Saturday, September 26, 2009
Mary Magdalene: hero; Thomas: butt of the joke
Now. He asked me if I learned anything at the Jesus Seminar on the Road, which is where we were. My brain full at the time, I couldn't come up with anything off the top of my head.
Later, at home, it sunk in what the perfesser lady said about John 20 and how, owing to early church fathers' fear of Gnosticism, it has been spun for centuries to downplay Mary's encounter and promote Thomas's.
The perfesser man even pointed out that the institutional church to this day, in the form of the Lectionary, disses Mary by ignoring her encounter -- and more important, her apostolic annunciation: "I have seen the Lord" -- apostolic in that that declaration is reserved for those considered apostles.
So, that's something I learned: a hint of the depth to which the church's robbery of Mary Magdalene's rightful place at the heart of the Jesus stories rather than the periphery.
Nothing as sexy as the myth that Mary and Jesus had a thang goin'. But more important.
The exact nature of Jesus and Mary's relationship then pales in comparison to the historic, deliberate misinterpretation of her clear role in the Gospels to continue to marginalize women in the church now.
Let the women be HEARD in the churches!
The professor only took her case up to about 600 AD. There is that 500+ years called the "Dark Ages" where Marys (Mother and Magdalene and several other women) held sway in the Church. So it has been pendulummatic this outcasting of the feminine spirit by the male orthodoxy. As any good Buddhist knows without the Yin the Yang is imbalanced and vice versa. So Christ without Sophia represents a Church of halves pretending to represent everything.
Have at it Feodor.
Christian antiquity often disregarded the role of women because flesh was the location of Sin and women were the objects of lust and the subjects of fleshly generation. And much of Gnosticism was even worse.
2. DrLBJ further perpetrates a crime by drawing a division between Christ and the feminine characterization of God's Wisdom ("a Church of halves"). Christian theology considered the OT Sophia to be Israel's proleptic anticipation of the Holy Spirit.
By doing so, DrLBJ infers that Mary, no longer her own person but some kind of pedestal representation, cannot belong to Christ's half but belongs on the opposite side of a coin. In this he repeats the very mistake you two were just reminded of: the early Church dismissed the apostolic witness of Mary Magdelene. The importance of her words is that she herself, made in the image of God, has the complete and autonomous capacity to recognize her Lord and Savior.
Let no man come between her and her witness to God's saving act in the world. And certainly not by stripping her of her humanity, her ability to participate in divinity through her own faculties of reason, reflection, moral sensibility, and claim of faith.
DrLBJ, what you just did to her in your semantics, in your allegorical rendering, and for your purposes of interests, constitute the same act of ideological violence against the identity of Mary Magdalene that the seminar tried to make explicit in the models of the early, misogynist church and Gnosticism.
The orthodox churches of today do not recognize the Holy Spirit as the missing feminine and indeed while giving lip service to the Spirit's equality to God and Christ in fact treat the Spirit as a lessor adjunct entity (except maybe for the Pentecostals that is).
If you believe the Church or churches are in balance without the feminine all well and good for you.
Mary Magdalene is coming back into popular cognition as to her actual role in Christianity because we once again are ion an era of swinging the pendulum to the symbolic and the visual away from the alphabetical and the written word. In doing that we are re-engaging that portion of us as a culture that requires the "feminine mind" to understand what's being transmitted. Things are changing drastically in that regard.
Feodor: "By immediately dissolving Mary (either one of them) into, first, "feminine spirit", and two, Sophia, DrLBJ recapitulates the dehumanization-by-elevation of their individual identities and witness that the Roman church has done in the modern era."
When The "Roman Church" and the Theological Hierarchy of all Christianity re-establishes the Magdalene as the "Beloved Disciple" and gives back her book of "John" to her that Irenaeus stole away in fear of "Anti-Orthodoxy a.k.a. Gnosticism" then I will be impressed. The grudging crumbs so far returned to her are not worthy of even a cur under a table.
By the way, your undercurrent accusation of violence against these women, by me, is again fascinating and perhaps even self revealing.
For the record:
By the way, you are aware are you not, that the Yang and Yin are inseparable in "a" symbol and are always shown in absolute equity in the same plane?
I used "criminal" in its euphemistic role, LBJ; you're just too embarrassed to acknowledge it.
Ironically, and classically, hubris leads to a tragic downfall... and at least one crime usually is the plot engine for the trip.
You're an old dog with aging tricks, LBJ. A man of your generation who's gotten the gist feminist and black critical thought and applies them with all good intention and as best you can.
Make your peace with it.
I'll be in your shoes ere long.
