Which Story: Domination or Partnership?

What is the nature of the kingdom Jesus described? Rigid? Flexible? Wrathful? Compassionate? Keeping power? Sharing power?

Cultural historian, Riane Eisler (2002), sees all levels of human relationships as seeming to exist within a framework stretched between two models: A domination/control model and a partnership/respect model. The domination model features fearful obedience, top down hierarchy, lack of transparency, and is guided by stories that support this milieu. The partnership model consists of hierarchies to facilitate individual actualization, nurture, transparency, abundance, and the players within the framework focus on stories that illustrate partnership. These two frameworks can be used as references when observing interpersonal, workplace, family, and societal relationships. In reality, the models are not true binaries as relationships are complex and can be plotted in varied spots within a web of many factors. Many components of society serve to buttress whatever model is in place, but, perhaps, the most powerful reinforcement is the stories to which people cling as sources of wisdom and guidance.

Consider a strategy that was in play at the General Conference’s Autumn Council a few weeks ago. This is the concept of battling Ellen White texts. Whatever quote is emphasized becomes a sort of guiding font of wisdom. Some shared quotes that implied the General Conference had final authority over all the church. Others shared different words from her pen which stated this was not the case. All of us could agree that context matters and a careful and caring person could spend a lot of time categorizing her writing and putting it in the correct setting. Which story is the source of wisdom?

Consider the battling Bible of texts which, sadly, the denomination has been playing for about a decade on the subject of women’s ordination. Which scriptural story is most instructive for what should be done now?

Imagine changing the vantage point from 18 inches (distance from one’s eyes to a text) to a heavenly vantage point. What stories do we use to guide a group of Christ followers who are seeking to live the kingdom now? What does a molehill look like at 30,000 feet? What is Jesus trying to do now? What project did He inaugurate 2000 years ago?

Eisler’s book, The Chalice and the Blade (1987), exposes gaps and assumptions and oversights in the typically accepted stories of human history. The book is full of overlooked stories and angles and archaeological discoveries that provide an alternate way of looking at history. One example is an ignored aspect of Constantine’s early use of power on behalf of Christianity in the Roman Empire:

According to Christian historians, it is said that in 312 C.E., on the day before Constantine

defeated and killed his rival Maxentius and was proclaimed emperor, he saw in the setting sun a divinely sent vision: a cross inscribed with the words in hoc signo victor seris (in this sign you will be victor). What Christian historians usually fail to report is that it is also said that this first Christian emperor had his wife Fausta boiled alive and ordered the murder of his own son Crispus. But the bloodshed and repression that ushered in the Christianization of Europe was not confined to Constantine’s private acts. Nor was it confined to his public acts and those of his Christian successors, such as later edicts that heresy to the Church was now a treasonous act punishable by torture and death.

It was now to become standard practice for Church leaders themselves to command the torture and execution of all who would not accept the ‘new order.’ It was also to become standard practice to methodically suppress all ‘heretical’ information that could conceivably threaten this new androcratic hierarchy’s rule. (Eisler, 1987, p. 131)

Constantine violently turned Christianity on its side, skewing the main goals inaugurated by Christ and harnessing the Kingdom of God into a political enterprise of domination that would be concerned with insiders and outsiders and winning and losing. Thus, Constantine, widely revered among Christians, was responsible for bringing a level of authoritarianism and domination into Christianity, changing it from the community based, peace-loving group that it had been in the early centuries after Christ. Was such a move in alignment with the sort of kingdom described in the gospels by Jesus Christ?

Eisler draws a trajectory between what Constantine did and what has happened recently in the United States:

If you look closely at the teachings and policies advocated by leaders of the Christian Right in the United States, you will see they are often the polar opposite of the teachings of Jesus. Whereas Jesus challenged the rigid rule of the religious hierarchies of his time, these men (and occasionally women) are bent on controlling all aspects of our lives — from our family relations to our political relations. Whereas Jesus taught caring, compassion, empathy, and nonviolence — in a word, the fundamentals of partnership — the leaders of the Christian Right preach the fundamentals of the domination model. They preach fear, as in ‘You’ve got to put the fear of God into people,’ guilt, as in ‘You’re a sinner,’ prejudice, as in the vilifying of people of different races or sexual orientations, and scapegoating, as in ‘Feminists are out to destroy the family.’ (Eisler, 2002, p. 107)

How could we stray so far from the original kingdom plan? Religion scholar, Marc Gopin, sees religious groups as being prone to over reliance on stories and emotional vulnerabilities and personal resentments. Also, religious groups are vulnerable to the temptation to generalize as enduring truths the stories and myths. This leads to a “hasty tendency to suppress evidence of causes that the conflict resolver may revile for one reason or another.” (Gopin, 2002, p. 4)

Look at how the domination authoritarian truth set into motion by Constantine’s drastic maneuvers has supplanted the earlier Christ-centered stories of partnership and nurture which were taught and lived by Jesus Christ — the founder of Christianity. Maybe Christianity’s guiding stories have been warped over time and our views of how to live in a Jesus Kingdom now are misguided.

