It reared up again last night as I left Barnes and Noble, where I had been continuing my study of C#. As I walked to the door, a grace-filled young lady came to my attention, and a surge of sexual predation boiled up from deep within me. It took only an instant to beat it down. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. I know where it comes from, and we’re locked in a visceral struggle that threatens the survival of us both.
For the last fifteen years, every time that I engage seriously the thought of entering into an intimate relationship, a powerful female voice at the deepest layers of my consciousness throws women at me, cackling “See, he’s just like other men. All that he wants is sex.” This was a serious problem in my relationship with Jamie Grace, as in dancing with other women, I would place myself in service of their joy. That would work itself gradually into a series of lifts that would terminate with their legs wrapped around me and their yoni pressed against my abdomen. What observers of such scenes failed to report to Jamie Grace was that I immediately drew a line and backed out of the dance.
I have made it through the next twenty-three pages of Sera Beak’s Red, Hot and Holy and now find myself filled with grief and shame. I know that I must continue to slog through the work, and will see it to the end, but what I perceive now is the slow breaking of this grace-filled woman’s will to Mystery.
The battle lines are laid down for all to see in Chapter 11, titled “Red Night of the Soul.” The setting is her “Cosmic Family Therapy.” In this experience, Sera is invited to allow a group of intuitives to model the psychic tensions that have led her into a dark night of the spirit. The stage is set with stand-ins for Sera’s family, but her parents rapidly fade from view. The scene is instead dominated by a pool of blood, into which a man stands on a chair to adopt the posture of the cross. Ultimately, Sera finds herself on the floor, immersed in this pool of blood, curled up in a fetal position. The therapy session breaks off at that point, as Sera offers rather proudly, with this comment from the facilitator: “You’re pretty out there.”
In my book “Love Works”, in setting the stage for the passion that brought Jesus to the cross, I observe that in reading the Gospels, I sense a grim change in Jesus’s attitude towards his ministry with the death of John the Baptist. John was the only man that heralded openly the Savior’s presence, and as a result was jailed by Herod. Herod feared to destroy John, who was beloved by the people. But John continues to proclaim truth in the court, eventually denouncing Herod’s marriage. As is well known, Herod’s wife sends Salome to seduce her father through sensual dance. In the creepy finale, Herod’s lust moves him to offer his daughter anything, and – at her mother’s prompting – she asks for John’s head on a platter.
The women of the Jewish Sisterhood decry the paternalism of their tradition, but the influence of Beak’s “Red” spirituality is seen throughout the Bible. It is in the line of Hebrew inheritance through the mother. It is Leah sending out her sons to slaughter those that submitted to Dinah’s sexual adventurism. It is Judith using sex to defeat Holofernes. (What is it about sexual temptresses and severed heads?) It is in the Book of Esther, devoid of any mention of God, in which the “Whore of Babylon” grasps the knob of the Persian king’s “scepter” and leads her people into the seductions of royal power that culminated in Herodian corruption of the Law.
In the Christian era, it is priestly celibacy, established not on the basis of ambiguous Biblical verse, but because early bishops used their privilege to secure for their wife’s sons the titles of grace and communal lands of the church. It is, against the backdrop of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, a rabbi offering to an interfaith gathering an anecdote in which he observed that if the choice was between ham and sex, he’d chose the second. The proceedings were interrupted by an angry priest, who stood up to offer that he had two hundred wives, and “they all finish my sentences for me.”
It is my arrival at a Jewish home during Yom Kippur to observe a grandfather demanding that his granddaughter recognize her father as “lord and master”, with the adult women smirking in the kitchen as the girl demurred. It is to awaken to the departure of a coven of women, heralded only by the straggling neophyte, gazing upon me lovingly and announcing “So we’ve won.” It is the pastor at Saddleback Church standing up to announce that he “speaks to Jesus every day,” and my discovery, upon discrete investigation, that it was his wife playing the counterfeit. It is the female minister of my church responding to my trauma at being raped painfully in my dreams with the retort “You’d better be careful with that. Being raped physically is an entirely different matter.”
It is to wade in the deep pool of menstrual intimacy with blood, a pool imbued with all the creative joys of maternity, where men enter only through violence.
Yes, only through violence. Only through self-destructive competition.
So what was the response of Christ to this imbalance between the sexes?
To seize the cross with his broken body, smearing it with his own blood. To carry it to the mount and surrender to death, drowning in his own fluids. To do so while proclaiming forgiveness. To do so in love.
After watching me dance at a pagan ceremony, my minister observed to me that there were still a few Shaker women alive. I eventually came across the Shaker hymn “I Danced in the Morning.” These verses resonate powerfully with the scene described by Sera Peak:
I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame,
The holy people said it was a shame.
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me on high,
And they left me there on a cross to die.
I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone,
But I am the Dance, and I still go on.
During her therapy session, Sera did not see Christ dancing – not in the flesh. He hung there passively, immersed in the blood that he entered through the gift of his submission to spiritual rape at the hands of violent men. It was his soul that danced, imbued with the spirit of Unconditional Love, lighting the darkness, washing away fear, and becoming so thoroughly enmeshed in the healing of women that, despite the long millennia of rejection, they find themselves unable to envision their separation from him, and so their avatars, Kali among them, turn their will to his seduction.
Dear ladies, dear Sera: there is so much more for you than that. Try to see yourselves as we do.
I cannot, and will not, much as I might enjoy it, submit to your redcidivism.