Posts Tagged ‘Roman Empire’


On this soggy Saturday I took time to re-introduce my kids to the Original Star Trek thanks to Netflix. Yes they quite enjoyed the Trouble with Tribbles, but it is the Mirror Universe story that strikes a chord in this reflection.

For those unfamiliar it is a story of a transporter miscue during an Ion storm that projects Kirk and company into an alternate timeline where the Federation is warlords running an empire akin to a space Nazi-Roman regime. It shows a visual example of the true and shadow selves lived out. For within the Mirror Universe you see the shadow of the true form. How it works brilliantly, is that from either perspective the Shadow exists.

This brings us into the Aquarian Gospel sending out passage in chapter 122:

The Christines spend seven days in prayer. Jesus gives his charge to the twelve and sends them forth on their apostolic ministry, with instructions to meet him in Capernaum.

1. The Christines prayed in silence seven days; then Jesus called the twelve aside and said,
2. Behold, the multitudes have thronged about us everywhere; the people are bewildered; they wander here and there like sheep without a fold.
3. They need a shepherd’s care; they want a loving hand to lead them to the light.
4. The grain is ripe; the harvest is abundant, but the harvesters are few.
5. The time is also ripe, and you must go alone through all the villages and towns of Galilee and teach and heal.
6. And then he breathed upon the twelve and said, Receive the Holy Breath.
7. And then he gave them each the Word of power, and said, By this Omnific Word you shall cast spirits out, shall heal the sick and bring the dead to life again.
8. And you shall go not in the way of the Assyrians, nor Greek; you shall not go into Samaria; go only to your brethren of the scattered tribes.
9. And as you go proclaim, The kingdom of Christ has come.
10. You have abundantly received, and freely you shall give.
11. But you must go in faith; provide yourselves no crutch to lean upon.
12. Give all your gold and silver to the poor; take not two coats, nor extra shoes; just take your wands.
13. You are God’s husbandmen and he will never suffer you to want.
14. In every place you go search out the men of faith; with them abide until you go from hence.
15. You go for me; you act for me. They who receive and welcome you, receive and welcome me;
16. And they who shut their doors against your face, refuse to welcome me.
17. If you are not received in kindness in a town, bear not away an evil thought; do not resist.
18. An evil thought of any kind will do you harm; will dissipate your power.
19. When you are not received with favour, go your way, for there are multitudes of men who want the light.
20. Behold, I send you forth as sheep among a pack of wolves; and you must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as the doves.
21. In all your language be discreet, for Pharisees and scribes will seek a cause for your arrest in what you say.
22. And they will surely find a way by charges false to bring you into court.
23. And judges will declare that you are guilty of some crime, and sentence you to scourgings and to prison cells.
24. But when you come to stand before the judge, be not afraid; be not disturbed about the way to act, the words to speak.
25. The Holy Breath will guide you in that hour, and give the words that you shall speak.
26. Of this be full assured; It is not you who speaks; it is the Holy Breath that gives the words and moves the lips.
27. The gospel that you preach will not bring peace, but it will stir the multitudes to wrath.
28. The carnal man abhors the truth, and he would give his life to crush the tender plant before the harvest time.
29. And this will bring confusion in the homes that were the homes of stagnant peace.
30. And brother will give brother up to death; the father will stand by and see men execute his child; and in the courts the child will testify against the sire, and gladly see its mother put to death.
31. And men will hate you just because you speak the name of Christ.
32. Thrice blessed is the man who shall be faithful in this coming day of wrath!
33. Go now; when you are persecuted in a place, go seek another place.
34. And when you meet a foe too great for you, behold, the son of man is at your door, and he can speak, and all the hosts of heaven will stand in your defence.
35. But do not hold your present life in great esteem.
36. The time will come when men will take my life; you need not hope to be immune, for they will slay you in the name of God.
37. Men call me Beelzebul and they will call you imps.
38. Be not afraid of what men say and do; they have no power over soul; they may abuse and may destroy the body of the flesh; but that is all.
39. They do not know the God who holds the issues of the soul within his hands, who can destroy the soul.
40. The Christ is king to-day, and men must recognise his power.
41. He who loves not the Christ, which is the love of God, before all else, can never gain the prize of spirit consciousness.
42. And they who love their parents or their children more than they love the Christ can never wear the name of Christ.
43. And he who loves his life more than he loves the Christ cannot please God.
44. And he who clings to life shall lose his life, while he who gives his life for Christ will save his life.
45. When Jesus had thus said he sent the twelve away by twos, and bade them meet him in Capernaum.
46. And they went out through all the towns of Galilee and taught and healed in spirit and in power

 

In the Mirror Universe Kirk, Scotty, McCoy and Uhura had to play different roles to survive, learn a new cultural context and understanding. Yet they also sowed seeds of life where they came from. Where things were different, where it was mutual collaboration, not might makes right mentality that caused growth.  Through common ground.

