Today is “The Feast Day Of Mary Magdalene.”
A lot of the Goddess worshipping folks, men and women, make a whole lot of this day — but I’m not keen on feast days. Too Catholic, too dripping with stuff that puts me off.
One thing I find fascinating, though, is that these Goddess folks enshrine motherhood — which is, well, okay — but this seems to mean it’s important that they must say, over and over, “Mary of Magdalene was never a prostitute. Ever.”
Yeah, decent theology 101, when you understand that nowhere does the text say that Mary was a prostitute, it’s a cultural myth, created by Pope Gregory in 591. Got the lesson at Harvard Divinity, but it’s even in art history lessons. For example, check out Scarlet Woman: The True Story of Mary Magdalene by Waldemar Januszczak. (As an aside, his art history insights are extraordinary. I recommend anything he produces. Huge fan. His take on the much maligned Rubens is extraordinary, as are his insights on the Rococo and the Renaissance. Brilliant analysis.)
But I’m in a pissy mood today, and what irks me about privileged [white] feminists making sure to clean up Mary’s rep is that it’s a ‘patriarchal’ bifurcation:: purity and pollution.
Mary prostitute = bad.
Mary not prostitute = good.
Make sure to cast The Mother as pure and powerful.
The Whore, well, who knows what they think. I’d like to ask, but I have other hornets’ nests to kick today.
White feminism is a gnarly creature, and perhaps worse when drenched in spirituality.
Despite white feminist Goddess spirituality, not because of it, I’ll lovingly honor Mary Magdalene today, the woman that the Catholic Church finally recognized as Apostle to the Apostles.
She was the first to bear witness — if you believe the story — and tell all the men the truth, and not one of them believed her.
A woman telling a group of men the truth and not being believed.
Because of power.
Nope, she wasn’t believed, But when they saw for themselves, they took over, claimed the message, and shut her down.
Peter always struck me as a jealous and controlling.
But here’s another take on this his-story: Mary’s true spiritual gift was in being recast by hatred and the greed for power, and she carries hope in her miscasting for millions and millions of women marginalized by sex work.
Maya Angelou, who had a brothel and was a sex worker in her early years, amazing how we bury these facts, once told a story. She was at book signing, and saw a girl in line. She described, in the gentlest way possible, that the girl was obviously a working girl, and had probably worked all night. She had her false nails, false lashes, and the rest, itself a stereotype. Angelou said, “The girl came up to me, handed me her book to sign, and said, ‘you give me hope.’”
Angelou was teary eyed when telling the story, and knew what the girl was telling her. ”That’s it., right there,” she said, “That’s all of it, isn’t it?”
If you’re interested in a different take on Mary of Magdalene, check out Mary Magdalene.
I had a hard time getting into it, and I didn’t enjoy it the first time I saw it.
On a hunch, despite myself, I watched it a second time. I changed my mind with the second viewing — and I agree with Allen’s review on Ebert.com:
There is a strong, crucial sense of mania within “Mary Magdalene” and its vision of a movement. Tahar Rahim and Chiwetel Ejiofor, especially—both who could lead biblical epics of their own—say the words of the Apostles that we know, but with such a bursting exuberance that we know they’ve completely drunk the Kool-Aid, and then some. These men are so desperate for a resolve to their pain, as Mary learns in her quiet, haunting conversations with them, that their lives have become an open-arms embrace for a kingdom that’s only as real as their faith. This is never seen as a criticism against the Apostles—instead it’s an incredibly honest take on full-fledged worship, and another example of the staggering compassion that “Mary Magdalene” has for the people in its story, and what they represent
To Mary Magdalene, and the millions to whom she gives hope.