Walter Wink (1992) states that “the gospel has a very specific context, even if it has been essentially the same context for five thousand years: the Domination system. And the gospel has a specific response to that system: the liberating message of Jesus. The gospel is a context-specific remedy for the evils of the Domination System. This means that the overthrow of any particular manifestation of oppression can never satisfy the demands of the gospel if what replaces one form of domination is simply another.” (p. 48)

Wink pushes back on what has become an orthodox Christian worldview that features an authoritarian view of God, as he unpeels Christian history to reveal a more partnership-oriented model which he sees as compatible to what was taught by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Wink labels his two frameworks as: 1) domination system, and 2) God’s domination-free order. Readers familiar with Eisler’s work will recognize similarities with these descriptions. Seventh-day Adventists should see similar threads in the writings of Ellen White, particularly in The Great Controversy.

It seems that Christianity in the United States has been hijacked by the wrong narrative, becoming a politics of identity in which a main project is finding the errors in other groups. Has our denomination also been hijacked by this wrong narrative? People become like the God they serve. The adage is instructive. God’s project has become skewed because the wrong stories have been emphasized, thus covering up the truest picture of what God is like — that is the picture depicted by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Constantine’s massive shift to make Christianity into a political tool used for authoritarian purposes has slanted the Christian narrative to such a degree that it might not be recognizable to those who were part of it in its earliest years. Jesus Christ exhibited a humble listening which always left each person in charge of her own life. This was a partnership project not a domination project. If we are worshiping the wrong God, we are worshiping an idol.

If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father. —John 14:9

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know his Master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends. —John 15:15

Notes & References: Eisler, R. (1987). The Chalice & The Blade: Our History Our Future. New York, NY: Harper Collins. Eisler, R. (2002). The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships That Will Change Your Life. Novato, CA: New World Library. Gopin, M. (2002). Holy War, Holy Power: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Wink, W. (1992). Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resisitance in a World of Domination. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress.

Carmen Lau is a board member of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum. She lives and writes in Birmingham, Alabama.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Triumph of Constantine over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8365
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Thank you for a thought provoking piece, Carmen. Adventism, just as other protestant denominations, has been built on the foundation of the supreme value of “being right,” over against all others. Right about doctrine, right about the day of worship, right about eschatology, right about the law, right about the role of food and diet in spiritual life, right about the identity of the one true church…etc., as opposed to the rest who are in error and confusion in Babylon. We are not alone in such institutional conceit.

This leads me to wonder if this is simply a way of thinking built into Western culture, that has simply inverted the pyramid of values of the kingdom of God. The former has always lauded, and continues to laud, supremacy of ideology. Simply take the temperature of today’s political climate to see this in full blown, feverish dysfunction. This sickness has infected our denomination, as well. The fight over WO has been about power and rightness from the get go, whether about keeping women out of the men’s club, or about centralized power and enforced uniformity. But, how could this not happen considering our denominational DNA?

In contrast, the supreme value of the kingdom is an other centered love that seeks the flourishing of all in relationship with God, and in caring for one another in a truly diverse but united and egalitarian community. A community where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus. A community where status and power based on these differences are consigned to the ash heap. A community that places a far greater value on this as the mark of God’s people, rather than on being doctrinally right, or being right about a day of worship.

“They will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.” No riders of propositional, doctrinal orthodoxy are added to this by Jesus.

Thanks…

Frank

@ajshep

Allen…

Propositional, doctrinal, orthodoxy means something different to me than you. Jesus never built proof text theology that demanded intellectual assent in order to be his follower. He called people to a way of life. It was the way of the kingdom that spoke not only to action, but even to interior motive. The summation of all of it in his words in the SM, was to “do to others as you would have them do to you.” The root of all of this is the type of other centered love he lived. That has little to do with being right, over against all those who we deem in the wrong, and much more to do with doing right, even to those we feel have wronged us.

