Nodeshell rescue!

The image of God as Father - as an exclusively male figure - is one of long standing in the Western religious tradition. People of many faiths and none routinely use male pronouns when describing the Creator, and until recently, it seems, this idea has gone unchallenged. But in fact, the idea of God as exclusively male is largely a cultural, not religious, artefact.

In the Bible, in Genesis 2, we are told that God created people in 'his' own image - male and female. Some scholars claim that the Hebrew title 'Es Shaddai' - usually translated 'Almighty' - actually means 'Great-Breasted'.

In the book of Proverbs, we encounter Wisdom, who, like Jesus in John 1, was 'in the beginning with God'. This motif occurs again in the Great O Antiphons, which commence with O Sapientia, the invocation of Sophia, the divine spirit of Wisdom.

Both Jesus and St Paul play down the importance of gender differences. 'God is Spirit, and those that worship him must worship him in spirit, and in truth', Jesus tells the woman at the well of Samaria. 'In Christ there is no male or female', St Paul writes.

In certain apocryphal gospels, Jesus is presented as referring to his 'mother, the Holy Spirit'. This may be the mother intended by St John the Divine when, in the Revelation, he describes a woman robed in the sun, with a crown of stars.

In mediaeval times, Mother Julian of Norwich and other mystics described God, and indeed Jesus, as a mother, and this imagery was given forceful presentation both in mostly-lost wall paintings of the time and in later centuries by the works of artists such as Stanley Spencer.

In church circles, the image of God as mother was, by and large, ruthlessly supressed. It is only in recent years that feminist theology has taken hold, and even this has played a surprisingly small role in the continuing debate about women priests. And last year there was great outcry when the Methodist church in England produced a prayer book which, in just one place, addressed God as Mother.

But to the Christian who feels that God is both male and female, it is natural to respond to C S Lewis' claim that 'only one wearing the masculine uniform may represent the Lord of the Church' with the assertion that, in God, through the Holy Spirit,

'I've got access to Mother now, and I'll get my own answers, thank you'.
Originally a quote from Alien, coming up towards the end of the movie. Lt. Ripley has just inherited command of the beleaguered ship "Nostromo", and hence gained direct access to the ship's computer, known as Mother.

Although I think the quote itself is nothing special, the scene is great. This is the point where Ripley finds out that the Company had at least a vague idea of the threat on planet LV-426, and that the entire crew of the Nostromo was classed as expendable. As she reads this, she is attacked by Ash, the android science officer in charge of this little piece of treachery, and it's at this point that Ripley begins to turn into the kick-ass action hero seen in the later Alien movies.

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