I will freely admit that “spirituality” is not my favorite word. Whenever people at my home church talk about “spiritual growth” I admit I wonder what exactly is supposed to be growing, and where the marks on the wall would be recorded. I think my refusal to embrace the terminology stems from my feeling that I — and not just I — am not that clear on what the word means, really, and talking about things that I don’t know the meaning of worries me — it’s too easy to be talking about nothing at all.
So that’s my reservation. But today’s forum on “Masculinity and Spirituality” seems like a place to set aside that reservation for an hour or so, as I understand that there are not many other ways to go about talking about the impact gender has on one’s understanding of religion, religious symbols, connection to God, concept(s) of God and how all that impacts on one’s religious practices — and all of that in the context of the clear recognition that women are not the only people who have “gender,” as if “gender” were a synonym for being a woman. Men are also gendered subjects, and that gendered-ness engenders a particularity of situation. That particularity is often ignored, in our culture, where masculinity so frequently masquerades as a kind of universal neutral objectivity. So paying attention to it seems like a move in a positive direction, the direction of consciousness and clarity.
So the Women’s Center wishes the conversation that will be had at today’s forum, and the explorers who will be having it, well. I may have my reservations about “spirituality,” but about cultivating deeper and clearer awareness of the role of gender in each of our lives, including our religious lives, I have only encouragement to offer.