God Our Mother Comes Out Tomorrow

UPDATE: God Our Mother is out now.

Our next Liturgy, God Our Mother, comes out tomorrow. The Liturgists are a pretty adventurous bunch, and the people who've created works with us represent dramatic theological and doctrinal diversity. Our audience tends to be similarly diverse, and open to new ways of thinking.

Still, I'm nervous about this release. I'm worried that someone is going to take something in this release out of context, like the title, for instance. We haven't even released this liturgy yet, and I've already gotten a few "corrective" messages via my blog and Facebook page.

There is a risk that comes with being honest and vulnerable, and God Our Mother embodies that risk. We're not watering anything down, and instead are sharing from our hearts where God is leading us. To be clear, God Our Mother isn't actually a release about God being female, a Goddess, or anything like that. God Our Mother is instead about the limits of language when it comes to describing God.

The Bible mostly talks about God in a masculine and paternal context. You have God the Father (a male image), God the Son (a male image), and God the Holy Spirit (genderless, and without any human-like identity). But the Bible occasionally runs into the limits of masculine imagery when describing God, and uses feminine and maternal imagery instead. For example, the Bible both refers to God as a nursing mother, or as having a womb. There's a pretty detailed list of such versus here.

The song God our Mother and its accompanying spoken piece Pink and Blue honor these passages by using both masculine and feminine imagery to describe God in song and word. Both pieces are really beautiful: The Brilliance did an outstanding job bringing God Our Mother to life, and Shauna Niequist left us all in stunned silence when we read the first draft of Pink and Blue.

Michael Gungor, Lisa Gungor, and I all worked on the apophatic meditation piece. While God Our Mother and Pink and Blue use both masculine and feminine imagery for God, these meditations help show us how all language is too limiting to describe God. This is really challenging stuff, so I'd encourage anyone trying this to be patient, and to talk to a trusted pastor or spiritual mentor as you contemplate God Via Negativa.

This is our most challenging release so far. Using feminine images for God is very controversial in most Christian traditions, and apophatic theology is unknown to most of the church. The most common from of apophatic meditation in the Church is centering prayer, and even that practice is controversial in Evangelical circles. We're trusting that our audience will take the time to study and consider this work, without rushing to any conclusion–that's the point of apophaticism. The point of this release is not to create controversy, but instead to challenge people to examine their understanding of God, and the limits of human thoughts.