We must also be careful to not devise a bibilolatry based on assent to denominational doctrinal and creedal formulations.

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  1. [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:14747”]
    Jesus Christ exhibited a humble listening which always left each person in charge of her own life. This was a partnership project not a domination project. If we are worshiping the wrong God, we are worshiping an idol.
    [/quote]

  2. [quote=“frank_merendino, post:2, topic:14747”]
    The fight over WO has been about power and rightness from the get go, whether about keeping women out of the men’s club, or about centralized power and enforced uniformity. But, how could this not happen considering our denominational DNA?
    [/quote]

  3. [quote=“frank_merendino, post:2, topic:14747”]
    “They will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.” No riders of propositional, doctrinal orthodoxy are added to this by Jesus.
    [/quote]

1, Jesus did more than listen. He called, and the call was authoritative: There were objections to his authoritative actions from the teachers and elders. Luke 20:1, 2 …“Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

So he spoke with authority.

Have you never been under conviction about a duty or beloved sin? Have you not heard his authoritative voice speak to you? And his call to “Come, follow me.” means a submission to him, at least as far as I can tell.

  1. You misunderstand the “fight” over WO. It is about different cultures. It is not about “power and rightness.” The West sees it one way, the Third World another. Now once the decision to not do WO was made, then a new aspect was added: will those in opposition to the vote comply? THEN other issues arose.

  2. No “riders of propositional orthodoxy” were added by Jesus?

The Sermon on the Mount has all kinds of “riders of propositional orthodoxy”! Matt 5:31 "it has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you…
Or, Matt 6:1 "Be carful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them… etc.

Be careful not to devise a false gospel by stripping Jesus of his authority to call sin by its right name. The heart IS deceitful above all things.

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You are giving me goosebumps !
The Advent Movement may not be stalled, after all.

The comments seem to have slowed for this article, so I hope no one minds if I sneak in, today, with more to say. The webmaster is free to delete me:

A ‘messenger’ of Jesus repeatedly and clearly taught the ‘partnership’ model to the assembled General Conference of SDAs for 3 separate years centered, especially, on the 1895 meetings, with Ellen’s blessing. . . that is 122 years of absolutely no excuses for the GC to have pursued the pre-1888 SDA course that has led to our ‘de-dominational’ mess, today.

If Jesus, Himself, recognized and publicly proclaimed, 2,000 years ago, that too many leaders of His own religion were ‘of your father, the Devil’, then how much more, after 122 years, should SDAs be willing to consider that the best course out of the current mess might be exorcism, if the wayward GC leadership will not take to heart Christ’s 7 ‘woes’.

At the very least there are obvious similarities between father and son in the family that has ‘led’ the SDA GC twice in my short lifetime:

It was Ellen’s book, The Great Controversy, that inspired Merikay Mcleod (/Silver) to write the
short story, Now !, as a teen-ager attending Grand Ledge Academy in Michigan (GLA was once located, and sold, not far from Jay Gallimore’s office.) When she published her school paper as a booklet, the chain of resulting events led her to a job at the Pacific Press . . . which landed her in the sights of the Vice-President of the NAD, Neal C.Wilson, who made this statement recorded in the legal documents of a court case involving the former (?) discrimination of the Pacific Press against women, including Merikay:

“Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint, and the term ‘hierarchy’ was used in a pejorative sense to refer to the papal form of church government, that attitude on the church’s part was nothing more than a manifestation of widespread anti-popery among conservative Protestant denominations in the early part of this century and the latter part of the last, and which has now been consigned to the historical trash heap so far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned."

It was also Ellen’s book, The Great Controversy, that Ted Wilson, Neal’s son, allowed to be gutted of ‘anti-popery’ (anti-‘hierarchy’) sentiment to become, The Great Hope, and which he then distributed in order to keep a promise to the SDA ‘Protestant’ (?) church.

What would the woman, Ellen, say ?
Just what she said in the 1888-era against papal principles being followed by SDA leadership even then.

And how would Neal’s son treat the SDA woman, Ellen ?
The same way he treated God in his ‘trash heap’ handling of a large part of Ellen’s book,
and the same way as the SDA, Merikay Silver, was treated when his father was VP of the NAD…

So, in the spirit of the child Merikay, who wrote Now !, we lesser SDAs need to act ‘Now!’, today, in choosing who we will and will not follow. There are only 2 options, and to simply disregard one of them – by consigning them ‘to the historical trash heap’, like so many unwanted infant Roman girls – is to actively choose the other. The 2 options have nothing in common, and everything in ‘Controversy’.

