Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just Call Me "The Accidental Blogger"

There I was, minding my own business-- well, actually, I was trying to post a comment on PeaceBang's site-- when, in the course of events, I was sucked into a vortex that completely altered the space-time continuum, and.... I ended up with this blog.

Perhaps it would be best to start with the name. Corny, perhaps. But let me hasten to insist that I have been a fan of the great apostola apostolorum since long before she got mixed up in any well-plotted but poorly written best-selling novels. For many years Mary Magdalene has been my personal heroine for the following reasons:

1. She has been misunderstood. Beginning with an early-medieval dyspeptic pope, the "sins" of sexuality and prostitution have been ascribed to Magdalene. She has been called a prostitute, painted as a harlot, following Jesus because he forgave her great sins. She has been associated with the woman washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She has been assumed to have been the woman taken in adultery. There is no scriptural basis for any of this. What we do know of Magdalene forms the basis for my admiration, and it is the following:

2. Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her (taken by the aforementioned dyspeptic pope to signify the Seven Deadly Sins). Scholars don't know exactly what "seven demons" means, whether to take it literally or as a description of something like severe psychosis or other neurological condition. I for one don't dismiss the possibility of demons out of hand. What I think we can be confident of is this: she knew the profound depths of human brokenness, and she knew the dizzying joy of rescue. She is a model for all who know themselves to be both broken and saved.

3. Mary and some other women followed Jesus, providing for him out of their means. The experience of rescue changed Mary's life. It placed her feet on another path. She wanted to stay close to her rescuer, whether to hear his teaching or to feel his reassuring presence. She walked the path of discipleship with conviction.

4. She was present at the cross. It is hard to overstate the courage this indicates. In the face of the bloodiest, most brutal form of execution, she did not run and hide, but stayed and bore witness.

5. She was witness to the resurrection, whatever that means, whatever form that took. She was at the center of the early church's experience of the risen Christ. She was in the garden, in lovely counterpoint to Eve, backing into paradise instead of being driven out of it.

Was Mary Jesus' wife or girlfriend? Heck. I don't know. I don't much care; I'm not sure it matters either way (though I am perturbed by the implication that a woman's greatness is always assumed to be derivative). I simply feel an affection and an affinity for this woman, shadowy figure that she is, who stood at the threshold of great mystery and walked right in.

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