Sunday, May 09, 2004

I was reading an article in the Dallas Morning News yesterday about how the role of the Virgin Mary has changed throughout Catholicism and how she's re-entering the faith in a more human role. It was very interesting, esp. the discussion of the Vatican II changes and the role those have played in the North Texas churches. I thought is was really neat how Mexicans have largely ignored the Vatican II changes because to acknowledge them would minimize the significance of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Vatican even tried to get a Mexican-Catholic church in Dallas to take down their image of the Lady of Guadalupe. The church did take down their image, but then replaced it with a more ethnic image of Mary from Mexico City. The article was great; it was in the Religion section if anyone has a copy of yesterday's paper. There was a list of books just written about Mary and one stuck out to me. It's called Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother by Lesley Hazleton. The author is actually a Jewish woman who became intrigued by Mary as a person so she went on a huge anthropological/historical/spiritual quest to find out who this amazing woman was. The first step in understanding Mary, she says, is to call her by her real name: Maryam. She then gives a description of Mary that is a dead-on description of a young MidEastern girl. The author says that to understand Mary, we must remove our Raphealite image of her and replace it with the true image of a Palestinian pregnant 13 year old. I find her approach to be very fascinating, and in an odd way very Muslim. Islam does not deify people, but instead looks at the various religious figures from a humanist perspective (please excuse me if I am using this phrase incorrectly). Of course, I say that, but as a Shi'a there is some sort of a "spiritual boost" given to certain people that I find to be analogous to "sainthood," etc. I just think it's neat that Ms. Hazleton is sort of taking a fresh look at someone who has remained in the minds and hearts of millions of people for 2000 years and is always an object of intrigue and love. On this Mother's Day, I'd like to keep in mind for myself this special mother who has touched the lives of more people for more generations than any mother in history. The very thought of her brings as much warmth and safety as the thought of any mother could.

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