Saturday, July 23, 2005

Happy St Mary of Magdelene's day

July 22nd is the feast of mary magdelene. a women who has recently got rather a lot of press thanks to Dan Brown and the Da Vinci code. i don't intedn to go into all the stuff looking at the historical case for or against (and it is larlgely against) Dan Brown's use of a theory that first surfaced in a book called Holy Blood Holy Grail (that Mary married jesus had a daughter who was the real 'Holy Grail' and the Merovingian Kings are her and Christ's decendents). look at Wikkipedia on the da Vinci code for some good material and links. but what has this debate got to say about culture and mission?

i know several Christians have written books attacking Brown's thesis. some of these have then suggested that 'the real da vinci code' is the message of jesus. some have done this well, i like the take that we can ALL be sons and daughters of jesus in the christian story not just a particualr liine of Kings in France! the problem however with some of these attempts is that to those who find compelling the conspiracy theroy element of the da VInci code, the church suppressing this truth over centuries, the load protestation of Christians, calls to ban or boycott teh film next year etc, simply confirm that the book must be true and we are indeed supressing the truth agressively. we live in an age when in proclaiming our lessage the old apologetics of exposing the the arguments against Christianity no longer cuts ice. indeed to try and defend Christianity from criticism is often to appear negative and opposed to things. i suspect we need to simply offer the positive in the market place of faith and let others look critical if they wish. i don't necessarily mean stay silent in repsonding to criticism or views we feel to be wrong, but not to feel this is where the key debate happens, to respond with grace, wanting to win a friend and not win an argument. people i think are today looking more at how we debate than what we say, what messages are we sending?

Mary Magdelene and her legacy are an intersting thing to pick up on. i have sympathy with Dan Brown's suggestion that Mary has had bad press, the one who first met the risen Jesus ending up as a fallen women forever doinmg penenance in the desert. indeed the second Vatican council aserted that much medieval speculation about Mary in which she also became the sinful women who annoints jesus feet and the women caught in adultery were mistakes. (so much for the theory of the supression of this by the Catholic Church). i do think it tells us something about the way women have sometimes been stereotyped in sections of the Christian faith though. the two Mary's one 'forever a virgin' the other a fallen women. i suspect the problem with sex and bodies especially female bodies this dualism speaks of is a bad bit of the Greek heritage of Christianity. it is easy sometimes to understand why people think we are anti physical and anti sex and indeed anti women. one of the reasons Paganism is the fastest growing faith in Britian is that it affirms the physical, the sexual and the feminine. our attitudes on these things are not indeed some academic question, they are about our mission.

if the Da Vinci code has a message for us, it is that people today want a faith that holds a view of the female that is equal to the male, and of the physical that sees it as good. we ought to be at the fore fornt here with women as much as men made in God's image, with sex as a gift of God and our bodies as temples of his spirit. this is not to deny that all is not good with how we are and the need for salvation in all it's dimensions, but to say we need to learn afresh the message of God's misison as starting with creation and ending in new creation. perhaps we need to also be as quick to speak of God as a mother hen gathering her offspring as a father welcoming a prodigal son?

4 comments:

Hammertime said...

Steve,

I came by via .

You seem to have some neat thoughts, but as a reader, I recommend you proofread your posts before you post them, or write them in a word processor first. It is distracting from your message when spelling and grammar are in error.

I look forward to you future posts!

Hammertime said...

Um, the HTML worked in the preview. Oh well.

Steve said...

thanks hammertime, and the code worked second time!

yes you are right about the proofing, thanks for the advice...it will be heeded

Barnabas said...

Thanks Steve for this blog, I've read the book and thought it was very good. I think we miss the point it's not been written as fact, it's just a story.

The church I go to is dedicated to St Mary Magdalen, she was a great lady whom we can learn a great deal from.