Those who choose to use their high positions in the SDA GC to discard the contributions of Godly women within the church, have no right to lead what little remains. At least 2 Wilson family males have chosen to demonstrate a tradition of powerfully undermining their own credibility as Protestant Christian SDA ‘leaders’.
Who, then, is their spiritual ‘father’, but an undermining supplanter ?
Such behavior certainly did not spring from ‘Our Father who is in Heaven’ !

As for me, I do not choose to follow such deceptive bullies. I simply can’t trust a thing they say, or do. I need a better Family to follow – the God Family. And that Family still knocks at the door of the Wilson family heart. Choose life, Ted.

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV

The Hebrew word translated as ‘cling’ in the text above is translated as ‘cleave’ in the text below:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 KJV

It is an insane twist that my mind cannot grasp to assume that ‘unity’ can be promoted in the SDA church by separating a major portion of the membership’s – women’s – contributions ‘to the historical trash heap’.

‘Cleaving’ partnership with God – ‘life’ itself – is impossible without grasping the concept of partnership with women.

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The Americannation was founded and built on blood.From the bloody revolt against the Crown .The slaughter of the native people the enslavement of blacks the treatment of the mexicans and the use of the atomic bomb on the civilian population of a defeated enemy and the use of drones to kill suspects without any sort of trial or legal process has created a debt on the balances of justice which must be repaid in blood.

Only a society built and nutured on violence would allow
the proliferation of weapons as is available in the USA.

The sad part for me personally is that family members have indeed pitched their tents toward Sodom and will perish with that society when the retribution of God falls on that violent and bloody society.

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Carmen,
Thanks for this essay. It really is all about relationships.
Richard Rohr in his books and daily meditations writes often on this subject. Currently he’s talking about cosmology and God’s relationship with us based on love. Indeed, he says that creation itself is a manifestation in time and dimension of the energy springing from this unconditional love.
https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/
I am also reading one of his books entitled, ‘The Divine Dance’. It’s about the love relationship which flows among the members of the Godhead and then out to us. It explores much about God and the divine model of relationship and how creation is affected - “…love that is endlessly unfolding - permeating and transforming and connecting All That Is.”

It’s interesting how God is shepherding us through history into a deeper understanding of Him and creation.
Much of our Christian theology was developed during the Middle Ages. An understanding that eventually came to be organized into the Newtonian model of the universe was ascendant. The universe was thought to be anthropocentric, unchanging, mechanistic, orderly, predictable, and hierarchical. Objects interacted with each other in definable ways at certain distances and times but were separate, ordered and distinct. Time was completely immutable. Naturally, Christians tended to view God, in heaven on His throne, in much the same way, with the same static and predictable characteristics—a sort of omnipotent, omniscient overseer.
Unfortunately, much of the Christianity bequeathed to us is of this top down/hierarchical control model of relationship.

Now, in part because of a different understanding of the nature of matter (the Einsteinian model, if you will) - that every atom and molecule is somehow linked to and affects all others, that even time and space are related, changeable and influence each other, some are coming to see God in a different way. He is the source and sustainer of this universal relatedness. ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.’
It’s not so much that God is in everything but that everything is in God (or at least will be again eventually) because in Him is the only place we can find our true meaning, the reason we were created. We are all a part of something bigger and are called to be partakers, but in addition, even partners in its unfolding.
This revelation is nudging us to the second model of relationship you mention - that of inclusion, respect and partnership. There are no separate objects, just currently separated subjects. All of it is based on the unconditional love of God.

“The name “God” points to this mystery of love in its unlimited depth, the center of all that is; love that overflows onto new life. God is not a super-natural Being hovering above earth, but the supra-personal whole, the Omega, who exists in all and through all.
God is love…Love goes out to another for the sake of the other and manifests itself in relationship.”

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This was a lovely survey to read, Carmen; thank you!

As I’ve learned more about colonial Christianities and the long-term project of decolonizing, these competing stories have come up for me too. I do, however, see standards, norms, and authority in the partnership model—a sound mutual relationship isn’t without those things, as some fear. But they manifest quite differently.

Perhaps the growing edge for us, as it was for that first generation who heard Jesus unpack his sense of this, is that the authoring (authority) of God is like the patience of the gardener who, having prepped the ground and plants for winter, is not surprised when beauty blooms in the spring. It’s an intentional, inductive, and adaptive love, not a compulsive one.

