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March 21, 2003: P is another name for the big cheese

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After our two-week stint of mollusk training in San Francisco, where the question "is that male or female?" was asked perhaps more than at any other time in our lives, the subject of gender versus appearance (or even species versus appearance) has crept into the conversations of some of us at Benthic Creatures a bit more often. So it was no surprise that during a rare quiet moment in wherever the heck it is that we're doing mollusk training in the county of Modesto this week, that the subject reared its head once again. This time it was because the question of the gender of God was broached. How the question arose really isn't relevant (mainly because I honestly haven't a clue what started it), but the point of the matter is that I noted that we really need a term in the English language for non-gender (much like many other languages have), because we were all at least in agreement that God (if he/she exists at all) probably isn't either male or female, but something else entirely.

One of my coworkers looked up from whatever he was doing (probably straightening paper clips or something equally useful) and said with a perfectly straight face "So basically what you're saying is that God is Pat."

For those of you who are looking at that last sentence and wondering just what the heck he was talking about, this was in reference to an old Saturday Night Live skit about a person whose gender could never quite be determined, and the lengths that person's coworkers went to on a regular basis to try to figure out the gender mystery.

We all pondered this suggestion for a moment or two (after the snorting and snickering subsided) and then decided that we liked it. We liked it so much that for the rest of the afternoon, whenever any of us (or the mollusk trainers who were working with us) said "Oh, God!" for any reason, the aforementioned coworker piped up with "No, no. Oh Pat!" And needless to say it went steadily downhill for the rest of the afternoon, the more tired and punchy we became.

I told my mom (the minister) this story and she found it highly amusing. I doubt, however, that she will incorporate it into one of her sermons, as she keeps threatening to do with the Action Figure Jesus (with poseable arms and gliding action!) we left on my parents' doorstep a few months ago (Because really. What minister would *not* appreciate receiving their very own Action Figure Jesus with poseable arms and gliding action, I ask you?). While the Action Figure Jesus might work for a children's time discussion, I'm not sure that even the most open-minded of churchgoers is ready to envision their Surpreme Being in quite this manner. Yet.

This has been an entry written in the spirit of AlphaBytes.

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