Friday, December 20

Christmas Column

Here's a column I wrote for the National Review back in 2005.

The really traditional Christian remembrance of the Nativity is not about sweetness. It is about awe, fear, and trembling, and it is shot through with hints of suffering to come.Mary, with a scandalous pregnancy. Joseph, courageous enough to take her on despite it. A birth among farm animals. The threat of death, from the very start, necessitating flight. Mary, told by the prophet Simeon that because of her son, her soul will be pierced by a sword (Luke 2:35).We view the elements of the story in a nostalgic haze — how sweet to be born with the goats. But is it? Is it sweet? Would you want to give birth among goats?How charming that Mary and Joseph had to wander before and after the birth of the child. Charming until you remember the reasons why, the doors shut in the face of a heavily pregnant woman, the threat of death from a jealous king.Look at it closely, with clear eyes. At every turn in this story of this baby there is threat and fear and powers circling, attempting to strike at the light. 

Amy Welborn interview


IgnatiusInsight.com: What do we know about Mary Magdalene and what are our sources for our knowledge of her?
Welborn: Our primary sources for knowledge of Mary Magdalene are in the Gospels. From them, in Luke 8, we learn that Mary of Magdala (a small town on the Sea of Galilee) had been exorcised of seven demons by Jesus, and left everything behind in gratitude to follow him, along with some other women, and provide for the disciples' needs. This could be doing domestic work for them, providing funds to support the ministry, or both.
We then see Mary, in every gospel, at the Cross, then as the first to discover the Empty Tomb.
There is an enormous amount of legendary material about Mary Magdalene in both West and East. It's fascinating and rich. One of the primary strains in the West has her traveling to Provence (an idea picked up by the radical feminist author of The Woman With the Alabaster Jar, Margaret Starbird, and then turned for her own ends) and, along with Martha and Lazarus, evangelizing the area; there is even some medieval art that depicts Mary preaching and baptizing. She was a favorite subject for medieval mystery plays and, of course, art.
But what we know for sure about her is contained in the Gospels.

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