Archive for the ‘Marian Liberation Theology’ Category


It is funny that in Genesis 1 for those of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief that the Holy Mystery created Male-Female in Its image. Each tradition, and religions before and after, have used many words, images, and rites to share what the Holy Breath means in each of us. Yet what cannot be lost in translation is that all of us carry that divine spark. All of us, although different (yes we are all unique), yet we are all unified within one river. We just choose to drink from different wells.

Francis of Assisi knew this, when after returning from the Crusades wounded, having his San Damiano moment, and moving into the mendicant life with brothers and sisters—those called to celibacy, those called to family life, all included—would travel back to the Crusades to open peace prayers with the Sultan.

But why on this Good Friday do I reflect on this idea of inclusion, equality. Simple, we tend to focus on what happens today. The oppressive powers of control. Political and Religious, stand united to finally silence in their belief a thorn in their side. Jesus was one of many active “messiahs” at the time. The difference being unlike the Zealots or types like Barabbas it wasn’t acts of terror, or getting those to enter into slaughter as the legions would pour out to silence them. Brother Jesus hit with something deeper: B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

No more labels.

A new order.

A new community.

Better yet.

A new family.

That was the danger of Brother Jesus, it was what 1200ish years later Brother Francis would tap into—belonging…family. And now 2000 years on this Good Friday, we need to tap into as well. It is not about breaking down separate groups, although in moments they have their time, it is about a family gathering, like the old United Church Hymn “Part of the Family.”

And Brother Jesus knew this was not something to be simply preached, it had to be lived. This is where Levi’s writings in the early 1900’s strike into the heart the Gospel writers were trying to get to. For historically we know that there was 7 women that worked diligently to support Jesus financially (and many others) while the men went forward and preached/healed and worked to craft this new family out of love.

Nothing can be clearer:

Now, many women who possessed much wealth, and abode in other towns of Galilee, implored that Jesus and the twelve, together with the masters from the foreign lands, would thither go and preach and heal.

Aquarian Gospel 105:1

Then will the Holy Breath again breathe on your fires of life, and fan them to a living flame.
Then she will open up the doors again, and you may let her in to sup with you for evermore, or you may slight her once again, and then again.

Aquarian Gospel 105:37-38

The Holy Breath, or Holy Ghost/Spirit is a part of the Trinity in Christendom, that is tied to the ancient ideal of Wisdom, which was also a female. It was the divine feminine aspect coming back. We have seen this moving forward since the early church with the visions/interventions of Mary of Nazareth and the message of hope she brings for those who cannot see how new oppressive powers have twisted her son’s life and teachings.

For Francis, this reminder was seen with Clare of Assisi, in her run from wealth to him. Her surrender of the “carnal” world, to become closer in union with the Holy Mystery. Yet she also took up Francis’ fight for equality. This was a time when women were not allowed their own voice. Religious orders of women were to be sequestered away from the world for prayer only. Clare and her sisters were feisty, they knew the call that Brother Jesus had laid out.

They left their cloister.

They fed the hungry. Healed the sick. Visited the prisoner. Taught and loved. Laughed and prayed. And Clare stood firm that like her soul companion, Francis had written a rule for his Friars, so shall she write one with her Sisters for transfiguration. Two popes actively fought against this woman. A third tried.

Why do I say a Third tried? Because what is truly out of the heart of the Holy Mystery cannot be silenced.

A group of old clerical men were dispatched to the cloister to finally silence this woman, and if they could not heal as they said in Jesus’ name, arrest them and well, do what was done with heretics back in the day.

The men arrived and were welcomed by the sisters with the utmost hospitality. As is with old men, their bodies ached, they had medical issues that their stubbornness would not let them admit to. They came to have dinner, as it was a simple mendicant cloister that gave away that which was not essential, dinner was simple stew and bread.

Clare called the group together in a circle, they joined hands, and she said the blessing.

What happened during the blessing is amazing. As she prayed on the bread arose crosses. As the crosses arose, the old aching men, felt at ease. Their pains vanished, their medical conditions healed.

They were in shock, struck dumb until the could return to the Holy See and report what they had experienced in this cloister of inclusion and belonging. These women could heal. The Pope had no choice but the cede to Clare’s wish and allow for them to leave cloister and continue on with the work Brother Jesus called them too.

