From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this – “Goodbye to ‘he’ and ‘she’ and hello to ‘ze’? (CNN.com)
Jack was writing about a new pronoun being suggested as a way to remove gender orientation when referring to someone. He went on to comment about our tendency to refer to God as He. I recall how my daughter used to amuse Jack when she was in his Confirmation class by always referring to God as She.
The whole issue of labeling God with some gender-specific term that reflects how we think of ourselves is part of the interjection of man’s own ego into his religious beliefs. We tend to think of God in our own image. Our ego is so big that we believe that He made us to look just like him. Of course that means for many that He is a tall, good looking white male; perhaps with white hair and beard, because He is old, after all. And His Son, while born in the Middle East in ancient times, somehow ended up looking like a modern European white male in most of the great paintings of ancient Christian religion. Amazing how that happened! Even today there are those who continue to insist that Jesus was a white man, just like Santa Claus.
Perhaps the most gender and image neutral description of God that I have heard is from Native Americans who called God the Great Spirit. While rooted in pagan origins, Native Americans saw God’s presence in all things; not just in mankind. They also saw a caring, loving God who provided for them and watched over them and all of the inhabitants of the earth. Their view of the Great Spirit didn’t have the pronoun ze, but it lacked the need to be classified by gender or even by species.
If we can start to think of God more along the lines of the Native Americans’ Great Spirit we can drop not only the gender issue, but all other issues that we currently use to judge people. It is unfortunate that some who claim to be religious put on the mantle of the Bible and religion while condemning others for alleged lifestyle transgressions against their “religion.” Those same holier-than-thou people would likely have joined the Pharisees of the day in condemning Jesus for befriending and eating with tax collectors.
Much of modern religion has been contrived by man to make the unknowable somehow fit into what our small minds can conceive. Since we can’t really get our heads around the concept of God, we humanize Him by assigning to Him human attributes that we feel comfortable with. He, after all, must look a lot like us, since we have decided that He made us in His image. We don’t see the Great Spirit in all things as the Native Americans did, just in us. It is a relatively easy step for many to take to believe that he must also have the same prejudices against those whom we condemn as being “not like us.” After all, if God is on our side, how can he be with them, also?
It’s unlikely that the general neutral term ze will gain that much traction, especially in religion; but, perhaps, if we put a little more of the Great Spirit mentality into our religious practices we would end up closer to the true meaning of faith. May the Great Spirit be with you.