This was antithesis within the Mirror, where barbarity ruled, where advancement was through subterfuge and assassination. Actually, a very good example of the Roman Empire Brother Jesus and his group existed in. These behavioural patterns within the Ancient Roman Empire permeated through to other cultural ruling structures to ensure survival, but also allowing the oppressive classes to thrive.

This was the world the gossiped about bastard born son of the village girl, that the carpenter was suckered into marrying. Not valued or respected in his own community, but out into the Empire lands spreading a gospel of transformation. The very fact it was called a gospel was proving it to be a political statement.

This was the transformation message of compassion, interconnectedness, self-love/healing/worth, and living out of the core of the Cosmic Christ within.

With this message taken out by Brother Jesus’ students— the Mirror Cracked.

And the Empire was challenged.

Much like the seeds sown by our world’s Kirk, the Mirror Universe Spock.  The mirror got a hairline fracture.

So today, as you prayerfully consider how the Christ within is calling you out into your own world to live life. Ask yourself…how will you create that hairline fracture today? In this moment.

How will you crack the mirror?


The version of the flaming chalice currently u...

The version of the flaming chalice currently used as the logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You tell us fine stories, and there is nothing in what you say that may not be true; but that is good for you who came across the seas. Do you not see that as we inhabit a world so different from yours; there may be another heave for us?

And another road to reach it?

-A Huron to a Jesuit Missionary, circa 1635

 

Church & Buehrens use the expression of One Light, Many windows; Matthew Fox (defrocked Dominican Priest) used the phraseology one river, many wells. But the quintessential answer is the same, there are many ways to access the One Source, the Sacred, the Creator, The Divine, The Love…

What needs to be answered for each of us in this new Global Village is which way do we access it? A traditional religion, a non-religion, a new age, new wave, science, philosophy, politics, just being… this is the core of Universalism, there is nothing wrong in the many manifestations that we see in this world the thrust being as the Dalai Lama has recently phrased his religion to be kindness, compassion, or Desmond Tutu in God is Not a Christian, it being love the foundation.

This is the journey I have been on, a journey that has been many years (decades) in the making. Where I have worn many labels of religiousity, yet each label is only one piece of the story. Much like the Huron to the Jesuit, what makes you think that your Western European Empiricism speaks to my experience of the sacred in daily life?

This is the thrust of the journey that during my sabbatical has taken me away from institutionalized Christianities and into a journey of discovery…at one juncture it actually had me labelled a heretic by a fundamentalist school, but what else can you say…for when one does not believe in Hell, or does not believe in a manmade God of misogyny, bloodlust, hatred and exclusion. Rather a belief shaped in the imminence of paradise here, our role in building it as co-creators with the Divine, much like Jesus of Nazareth. One where every aspect of life is Sacred, and within that is where Creator exists in us, and us in the Creator.

This journey of exploration that has led me to the Unitarian-Universalist Association…more colloquially into the Calgary Unitarian Church as an exploration with the family, to read many works of thought and recently to history works Hewett’s Unitarians in Canada (1975 & 1995) and Wilbur’s A History of Unitarianism Vol. 2 (1945 & 1965) which revealed a church that has organically grown since shortly after the Easter Moment, but became denomiantionalized within Transylvania during the             Reformation. It is a story of a people called out by the Spirit when the church becomes to doctrinally fixate that it divides and excludes, instead of sets the table widely for all of the children of the Holy Mystery. A story of beyond tolerance, to acceptance that individuals and communities experiences of the Holy will be different, and that is okay, in fact it is a wonderful time where these different ways can come together with the grounding focus being transformation. Could this be why UU is the fastest growing liberal church in North America? All the liberal theologians being tired of the doctrinal asinine that no longer or never should have separated us in the first place.

Read no further until you have checked out the short journey at: http://tyragan.blogspot.com

This brings us to the reflection today, on Brock and Parker’s (2008) Saving Paradise which is an alternative history to the church we never knew. It is a challenging work that forces the reader to stare fully into the vacuum of darkness that the “church” has mired on this world.

What exactly are the Hebrew Bible prophecy books? Are they futuristic soothsayers? No, these are a people during a time of crisis simply attempting to process (p. 22). No great infallibility, just a story of survival and faith.  Texts that for the First Century CE believers then showed them ways to allegorically process the Roman Empire (for us today Materialism? Corporate rule?), especially when the rule of the Empire is then reflected back upon the same institutions that we hold “sacred”. For the whore of Babylon in Revelations is not an allegory to the Empire, but to those complicit in the oppressors and degradation of a people…the religious leaders of Israel (p.75), which upon reflection of main stream religion as stories of abuse, wars, genocides, scandals, thefts, lies, etc. in the “name of God” flood the media lines is it not an allegory we can use today?