(Yes this is the story of Hot Cross buns at Easter as well).

So keep in mind the many things that have happened with women’s rights, civil rights, equal rights—(insert group lacking rights here) …basically human rights. Think of how different our world would be if we had simply continued to live the way Brother Jesus laid out, the way that had gotten him executed, how different our world would be?

To close, take time to meditate on this example from chapter 112:

Chapter 112

The Christines in the home of Mary of Magdala. Jesus calls his disciples, “Little Flock,” and charges them to place their affections on divine things. He teaches them regarding the inner life.

1. And Jesus left the multitudes and went with his disciples up to Mary’s home; and as they sat about the board to dine he said,
2. My little flock, fear not; it is your Father’s will that you shall rule the kingdom of the soul.
3. A ruler in the house of God is servant of the Lord of Hosts, and man cannot serve God except by serving men.
4. A servant in the house of God cannot be servant in the house of wealth; nor in the synagogue of sense.
5. If you are tied to lands, or bonds, or wealth of earth, your hearts are knit to things of earth; for where your treasures are there are your hearts.
6. Dispose of all your wealth, distribute it among the poor, and put your trust in God, and you nor yours will ever come to want.
7. This is a test of faith, and God will not accept the service of faithless one.
8. The time is ripe; your Master comes upon the clouds; the eastern sky is glowing with his presence now.
9. Put on reception robes; gird up your loins; trim up your lamps and fill them well with oil, and be prepared to meet your Lord; when you are ready, he will come.
10. Thrice blessed are the servants who are ready to receive their Lord.
11. Behold, for he will gird himself, and will prepare a sumptuous feast for every one, and he himself will serve.
12. It matters not when he shall come; it may be at the second watch; it may be at the third; but blessed are the servants who are ready to receive.
13. You cannot leave your door ajar and go to sleep, and wait in blissful ignorance of the fleeting time;
14. For thieves will surely come and take away your goods and bind and carry you away to robbers’ dens.
15. And if you are not carried forth, the Master when he comes will not regard a sleeping guard as friend, but as a foe.
16. Beloved, these are times when every man must be awake and at his post, for none can tell the hour nor the day when man shall be revealed.
17. And Peter said, Lord is this parable for us, or for the multitudes?
18. And Jesus, Why need you ask? God is not a man that he should show respect for one and cast another off.
19. Whoever will may come and gird himself, and trim his lamp, and find a turret in the tower of life where he may watch, and be prepared to meet the Lord.
20. But you, as children of the light, have come, and you have learned the language of the court, and may stand forth and lead the way.
21. But you may wait, and think that you are ready to receive the Lord, and still he does not come.
22. And you may grow impatient and begin to long for carnal ways again, and may begin to exercise your rule;
23. To beat, and otherwise maltreat the servants of the house, and fill yourselves with wine and meat.
24. And what will say the Lord when he shall come?
25. Behold, for he will cast the faithless servant from his house; and many years will come and go before he can be cleansed, and be thought worthy to receive his Lord.
26. The servant who has come into the light, who knows the Master’s will and does it not; the trusted guard who goes to sleep within the turret of the tower of life,
27. Shall feel the lash of justice many times, while he who does not know his Master’s will and does it not, will not receive the graver punishment.
28. The man who comes and stands before the open door of opportunity and does not enter in, but goes his way,
29. Will come again and find the door made fast, and when he calls, the door will open not,
30. The guard will say, you had the pass-word once, but you threw it away and now the Master knows you not; depart.
31. And verily I say to you, To whom much has been given, much is required; to whom a little has been given, a little only is required

How different from the world they lived? A house owned by a woman, Peter and the men being guests.  Take time to render this in your journal whether you choose art imagery or writing. Work it out through the heart of Peter and the Heart of Mary of Magdala?

Contemplate what has emerged. What has been shown to you of your Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine? How more complete do you feel?

As one Divine Soul:

Where is the Holy Mystery guiding you next?

Are you ready to step into more unity?


This is the first of a series of reflections coming from a book study that we are involved in with the Universal Church of the Master Alberta. It is an exploration of the 1908 metaphysical text The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ

 

  1. That naught can make them one but Love; that God so loved the world that he has clothed his son in flesh that man may comprehend.
    21.The only Saviour of the world is love, and Jesus, son of Mary, comes to manifest that love to men.

