BACKGROUND TO BUDDY #20

Note to the reader: the series of articles entitled Background to Buddy were extracted from a Christian nonfiction work that formed the basis for the novel Buddy, which is available from either Amazon or Signalman Publishing. Directions are noted on the page entitled Buddy on this blog site. The purpose of this work was to explain the reasons why I consider the Holy Spirit to be functionally female. Adventure episodes and humor were added for the entertainment of both the reader and the author.

Chapter 11: Resistance to a Female Attribute in Deity

The ‘NIH’ factor

In the engineering community, the ‘NIH’, or ‘Not Invented Here’ factor crops up with unexpected frequency whenever someone comes up with an innovative idea possessing utility or merit. With great regularity the application of this factor is used to hinder or even halt the implementation of the idea. The term is applied to those of the inventor’s peers who take a sour-grapes attitude toward the invention or concept for the reason that they didn’t think of it themselves, or if they had thought of it they didn’t pursue it.

If one were to see this trait in action from another person, he would tend to condemn that individual. He probably shouldn’t do that, for we all, being human, are subject to the human frailty of pride. We might, if we were in that position, take the very same attitude. Even that wonderfully productive Christian, Sir Isaac Newton1, when confronted with a rivalry with Gottfried Leibniz regarding the invention of his calculus, went to great lengths to assure his sole ownership of the idea.

I’m not so sure that this factor even applies to the notion of a female Deity, as I’m increasingly inclined to back off from thinking of this concept as original. I’m pretty sure that periodically throughout history many other people have come to the same conclusion as I have. In fact, I’d be pretty surprised now to think that I might be alone with the thought.

On the other hand, even if I’m not alone with it, as I’m pretty sure is the case, the NIH factor might still apply if the thought wasn’t the individual’s own and he wishes that he had done the thinking. In that sense, the application of the NIH factor might be a pretty good indicator of the idea’s merit.

Male chauvinism

This is a more serious and ubiquitous factor than most Christians realize, women included. I have personally witnessed reactions to the notion that the Holy Spirit is functionally female that could only be attributed to a conviction that a woman’s place is in the home and certainly not within the Godhead. Like with the NIH factor, the root cause of chauvinism and a whole lot of other evils that support the suppression of truth is pride.

I know that pride is a fault common to us all, but it still is rather surprising, given what Scripture has to say on the subject, that there are so many Christians, among whom are a large number of pastors and other Church leaders, who don’t simply fail on occasion, but are continual slaves to pride, often so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t even perceive their possession of it, or rather its possession of them.

The Scriptural references to the proud are too numerous to note here with any sense of full coverage. Among the several Psalms and Proverbs that deal with the proud, the following are representative:

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off; him that hath a high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.”

– Psalm 101:5

“Every one who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

– Proverbs 16:5

Mary, in reciting her Magnificat, had this to say (Luke 1:51 and 52):

“He hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.”

My personal favorite is Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 1:8-31 of the place in God’s economy of pride. There, in placing Christians in the “B” team of society, he strips them of any indulgence of pride in their Christian walk:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctificatgion, and redemption: that, according as it is written, ‘He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’”

I must be particularly stubborn regarding pride, because God has put much effort into knocking it out of me. I’m still afflicted with it, but with a number of incidents like the following “dumb and dumber” episode, how can I possibly regard myself as gifted?

One nice summer week just a few years back my brother Jon and his wife Carla came up from their home in California to the northwest to visit Carolyn and me. After we had enthusiastically related to them some of our RV adventures, they half-heartedly took up with the notion of maybe buying one of their own. Being cautious about it, they wanted to start out small (if indeed they wanted to do it at all). Understanding this, Carolyn and I dragged them down to a local RV dealership that offered a small but elegant and cute tow-behind trailer. With a sweeping wave of his arm the sales agent bid us entrance to the interior. As the trailer was so small, Carolyn and I waited outside while the salesman followed them inside.

Quite soon the door opened abruptly. The salesman jumped out and rushed away to the office. Peering inside, Carolyn and I saw my brother with his right hand raised up in the air. Attached to it were a thumb, three normal fingers and one bloody one, outsretched and rapidly expanding. “What happened?” we asked in unison. With his good hand, Jon pointed to a small fold-down table that was dangling on its hinges. Attached to the wall by two hinges, it was deployed by swinging a leg, also hinged to the table, to the vertical position. In folding it away and then attempting to restore it to the deployed position, my brother apparently had extended the leg to its vertical position without realizing that his finger was resting on the spot that the hinged end of the leg would occupy when the table was deployed. Accordingly, he squished his finger. The salesman had gone to get a bandage and maybe tell his buddies what an idiot he had for a potential customer.

Carolyn, not fully understanding how my brother could be so stupid, looked at his finger, then at the table, and back to my brother. “How did you manage to do that?” she asked him. The question was sincere. I decided to show her how he could do it and bent down to pull out the table. When the salesman returned, there we were, my brother and I, right hands extended, both with bleeding index fingers. The salesman stared at us in disbelief. “I only have one bandage,” he finally managed to say. Head down, my brother grabbed the bandage, which he wrapped around his injured finger. Head down, I went to the tiny bathroom and grabbed some toilet paper, which I wrapped around my injured finger. Then we both slunk away to our car. We didn’t look, but I think that the womenfolk following us did so with their heads down too.

Maybe most people aren’t of the dumb and dumber kind like my brother and me, but it wouldn’t hurt some of them, especially Christians, to get knocked down a few pegs and wake up about their real place in the scheme of things. Maybe they’d be a little more open to new ideas not from their own beloved minds.

God will certainly humble the proud. But that isn’t all bad, because those that He chooses to humble are also those whom He loves. The best humbling story I know, besides my own, is one that happened in high school. And the best part of it is that the guy that was humbled turned out good. I don’t know for sure as I haven’t followed his life beyond a certain point, but I’ll bet he’s a strong and happy Christian.

Of all the car memories I have of that long-ago high school time, the James Dean one is the most enduring. James Dean was the actor who played in the movies East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, and was hugely popular among late teeners. His macho persona followed him into real life, and his death at the age of 24 was about as tragic to us as John Kennedy’s assassination. He died in his new 1955 Porsche Spyder after being broadsided by a fellow who made a left turn in front of his fast-moving vehicle.

The guy in high school whom I’m thinking of actually looked like the actor, and he played it for all it was worth. One time, after watching Giant, he brought a can of oil to school and poured it over his head. He loved to strike a classic Dean pose in his ’50 Merc, slouched down in the seat with a hand draped over the top of the wheel and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Drive-in restaurants were popular in those days, and he’d tool around the restaurant to maximize his exposure to the high-schoolers who flocked there. But one day he went too far. Turning the corner, he cut it too close and collided with the fire hydrant. Unfortunately, two things then happened. The hydrant broke, creating a fountain of spectacular proportions. But enough of it remained to pin his car atop it at a crazy angle. Try as he might, he was stuck there as the patrons laughed their heads off. He was the talk of the school for weeks.

After that monumental public disgrace there were only two options open to him. He could join the French Foreign Legion, or he could enlist in the Marine Corps. He chose the latter. I met him on a Greyhound bus once as we both returned back to Camp Pendleton at the end of liberty. He was squared-away then and we had a good conversation. He even talked about the incident with the fire hydrant, referring to himself in the third person as if these two personas weren’t related.
[to be continued]

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