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Ain’t no way to treat a lady

Work on The Magdalene Poems is progressing well.  I’ve begun donating three, sometimes four afternoons a week to writing and that seems a good balance enabling me to work in my exercise, appointments, reading, and yes, prepare to gasp, housework! Having blocks of concentrated time to write makes it easier to shift into another state of consciousness where my mind opens up to ideas, implications, and hitherto unseen connections.

And that’s why I’m so angry right now.

The significance of the Magdalene, her contribution to the Christ story is enormous.  But almost from the start, it was diminished and in places, even obliterated.  And it’s seeming more and more likely that this was not accidental.

I know what you’re thinking – oy! this girl is SO paranoid!  Be that as it may, I figure even conspiracy theorists must get it right once in a while.  And maybe this is one of those “once’s”.  Is it so impossible a thought that those in power at the time the gospels were written down, were so horrified at the thought of a female apostle, who was pre-eminent among the apostles, and who (to make matters worse) was the beloved of Christ, that they edited the story to tone down the astounding truth and avoid the implications thereof?  This is what I seem to be finding at almost every turn.

For instance, some gospels have Mary at the foot of the Cross.  Others have her “standing far off.”  In three of the gospels, Christ appears to Mary after the resurrection – in John’s gospel he appears to her alone, and commissions her to take his message to his “brothers”.  But in Luke’s gospel, Christ appears first to Peter.  Peter?! When did that happen?  Two gospels describe Mary as demon-possessed.  (One of them is Luke, by the way.)  And in the anointing scene in Mark (the first gospel written down) the significance of the unnamed woman (who I believe is, in fact, the Magdalene) has already been “depoliticized,” to use Jane Schaberg’s phrase, rendering her act a preparation of Christ’s body for burial, instead of the anointing of the long-awaited Messiah.

Now hold on there, missy!  Didn’t Jesus say she anointed him ahead of time for burial?  Yup.  That’s what it says in the gospel all right.  And isn’t the Bible the inspired, inerrant Word of God?

Inspired, yes.  But inerrant?  Sister Sandra Schneiders has a wonderful way of describing the Bible as the Word of God, not the words of God.  Meaning, the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit working through human agents who were themselves inevitably influenced by their culture, their traditions, their upbringing and their own personal interpretations of the Christ event.  In other words, they had agendas, and it might well be that these agendas caused them to portray the Christ story in a certain light, which left Mary in the shadows.

It may not have been deliberate.  As a writer I know it is impossible to write anything from a purely objective point of view.  We each give meaning to what we see and experience in our own unique way.  That’s why witness accounts of the same incident can vary so widely.  That’s why the gospels don’t match – they are each telling a different story.

But even so, deliberate or not, a grave injustice has been perpetrated and I’m beginning to think that if there’s to be any hope for the healing of Christianity today, the Magdalene must be restored to her rightful place, at the side of Christ, his prophet, his apostle, his beloved.

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