Finally, you clearly have no idea how Mary leads the faithful parochially, and certainly no familiarity with Orthodox teaching on the Holy Spirit.
But in America, everyone can be a theologian.
Sola scriptura, I guess, even when the scriptura is gnostic, published by Simon and Schuster.
Feodor: "Finally, you clearly have no idea how Mary leads the faithful parochially, and certainly no familiarity with Orthodox teaching on the Holy Spirit."
Explain them both to me. That is, if you deem me worthy.
Feodor: "I'll be in your shoes ere long."
I smile at the thought :)
Feodor: "But in America, everyone can be a theologian."
In my youth we called that the "priesthood of the believer" creating your own explanation of what you think you believe out of what you've been told and using it to commune with God. I guess maybe that's what freedom of and from religion is really all about, being your own theologian, that is.
If I stood on sola scriptura then I couldn't very well claim the "occult knowledge" that forms my theological leanings could I. Oh, that was a "put down"? You are correct in that I issue tradition and hierachial priestly pronouncements as sources of knowing. Ah, and yes, I do read books, and look stuff up on google and attend places where people discuss these things.
This thing, Gnosticism, seems to stick in your craw. But what is it really for you? What does that term mean to you?
In the other corner, representing the Disestablishmentarian wing of the church -- that prairie populism Feodor holds in such disdain -- DrLobojo!
And why is always gets personal is beyond me. And it sucks. These are fighting words, and while I would never pretend to think DrLobo needs defense, I don't appreciate it:
"You're an old dog with aging tricks, LBJ. A man of your generation who's gotten the gist feminist and black critical thought and applies them with all good intention and as best you can.
Make your peace with it."
What a thing to say.
As for this: "Finally, you clearly have no idea how Mary leads the faithful parochially, and certainly no familiarity with Orthodox teaching on the Holy Spirit."
No, I suspect that my friend DrLobo is familiar with both, and rejects them or modifies them to suit his purposes as is his responsibility, snd mine, as a member of the believing priesthood.
Which is debatavle. But that broadside personal attack is just bullshit.
ER,by the way, who was Mary to Thomas? Why would a Gospel written no earlier than 90 c.e. dump on Thomas who was long gone to India by that time and probably was not part of the friction of the early Eastern Mediterranean churches?
Well all of what I have said could be knocked down, but not by blindly swinging at my person and hitting only open air. I don't have to absorb blows that don't land. Still this is your blog and you moderate it as you see fit.
I did shamelessly call Feodor to fray however. It is a good way to explore were the hinterlands are demarcated. But it seems I re-conned too far into his personal territorial imperative to obtain much more than the repulse he provided.
Don't know who Mary was to Thomas. I didn't see it as much of a dump on Thomas, though, except by contrast. ???
Again in a Nag Hammadi document his twin is identified as Jesus. Now that brings up some interesting thoughts does it not?
If MM was indeed the wife (or even close companion) of Jesus then Thomas would have been her brother-in-law as was James. So ER, do you have a brother-in-law? I mean with James in charge of the Jerusalem Church and doing his Christian Jew thing is it any wonder that MM would go off to Ephesus and get involve in the Jewish Christian or/and possible gnostic thing.
Now that I'm done mourning William Safire, there seems to be some things to respond to...
ER, if you think I “represent the institutional church,” or am a defender of it, you haven't been paying close attention. I am a defender of certain kinds of theologies extent throughout Christian history. But rarely has any theology of note and consequence found ready support from the "institutional church." Though there were times when consequential theologians traded in their role for one of representing or defending the "institutional church,” still, it seems safe to say, when they did so they offended the deeper harmonies of what they had written as theologians.
Among the rarest of times that the institutional church let theologians lead in ecclesiastical policy and polity was Vatican II. And ever since John XXIII braved almost everything, reactionaries and the confused and the disoriented have been putting the genie back in the bottle. John Paul II’s great achievement has been the cork of Benedict XVI.
No, I do not represent the institutional church. I do defend the work of many of the Church’s great theologians who have gotten crossways with the institutional church to greater or lesser extent. Which suggests, ER, that you, along with DRLBJ, do not understand what is meant by the “institutional church” or “orthodoxy,” respectively. Partly, I think, this is because neither of you are versed in how the work of theologians percolates from and filters back to the church and how this process is distinct from but eventually implicated in the very different process of the interests of power and order to which church leaders almost always are responding, and the management of which, to a greater or lesser historic success constitutes “the institutional church.”
