Two Ultimates: The Ground of Being and Goddess by Carol P. Christ

carol p. christ 2002 colorThe concept of two ultimates, the ground of being and Goddess, can be helpful in understanding differences of emphasis within and among religions.  Some religions or strands within religions focus on relationship with or worship of a personal God, while other religions or strands within religions focus on identifying with or merging with the impersonal ground of being or the whole of which we are part.  These two ultimates are found in feminist spiritualities and theologies.

In “Being Itself and the Existence of God”* process theologian John Cobb identifies two ultimates.  The ground of being as the metaphysical principles that structure all of life is unchanging; as the whole of which individuals are part, the ground of being is impersonal.  God, on the other hand, is an active presence in the world, is personal, and cares about individuals in the world.  If God is understood to be in some sense an individual in relation to other individuals, then God cannot be identified with the whole, because the whole is made up of God and other individuals.  Yet God is not simply one individual among other individuals.  Only God has perfect knowledge of the world and every individual within it and only God cares for the world in light of perfect knowledge of it.

I find Cobb’s notion of two ultimates helpful in understanding some of the differences in feminist views of Goddess and God.  Some spiritual feminists, especially Goddess feminists, view the sacred as the whole of which we are a part, structured by the seasons and cycles of birth, death, and regeneration.  Starhawk’s tree of life meditation in which the individual identifying with the tree draws energy from its ground imagines Goddess as the ground of being and life.  Z Budapest’s song “We all come from the Goddess, and to Her we shall return” connects us to the cycles of birth and death.

The view of Goddess as a personal presence who loves, understands, and inspires us to love is based on the notion of God as a person with whom individuals are in relation.  Jennifer Berizan invokes a Goddess who cares in her song “She Who Hears the Cries of the World,” addressed to the Goddess in the form of Chinese Goddess Kwan Yin.  Prayer to Goddess and a sense that She is always with us are based on the idea of a relational, personal God.  According to Cobb religions do not have to choose between the two ultimates. If both are real, then religions can and should recognize both.  Continue reading “Two Ultimates: The Ground of Being and Goddess by Carol P. Christ”

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