The following letter (acquired through a reliable but anonymous transtemporal source) will be written by the Rev. Dr. Judith Hardanger-Hansen, archbishop of the American Archdiocese of the Lutheran Companionship of the Benevolent Deity Spiritual Movement (BDSM) sometime around the second decade of the 21st Century.
Beloved in the Offspring:
I would like to thank all those who have written and e-mailed in response to my previous pastoral letter. Thanks to those who expressed their support.
The rest of you should be aware that your messages have been forwarded to the Tolerance Directorate for possible prosecution.
A question has been raised in the media recently concerning demographic changes in our Comradeship. Figures have appeared claiming that our Lutheran body now includes only a 17% male membership, and that most of that 17% is boys under twelve years of age. Only 6% of our pastors (according to our own statistics) are male, and half of those are gay.
First of all, I must state that we dispute some of these figures. Several of them have not been generated through official channels. We have very rigorous, subjectively controlled procedures for calculating membership statistics within our organization, and our figures place our male membership at nearly 29%.
But even granting, for the sake of argument, the lower figure, how are we to account for such disappointing engagement among almost half the population?
The charge that men have been “elbowed out” of participation and leadership is unworthy of serious consideration, and I shall ignore it.
I see two credible explanations.
The first is one advanced by my personal friend, Rev. Dr. Sophia Wolhammer-Smith-Guevera of Union Theological Seminary, in her groundbreaking book, The Gentile Sex. In this seminal work, she propounds the theory that males are, in fact, “sinners.”
She points to numerous biblical passages (I haven’t time to look them up just now) which have, traditionally, been translated to say, “All men are sinners, and are under judgment.”
It is her thesis that such passages should be understood literally. In the fall of Adam (which, it should be noted, is never called “the fall of Eve” in scripture) it was the male who sinned and became subject to judgment.
In this view, original sin applies only to males. Women have never “fallen,” and require no redemption.
It follows that men are naturally resistant to all that is good, and are uncomfortable in the nurturing environment of the contemporary church.
Dr. Wolhammer-Smith-Guevera leaves the question open as to whether the gospel should be preached to men or not. She notes that in the view of many modern theologians, such souls as men possess are probably not worth the trouble. And we’re all aware of what men did with the church when they were running it. It may be best to let bad enough alone, especially in view of recent advances in fertility science, which promise to make men entirely superfluous.
I personally am inclined, with all deference to my friend’s scholarship, to take a more moderate view. I note that in the New Testament there appears to be a mysterious concept known (in English) as “atonement.” The idea of atonement has long been a mystery to feminist theologians, since we take it as a first principle that people are born perfect, with no need (as one of our friends famously said) of “folks hanging on crosses, and blood dripping, and weird stuff.”
But it is possible, I think, to imagine a Dual Order, in which the blessed Offspring’s act of atonement applies only to males. This would be a true act of grace, since (as recent scholarship has shown) the Offspring was not a male but a female (see Moira Individualperson’s [formerly Manson’s] book, The Da Vinci Chromosome). The idea of a divine Woman (as all women are divine, we have no need of elaborate theories of Incarnation) giving her life for sinful, contemptible men imparts new meaning to the creedal phrase “for us men and for our salvation.”
There is also a second option, one which is gaining popular support in the wake of the recent Glorious Revolution achieved by our beloved Muslim neighbors.
This thesis is that men ought to be Muslims.
I’m sure you have noticed the remarkable differences between Christian men (in general) and Muslim men (in general).
Christian men today, it must be admitted, are pretty ineffectual creatures. They show no initiative. They sit on the couch and watch sports. They play video games. They drink beer. You can’t get them to argue with you even when you want them to, and trying to involve them in church activities is hopeless. They are weak fish.
Contrast them with the Muslim men you know. Muslim men are strong. They are masterful. They are unashamedly devout. They have a wonderful air of authority about them. You feel protected in their presence.
It is notable, and has been remarked on by many, that behavior which would be entirely inappropriate and unacceptable coming from a Christian man is somehow graceful — even beautiful — when performed by a Muslim. It is hard to account for this most familiar, if mysterious, sensation.
It seems a reasonable hypothesis that God intended men to be Muslims. This theory also provides an elegant solution to the worldwide religious crisis of our time. Women will have Christianity. Men (and women of Muslim heritage) will have Islam. Women will have a religion that suits them; men a religion that suits them. In case of marriage (for those who choose that purely optional arrangement) there is a long and harmonious history of Christian women being married to fine Muslim men, in homes abounding in mutual love and respect.
Rev. Dr. Judith Hardanger-Hansen