But I cannot name for you many of these leaders. I have not paid attention to much ecclesiastical history at all. All I know are theologians. One should not mistake what Karl Rahner has written about the Holy Spirit (something DrLJB should be looking into) for institutional church thinking. This would be the Rahner who, sixty years ago, gave us the notion of the Anonymous Christian – thereby sounding a lot like one of ER’s recent comments – non-Christians could have "in [their] basic orientation and fundamental decision, accepted the salvific grace of God, through Christ, although [they] may never have heard of the Christian revelation." Admittedly rather patronizing, still, it was an early theological statement of ecumenism and very troubling to “the institutional church.” One should not mistake the Christology of Edward Schillebeeckx to be institutional church thinking since he was brought to trial before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and heavily criticized by then Cardinal Ratzinger. One should not mistake the work of Yves Congar for “institutional church” thinking either; he was temporarily silenced by the Holy See, this Congar who heavily influenced Vatican II.
More recently, one should not mistake Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s theological work for that of the institutional church. This would be the Schüssler Fiorenza, Roman Catholic and the current Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, who wrote, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. Perhaps DrLBJ has read it, feminist critic that he is.
But perhaps DrLBJ has forgotten along the way that she also wrote, Jesus: Miriam's Child, Sophia's Prophet, thereby refusing to put asunder what he calls two “halves of the church” with Jesus only capable of representing one side and Mary Magdalene, despite her apostolic witness of Christ’s resurrection, representing the other.
Perhaps we could shorten DrLBJ’s search by sending him straight to John Zizioulas, Orthodox chap, who covers acres of theological work regarding the Holy Spirit, Being, Communion, Human Nature, ecology, and the Theotokos.
O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and Queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon'rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.
Which brings us to DrLBJ himself and his pride in gnosticism. He asks what I make of it. Frankly, I think gnosticism was, and diffusively remains, a courageous attempt to take the lemons of antiquity’s disparagement of the gift of embodied life and make an apocalyptic lemonade out of the revulsion of flesh. It is, in a way, a far precursor of Pentecostalism.
But it makes bad medicine for modernity, except for the invaluable lesson of skepticism for the institutional powers and the power interests of hegemony and to keep eyes searching and ears listening for the marginalized voices. The problem for DrLBJ is how not to make this act of love and perpetual resurrection an ideology of fundamentalism. When that happens, then acts are done in the name of one thing but serve another, i.e, raising the cry of feminism while crushing the lesson just learned about one woman’s claim of identity with Jesus’ resurrection – *I* have seen the Lord.
As I said, anyone can be a theologian in America. After all, our manifest destiny is to rule our princely kingdom, whether trailer, truck, ranch house or mansion. All we need is the good book. And this is my main complaint with DrLBJ – underneath how he undermines himself trying to use feminist critique while violently erasing the Magdalene’s humanity - he is an amateur theologian. While this is not, in itself, a fault… I, too, am an amateur theologian… the fault is that, standing in the shallow end of the pool, he refuses to acknowledge that there is a far side ten times deeper than his treasured end. I, at lest, love pointing to it, and estimating how deep it is, and I walk myself around it by hanging on to the sides and feeling my feet hang helplessly. And then I come back to where I can stand and tell him about the trip and the stones my hands touched. But he denies there are any edges at all and claims only that the mean workmen put them there to fool us.
Finally, a theologian is quite a different animal than a “priest,” and plays a very different role. Interesting how you two transmogrified my word, theologian, to your word, priest.
The priesthood of all believers, does not a theologian make. Not one. Faith is not reason. Relationship is not intelligence. And while both serve love (the only true measure of life), the kind of faith that fears the deep end of the pool maintains a certain quality and ethos and capacity. The kind of faith that fears the deep end, and would rather play with new swim toys dug up from the ancient desert, is bad preparation for the bullies of the world. For the bullies cannot swim, and thus the shallow end will quickly become their end of the pool.
So why don’t we band of priests brave the deep more and rest comfortably on the old revolutions less?
1. I don't, as a matter of fact, recommend that either of you read John Zizioulas. One has to have had an awful lot of theology and a great deal of classical theology and its subsequent development in Eastern Christianity.
Though, perhaps I shouldn't under-estimate you both since you are, quite clearly, priests in believing.
Maybe that's enough.
2. gnosticism was never a systematized phenomenon and therefore has no articulated "set" of beliefs. The phenomenon was rather like mushrooms, popping up in disparate places as reactions to atrophied or anemic or simply unaddressed truths, and addressed them in a peculiarly pungent way - though not especially fit for the strong light of day.
4. So, I don't represent "the institutional church" and DrLBJ doesn't represent gnosticism... at least not very well.
In fact, as I write, it's just to the left on the screen.
