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What's in a Name?

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My aversion to the word God began in childhood because of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who regularly showed up at our door to convert us to Christianity. My father used to try to argue them out of their stance that only they knew who or what God is. They, of course, saw my dad as one of the lost who needed to be saved. This was my first experience with proselytizing. As adults, my parents had moved away from their Christian roots to a more “free-thinking” approach to religion. They felt that humans can never really “know” if God exists; it is a personal belief. So I was raised entirely outside of traditional religion. My parents took me to a Unitarian church once, but I wasn’t really interested. They always allowed me my own choices with regard to religious beliefs or practices.


So I had no spiritual framework other than Nature and my parents’ unconditional love, which I eventually recognized as God in its purest form. I remained suspicious of the rigidity of religion, as well as its patriarchal structure, for many years. The word God to me exemplified all of that. It wasn’t until I read Mary Daly’s book Beyond God the Father in my 20s that I began to open to a spirituality beyond religion. Mary asked her readers to imagine God as a verb not a noun—an active verb, neither male nor female. That fascinated me and enabled me to break through to infinite possibilities around the idea of God. The words Source, Divine, Goddess, Great Mystery, Universal Consciousness, Spirit all held meaning for me. I liked having many names for God, which is really unnamed energy anyway. It’s humans who want to name it.

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