Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Model-Breaking Jesus: in Daly, Thatcher, Crossan

Here're just a few patriarchy-exploding, model-breaking quotations:

Those who have come far enough in consciousness to break through the destructive conditioning imposed through "models" offered to the female in our culture are learning to be critical of all ready-made models.  This is not to say that strong and free women do not have an influence, but that this is transmitted rather as an infectious freedom.  Those who are really living on the boundary tend to spark in others the courage to affirm their own unique being.  It may be, as Paul Van Buren contends, that Jesus had such an effect upon his followers.  The important thing, then, was the freedom and power of being in which they participated, which enabled them to be their unique selves.  The point was not blind imitation of Jesus' actions and view.  If reading the Gospels -- or anything else -- sparks this kind of freedom in some persons today, this is hardly to be disparaged.  But then Jesus or any other liberated person who has this effect functions as model precisely in the sense of being a model-breaker, pointing beyond his or her own limitations to the potential for further liberation.
      --Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation

[There is] a hierarchy of mental categories that reflect our cultural values.  These categories are mutually exclusive, because groups [modeled in aristotelian patriarchy, I say] tend to order reality in terms of opposites:  male/female, dark/light, right/wrong, clean/dirty, animal/plant, and so forth.  The members of each opposed set, however [nonetheless, and in model-busting ways, I say], share enough common traits to be reconciled at a higher level of the hierarchy.  Thus, at one [male-dominant] level men and women may be seen as opposites, but at another [model-breaking] level both men and women are "human beings"....

In [John Dominic] Crossan's view, Jesus intended to build his [wise, accessible] sapiential, here-and-now Kingdom on the ruins of normal society.  For this reason, Jesus' teaching was characterized by statements calculated to undermine the social structure of Roman Palestine.  Ancient Mediterranean culture was organized into two interlocking groups, "the familial and the political, kinship and politics"; Jesus opposed both with "biting aphorisms and dialogues."  Indeed, Jesus "very, very often" entered into "an almost savage attack on family values," specifically the oppressive values associated with patriarchal rule....  But this subversion of traditional family values was, ultimately, a commentary on the larger social order, since "the family is society in miniature"....  Each of these activities invited people to experience God's sovereign rule in defiance of cultural norms.  Specifically, whereas Caesar's Kingdom was sharply stratified on the basis of patriarchy, patronage, honor, and, in Palestine at least, religious purity, God's kingdom would be open, accessible, and egalitarian, completely devoid of rank.
      -- Tom Thatcher [quoting Crossan's Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography and The Historical Jesus], Jesus the Riddler: the Power of Ambiguity in the Gospels

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