                                                -Aquarian Gospel 7:20-21

There is a golden cord that resonates throughout this Gospel, that ties through the sacred texts of eternity, and for long time readers of this site will recognize the word as a basis for my faith: L-O-V-E.

Please ignore the term “men” or “man” it is not about only one gender being saved or mattering, it is the terminology of 1908, and we cannot let that hold us up for these terms were used universally for all humanity (and this is a universal teaching).

It is true in each cycle of life on this planet there is a prophet/apostle/teacher that emerges to lead the way back to the one true source of life, that being love. Think of the ancient mystics, the shamans, the medicine people, clerics, heroes of lore, and current spiritual masters… which ones can you name and why?

Mother Teresa. Clare & Francis of Assisi. Dalai Lama. Martin Luther King Jr. Louis Riel. Desmond Tutu. To name but a few.

This was laying out that within this cycle of teachers came Jesus and his Mum. I say Mary, as mentioned in earlier e-books and talks, Mary since her ascension, has had many appearances that shatter ideological and divisive ways of the name Jesus, to point people back to the true source of Love. This cumulative work that shows a take on the life of Jesus—a story, allegory, metaphor, that ties everything together in love points us to what the Gospels were saying in the New Testament and Gnostics, not to mention other texts. Strip away the cultural laws, to the core message and that is the core message that works, not necessarily the literal black and white words on the page.

So with this golden cord, what are you choosing today?

What is love lived in you going to look like?


Thanks to the bookstore at the Centre, and a wonderful wifey, I have come into possession of a new collection of writings of Joseph Campbell on Bliss. It is a good and deep read, as he moves through mythologies exploring deeper meaning, religious meanings, psychological. It is interesting as he speaks of the Hindu culture moving from literalism to symbolism, but what struck most is his reflections on Christendom.

Specifically there is the usual historics of how many of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) stories reflect oral traditions from the Goddess tradition that showed a twinning of Male-Female, yet these tales brought forward a strong singular Patriarchy that silenced the Mother Wisdom.

But I digress, the intriguing theory that stuck in my mind was in regards to Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, that Christendom would later term the Christ. It was two simple words: Virgin Soul. Not Virgin Girl. Not young woman. Not Virgin Mother. But Virgin Soul.  This term struck me as profound in my morning meditation, as it creates this space within the Mary story for others who want to explore the feminine and the spiritual without surrendering to dogmatics around immaculate conception or Ascension. One doesn’t even have to enter into the debate on how Jesus was conceived whether via Angel, Holy Spirit, Roman Centurion or Joseph…

For Virgin Soul speaks to who Mary was at her core. This non-entity in her world, but a holy person. One untouched by cynicism, corruption, abuse of the holy, in fact I would say it speaks to a soul that resonates with unity with the Spirit within, without having lost that connection through trauma.

Reflect on it, Mary’s Virgin Soul opened her up to the wonderful blessing that  a child raised to see what is just, compassionate and loving could do in this world. A path was laid out by a woman for her illegitimate son that transformed the world. The heart of this life for the young Jesus bar Mary was simply:

What Would Love Do?


Speaking notes from today’s Stampede Service at Centennial Presbyterian Church, Spirit moments of note are these two quotes:

“God does not care what we say our rules are, He wants to talk to his kids all made equal and in His image”

“Mary, can very well be seen as an Indigenous person, and Romans as colonizers.”

Dancing the Circle:

The Strength of Love in her YES!

July 13, 2014 @ Centennial Presbyterian Church (10:30 a.m.)

In the Christianities of the world, the most venerated person, after Jesus of Nazareth, is his mum, Mary. It is amazing when you think about her, why would so many turn to her?  Why this peasant girl is turned Mother of God so important? Could it be that through her time of being voiceless, through her faith she discovered her voice to declare a resounding “Yes” to God in her love, and because of this, it was not a patriarchal ladder she climbed for God to birth a kingdom bringer, but an all encompassing circle of family she danced.

For those who may have a Roman Catholic background, or even those of other’s faith, since the traditional belief of her assumption into heaven she has appeared worldwide in apparitions carrying the Gospel message of peace, love, hope, faith, and joy.