Two thousands later, we’re still learning what it means and how little the ways of the sword help us practice it. After all, you need an extraordinary level of skill to handle a sword like a scalpel or a pruning shear.

Thanks again!

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Good thoughts. Eisler would say we can’t escape hierarchies, and by extension, authority. The distinction between partnership models and domination models is this—a partnership hierarchy moves toward a goal of actualization for all parties.

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Interesting the citing of “The Chalice and the Blade” to support your thesis. Rene’ Eisler’s book is steeped in Wiccan/Pagan cosmology and is a direct attack on everything to do with Christianity. It turns history on its head.

I am continually amazed at the way Satan piles deception upon deception; lies upon layers of lies until we are treated to the spectacle of both sides at once fighting against each other toward the same goals. The tele-evangelicals put on the label “Christian Right” but unlike Constitutional conservatives (the genuine right), these guys are proponents of strong centralized national government. In this they share a love of strong central government with progressive socialists. In addition the television evangelical churches have been the first to respond to overtures from Pope Frances to reunite with the Catholic Church along with the liberal Protestant high churches (Anglican, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and other members of the black-robed set), as well as the Progressive left who, along with trade unions and other collectivist groups, have stretched their hand across the gulf to hare common cause with the Roman church under Pope Frances and his predecessors who have been calling for a unified world government, Sunday laws and centralization of power. The Lutherans signed a unity document with the Roman Catholic Church on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses on Wittenberg Chapel door. The devil’s deception is so deep that he is simultaneously dividing us and at the same time preparing us to unite under the Beast.

The devil would divide our church and he’s using the same issue - centralization of authority. Power - the devil’s favorite tool. It’s at the heart of everything he does to divide, beat down and dominate human beings.

Sister White predicted we would be attacked toward the end but that we would stand. That only happens if we serve Jesus and not factions or leaders.

We stand together in Christ. It is the only way. When we follow charismatic leaders, we are on dangerous ground. Religion as government or government as religion is a huge mistake either way we go. The lies and accusations being tossed around among the brethren is sickening. God must grieve at our inability to remember who we are and why we are here.

Tom King

Eisler does not claim to be a Christian. Born in Austria, she came to Cuba in the 1930s as a child to escape Jewish persecution.

I appreciate your comment, but would disagree, respectfully. Any group or any thinker can be disparaged on the surface with a quick swipe. Eisler has no Wiccan agenda, she has broadly observed history, and sees movement between domination and partnership. Her observations about how this happens are interesting, and erudite. Truth is truth. I believe God wants partnership and not domination for all the reasons Eisler uncovers. One must agree that our denomination can be quickly (and unfairly disparaged) as you do to Eisler’s work. I guess I don’t need to give you examples. I would urge anyone to actually read a person’s or a groups’ materials. It is easy to do a quick google and spend a brief period of time and feel a confidence to disregard a set of ideas.

As to your concern about deception, I do agree there. The solution to avoiding deception is to dig deep to the core principles, the essence, of who God is and what He wants to do. In my view, the original sin was in heaven when Satan told a lie and started a mass of propaganda about God—claiming He was arbitrary and dominating.

Human’s, in God’s image, for partnership. That is back to Eden when Adam and Eve were charged with caring for the Earth.

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What Carmen Lau is so eloquently calling for and describing as “Jesus’ humble listening” is what we need more of today. Church leaders in particular, must balance their intensity and desire to perform with compassionate attention to the needs of local congregations. Being more mindful of another’s stress and their tension points before they impact the lives of church members requires all of us to boost our emotional intelligence.Listening is a leadership responsibility that does not appear in the job description to serve as pastors or in church office… Those who do “humble listening” to their constituencies are in a much better position to lead the increasingly diverse and multigenerational communities we are asked to minister to… The “one-approach-fits-all” way of thinking has become outdated and those who embrace the high art of “humble listening” are destined to be the better, more compassionate representatives of Jesus.

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Even Eisler’s fans recognized the neo-pagan feminist influences in her work. The quote about Wiccan/Pagan cosmology was drawn, not from a Christian reviewer, but from a fan of hers. The point of the book was to promote the idea of that the vast majority of human cultures in early history were kindly gender-balanced societies. Eisler represented this noble primitive culture as the Chalice (a female sexual symbolism - vagina/chalice). Eisler believes that the kindly peaceful matriarchal pagan society was forcibly displaced by the patriarchal Judeo-Christian culture as represented by the Blade (an obvious phallic symbol). I did read the book.

