ve always found these passages in The Bible helpful:

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” – John 6: 15

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

“ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

“When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

–   Matthew 22

Amen.

I love this!:

http://www.upworthy.com/this-is-what-theyre-teaching-the-kids-in-schools-these-days?c=upw6