Religion is a poem about who we are in the cosmos. Religion is not primarily science or ethics. It is a map of our subjective world -the world we live in but not on. The language we use to lay our foundation for living is very important. If we choose to use the symbol “God” we must be very careful that the image for God does not look more like some people than others. If we close our eyes and picture a powerful white male, we have projected that template upon every other experience we will have. Furthermore, when we speak of the tie that binds our subjectivities together, appeals to power yield a very different results from appeals to kinship.
One problem with any picture of the world which views God as a powerful ruler is that it plants the idea that domination is what holds the universe together. If God is a King, or Jesus is a Lord, then power is the tie that binds. From that beginning, it is natural to assume a given hierarchy with civil and religious leaders standing in between the people and the God who is everyone’s ultimate boss.
Contrast that imperial cosmology with the notion that all life is a family. Taoism teaches that the ocean is the ruler of waters because it takes the lowest place. Jesus said he came not to lead but to serve. A gentile who looks at Jewish scriptures in Hebrew is stunned to see the word “kesed” (steadfast love) as a thread weaving the whole narrative together. Only from such humble beginnings can we hope to draw a map for living that does not make it hard to share our world with those who see matters differently.
Feminist theologians invented the word “Kindom” as a replacement for the world “Kingdom” to speak of the tie that binds life together. In addition to removing the male association with the word “king,” kindom also replaces the idea of benevolent domination with that of kinship. Whatever map we draw in our minds, whether we think of it as religious or not, is perhaps the most important art work we will do. Countless unconscious choices will be made based on that forgotten foundation.