Mary has a powerful story.  There is much out there about Mary one can Google, an e-book I wrote about her on sabbatical or look up, read, even meditations, prayers and services. But it is within the ancient stories we discover who this person is when set in the proper context.

She lived in a small town, in a nation that was under occupation by an Empire. Where the people were seen as nothing more than livestock, as a girl, until she could bear children she was seen as a burden on her family, for occupiers she was seen as nothing more than a sex toy if they chose. Once of child bearing age or even before her father would enter a business relationship with another man who wished to purchase the daughter on the hope that a) she could bear children, b) that child be a son. Other than that her role was to take care of the home, even when widowed and the elder son cared for her, it was still up to her to keep the home.

This was an agreement by and for men, that the child was expected to abide by. Once signed she was betrothed to this man, and any visitations or signs of impropriety with a male would end in her either a) being cast out of the city walls, or b) taken before the patriarchal religious authorities and stoned to death.

A world where the faith was passed down though at the apron hem of the mothers, aunts and grandmothers to all genders, until the boys became men at age 12, and at age 30 were expected to wed, move into the main house, and build on attachments to care for their parents and if need be, wives parents. Yet the germination of faith started from the women.

This is a child who never was asked what she thought, was only told what to do. We shall in a moment experience the time she found her voice.

But if you ever enter into the gospel stories of Mary, watch her, she is an amazing woman. Struggling with her own challenges and fears, she goes and helps her aged and pregnant cousin to deliver a prophet into the world even while her betrothed contemplates having her stoned to death or simply cast out to the sex trade workers outside the city walls for the transgression of carrying a child not his; she pushes her son to act out of love and hospitality at a wedding feast; she follows him as a world executes her child, not a prophet or a messiah to her, but her child…as they beat him, and lynch him. She watches it all, and she buries him. She holds his movement together by finding the right people to become leaders. This peasant girl from a town probably no bigger than Bassano, Alberta from a family lower than labour class as it is a labourer that purchases her to be a child bride. Yet it is the simplicity of her strength that shakes the world from its oppression, and that she continues to shine her light into the darkness of destruction, death, feminine, plague, hatred and war and shines brighter still to watch those answer the call of love into the Holy Mystery, and living that love out to transform their world. She constantly lives the circle metaphor that is family, a connection of all interwoven through the heart of Christ, what each of us is called to be.

We are going to take a moment to enter into that love ourselves this morning. It is a spiritual exercise from Ignatius of Loyola for studying sacred texts, whatever you find sacred texts or music to be.  You hear or read it three times. Each time we rest with a question and seek an answer.  This story is called “The Annunciation” it is the story of the Holy asking Mary to bear a child. Her yes, grew an ever expanding circle of love in this world that she birthed us with Jesus…this is the first step for us in discovering how we can also aid in birthing Jesus to our world. So…

Get comfortable in your seat. Close your eyes. Slow your breath, discovering your rhythm and becoming one with the environment around you. Let your mind cleanse itself, do not worry if a thought pops up, acknowledged it, and then place it aside until after. Feel the pew and this building melt away, feel the dust of the old world, the bustle of livestock, chattering of children working and playing, women talking, perhaps the clang of soldiers moving throughout the village. You are entering into the announcement; you are a thirteen year old peasant girl, who has just been bought by a 50ish year old man to bear his child.

As you prepare to hear the story for the first time, sit and listen, what words or phrases from your own life do you remember? How does this shape your understanding of Mary’s story?

Read Luke 1:26-39

As you prepare to hear the story a second time, what images are formed or memories surface in your mind as you hear these words? Let you sit with these images/memories and see how the Holy uses them.

For the third and final hearing, can you feel Mary’s anxiety or trepidation to say yes, when was there a time in your life that seizing your yes in love meant a harder road? Sit with that memory and know that, like Mary, you are transforming this world.

Slowly bring your breath back to normal, feel the pew beneath you, the dust melt off you, the sounds of the village vanish, the sounds of the city and this room greet you. Bring your breathing rhythmically up to its normal pace, open your eyes.

Welcome back Mary, how shall we dance God’s circle in this world, and let love reign?