"You're an old dog with aging tricks, LBJ. A man of your generation who's gotten the gist feminist and black critical thought and applies them with all good intention and as best you can."
You! So sensitive to other isms! Answer for it! Or retract it.
Or, at least apologize for it, for Christ's sweet sake.
Plus, I recognize the added difficulty of a man of DrLBJs age to fully integrate feminist or womanist theory. In his working with the material on Magdalene, he recapitulated the silencing of her voice committed by what you call "the institutional church." He did not intend to, but he couldn't see it as a matter of gender and generational capacity.
Time marches on and the glaciers of systemic theories leave striations in their passing. Dating them isn't hard. DrLBJs can be seen. So can mine. You are polishing a new tabula rosa, but it will not last.
I think DrLBJs mature enough to realize his place in the world... and that, all in all, he is wiser than me. The pool of theology is only a handful of pools he may yet have braved deeply (thus, "Simon and Schuster"). The number of pools he's been in far outpaces most people.
If he wants to add the depths of another one, he can find his own way. He just hasn't yet.
Or sung the Axion Estin at the Feast of the Dormition?
Sophia can be found there - and one needn't have read a lot of theology to see her.
The irony of his presenting the Theotokion to make his point and thus making my point is delicious. Trouble is he can not see this while calling me blind.
O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and Queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon'rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.
As for priest and theologians and orthodox and gnostic and the other stuff, there is security and relative peace in hierarchy and discipline but little in the way of Freedom.
That's my small denomination's reaching out to the feminine side of God. Truthfully, can such occur in your much more influential church?
But then, I would have thought a gnostic would immediately intuit the task of interpreting old mysteries for our time and life.
Maybe it's been a while since you've heard a good sermon.
The larger truth about human nature is that there is no freedom in freedom. One has to practice the backhand like a madman for a few years to apply it freely. Same with prayer. Same with thought. Same with love, oddly.
Gandhi and MLK weren't born great. Discipline and learning made them what they became.
I've met ER's late mother, and indeed Sophia dwelt within.
All men were.
However did misogyny happen when living with women magically purifies us?
And you want to claim orthodoxy doesn't relate to Sophia?
You don't know it.
I am starting to get pissed off at the unnecessary roughness, baseless assumptions and stupid meanness -- and i say "stupid" for ladk of a better word, since it's clearly not ignorant or thoughtless.
What a joke of a high horse. Latter-day Hapsburg riding for an imaginary latter-day Holy Roman Empire of the Air.
Sigh. And I herewith leave, for now, this mud and shit.
To the extent that we are not them, perhaps we relaxed in LBJs formless freedom a little too long and late.
And you're too big to play Napoleon.
There you go identifying the "institutional" again. Chronic.
Sophia is seen as the proleptic anticipation of the Holy Spirit within Israel.
Thus, the godhead is metaphorized most often as father, son, and Holy Spirit (fem.).
While your God comes in twos. Big and demi.
Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages by Caroline Walker Bynum...
which presents twelfth century Cistercian conceptions of community and the earliest sources of a theological understanding of "the self" via spiritual practices which envisioned Jesus as the Mother.
What you blame orthodoxy for is rather the violence done to Christian faith by prairie (Nordic) protestantism, popular or otherwise. Sophia was lost by your side.
Oklahoma recognizing Yom Kippur?
1) After sleeping on it, ER, I take it back. LBJ is a fair representative of gnosticism as seen from the orthodox perspective.
Returning to his first few comments, my point is that LBJ, in his response to the historic use of John 20 and the efforts to suppress the voices and powers of women, immediately turns to an abstract narrative of "the missing feminine" in the early church and the allegorical or literary or ontologically metaphysical figure of Sophia (why does this sound like Robert Langdon?). In reaching so immediately for the abstract in order to fill the symbolic vacuum, LBj is a good gnostic and an equally bad gnostic. Gnosticism critiqued orthodoxy on the symbolic level but, sharing and even amplifying the fear of the flesh, while the "Feminine" was treated as the last emanation of the demiurge, women in their own right did not benefit.
2) Contra your "perfesser man" (or the way you heard him or the way I understand what you are saying) the Magdalene's encounter with the risen Christ in John is the central Gospel reading at the principal Easter service every year as set forth in the lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer.
The other three gospels each get their own year in a three year cycle, except that every year John is read during Advent, Christmastide, Lent and Eastertide.
This is also the case for the Revised Common Lectionary, based on the Roman ordo established by Vatican II, and which is formally subscribed to by the UCC, the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, the Romans, etc.
