Saturday, July 16, 2016

Taming God (Exodus 3:13-14)

In the context of the issue of devotional captivity, God declares freedom to express the Divine Self as God chooses, leaving us with a sense of non-conforming. Which, once you think about it, is a transgressive act against any thought of capturing the Divine Essence. 
      
     Then Moses asked God, "If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers (and mothers) has sent me to you, and they ask me, 'What is His name?' what should I tell them?"
     God replied to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you." 
Exodus 3:13-14


Can God be snared by our devotions? 

Can God be trapped by our ideology, wrapped up as it is in spiritual garb?

Can God be worshipped only when we have tamed the wild lion and ensured divine acquiescence to our agenda?

Can God be bought with our praise and turned into an idol of devotion without fear of any demands in return?

If God must be snared, trapped, tamed, and bought what does this say about us?

Zenil's painting Ofrenda ("offering in English) confuses me. I am drawn to the intimacy of the composition with our ability to touch and love on Jesus. However is this a willing Jesus? Is he adored because he is a captive? Is he adored because he too has been marginalized and chained up? What exactly is the nature of this relationship? 

Zenil is a gay Mexican artist known for tweaking the religious iconography of Mexican culture to speak to the disenfranchisement of queer men in a macho society. Zenil writes, "I have always felt marginalized in my life and have experienced a great sense of solitude. In my art I've tried to effect a communication between members of society and myself."

I take great comfort in the idea that Christ has been marginalized as sexual and gender minorities have been marginalized. Still I wonder, do I only worship God because the divine too is marginalized? Is my intimate devotion based upon the notion that She (or He) is one of us? If this is true has God not become ensnared in my devotion - the eternally marginalized and hated? Is God destined by my devotion to the Ostracized Divine to spend eternity in ropes and chains?

The same can be said of those whose worship of God is tethered to heteronormative ideologies and leanings. These folks would see Zenil's work as blasphemy and declare any talk of an "Ostracized Divine" as heresy. 

In the context of the issue of devotional captivity, God declares freedom to express the Divine Self as God chooses, leaving us with a sense of non-conforming. Which, once you think about it, is a transgressive act against any thought of capturing the Divine Essence. 

This transgressive act of Holy Freedom resists "institutionalized systems of morality and social respectability," according to the pseudonymous writer Profane Joy, "opening pathways that had been blocked, and doing so in order to establish new territories of critical devotion for non-normative desires and bodies."

I am humbled in the realization that God is not trapped within the yearnings and needs of my queer devotion. For my devotion can also shutdown and block new territories for those who need non-normative pathways to the Divine.