 


Русский: Феодоровская икона со сказанием Кострома

Русский: Феодоровская икона со сказанием Кострома (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a journey that began as an academic thesis and became a restoration of my soul. My third book was titled, Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, and the rediscovery of Mary of Nazareth‘s life lived and contemporary apparitions renewed this pilgrimage bringing me back into a healthy relationship within the Holy Mystery. The journey did not end as expected, but the ending was the beginning my soul needed.

I hope these words bless you in reading and soul work as much as they blessed my journey in bringing them together:

Free E-Book here.


Mary Mother Of Jesus Vector Illustration

Mary Mother Of Jesus Vector Illustration (Photo credit: Vectorportal)

Dear Friend,

It seems within the church there are two schools on Mary of Nazareth, either over veneration or total ignoring. This is not the case for this beautiful young woman of God. Her story is one of liberation, freedom, and living in such a counter cultural way that her world changed as she bore the Christ-Child.

My retreat offering is simply: She Said Yes: Mary for the 21st Century

It is best in the format of a Friday Evening, Saturday morning/afternoon; but can be adapted to several evenings, or Sunday afternoons as the church needs.

The Sessions which are also interspersed with spiritual practices to aid in the formation and growth of participants:

1) The History of Mary of Nazareth

2) The multiple church doctrines of Mary

3) Extra-biblical legacy of Mary

4) Biblical story of Mary

5) Our Yes: Who is Mary for us today?

What’s the cost?

Coming alongside your congregation for the time. A space where tables can be set up for participants to speak in a round. The church making available tea, coffee, juices & water throughout as well as healthy snacks and lunch on the Saturday. As well as an honorarium for myself (I am setting aside my normal $1-1500 retreat leader fee so any church can have this experience for whatever they can afford).

My last two urban retreats book quickly, but the books are still available (Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, The Bard’s Spirit: Shakespeare‘s Social Gospel).

I look forward to hearing from your church, and coming alongside for a weekend of discovery.

For booking contact: tyragan@ymail.com


Virgin Mary and Jesus, old Persian miniature. ...

Virgin Mary and Jesus, old Persian miniature. In Islam, they are called Maryam and Isa. NOTE: See discussion page before using (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preface

(From Personal Reflections of Annunciation Sunday)

            Another Advent season has begun. The time when we are to prepare for the birth of Jesus, and yet another Sunday where the point of the Annunciation to Mary of Nazareth by the angel Gabriel was missed.  Within the Protestant tradition we have a tendency to short shift Mary and her role, we reduce her to nothing more than the test tube or incubator for Jesus, but her role was far more active than that.

Just think about this young girl barely into her menstruation, barely a teenager. Having sat there while her father cut a business deal with Joseph to purchase her (where the idea of Bride Price comes from). Having witnessed the brutality of the Roman Empire, the occupiers of her people. Where girls her age (or any age) were nothing more than property to the soldiers. Not full citizens, they could take and rape them with immunity. If pregnancy happened, even just the losing of their hymen, made them unclean and a shame for their families.

Families that then had choices to either redeem fully their honour through stoning (honour killing) or to put the issue away quietly just outside the city gates where the lepers, beggars, and sex trade workers existed… a fate that would rapidly end in death by violence, exposure, or sexually transmitted disease. The problem was more compounded once the bride price or the deal had been made, because now it dishonoured two families. This was the struggle Joseph worked through in the Gospel of Matthew before the Angel Gabriel visited him in a vision.

But we come back to Mary as the Angel Gabriel comes to her (with no back story on how many girls heard this same offer before Mary and said no because they understood the horror of the stigma they were taking upon themselves). Mary stands there, knowing she was no longer her father’s property, but not completely Joseph’s yet (the contract made, but not yet consummated). Mary a young girl who probably bore witness to the execution of other girls dishonoured by the Romans (neigh raped) or disfigured or cast out… the struggles of the widow, the divorcee, the adulteress in this patriarchal culture that reduced the usefulness of a woman to nothing more than her ability to produce male heirs to her male masters.

A young girl who had never been treated as an equal. A young girl who had never had her opinion asked for, or even if it mattered. Yet here was God sending his messenger directly to her, not to Joseph or her Father, but directly to the non-citizen in both nations she existed in (Rome and Israel). And it was in this shocking, counter culture movement of empowerment, where Mary said the yes that began the shaking of the normative oppression. The yes that began the transformation of 51% of humanity from the shadows to equals (and still is continuing). The yes that a young woman for the first time firmly took her life and her life’s call as her own. Blessed among women, Mary was blessed among humanity. A simple step of faith to prove what humanity views as impossible is simply how it is to be.

