We were singing “The Cry of the Poor” at Mass but the words in the new songbook weren’t the words I had learned.  The first verse used to be

“I will bless the Lord at all times.  His praise ever in my mouth.  Let my soul glory in the Lord, For he hears the cry of the poor.”

Now it went

“I will bless the Lord at all times.  With praise ever in my mouth.  Let my soul glory in the Lord, Who will hear the cry of the poor.”

Who are the people who have changed the words in this song and in other songs that I once knew and enjoyed?  Is this always done with the permission of the author?  Some of the changes are awkward, with little regard to grammatical antecedents.  Why is somebody so determined not to call the Lord “He?”

Then came the homily that was the final straw prompting this article.  The priest referred to “our forefathers and foremothers!”  What next?  Will they change the Gettysburg Address (never mind what Lincoln actually said) to “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers and mothers brought forth on this continent….”?

Who are they who have decided that our language does not mean what it has always meant?  Linguistics experts report that the use of “man” to refer to a member of the human race predates the use of “man” to refer to an adult male.  “Man does not live by bread alone.”  “No man is an island.”  “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world…..”  “Time and tide wait for no man.”  “Unless a man be born again…..”  “Man’s inhumanity to man.”  “Friends, Romans, countrymen!”  “Man overboard!”  All of these sayings have suddenly become incomprehensible or unacceptable because they do not include women?

Of course they include women!  They always have.  “Man” is a generic term meaning “humankind.”  Women have always had a word of their own.  Most animals have separate words for the male and female of the species–stallion/mare, buck/doe, billy goat/nanny goat, rooster/hen, and so forth.  But the human male actually has no word of his own; he has to share.

From whence comes this urge to get the “men” out of “women?”  California State University has a course in “Wymyn’s Studies!”  Others spell it “wimmin.”

Fifty years ago New York’s Museum of Modern Art had a photography exhibit titled “The Family of Man” and the subsequent book of photographs with the same title met with great critical acclaim for its depiction of men, women, and children the world over.  Everyone understood the title and no one complained about it.  Now it apparently would be insensitive and politically incorrect.

Language is an organic thing that grows with roots and branches.  They are uprooting it and retrofitting it with artificial glosses to correct a perceived but non-existent slight and we do not withhold our “Amen.”   (We’d better get the “men” out of that, too!)

Next they will be correcting Shakespeare!  There goes the iambic pentameter; here comes the bastardization of the product of genius!

Friends, Romans, countrypeople, lend me your ears,
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him,
The evil that men and women do lives after them..

Dr. Helen Dietz, in a protest to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on proposed inclusive changes in our English liturgy wrote, “Jesus said, ‘Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’ not ‘be ye perfect as your Heavenly Supreme Being is perfect.’  Today when there are so many fatherless households is not the time to be promoting a fatherless universe.”  She also noted that adopting inclusive language “introduces awkward circumlocutions…which do not reflect the way people ordinarily speak.”

We all know that God is not a man or a woman but a Spirit.  Jesus said to call him “Father.”  “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Or “Abba”  (Daddy).  Jesus called Mary “mother” and that makes sense to me.  God has the best of both masculine and feminine characteristics.   Genesis says that God created man in his image.  I especially like the RSV version of Genesis 5:2 which clearly illustrates the generic use of “man.”  “Male and female he created them and he blessed them and called them Man when they were created.”  Yet there are those who do not want to say “Father, Son,and Holy Spirit,” but rather “the Parent, the Child, and the Power!”

According to Webster, the second meaning of “he” refers to one whose sex is unknown or immaterial.  Webster should know.  “He who hesitates is lost.”  “Blessed be he who is poor in spirit..”  But lately I am seeing more and more writings peppered with him/her or s/he.  I have also seen (I kid you not) “history” transformed into “herstory.”

Scripture says quite clearly that the first woman came from man, but ever since men have been coming from women!  (1 Cor. 11,12)  God has given women plenty of status.

As for me, God is my Father, Jesus is my brother, and Mary is my mother.   And I do not feel that the “brotherhood of man” leaves me out.

“God has visited his people.”  Let’s see them fix that!