One that was extended even within the Gospel writers metaphor, John Mark wrote of Jesus’ casting out of the demons of Legion (an Empire Allusion) to the pigs or the defiled depths (p.45) the fact that the Empire Gospel was being interpreted to destroy people, it was time for a new Gospel, one that empowered those without power. That was the Gospel of the peasant out of Nazareth that shook the world. For it is true that Gospels do not kill people (they are merely proclamations), but interpreters do (p.49). If one takes up the Gospel, they must accept that it is a sacred text and with that we must exercise our discernment and wisdom in accepting the power and responsibility that come with wielding words that we say come from the Sacred (p.49). Let us be honest, we have not done well, think of how many have been cast out of this world, destroyed emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically by the predators that have enlisted within “God’s Army”.

How far we have gone from the house that Jesus built, for his father’s house had many rooms. Did you know that the fixation on the Crucifixion did not happen until the 1000’s when the Great Schism ripped the Western church out of the Eastern Mysticism and it became more concerned with power, land, and money instead of mysticism, rebirth, and L-O-V-E. Why? The ancient church had us in one existence with many dimensions (one house, many rooms sound familiar), essentially multiple dimensions all united within The Spirit (p.88).

So if there was no Crucifixion fixation then what were earlier believers “converted into”? It really isn’t that hard to figure out, it was a counterculture movement. Baptism was more than simply a personal choice about one’s beliefs. It was a ritual that incorporated initiates into a community and its source of power. As such, it was inseparable from social and political degrees. (p.41). When one took the step of entering into the waters of baptism, it wasn’t a “out of hell free ticket”, it was entering into solidarity with those Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes, the ones that society has cast out, and choosing to walk alongside and build a healthy community. This is what Jesus’ feeding of the masses was about, as the Emperor would feed the poor and lull them into thinking the only source of sustenance was destroyed when Jesus fed the masses and showed them the true source of all things necessary was not the Emperor, but truly ethical grace within the Holy Mystery (p.30).

Which leads John Crossan to say, “it is in food and drink, offered equally to everyone that the presence of God and Jesus is found” (p.31).

The meal shared (Eucharist) and the Baptism is truly the renunciation of Empire within one’s life, and joins a movement that drew on different well springs: wisdom, word, Torah and Spirit (p.41).  It is to be in the Spirit, to know how to distinguish good and evil required acute attunement to the present and reflection about ethical behaviours discerned through wisdom, live joyfully, enact justice, nonviolence and love (p.88).  If we seize on these values of the ancient tradition we are birthed into through water and Spirit, what comes evident for us is that we must tell the truth of crucifixion, an act of horror designed to shame, humiliate and destroy humanity.

This is the act of violence the Empire brought to bear on the peasant Messiah. It is up to us to tell the truth of this violence. To quit hiding behind theological treatise that make it okay for G-O-D to be a vengeful prick who must have seen his son beaten, bloodied, humiliated, killed for us to be loved (which spirals into its own theology of acceptance of violence and abuse). Brock and Parker on page 53 write:

To break silence whenever violence is used to shame, instill fear,

fragment human community, or suppress those who advocate for

justice is life-giving.

It is the foundation of ethical grace, to live into and out of the worst a community can experience, and speak truth. It is the power of Healing Circles, Truth and Reconciliation commissions, simple healthy community. It is the pragmatic/practical end of Panentheism. For the church is the Holy Mystery’s renewed paradise (p.89).

This is Theosis (communities that embody divine love) was a term used by both men and women, regardless of orientation, ability, gender, or societal labours were equals in all aspects of life to build the church (p.191). A church that experience Eucharist as a training of the whole person (body/soul/mind/strength) to know the world and spirit in it (p.145), “A Feast of Life” for the whole, and would/should include all the foods of the harvest (p.142).

Which is the source of offering that represented the community’s shared resources, its common wealth in the Holy Mystery (p.142).  It was not just a money thing, it was not just an anything, it was sharing of the blessedness of the whole person as a piece of the whole.

This piece of the whole, in an egalitarian world birthed another source of power. For women in a culture with no power, suddenly they discovered the source of power. That’s right, S-E-X. Just as Mary of Nazareth seized power of being-ness with her Yes to the Holy (for more of my research on this I direct you to: https://tyragan.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/theres-something-about-mary-a-liberation-theology-for-the-21st-century-free-e-book/). Yet it is in women in the ancient church first claiming their right to their virginity (bodies) that they are fully empowered (p.194). How we have abused and bastardized this in the church since, with our virgin/whore dichotomy and using both to strip power from women and make them once more nothing more than pawns of men (such an Empire move).

