Situating Mary!

I think that I will initiate this discussion by  situating the place that Mary has in the religious or spiritual life of modern society. From there I will be able to more adequately explain my own particular assumptions about Mary and better describe the direction of the future discussion of this site.

Mary the Mother of Jesus, the Theotokos, the Mother of God lives of course near the center of both the  Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Within both of these church communities, Mary is known as the Queen of Heaven who intercedes in prayer to the Trinity for her people, etc.  In both Catholicism and Orthodoxy Mary is prayed to, adored, and passionately loved. Further more  much of the art and cathedrals of Western Christian civilization have been  dedicated to her. Mary is as the Eastern Orthodox liturgy says “higher than the cherubim and seraphim. And yet in spite of this the apologists of both communities continually reiterate the message that Mary is only human and not divine. She, as many Protestants say,  needed to be saved by her Son as do the rest of us.

To say the least many members of the Protestant Christian community and members of  the very small but growing  Neopagan communities through out the world view these views as both contradictory and strange. In fact  from the Protestant point of view the historical Marian devotionism of the Catholic community seems to suggest  that the status that Mary plays in Roman Catholicism  is in fact that of a  Pagan goddess. In fact anti-Catholic Protestant preachers regularly make this  charge as a major part of their anti-Catholic rhetoric.

Modern pagans make the same charge al be it from a completely different perspective. Paganism in fact takes a certainly amount of glee in the fact that the most powerful Christian church seems to give worship to Mary. This fact, as they see it, confirms their idea that in fact goddess worship is a universal human inevitability. Even the anti Pagan Roman Catholic Church can not get away from it. However, a part from this perception it would seem that modern Paganism in general has little real interest in Mary. They do give her a slot as one of the many aspects or faces of the Great Goddess along with Diana, Isis, the Morrigon, Hecate, etc.  After doing this most modern pagans with obviously some exceptions  pretty much forget about her.
Now I can better place  my own views relationship to Mary. First I certainly am a supporter and practitioner of Marian devotionism. As a Marian maximalist I have a very high view of the status of Mary in deed. I hold such a high view of Mary that I in fact agree with both Protestants and Pagans who argue that Mary is a sort of goddess. In spite of the denials of Roman Catholic apologists the kind of devotion and adoration that Mary has received in Roman Catholicism is the same type of devotion and love that earlier pagan peoples gave to goddesses  such as Isis, Athena, etc. In fact perhaps the attention that Mary has received may  be even more than that received by most of the pagan goddesses. However Mary’s role is not that of a pagan goddess, as  both Protestants and Pagans imagine, but of a Christian Goddess. To be more specific I see Mary as in fact incarnating the Holy Spirit and the female Spirit of God called in the Bible – Sophia / Wisdom. To my own mind to see Mary as having any lessor status actually eliminates any reason for giving her the great devotion or worship that she receives. In line with my Protestant religious heritage, I have a  problem with the idea of giving adoration or praying to beings who are less than God.

So these are the views with which I start. This is the starting point of discussion. From this point on  I will look not primarily to the modern pagan theologies of Wicca, Pagan Reconstructionism, New Age thought, etc. I will not because Marian devotionalism is primarily a Christian phenomena and not a Pagan one.  But instead I will look  to the traditional, orthodox and heterodox religious traditions of Western Civilization for sources with which to dialogue. Since I am  passionately attached to most aspects of  the biblical word view and interested in the development of Christian theological traditions though out the last 2000 years  this will work well.

Glenn

 

 

 

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