Ray's Blog

There, given, clear, rich


“Suddenly, after ten thousand years of myth and history, we find ourselves floundering in a marsh.  The footing upon which our forebears proceeded through life has fallen away and we are awash in the fen.

What marsh?  What fen?  What footing?

The footing, surely, would have been the whole set of suppositions that lay underneath the ordinary business of human life for all tribes, all cultures, and all civilizations, Oriental, African, Occidental, or Oceanic, for as many aeons as we can uncover.  One of these suppositions, and one that appears to have been vastly widespread, was that humanity appears under the splendid and dual modality of male and female, and that this is good.  It took no special perspicacity to see this: any savage, any peasant, any coolie, proceeded on this assumption, along with the sages, seers and saints.  All young men and women becoming aware of each other, all bridegrooms approaching their brides, all husbands and wives coupling fruitfully, all fathers and mothers united in rearing their sons and daughters so that they in their turn might enter this wonderful Dance – they all thought, if they thought about it at all, that the distinction was there, and given, and clear, and rich.

But suddenly we are told that it has all been a mistake.  The distinction that has appeared to everyone as such a bright fixity, and that has nourished all song and story, and has gilded all human ordinariness with bliss, and from which has sprung all manner of valor and charity and nobility and joy – this distinction is cultural only.  It is superficial.  It is irrelevant.  Nay, it is pernicious.  We are persons, not men and women.  Pray don’t chain us down to these heavy and embarrassing fleshy categories.  There is an entity ‘me’ that has nothing to do with the costume under which I am obliged to masquerade.”

Thomas Howard, “The Yoke of Fatherhood,” Christianity Today, 23 June 1978, page 10.  Italics original.