But we do what her culture did; we tend to relegate Mary to nothing more than a voiceless incubator.

Yet, the story of God and Mary is one of voice and empowerment of the complete image of God.

Introduction

            Mary of Nazareth, Virgin Mary, and Our Lady are some of the simpler titles given to young Mary, at first look she can be almost a throw away character within the story of Christ. Yet she is the most venerated saint (at least 23 feast/celebration days within the church calendar[1], when Vatican II was convened many wanted a stronger Marian doctrine that would see her ascend to co-redeemer with Christ[2]. She is not just an incubator for the saviour of the world; she is an ongoing voice for those without voice within the world.

Background

Many claimed to have been visited by Our Lady, in such broad visitations as Fatima, Lourdes, & Rwanda. These are but a few, each time she would come to share the mystery of Christ’s love opened within their context. The church would investigate to validate, yet there are many more visitations that the church will not acknowledge as true. Mary is also the subject of a novel that is used within spiritual formation circles of seminary in Canada. Dianne Schomperlane’s Our Lady of the Lost and Found (2003) opens up the story of a Mary in need of a vacation, and takes time to visit with someone out of the blue to take a rest from the constant petitioning, and need to act as a voice[3].

This is where the gap exists within Marian theology, for the Protestant (including Evangelical, Mainline, and Pentecostal with their derivatives) tend to not spend much time on the character of the mother of Christ Jesus, the one that said yes to God as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38. While within the Roman Catholic tradition one can get caught up more in the debate over the condition of Mary’s hymen pre & post birth of Christ, and whether or not Mary herself was conceived without sin, than what the story of Mary matters. This leaves our brothers and sisters in the Easter Rites (Orthodox, Coptic, etc.) that tend towards the more mystical where Mary is revered as Christakos[4] or even more clearly, Theokotos[5]. Each of these is simply a piece of the puzzle.

Method:

Why does Mary matter? 2,000 years of story, mythology, veneration, and being cast aside, yet still she is there. The underlying question for the disciple today needs to be built upon some foundations:

  1. What is the Biblical background of Mary? (Both canonical and extra-canonical).
  2. What is the Marian doctrine emerging within church silos and ecumenically?
  3. What are the rampant theories of Mary existing today and yesterday?
  4. What are apparitions and its purpose?

The source to answer these questions will be a critical analysis of the theory, doctrine, theology and source material available in regards to Mary of Nazareth.

Building upon these foundational questions the emergent source for this work is to simply answer the question is Marian theology a theology of liberation?

Literature Review

            By exploring the diversity of materials available upon Mary of Nazareth, what emerges is that the story of this peasant girl may be an allegory for every believer. McBrien’s Report on the Church: Catholicism after Vatican II (1992) opens up the idea that the Second Vatican Council 1962-65[6] and the major drive of this was a proposed theological thrust for everything being a serving church[7] which grows into other beliefs about the Vatican II that while modernizing the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit was not only blowing through this church but Christendom as a whole.

O’Malley What happened at Vatican II (2008) was the 21st ecumenical council[8] produced 16 documents[9] that affirmed the congregation and the priest were co-workers in the liturgy (Lumen Gentium – the people of God)[10], affirmation of visions of Mary[11], the Immaculate Conception from the Protoevangelion of James that told of Mary being born without sin and one of only two times that a statement was made by the Holy Father ex-Cathedra[12] in 1854[13]. Yet the council stopped short of ascending Mary to a co-redeemer status[14]. Yet this proved just how valued this child who became the Mother of God is valued not only within the Mass, Liturgy or church year but also within the service work of the church.