Actually, the “partnership” aspect of the gender-balanced society (not matriarchal for Eisler carefully doesn’t use that word), is highly colored in Eisler’s book. She glosses over the fertility rites and human sacrifices that were the hallmark of these mythical simpler gender-balanced early societies.

Eisler operates from the theory that early primitive humans were basically good, kindly, cooperative gender-balanced folk. According to Eisler, these folk were gradually replaced by a gender-unbalanced culture (she carefully doesn’t call it patriarchal which would give away the game). Eisler virtually ignores the core belief of Christianity that was peaceful, kindly and cooperative and chooses to focus instead on the appropriation and corruption of Christianity by the ancient lust for power of kings and princes - relics from those same simpler gender-balanced society for which there is little evidence other than a bunch of naked pregnant female figures - likely fertility symbols or idols.

She gives Jesus a little credit, but not a lot. Eisler very much admired Mother Goddess veneration as archaeological evidence that women were treated equally in certain early societies. I really can find little evidence for such “gender-balanced” societies, though archaeologists have been searching for it ever since Eisler handed them a politically correct model for such societies.

Christianity actually did more to elevate women than virtually any other philosophy or system of thought. Even Adventism was very progressive for a Christian church where women are concerned. As early as 1861, the General Conference membership passed a resolution authorizing the ordination of women. The male-dominated GC administration ignored it and managed to avoid ordaining any women until the 21st century. Ellen White was clear about the co-equal relationship of men and women in her writings and roundly criticized the power grabbing of the GC administration. That her words and Scripture support a balance between genders, though not necessarily identical roles for men and women few SDA men have chosen to dominate their wives or require submission, at least not until the pernicious headship doctrine was introduced by television evangelicals during the 1970s.

The thing is we’ve had all we needed in Scripture all along to create a gender-balanced culture. In point of fact, a more co-equal gender balance has been far more common in Christian societies than virtually any other save in Eisler’s mythical ancient primitive gender-balanced cultures. Even in early Jewish history, women held a higher place than they did in surrounding cultures where all women served a term as temple prostitutes prior to being allowed to marry or were sacrificed in the annual fertility rites.

The problem with Eisler is that she hand paints a revisionist historical model that Progressive Socialists and, frankly, the devil wants to sell to modern society. It’s the idea that mankind is perfectible and that if we can force society into the proper gender-balanced shape, that humanity can achieve the long desired human-created Utopia that sheds itself from the need for a mean old patriarchal God to achieve perfection.

Eisler is a real favorite of militant feminists and progressive socialists because she gives them a framework for their idealized society, though she protests that this is not her purpose. Methinks she doth protest too much since she at the same time she calls the gender-balanced society a “way of structuring society in a more peaceful equitable and sustainable way.” In short, Eisler challenges old narratives about an inherently flawed humanity, claiming that more and more evidence shows that we are not doomed to perpetuate patterns of violence and oppression. She claims that a partnership alternative exists with deep roots in the earlier direction of our cultural evolution—not a utopia, she is careful to say, but utopian none the less.

Eisler is neither a friend to Christian belief, nor to historical accuracy.

The essay is not about Eisler per se. Rather, it uses her observation/framework to point out the idea that stories keep groups/people/societies entrenched in a certain narrative. This is a useful tool. The point of the article is to push for some reflection. I apologize that I did not make that clear for you in the article.

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Perhaps such an “original kingdom plan” does indeed exist…somewhere…at the very least in the Mind of God.

Have human beings ever been privy to this plan? Could we even comprehend it in anything but the most primitive terms?

If we must rely on the Bible for the blueprint, our individual psychologies will inexorably sort us into incompatible cohorts.

At that distance, its hard for me to imagine that the Great Creator of All that Is has enemies, emergencies, surprises, projects or Plan B’s.

All I sense is a pervasive peace and spacious, infinite possibility.

All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well.
–Julian of Norwich

And what wondrous things shall we individually absorb from that unsullied place and draw down, hand-in-hand, to co-create here on earth?

Only the most delicious things!

Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children.

Godliness-- godlikeness–is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress.

He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain, that includes everything good, and pure, and noble. He will advance as fast and as far as possible in every branch of true knowledge.

But his efforts will be directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as the heavens are higher than the earth.
Education

Which story shall we tell? A better story than we can imagine; a story of hearts knit together in love, a story of a Kingdom we haven’t yet glimpsed; a story of a Bridegroom and a Bride and of a Blessed Consummation.

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