Ash Wednesday, 2022: Why Not Give Up Patriarchy for Lent? 

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a feast day in Christianity where one is anointed on the forehead with ashes to remind us that “dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

Ash Wednesday. Photo by Annika Gordon on Unsplash

It is a good thing to be reminded of our mortality and of our modest beginnings.  Mortality after all is part of our identity and something we share with all the other mammals on this planet.  To meditate on it puts things in context so that, on our death bed, we can look back and consider the many decisions we made in our lives.  This way, it also allows us to consider our decisions when they count the most—at the time we weigh them and make them. 

Ash Wednesday is the kickoff of the season of Lent, a forty day period in which Christians often fast and do an inner cleansing of their bodies and souls in preparation for the events of Jesus’s last week on earth that included a Passover celebration remembering the Exodus liberation and his own cruel death on Good Friday, his visiting Hades on Holy Saturday, and Resurrection day or Easter.

Super yacht Dilbar, owned by Russian mining oligarch Alisher Usmanov, now fleeing to the Maldives as the Russian economy collapses. Shown in Barcelona, 2017. Wikimedia Commons.

Fasting is a familiar practice for many religions of the world—one thinks of Ramadan in Islam and it is interesting that scientists today such as Rupert Sheldrake speak to what fasting can do for our health, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. 

When we were young the kids in our family would choose what to give up for lent.  Chocolate?  Candy?  Gum?  Many options.  Would our parents give up their cigarettes?  My father his occasional drink?

There are many things to give up today.  Meat or anything else that endangers the planet in this critical moment of climate change and oncoming eco disasters would make sense.

But I propose that we might zero in on giving up Patriarchy this lent.  And then for after Lent also. 

Memorial tweet by Ariaa Jaeger, honoring Ukrainian animal rescuer Alexandra Polishchuk. To support shelter workers in Ukraine, click HERE.

Patriarchy is that view of the world, around 6500 years old, that holds men superior to women; and control superior to partnership’ and power-over superior to power-with or compassion and justice; and empire-building the purpose of society. 

Patriarchy also assumes that the reptilian brain should dominate the mammal brain, thus war should trump interconnectivity and empathy.  Currently, on live television and tik-tok and the rest, we are watching war in action and how Patriarchy and the faux masculinity it promulgates is currently invading Ukraine with every intention of destroying it and its inhabitants and culture. 

Patriarchy also believes that humans are more important than the survival of a healthy planet, thus it traffics in matricide, the killing of Mother Earth, and, believe it or not, in denial that climate change is happening.  (Bad for business, especially fossil fuel business, to admit the truth.)

Time to give up Patriarchy for Lent?  And fast from Patriarchy beyond Lent?  To leave Patriarchy behind and start anew with a sacred marriage of the divine feminine and the healthy sacred masculine?  Thus, redefine masculinity? 

See *Rupert Sheldrake, Ways to Go Beyond and Why They Work (London: Coronet, 2019) pp. 73ff.

See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. 

 See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: DJT Burger at Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas. Photo by Tracie Hall on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

What would change, do you think, if humanity were to collectively give up Patriarchy for Lent?  And after Lent?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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17 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday, 2022: Why Not Give Up Patriarchy for Lent? ”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, I am raring to go on this one… You ask us today: “What would change, do you think, if humanity were to collectively give up Patriarchy for Lent? And after Lent?” I know that there are worse things that patriarchy is doing today, especially in Ukraine–and of course I would love to see mothers in charge of peace, rather than patriarchs in charge of war !!! But what I would really want to change for lent and after is: allow women to be a part of the priesthood in the Catholic Church, and not only that but bishops, cardinals and even popes. My question is: Why, after over two thousand years; after at least the Western world has changed in its attitudes towards women and women’s rights, does the Holy Spirit have nothing new to say about women to the Catholic Church? Many other Christian denominations now ordain women and “all hell hasn’t broken loose.” When Pope John Paul II first visited the United States in 1978, he was met by Sister Theresa Kane, Superior of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. On that occasion she made the request that “half of humankind” be recognized as worthy to be “included in ALL the ministries of the Church.” And I agree. It is time for matriarchy to rule with the heart, rather than patriarchy to rule with the fist and its time to have women priests as well as men, and Mamas as well as Papas [that’s what Pope literally means]!!!

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      “does the Holy Spirit have nothing new to say about women to the Catholic Church?”

      Unfortunately, the male dominated church keeps the Spirit and the Spirit of all the laity locked in a soundproof glass cage and heavily covered in rules and regulations so they don’t have to answer to anyone.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Within today’s DM with Mathew, what arose from within was a new way of seeing the hope of sanctions upon Putin and his minions, as a season of lent… that carries within it the possibility of this soul and others like him… being given an opportunity to consciously awaken from their patriarchal wounding… even though it is forced upon themselves, as a result of the consequences of their own unconscious reptilian choices. I also began to see the destruction of the basic infrastructure of the country of Ukraine as a reflection, mirroring the collective soul in solidarity with the people of Ukraine fasting in many ways… giving up patriarchy in exchange for the unfolding, evolving and emerging democracy that desires to rise out of the ashes… like the Phoenix spreading its wings, shaking the dust off of oppression, suppression and dominion over from its feathers… readying itself to take flight.

