The death of patriarchy in our society and our church has begun, though slowly. White men will no longer be in charge. Women will begin to take over and systems which have prevailed for centuries will topple. Men’s insecurities will no longer motivate what happens on our planet and perhaps the only question is whether the planet will survive in time for the handover.
Jesus had many women surrounding him. We know from Luke’s gospel that they funded his ministry. Given the cultural norms of the day, it was a big deal for that little nugget of information even to remain in the edited texts of scriptures.
Women and men are, I suppose, both made in the image of God. But I wonder about that given that one of the “traits” of God is God’s ability to generate new life inside God and then to emit life from God into the cosmos. Men and women are not both equal on that score. Only women can generate, hold and then emit life from their body. Men cannot. And so I wonder if women are more made in God’s image than men. To even speak that in a patriarchy is dangerous and will get you killed in some places and marginalized in others. But I wonder if it needs to be said, lead where it may and cost what it will.
When I hear people joking with Bishops about “My Lord” this and “Your Grace” that I wonder. Don’t you? When I hear men joking about power, about sex, about human bodies, about power, I wonder. Don’t you? When I see grown men kissing rings, I wonder. Don’t you?
Don’t you wonder what a world led by women would look like? I do. I wonder if violence would change a bit. I wonder if reaction and response would change a bit. I wonder if God is busy doing a new thing. God is so good at that.
Men are anxious. You can see it in Senates. You can see it in Conventions. You can see it in The House of Bishops. You can see it in the Moose Lodge if you can sneak in. I bet you can see it in the Masons. As patriarchy dies I can see the church moving into a cocoon of change. It is not dying. It is not thriving. It is molting into a new thing.
What will the church of the future look like? I am no seer. I am no mystic. My I have eyes and I have hopes and my hopes tell me that the clergy of the next five decades will need to spend more time in living rooms and less time in private studies and monasteries. The new clergy will need to have jobs which pay outside the church so that they have the freedom to respond to God’s callings quickly and easily. The new clergy will need to work into the night socializing with congregants which will be demanding for those with families.
But I think people need to be with their clergy in order to get to know them, decide if they trust them, discern if they are good people or merely charming people. And that is what will save the church in the end. People can tell. When they are with clergy and Bishops they can easily tell if they say their prayers or if prayer is part of their branding. God inserted in most of us a secret decoder ring. We can discern. We know. And that will save us and our molting Episcopal Church and its tiny smidgen of God’s mission we are involved in playing out. Won’t we be shocked to find atheists and agnostics, Mormons and Zoroastrians, Muslims and hikers all involved in God’s mission? The church seems to have two types: there are those who are the J. Edgar Hoovers of the Church and there are those who are the Mother Theresas of the church. The work of this century is to discern them, see them.