Driving with a Goddess

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That was a misleading title to this post. But I found myself driving through town yesterday and caught sight of a bumpersticker (how can you not – that’s what they’re there for) – which said, “I am a Goddess.” Of course the first thought that comes to mind is, “Which one?” But I know that’s a silly question and I think I understand what the driver meant by her bumpersticker and I wish her well on her spiritual journey. It’s just not the same journey that I am on.

Orthodoxy is no stranger to terms such as “theosis” or “divinization.” Theologically we believe it is the proper end of man that he be united to God. As St. Irenaeus and many other Fathers of the Church have said, “God became man so that man could become god.”

But I cannot imagine having an Orthodox bumpersticker that read, “I am a god.” Or even, “I’m going to be a god.”

I could imagine having an Orthodox bumpersticker that read, “I am the worst of sinners,” except for the fact that the bumpersticker would draw undue attention to the fact and would only produce pride. But I digress.

There is no Orthodox spiritual teaching that would have us reach upward towards divinization. The path to God does not go in that direction. The path to God is clearly laid out for us in the second chapter of Philippians (5-11):

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The way up is always down. The way to fullness is always emptiness. The way to exaltation is always humiliation. You have to lose your life in order to save it.

But these sorts of things make for poor bumperstickers. We have one bumpersticker on one of our vehicles. It has the verse from Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” It has no elaboration. I bought it in a very pro-life mood. It’s on my wife’s car.

7 Responses to “Driving with a Goddess”

  1. Dixie Says:

    I love how, in learning the true orthodox faith, the Scriptures just open themselves up. Jesus Himself showed us what the path to theosis looks like. I never could have read this from the text prior to coming to Orthodoxy. Wonderful! Thank you for this.

  2. Hapax Legomena Says:

    […] Fr. Stephen has excellent thoughts on being a “goddess”. I liked this observation: I could imagine having an Orthodox bumpersticker that read, “I am the worst of sinners,” except for the fact that the bumpersticker would draw undue attention to the fact and would only produce pride. I wholeheartedly agree. I have sometimes heard it said that Christians should not name themselves sinners, that self-identification as a sinner is somehow denying the saving reality of our baptism in Christ. Phooey. […]

  3. benjamin Says:

    “The way up is always down. The way to fullness is always emptiness. The way to exaltation is always humiliation. You have to lose your life in order to save it.”

    I am thinking about this post in relation to your posts on the ecclesiology of the cross, and how this sentence must apply to us as the Orthodox. I suppose one could say, in order to find our Orthodoxy (and by Orthodoxy I mean all the trappings of the faith) we must lose it. In order to be the church we must be the church crucified and weak and never, never triumphant. I was speaking with a priest last night and he shared similiar thoughts. In the process of bringing the Messiah the first time, God managed to destroy Jerusalem on a frequent basis. Perhaps before the Messiah comes the second time the New Jerusalem must take quite a beating as well.

    Thanks for your words, Father.

  4. Steve Says:

    What does “I am a Goddess” say but pride, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, and self-filling (in contradistinction to self-emptying)?

  5. NewTrollObserver Says:

    Steve,

    Saying “I am a Goddess” might say different things, depending upon who says it and in what context it is said. Perhaps the person as a child was told she would never amount to much, and believing she is a Goddess is one way to (re)gain her belief in herself. Perhaps someday she will eventually have healed enough, such that she could voluntarily offer up her Goddessness, without fear of losing her self.

    Greetings,

  6. Fatherstephen Says:

    I have no idea what it means to say I am a goddess. That God can heal and save anyone is certainly true, and I pray he saves us all.

  7. Demetrius Says:

    I had the “2000 Years Orthodox Christianity” license frame on my car, but removed it recently. I delayed in putting it on because it seemed too boasty. However, when I mentioned that to my wife, who isn’t Orthodox, she didn’t see it as boasting: “It is what it is.”

    However, after a couple months, the clutch died and I was waiting for AAA to come get Kit off the side of the road. Very humbling. While the car was in the shop, it came to me in prayer that I ought to take off the plate frame and that was the first thing I did when I got Kit home a few days later.

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