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      Please see my post below. The patriarchy DEPENDS on consumption for its existence. My spending is its oxygen.

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    A very inspiring and creative act of imagination that combines an ancient tradition with our current reality! I would guess that in order to fast from patriarchy a person, man or woman, would meditate on the benefits they are deriving from it and let them go.

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    Very profound suggestion for Lent sacrifice; so here’s what I’m doing: Since the sainthood of patriotism is consumerism, I will spend money only on the necessities. Medicine. Food which includes the normal hygiene articles we use today such as bath soap, tissue, etc. Utilities so we’ll have heat. And items needed for the health of other species in our lives—Mother Earth—irrigation necessities, planting necessities, etc.; dogs, cats, deer, and birds.
    In other words, I will not spend on non-necessities.
    I have believed for some time that a spending moratorium by the public would give great pause to patriarchal greed of acquisition—if we do not cooperate, they cannot destroy us and our Home.
    I’ve also, for some time, looked for a meaningful contribution that I, as an 80 year old woman, can make to the effort. Nonspending sounds doable and effective.
    I invite anyone who sees any wisdom in this idea to join me.

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      I might just take your suggestion, Olive. One Lent I gave up plastic and it was profound. I could use things already in my home, but buy nothing new in plastic–and of course I wasn’t allowed to prepare ahead of time. I nearly had to make my own lip protector and toothpaste, and I learned how to shop without buying anything at all in plastic. Made my own tortillas, and so on.

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    Thanks for this reflection.

    I would opt that the words used when being signed with ashes be: Remember, you are stardust and to stardust you will return.” Far more uplifting spiritually.

    Also, the cross is the sign of empire, patriarchy. Change the sign and the empire patriarch will crumble.

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      The cross was a Sun sign (as was the swastika) way before it was coopted by Christianity. It’s time to reclaim an instrument of torture and death to again see its significance as a symbol of Life.

      1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
        Richard Reich-Kuykendall

        Elaine, In reality the cross was “an instrument of torture and death” used by the Romans to execute criminals. Therefore if the cross was coopted from anyone it was from the Romans…

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    Personal and social transformation / our inner and outer lives are intimately related as taught to us by our indigenous cultures, our mystical/contemplative spiritual traditions, and now even our modern science of quantum physics. It’s a big personal/social responsibility to continue growing/evolving on our spiritual journeys with-in God’s Spirit of Love~Light~Life~Peace~Justice~Creativity~ Loving Oneness… Faith~Hope~Love… There is great Wisdom and Creative Power in our Divine Love Energy in the Universe/Cosmos that interconnects all things and beings….

  7. Avatar

    Great idea to ‘fast from patriarchy’ !!!
    But how to practice that? Just shift to
    more humane and compassionate thoughts and actions? Ignore patriarchal thoughts and behaviors? Ok with me! Love it! How does it translate into real time? Maybe it could be like the hundredth monkey story if we can become influencers of kindness….,It really does feel so fine to practice. Blessings to you and your gorgeous works. Thank you

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    What a wonderful idea and thoughtful comments. I would echo what a previous commenter said, buying nothing non essential is a simple action that if widely taken up would have big consequences on our “ system.” The power of the people when we come together is stronger than the patriarchy. I pray that the spirit will awaken, as the #PoorPeoplesCampaign says, the sleeping giant of the poor who make up almost half this country, to effect change! (Rev William Barber & Rev Dr Liz Theoharis are the co-chairs)

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    Divinity exists and is found at the point of absolute maturity and complete perfection, which means that God and God-consciousness are found precisely at the point where all opposites, like maleness and femininity reconcile themselves as one — and no place else. They already are in God, but not in human consciousness, where they remain divided, as in western religion, and lopsidedly male. Such is evolving over deep time. So the issue is not so much to give up patriarchy, but to embrace God as androgynous, and move toward unitive consciousness and beyond dualistic thought and all institutional forms and teachings that divide the unified field, which like God, already IS. Not to do so is to resist healthy change, remaining one of “God’s frozen people.” As for Lent, that is also a defunct notion, also holding to a lopsided notion that we are “dust” and shall return there. Such is only a half-truth, straight from the Old Testament, similar to viewing God as only male. There are no NT references to humans as dust, rather as “children of light.” Look it up. So the other and better half of that polarity, God-identity as light, would in its updated form read “for thou art light, and unto light shall thou return.” Only our material container turns to dust. So why honor God with dirt on your foreheads, when your better half is light, which resides only temporarily in earthen vessels? Why not a headlamp? Now there’s an updated Lenten idea for some enterprising and innovative spiritual entrepreneur. I can see Matthew Fox wearing one now.

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