John Shelby Spong, former Episcopal Bishop of Newark who moves within the Progressive Christian circles presents his own thoughts on how the Marian story needs to adapt to maintain relevance today. In his 2001 work A New Christianity for a New World: why traditional faith is dying and how a new faith is being born he points out that the divine nature of Christ is tied to the miraculous and literal means of the Mary conception and nativity stories[15] Spong traces the story of Mary from what is believed the earliest Gospel source in Mark 3:20-35 & 6:1-6 where Mary leads the family to confront Jesus who has become an embarrassment to them, which with the more recent gospel stories changes to a more inclusive and celebratory relationship[16]. This text also goes on to explore some fundamental challenges Spong saw with the Mary story. The ideal of a post partum virgin because the hymen had to be preserved[17] which became more important with the dawning of the Enlightenment and the realization that women’s wombs were not just incubators for male sperm, hence women could be a source for original sin as well[18]. This sin challenge meant that not only did Mary need to remain a perpetual virgin[19], but she herself could not be soiled with sin and hence the Immaculate Conception[20] that almost 100 years after this statement was made, then another ex-Cathedra proclamation in 1950 where Mary was now assumed bodily into Heaven[21].

Spong’s exploration of Mary did not stop with his 2001 text, it continued in 2011 with Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World where he postulates on the outside of years Jesus lived 6 BCE to 32 CE, most probably 4 BCE to 30 CE[22] which lends credence to the value that Mary was between 13-15 years at time of conception, and 37-39 at time of Jesus’ crucifixion. The reality of the crucifixion with the style of teaching Jesus’ chose was a daily reality for a Jew raised Roman occupation[23] and within a small community where he was known as an illegitimate child. This was not the messiah many could cling to, yet the Annunciation text in Gospel of Matthew 1:18-21 to Joseph allows Jesus to be affixed to an earthly father[24] within the line of David that Paul puts forward in Romans 1:3 that gives rise to these later Nativity stories[25].

Marcus Borg of the Jesus Seminar supports Spong’s postulating that the Nativity story are not literal, nor historical, or even central to the earliest Christian Movement[26]. What is known for truth is that Jesus was a devout, and socialized and born Jewish[27] with four known brothers and an unknown number of sisters[28]. This culminates for Borg that the birth narratives are symbolic stories created by early Christians to add importance to the story of Christ[29].

John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar supports this theory in his work The Birth of Christianity: Discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus (1998) where he notes that historians are mute on the annunciation of Mary text because it is not a historical story, but a transcendental story.[30]

A side note on the Marian history would not be full without a trip to former Anglican Priest, ex-Reporter, current author, Tom Harpur’s twin works The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light (2004) and its sequel, Water into Wine: the Empowering Vision of the Gospels (2007) that removes all history and essentially relegates the Gospel to nothing more than plagiarized Sumerian[31]/Egyptian[32] mythology with Hebrew names instead of the deities.[33] Even though this may seem a harsh reflection there is some useful things to explore. Harpur equates the Magnificat in Luke as an expansion and reminder upon Hannah’s song within 1 Samuel 2.[34] Yet he follows this up in his sequel by pointing out that the Temple account in Mark when Jesus was 12 years old contradicts the annunciation narratives of Matthew and Luke.[35] These works may seem out of place, but it shows even those attempting to leave the faith still have to wrestle through the reality of not only the Christ, but also His mother.

Bart D. Ehrman, a leading New Testament scholar whose studies have led him from Disciple of Christ to Agnostic puts forward thoughts on Mary in his Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths we never knew (2003) for it is within this work that we are walked through the story of Anna and Joachim, Mary’s parents within the Proto-Gospel of James from the Middle Ages that creates the Immaculate Conception of Mary in a parallel to Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1-2[36]. It is within this proto-gospel that Mary manages to conceive and birth with never breaking her hymen[37] ensuring not only a virgin mother, but a perpetual virgin.

This is only a beginning as there are many other resources about Mary to explore. This includes narratives around her apparitions, the writings of the most devoted Marian Pope, John Paul II, and more writings from progressive Christians. The Literary Review will also explore other texts around her devotion, prayers, rosary, biblical, extra-biblical to name but a few during this journey of research.

Timeline

January 2013 will be used to complete the Literature review.

February 2013 is when there will be times of sharing findings within various groups to get feedback; it will also be a time to begin to shape the book to come out of these works centred on the five questions.

March 2013 is to take the research notes and structure of the book to merge the two in to a highly readable and informative guide to answer the core question of what is the liberation theology of Mary?

Glossary

Christakos – Christ-bearer.

