Take Me to Your Leader
Wednesday, July 15th
The woman tempted me,
Said Adam, and I fell.
Had she not been so kind
I would have had to do it all myself
And take the blame. Don’t tell,
Not Eve, nor anybody,
But it’s worked out rather well.
It starts with a woman as the villain of the piece in Genesis and ends with a woman as the whore of Babylon in an apocalyptic fantasy in Revelation. If that seems offensive, just stop and think a moment. They say most countries' histories are written by the victors in any society. It is also true that most histories are also written by men. The Bible is no exception - which may explain why women are often portrayed as the bad influences on the heroes of the Old Testament.
It also explains why God is described in male terminology and woman is the spare rib in the climax of creation week. We say we are made in God's image. Would it not be more accurate to say that we have made God in man's image? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Genesis and Exodus is all too human. As well as having favourites, God appears to be manipulated, vengeful, capricious. In short, not a God I can believe in. He sounds more like a few current male heads of Northern Hemisphere governments than he does the loving, forgiving parent I see in Jesus.
Perhaps that is why so many people still embrace the Old Testament archetype of good leadership as being endowed with 'masculine' attributes. In a series of BBC articles under
the banner of RETHINK, musician Brian Eno reflects on kinds of leadership and comments:
“If we have learned one thing from the Coronavirus experience it’s that a certain style of government and leadership, a style that’s dominated the last few years, isn’t going to be of any use to us at all in the 21st century.” The style of leadership to which he is referring is one defined by “macho, media savvy, authoritarian leaders whose primary talent is self-promotion.”
He goes on to assert that “What was needed was preparation, expertise, cooperation and good data. All complete mysteries to the macho mind.” He notes that countries with female leaders such as Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan have had considerably better outcomes in the pandemic. "The continuation of a macho style of leadership with self-preservation and promotion at its core, results in a handful of winners thriving in a “billionaires’ utopia while the rest of us collapse in a fireball.”
He suggests that the alternative, a society which values all its different intelligences and engages everybody rather than excluding most, is our only option if we are to address climate change and future pandemics. That view is shared by historian, Lord Peter Hennessy in the same series when he proposes five new priorities which could form a post-Corona banner that we as a nation could rally around as a foundation for the future.
These are: social care, social housing, technical education, combatting climate change, and preparing the nation for the impact of Artificial Intelligence on society.
It is also worth noting that the two female contributors to the series both call for a sense of global solidarity in moving forward. South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung maintains that governments in future must act in a globally minded way, restoring trust through transparency. Margaret MacMillan asserts that a global crisis requires a global response.
It is ironic that we have reacted so immediately to a threat to our world’s well-being that we cannot even see, when we are still dithering over whether to change our lifestyle in the face of the hard evidence of climate change. There will never be a vaccine to eliminate global warming. Nor will blaming other countries for their use of coal and eradication of rainforests bring resolution to the problems we face. We need to care enough to change our ways.
The trouble is, caring is a 'feminine' attribute. God cared for the world so much that he gave his only child. I guess Jesus had to be a man to get any kind of credibility in a man's world. Is it so odd to think of God as woman as well as man? A God with a feminine profile of a nurturing, caring, compassionate, just and all-embracing nature is an essential requirement for any God I can believe in. If we are going to realise the world as God's, we have got to stop seeing it as man's. And if we are going to be led into a new future which is for everybody we need new leaders who are more in the mould of a Jesus who came to love and to serve and to give - and not to count the cost.
'Christa' by Edwina Sandys (Included in a resource called The Christ We Share, published jointly by CMS, USPG and the Methodist Church)
The BBC series Rethink can be accessed from the following address: