Dec 31, 2013

A wonder beyond gender?


Giving birth to God

A wonder beyond gender?

Dec 24th 2013, 22:52 by B.C.


I PROMISED a second instalment of my posting about the Virgin Mary and feminism. This one doesn't begin with Pussy Riot but with hymns of a more conventional kind.

"Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold him come, offspring of a Virgin womb!"  Today, in one form or another, hundreds of millions of people across the world are celebrating that story in song: the story of a chaste woman who, by a miracle, gave earthly life to a man who had always existed in another realm as the eternal progeny of God. And for many, perhaps most, of the singers, it's much more than a story. According to a survey this month by the Pew Research Center, 73% of Americans believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Significantly more women (78%) affirmed that belief than men (69%), and more black respondents (90%) than white ones (71%). As you'd expect, belief in the virgin birth was much higher among white evangelicals (97%) than among white followers of liberal or "mainline" Protestant churches (70%). (The pollsters did not, apparently, think of putting the question to Muslims, although the Koran states—no less clearly than the New Testament—that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus; the difference, of course, is that for Islam Jesus was an inspired prophet but not the son of God.)

If these figures tell us anything, they are a reminder of the utter disconnect between the sensibilities of many ordinary people and those of the opinion-forming intelligentsia, including the liberal religious intelligentsia—for whom the idea of a virgin birth, changing forever the order of the universe, is at best awkward (because it jars with so much else that the modern world publicly believes and values) and at worst shocking.

Let's state the issue openly. If the appearance of God, in human form, is the most important thing that ever happened, then yes, it can indeed be said that the person who in a physical sense made that appearance possible must be uniquely worthy of praise and veneration. To that extent, classical Christian doctrine is internally consistent. But to the modern mind, there still seems to be an asymmetry: a man whose nature is both divine and human is brought into the world, miraculously, by a female human being who acquires a degree of holiness mainly by virtue of the (male) child she bears. Doesn't that go directly against the grain of all our contemporary thinking about gender? Doesn't it sniff of a story told by men about women which patronises even as it praises?

Today's Christianity has some sharply contrasting answers. For the fundamentalist, there is no problem because scripture trumps everything. At another extreme, radical and liberal theologians have ruthlessly deconstructed the doctrine of Mary and her virginity. With as much spleen as any secular polemicist, the retired Anglican bishop John Shelby Sponghas said the figure of Mary, as presented by the church, is less inspiring to women than the comic-book character Wonder Woman, and equally mythical. "Mary was desexed and dehumanised by a condescending patriarchal hierarchy," he thunders.

Yet another answer has been offered by Christian thinkers who take doctrine more seriously than the letter of scripture. They would say that precisely when God is at work, all earthly categories, including gender, are at some level overcome. With respect to Jesus, this is well-trodden theological ground: although he came on earth as a male Jewish subject of the Roman empire, he is said to summon all human beings to a state of communion with God in which there is "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female..."

What about Mary, then? In a faith which emphasises the physical reality of Christ's birth, isn't Mary, the mother of God, essentially female? Some important figures in the early church—the sort that traditionalists still like to read—had a slightly different take. For Symeon the New Theologian, a Byzantine monk, "giving birth to God" was something all holy men and women are called on to do—without, of course, becoming literally pregnant. As he put it: "...All the saints conceive, similarly to the Mother of God, the Word of God within themselves and give birth to Him...When we repent sincerely for our previous sins...precisely as it happened in the womb of the Virgin, the Word of the Father enters us and is found in us as a seed..."

Bit of a stre-e-tch? The church hierarchs of the day weren't happy with Symeon, but a thousand years on, his critics' names have been forgotten and he is revered as a saint—or, if you like, a God-bearer. Men can do it too, it seems.

Sumber: The Economist, 24th Dec 2013

Jul 3, 2013

Pemangku Jakarta

Masih dalam rangka HUT DKI Jakarta ke-468 
 yang masih belum puas dirayakan rakyat ibukota...
---

Catatan Kota Jakarta

Jakarta kota limpahan ilusi
mimpi-mimpi warga yang tak bisa terbeli.

Penguasa dipilih silih berganti
namun sistem hidup Jakarta kian menambah frustrasi.

Kota yang dibentuk logika pasar
mendahulukan siapa yang mampu bayar.

Pembangunan berselera privat
memamerkan jarak sosial yang menyengat.

Semakin menor Jakarta terlihat
logika publiknya sungguh jauh tersesat.

Gubernur boleh berkuasa, tapi 
pemangku Jakarta sejatinya adalah warga ibukota.

Tak akan ada perubahan, jika kita bertingkah 
bak tuan yang tak mau turun tangan.

Selamat ulang tahun, Jakarta
kau tampak tua dan benar-benar lelah.

(Catatan Mata Najwa 26/06/2013 Edisi 'Pemangku Jakarta')

Jun 7, 2013

Huru itu tidak ada

 
 

BAHASA

Huru-hara

Oleh ANDRÉ MÖLLER

Setelah media Indonesia berberita mengenai kerusuhan yang terjadi di pinggiran Stockholm akhir-akhir ini, saya menerima beberapa surel dan pesan melalui media sosial dari kawan-kawan di Indonesia yang ikut prihatin terhadap situasi keamanan di Swedia secara umum dan terhadap keamanan kami sebagai keluarga secara khusus. Rumah kami kebetulan jauh lebih dekat dengan ibu kota Denmark daripada ibu kota Swedia, jadi kami selamat-selamat saja dari kekacauan yang mengguncang Stockholm pada awal musim panas ini.

Bahwasanya kerusuhan ini berasal dari politik migrasi dan integrasi yang mesti dianggap gagal dalam beberapa aspek tertentu, tentulah tidak perlu dibahas dalam sebuah kolom bahasa. Bahwasanya bukannya kehadiran polisi dalam jumlah yang lebih banyak yang bakal berhasil memulihkan situasi di pinggiran Stockholm, melainkan perhatian politik yang ikhlas dari pusat yang diperlukan, juga tak pantas disinggung di sini. Toh, ini bukan kolom (kritik) politik.

Kata apa yang bisa kami bahas secara singkat di sini? Yang ingin saya angkat adalah huru-hara. Kata huru tidak ditemukan dalam Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia Pusat Bahasa (KBBI), tetapi jika kata hara dicari, akan ditemukan dua lema. Lema pertama merujuk kepada seekor ikan air tawar yang panjangnya sekitar 60 sentimeter, dan lema kedua merujuk kepada "zat yang diperlukan tumbuhan atau hewan untuk pertumbuhan (...)". Dengan kata la- in, kata huru-hara rupanya terdiri dari dua kata yang satunya malah tidak merupakan kata sama sekali dalam bahasa Indonesia, dan yang kedua tidak memiliki koneksi yang mudah terlihat pada kata huru-hara.

Kata itu sendiri diberi arti 'keributan; kerusuhan; kekacauan' dalam KBBI, dan memang itulah yang melanda ibu kota tanah air saya akhir-akhir ini. Menariknya, hura-hura berarti 'senang-senang; gembira ria' atau 'pesta pora', tetapi ini tentu saja masalah lain lagi. Nah, dari mana kata huru-hara ini berasal? Terus terang saya tidaklah yakin, tetapi saya kira kami tetap berhak mendiskusikannya sejenak di sini. Rupanya vokal atau huruf hidup terkadang dapat terbang dan saling tukar posisi dalam bahasa Indonesia, dan tidak jarang terdapat sejenis permainan vokal dalam kata ulang, seperti mondar-mandir, bolak-balik, asal-usul.

Jangan heran bahwa huru-hara juga mengalami semacam permainan huruf hidup. Dengan demikian, dapat kami kira bahwa ada hubungan di antara huru-hara dengan haru, tetapi tidak dalam arti 'rawan hati (kasihan, iba, dsb)', melainkan dalam arti kedua, yang notabene adalah 'kacau'. Baik KBBI maupun karya Eko Endarmoko yang sangat berguna berjudul Tesaurus Bahasa Indonesia (TBI) memberi catatan bahwa kata ini memiliki asal-usul di tanah Minangkabau. Jika huru-hara di-Google, kita juga dengan lekas dapat melihat bahwa kata ini sering muncul dalam bahasa Melayu di Malaysia.

Di bawah lema haru biru di TBI kami temukan huru-hara sebagai salah satu sinonimnya, dan KBBI memberi arti 'kerusuhan, keributan, kekacauan, huru-hara' untuk haru biru ini. Bagaimana warna biru dapat masuk dalam ucapan ini masih merupakan misteri bagi saya, tetapi saya yakin sejumlah pembaca akan mencerahkan saya setelah mereka membaca kolom ini. Ketika menulis kolom-kolom bahasa, saya memang lebih banyak belajar dibandingkan dengan mengajarkan sesuatu.

Ngomong-ngomong, bukankah kata berberita yang terlihat dalam alinea pertama kolom bahasa ini terlampau jarang dipakai?

André Möller Penyusun Kamus Swedia-Indonesia, Tinggal di Swedia

Sumber: Kompas, 6 Juni 2013