Civil RightsCommentaryGeneral

“Amen and Awoman”

"Amen and Awoman"

Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, a 5-term congressman from Missouri ended opening prayer for the new 2021 Congress with “Amen and awoman.”

The importance of removing any vestiges of perceived barriers to women is no joke, although it appears that opening prayer is a time for jokes or subtle protest. 

"אמן" - "Amen"

“אמן”

The term “amen” which has existed long before the English word “Men” actually carries with it a nod to mothers.  The word comes from the Hebrew “אמן” (pronounced “awman”) and is a primitive root meaning “to be firm or faithful, to trust or believe.” (Some claim its origin is Greek.)  It is more literally “to build up or support, to foster as a parent or nurse.”

Old English

“wif” + “man” = “wimman” 

On the other hand, the English term “woman” comes from the Old English “wimman” a compound of “wif” and “man” or “human being.”  “Man” in Old English was used to reference both sexes.  So playing off the term “amen” which has nothing to do with elevating men over women, loosely meaning “so be it” a traditional end to prayers, Representative Cleaver added “and woman” to “Amen” using the phrase in violation of the New House rules unveiled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mandating general-neutral terms when speaking on the House floor or conducting business.  Representative Emanuel Cleaver has a long and accomplished history of activism and protest.  So, while many probably think the opening prayer is not the time and place for political protest, here’s to Representative Cleaver for inserting a very gender specific term “woman” in juxtaposition to a term having nothing to do with males – “Amen” in a way that probably appealed to the unlearned. 

Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver II received a masters of divinity degree from St. Paul’s School of Theology of Kansas City and is a United Methodist pastor.  He has pastored St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri since 1973.

So he ends his prayer, “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman.”  Next one wonders whether he will introduce himself as “Emanandwomanuel Cleaver” or whether St. Paul’s School of Theology of Kansas City will retract his divinity degree.

Civil Rights Attorney Tom Roberts

 

POSTSCRIPT

Congressman Emanuel “Emanandwomanuel” Cleaver attempting to defend his blunder said he “concluded with a lighthearted pun in recognition of the record number of women who will be representing the American people in Congress during this term as well as in recognition of the first female chaplain of the House of Representatives whose service commenced this week”.

“We’ve got 300 some thousand people who have died of COVID and some people are concerned because I used two words—‘a woman?’ It’s mind boggling,”

“Rather than reflecting on my faithful requests for community healing and reversion from our increasingly tribal tendencies, it appears that some have latched on to the final word of this conversation in an attempt to twist my message to God and demean me personally.

“In doing so, they have proven one point of my greater message – that we are all ‘soiled by selfishness, perverted by prejudice and inveigled by ideology’.”

RESPONSE:

Why is the public outcry so loud?  Cleaver defends himself by attacking his critics as “tribal” showing that he is oblivious to the root of the outcry.  In his retort, he unwittingly digs in deeper to the outrage – he intended the time-honored solemn tradition of an acknowledgement and appeal to a power greater than the Congress as occasion to be the platform for his “lighthearted pun” or joke.  He said he wanted to recognize the record number of women representing the American people in Congress as well as in recognition of the historic first female chaplain of the House of Representatives.  He could have done that – he did not.

And it may not have been only the last word that set so many people off — people are generally turned off and offended by people claiming to be one thing but in actuality being another.  Its the reason that people are so interested in exposing bad cops, sex-crazed preachers and the like.

With a masters’ degree in theology from St. Paul’s School of Theology of Kansas City, people may have expected Rev. Cleaver to know that while the term “Amen” may sound like “men” nobody but he ever consider it gender specific to be contrasted with “Awoman.”   And why does he continue as a Methodist preacher when his appeal is to anything but the Biblical God traditionally recognized by those of the Christian faith.  Instead he appeals to a goo of water and oil, “in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths.”  Brahma is according to Hindu tradition, the supreme Hindu God, who sprang from the cosmic golden egg and then created good & evil and light & dark from his own person together with the pantheon of other Gods.  Sometimes when you attempt to be all things to all people you are simply nothing to all.