Thursday, April 22, 2010

Context of Examples in a Lecture

I had the students listen to a lecture given by Gus DiZerega at the Toronto Pagan Conference called Return the Divine Feminine. This exercise did not go over well, as it turns out, because not everyone shares my love of listening to lectures.

One of my students complained that Gus tends to ramble in his lectures, talking about stuff that has seemingly nothing to do with the topic at hand. "He tells a story about a guy in a hospital being operated on. What does that have to do with the Goddess?"

I hadn't listened to the lecture in quite awhile, so I couldn't remember that part of the lecture. I have relistened to the lecture and now understand the point he was trying to make.

Gus was talking about how the existing patriarchal society is very resistant to any radical change, despite the evidence to the contrary. It has very rigid boundaries that define what is real and what is false, and it is therefore quick to label anything that falls outside of its box as wrong and not to be considered, especially if it contradicts the main point or mission statement (despite any presented evidence).

Therefore, a rigid patriarchal society would definitely resist any notion of a Divine Feminine model, despite any historical or logical arguments that could be made for it. The same held true for any new spiritual traditions being introduced in a culture dominated by Judeo-Christian religions. This fell outside of what was deemed to be acceptable and was, at best, rejected or, at worst, vilified.

The example that Gus presents about the man being operated on illustrates how resistant the society was to new ideas, especially if it contradict was accepted to be true. The thinking at the time was incapable of imaging a new idea:
Also, you saw the rise in non-traditional and holistic approaches to health. [...] And these methods of health assume very, very different models of reality than the sort-of mechanistic model of mainstream medicine that occurred at that time, where mind could have no effect whatsoever on the body because we all know that mind is not material and body is material, and therefore mind is an offshoot... 

I still remember when Nixon went to China to open up China for the United States. An American columnist named Stewart Alsop went with him and this really [...] typifies the difference. Alsopp, a major columnist for the New York Times, goes to China with Nixon and gets appendicitis, so he has to go to a Chinese hospital to have his appendix removed.  He writes a column about how the Chinese gave him a mirror so he could watch while they opened him up and take his appendix out. And they stuck these *needles* in him and it seemed to work! 

I still vividly remember an interview with the head of medicine at Yale who said "This is impossible because our studies prove that pain doesn't work this way. So Alsopp was really deceived!"

What is going on is a society that is utterly committed in model of science to boundaries: firm boundaries that are not crossed.
So if the thinking at the time was so rigid that it would not believe that acupuncture could be real and something to be studied, how could they possible embrace the idea of the feminine being divine in a rigidly patriarchal society?

I tried to find a link to this story, but couldn't come up with anything. I'll try asking Gus on this blog and maybe he'll be able to provide a link. I hope that clears up the context.

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