Here’s story that I find pretty interesting in light of my developing relationship with the Goddess Columbia. Rick Perry, the extremist evangelical governor of Texas, is considering a run for president. (Of course, a number of the Republicans running don’t expect to have even a shot at the nomination. But running ups their exposure (our so-called “liberal media” will cover them, regardless), helps them sell books, maybe gets them a job
catapulting the propoganda commenting on Fox.) As part of his appeal to the Dominionists, Perry is:
busy coordinating an Evangelical event called “The Response,” which he describes as “a call to prayer for a nation in crisis.”
It’s also a cynical and obvious attempt to court the GOP’s social conservative base, a population who regularly claims that God granted the United States exceptional power and divine authority.
But Perry’s Bible-thumping plan may backfire, because “The Response” has been endorsed by an Oklahoma-based pastor, Dr. John Benefiel, who calls the statue of Liberty a “demonic idol” that uses democratic ideals to beguile Americans from their true calling: Christian worship.
Benefield has said that:
“Listen folks, that is an idol, a demonic idol, right there in the middle of New York harbor,” . . . in a sermon.
People say, ‘Well, no, it’s patriotic.’ What makes it patriotic? Why is it? It’s a statue of a false goddess. We don’t get liberty from a false goddess, folks. We get our liberty from Jesus Christ and that statue of liberty in no way glorifies Jesus Christ. I’m just telling you, we practice idolatry in America in ways that we don’t even recognize.
Here’s the video:
You’ll see that he takes aim at Columbia, as well as the Statue of Liberty. He equates them, along with Libertas and other Goddessess, with the Queen of Heaven, a fundie term for any notion that divinity may take female forms. His attack on the Statue of Liberty is particularly interesting to me, given a conversation that I had with G/Son a few weeks ago.
Ever since he was a little baby, I’ve sung G/Son to sleep with: Hush Little Baby, and We All Come from the Goddess, and Hoof and Horn, Hoof and Horn, All that Dies Shall Be Reborn; Corn and Grain, Corn and Grain, All that Dies Shall Rise Again. I admit that I never thought of any of them as a way of protelyztizing, or even as particularly religious songs. I sing them because their repetitive nature tends to put little babies to sleep. (And because, to be fair, their unchallenging scope allows me to sing them. You’d have to love me the way that my G/Son loves me to want to listen to my singing. I’m a woman of many talents; singing isn’t one of them.)
Last night, just as we climbed, clean-toothed and cotton pajamaed, under our heavy covers and turned out the lights, it began to rain in earnest. Through the open window, we practiced listening to the rain drops all together and then we practiced listening to each individual drop. G/Son was watching the lightening and listening to the thunder, clutching his new Thor Super Hero toy in his hands, and explaining to me how lightening and thunder do not mix well with water. He said, “Nonna, sing the song about the drops of rain.” And, so, I did. “We all come from the Goddess, and to Her we shall return, like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean.” I said, “Each drop of rain that we hear outside is flowing into Spout Run, into the beautiful Potomac, into the Chesapeake Bay, and into the Atlantic Ocean. And, someday, that is how I hope to flow.”
G/Son said, “Nonna, I know who the Goddess is. Jesus.” And he sang a song that I think he must have learned from his other grandma about “Jesus we love you and we know you will heal us.” I said, “Yes, a lot of people worship Jesus as a god. And ‘god’ is the male form of ‘goddess.'” G/Son thought about this for a bit and then he said, “Nonna. I know who the Goddess is. She’s the Statue of Liberty.”
And I said, and if this is wrong may the Goddess forgive me, and if this is right may the Goddess forgive me, because I am only trying to walk a middle way, “Yes, the Statue of Liberty is a statue of a very important Goddess. The Goddess of Liberty. And I pray to that Goddess every day.”
And G/Son said, “Sing to me again about ‘hush little baby,’ and then sing to me again about ‘corn and grain.’ Is the ‘corn and grain’ like the seed in your garden that comes back every year?”
I have to admit that, until G/Son said that, I’d never thought of the Statue of Liberty as the statue of a Goddess. He’s had almost no exposure to any, for example, of the Greek Goddesses, nor even, now that I think about it, to Columbia. So it makes sense that when he hears the term “Goddess,” the Statue of Liberty is what comes to mind. I think, as I imagine that most of our founders thought, and as I imagine the French thought when they gifted us with the Statue of Liberty, that the statue was simply a way to personify a quality. There’s a long history of personifying qualities such as wisdom, liberty, inspiration as females. And, clearly, at some point, for many of them, those personifications morph into, become associated with, acquire the qualities of Goddesses. Hence, Athena is the Goddess of political strategy. Demeter is the Goddess of motherhood and agriculture. Diana is the Goddess of feminine independence. I don’t know enough history to understand which came first.
And, for me, Columbia, a female representation of the idea/Higher Self/akashic form of America and, in particular, of my city, is indeed a “real” Goddess, just as Hecate is a real Goddess of liminal spaces (and is Ellis Island sacred ground? I think it well may have been for my Swedish ancestors, escaping overpopulation (caused by initially-more-successful farming methods), and I can certainly see Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads, standing, holding keys, behind Lady Liberty) and Hygeia is a real Goddess of health. Trying to learn Columbia’s story is a magical way of helping her to move from/birth herself as/reveal herself through being “just” a symbol or a statue.
So maybe Benefield isn’t completely wrong. And maybe he is right to be afraid. We’re everywhere. The Goddess is alive and magic is afoot.
Picture found here.