The authors of the Sacred Scriptures of the three monotheisms created three quite distinct deities, but they are all male. The pagan pantheon was less macho, and includes goddesses from the Greek Aphrodite to the Roman Vesta, as well as the Celtic Epona, protectress of horses, the Nordic Frigg, goddess of love, and Isis, the Egyptian Queen of the Goddesses, better known for the Oxford regattas on the river that bears her name (but no relation to ISIS, the “Islamic State of Iraq in Syria” terrorist group).
Someone recently noticed that violent storm systems which are given male or female names reveal a curious statistic. Hurricanes and tornadoes with female pseudonyms turn out to be more destructive than those with male sobriquets. A coincidence ? Perhaps not. The theory is that storms with female names are apparently expected to be less violent than their counterpart male meteorlogical menaces, inducing people to be less concerned about them, inclined therefore to take more risks and – shall we say ? – throw precaution to the wind.
Judaism and Islam have no goddesses. Nor does Christianity – except that Catholics at least have practically divinized Mary, the Mother of Jesus hence the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and the Mediatrix of All Graces. Jesus is often portrayed as the Good Shepherd, the compassionate healer of the sick and provider for the hungry, the gentle forgiver even of prostitutes and adulteresses. But He wielded a whip in the Temple, was ferocious with the Pharisees and threatened anyone who refused to believe in Him with eternal torture in the flames of Hell. There was room for a tender Mother who would never threaten or punish her children, even the most delinquent among us, a Mum on whom we can count to pray for us now and at the hour of our death. If she hadn’t existed, she would have had to be invented. As, of course, she very largely was. If Jesus, said to be a precocious Zealot, really existed – and He probably did – if His supposed instigation of political revolt (in spite of His “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and His “My Kingdom is not of this world” ?) resulted in His being crucified for revolutionary disturbance of the peace and treason – and it no doubt did – He would already have had a large following. But the dominant version of the religion that deified Him, Catholicism, has been softened and enriched by the cult of Mary the Virgin, the Mother of Sorrows and the only human to be assumed body and soul into Heaven. Unless and until the Church decides that God is female – and it never will – Mary offers us a quasi-divine face of feminine grace and maternal, unconditional love. She gets my vote.