Ex-Cathedra – A Papal statement supported by the doctrine of infallibility.

Liberation Theology – A 20th century theology that focuses on the freedom from                                                 oppression.

Lumen Gentium – People of God

Pope – the Bishop of Rome, leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Rosary – The form of meditative prayer used by Roman Catholics. A combination of                               Hail Mary’s, Lord’s Prayer, and The Apostle Creed is used as a mantra to                           clear the mind so the prayer can focus upon the Mysteries of the Life of                                 Christ.

Theokotos – God-bearer

 

 

 

 

References

Borg, M.J. (1994). Meeting Jesus again for the First Time: Historical Jesus and the            Heart of Contemporary Faith, Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press.

Crossan, J.D. (1998). The Birth of Christianity: discovering what happened in the years    immediately after the execution of Jesus, San Francisco: Harper Collins.

Ehrman, B.D. (2003). Lost Christianities: The Battles for the scriptures and the faiths we never knew. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Harpur, T. (2004). The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light, Toronto, ON: Thomas     Allen.

Harpur, T. (2007). Water into Wine: the Empowering Vision of the Gospels, Toronto,         ON: Thomas Allen.

McBrien, R.P. (1992). Report on the church: Catholicism after Vatican II. San Francisco,             CA: Harper Collins.

O’Malley, J.W. (2008). What happen at Vatican II. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of        Harvard University.

 

Schoemperlane, D. (2003). Our Lady of the Lost and Found. Toronto, ON: Harper             Collins Canada.

 

Spong, J.S. (2001). A New Christianity for a new World: why traditional faith is dying         and how a new faith is being born, San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.

Spong, J.S. (2011). Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, San Francisco, CA:            Harper One.

Sweeney, J.M. (2006). Strange Heaven: the Virgin Mary as woman, mother, disciple,       advocate. Brewster, MA: Paraclete.

 


[1] Sweeney, J.M. (2006). Strange Heaven: the Virgin Mary as woman, mother, disciple, advocate. Brewster, MA: Paraclete, p.137-38.

[2] O’Malley, J.W. (2008). What happen at Vatican II. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, p. 188.

[3] Schoemperlane, D. (2003). Our Lady of the Lost and Found. Toronto, ON: Harper Collins Canada.

[4] Christ-bearer

[5] God-bearer

[6] McBrien, R.P. (1992). Report on the church: Catholicism after Vatican II. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, p. Xiii.

[7] Ibid p. 139.

[8] O’Malley p. 4

[9] Ibid p. 23

[10]Ibid p. 52

[11] Ibid p. 188

[12] Ex-Cathedra is when a Pope uses there infallibility upon a doctrine.

[13] Ibid p.188

[14] Ibid p. 188

[15] Spong, J.S. (2001). A New Christianity for a new World: why traditional faith is dying and how a new faith is being born, San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, p.2.

[16] Ibid p. 91

[17] Ibid p. 112

[18] Ibid p. 119

[19] Ibid p.111

 

[21] Ibid p.112

[22] Spong, J.S. (2011). Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, San Francisco, CA: Harper One p.212.

[23] Ibid p. 213

[24] Ibid p. 324

[25] Ibid p. 211

[26] Borg, M.J. (1994). Meeting Jesus again for the First Time: Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith, Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press p. 54-55.

[27] Ibid p. 52

[28] Ibid p. 59

[29] Ibid p. 56

[30] Crossan, J.D. (1998). The Birth of Christianity: discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus, San Francisco: Harper Collins p. 28.

[31] Harpur, T. (2004). The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light, Toronto, ON: Thomas Allen p.5

[32] Ibid p. 5. Harpur leans on Timothy Freke’s writings that Horus was the Egyptian Christ, and Isis was the Egyptian Mary, 1000 years before the Gospel story.

[33] Harpur, T. (2004). The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light, Toronto, ON: Thomas Allen.

Harpur, T. (2007). Water into Wine: the Empowering Vision of the Gospels, Toronto, ON: Thomas Allen.

[34] Harpur (2004) p.125.

[35] Harpur (2007) p. 40.

[36] Ehrman, B.D. (2003). Lost Christianities: The Battles for the scriptures and the faiths we never knew. New York, NY: Oxford University Press p. 207-209

[37] Ibid p. 209