Sunday, March 14, 2010

Expand the Lectionary!

The page you are looking for is now available as Chapter One of ...


Phil Witherspoon said...

I commend the effort to expand the lectionary. Our church will be experimenting with Year D in worship this year. However I am saddened by the exclusive use of masculine imagery in the supporting worship materials. I see that as a huge step backward.

The Year D Project said...

Dear Phil:

Thanks for your comment. After writing liturgy for a number of years and trying to avoid using engendered references to God, the Lord, the Son of Man, the Son of God, Jesus, etc., I finally resolved to follow the convention of the NRSV, and allow myself the freedom to use masculine pronouns for the Deity where the Scriptures do likewise, yet not shy away from feminine imagery where that is indicated.

As far as I know, I have not used (or at least not intentionally used) exclusive masculine language for the human race. In other words, it has been my intention to speak of "humans" rather than "man," and this is in keeping with what I understand to be current policy in the seminary where I teach. (If you locate any inconsistencies in this regard, please feel free to call them to my attention, as I would like to correct them.)

While I know that "God is spirit" (and spirit is not "engendered"), I know of no policy mandating gender-neutral language for God. On the contrary, after listening to hundreds of sermons and poring over even more prayers that speak vacuously and repetitively of "God Godself," I finally became more concerned that the lack of personal pronouns used in reference to God tends to strip the personhood of God right out of our language. I short, I have come to think masculine language is less of a threat to Christian theology and faith than an implicit theological depersonalization any day of the week.

If the masculine references to which you are referring as a "huge step backwards" pertain to my admittedly frequent use of "LORD" (OT) and "Lord" (NT), on this too I have tried to lean on the NRSV. If anything, perhaps the OT's unique reference to the name of YHWH, and all the other names for God that we have in the Old and New Testaments for that matter, are worth a series of sermons. I only ask that we not solve the problem of language for God by disallowing personal pronouns or by rapid-fire use of God-God-God, which at best sounds like Popeye with a case of the giggles, and worst perhaps even violates the third commandment.

Again, I appreciate your comment, and wish you many new joys and discoveries in the use of Year D.