Another traipsing of us into the Empire’s bed is even our understanding of marriage. Do we realize that until the misogyny of medieval times, a Christian marriage was nothing more than a couple choosing to live together and declaring themselves wed? (p.195). Look at what we have done with something so beautiful in such a short span of time, how many lives we have destroyed, some even driven to the point of suicide over our own destructive use of “marriage” as a means of exclusion.

How do we realize inclusion? That is quite simply as noted earlier, in blessed community, where we are the agents, foster parents, OF LIFE that sustains communities within ethical grace (p.418). This sustaining that is rooted in, as Brock and Parker state of page 419:

The Eros of Beauty calls to us and bids us be fully in the world,

attentive to particularities, emotionally alive, open to grace,

and responsive to justice.

It is not about eroticism, or sex, it is about the actualization of the intimacy we have with the Holy, the beauty of the diversity of what builds creation. It is this love/intimacy that calls us to be within creation as its caretakers, fully active and engaged with our everything for this is how we will engage the Sacred, and the Sacred will dance within us…

This is where Paradise (or whatever term your reference gives) comes alive- –  here and now.

Are you prepared to be within the Eros of Beauty?

 


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

 


Birth of Jesus Matthew 2:1

Birth of Jesus Matthew 2:1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 a way 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 Joesph 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.

 


English: Cross

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Good Shepherd

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English: Labarum of Constantine I. English: Ve...

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Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Recently I read an article in Unity Magazine, that spoke a more accurate way to reflect on the story of Christianity, is not in the singular, but in the plural for we live within a world of Christianities.

We need to reflect on this, the only time we ever had a “unified” faith was when Jesus was actually walking the earth with his first followers, before Good Friday. Once he died, this seed of God sprung up a trunk that the resurrection then caused to bud…but it was not a continuous trunk, for branches emerged as was seen in the New Testament.  At least 13 apostles (named in the NT), but probably some strong women that were mentioned in the Gospels that worked for the money, and were there at the resurrection. So bear minimum post resurrection/ascenscion we are looking at 20 branches upon this family tree.

Then the 300’s role around and there’s a chap named Constantine. This chap was one of the minor warlords who entered into one of the seasonal civil wars that were apt to crop up more than periodically within the Roman Empire, because well heck they could do the Emperor‘s job better. It was during one of these campaigns when Constantine had a vision saying he would conquer under the banner of the cross (the beginning of militant Christianity, and pacifism-a core teaching of Christ, almost lost forever).

Once Constantine ascended the throne he began the process of using Christianity to tighten the grip on his subjects. How? Simple, by moving the Empire’s faith, from pantheistic and divisive, to monotheistic was a brillaint political and tactical move.

What did this mean to the Christian family? The first major pruning of the family tree.  A inside faith genocide, and nights of bloodshed and ostracization for those who did not sign on.

This led to a decision needing to be made, and scholars being forced to councils of ecunemical types called for them to craft creeds and a clear canon for the Bible.

Things went along less bumpy for a while, a “heresy” here or there popping up and an assasination here or there as the church became the empire, and then the empire fell, and the church still wanted to act like it was the empire.

1025 CE The Pope (of the West) and the Patriarch (of the East) have a soap opera level spat and excommunicated each other splitting the church.

Then there was this little thing called the black death that wiped out a 1/3 of the people on the known world. The clerics said it was punishment from God for the sin of the world, yet a 1/3 of the holy men died too…why would God punish them?

The Church built there new Empire by selling get out of hell free cards.

Theologians like Luther, Zwingli, & Calvin balked.

Princes and Earls and Kings noted they could finally seize full power.

A bloody reign of terror and wars unleashed as the bible moved from Latin to the language of the people.

As the Protestant church moved forward more splits would occur as some feel led by the Spirit or personal wealth. Rome has its own stumbles.

In the 1960’s Vatican Council II, the windows of the Roamn Catholic hurch are thrown open for the Spirit to blow through…and they have been trying to hunker it down every since.

The church balances on a precipice…

Conservative…Liberal…Liberation…Social Gospel…Orthodox…Baptist…Neo-Ortodox … Catholic. . . Pentescostal. . .  Missional . . . Anglican. . . Presbyterian. . . United. . . Unitarian. . .Universalist. . . Unity. . .Christian Science. . . Jehovah Witness. . . Mormon. . . Coptic. . . Moravian. . . Brethren. . . Lutheran. . . Emergent. . . Post-Christian. . .

New branches emerge daily… as others slowly burn away…  but wasn’t changed is the trunk…the birth, life, teachings, miracles, death, and new life of Jesus of Nazareth…the trunk is what matters in the gardening journey… yet we get stuck on what our branch believes.