Have I missed your point about John 20 being ignored by the lectionary?
3) I'm not sure what kind of sparkle you guys are getting out of the literary effect of Thomas' doubt juxtaposed with Mary's faith, but Thomas is hardly positioned as the worst offender in the Passion narratives. Right? So if you want to speculate about targets, the biggest one is Peter.
Now who is he married to, again? Must be important somehow.
4) On the issue of ageism, here is its beginning (in a defensive move to cover for being openly proved wrong - and by invitation no less):
Feodor: "DrLBJ, what you just did to her in your semantics, in your allegorical rendering, and for your purposes of interests, constitute the same act of ideological violence against the identity of Mary Magdalene that the seminar tried to make explicit in the models of the early, misogynist church and Gnosticism."
[Seems like I'm talking about his language and ideas, right?]
LBJ: "You really must develop to the point that you're attacking the idea rather than the person."
[Who hears a jab at maturity... and who sees a defensive shuffling to move from his point, which I did attack, to claiming a personal attack was made BY making a personal stab?]
If we want to discuss exegetical, theological, ecclesiological issues, is it wrong to ask for competency?
If we want to talk about Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism - two enormously vast and old wooly beasts of tradition - is it wrong to tread lightly, knowing that all three of us are in extremely short supply of informed opinoins?
When did the value of "observations," so important to the Nature of Science and LBJs vocational life, lose all value in opining on matters of religious communities vastly different from our own and debating on ecclesiological and theological histories that extend across the known world for each of the last twenty centuries?
I didn't say the perfesser said John 20 in toto was ignored by the lectionary. I said that he said, or I meant to say that he said, that the Thomas story is always emphasized. At lesst I think that's what he said. Or meant.
I'm still relatively new to this lectionary business. Send me a link and tell me what yesr we're in, please.
Gospel reading at principal Easter Service: John 20:1-18.
20:18: "Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'; and she told them that he had said these things to her."
I want a formal lambasting for his use of the word, "develop," the word, "orthodox," and a severe self-lashing for your use of the word, "insitutional."
And throw in "bling swingin'" and "mud and shit" for good measure.
I am terrifically angry, now. My "personal territorial imperative" - not invaded by any ideas - was invaded by the duplicitous avoidance of how I took on ideas and did indeed knock them down and got personal responses of defensive ignorance back.
The way these words were used against me are an offense to me, my family, and the great state of New York.
Unless you two acquire a date with Obama, Biden, and beers over this, I will not be appeased.
Idn't yom kippur, idn't that them fish?
If The Church considers the Holy Spirit to be the Holy Feminine then why do they only discuss "him" with male pronouns, even in the official encyclopedic summaries?
That there are variations between congregation in The Church, I concede. I recently attended a wedding at a "liberal" Catholic Church in Memphis so I know such exist.
However, when the Bishops in your Church have a smattering even of women among them, or the Priest have vaginas then we can discuss the decline of structured male orthodoxy in the Roman Church.
Show me the women as full members of the orthodox hierarchy, not the male attitude towards them. That is something that most denominations of the West can not do either. That's the point.
Feodor: (why does this sound like Robert Langdon?)
Yes, my real name is Dan Brown.
Wait till you see what I do for the Masons this time out!
Speaking of Robert Langdon, always remember; "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you."
Enough of the oroboros of this discussion.
Take the last words.
Too chicken to just walk over there, though, so I just tend toward it.
Re, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." Truer than Dan Brown might suppose. I can't wait until yesterday's sermon at church is online. The single most profound and scandalous sermon I've ever heard there, and DrLobo, you know that is saying a lot. Preached from excerpts of "Song of Myself." Incredible. I did my part to swell superpreacher's head by telling him, sincerely, that it made me think of Henry Ward Beecher -- partly, of course, because of the era, but still.
We can talk theology; I'm not so good on ecclesiastical history.
My "Church" is led by a woman at the moment. And a scientist at that.
And in my "Church" most parishes have "lady Chapels" built in one wing of the transept or at the head of the transept, and guess who waits there for the penitent, the sorrowful, those seeking prayer?
How about your church?
The Roman church has a way to go on female leadership within ecclesia romana. Your counting sex organs is certainly one option of evaluation, though, again, not something feminists could give any imprimatur to.
Is this the kind of thing you mean when it comes to male attitude?
I'd prefer to look at the style and skills of female leadership we could find throughout society and correlate such an evaluation to impact of religious style. So, for instance, my preference would be to consider Catholic women in leaderships positions compared to protestants as a truer marker about female identity construction and influence of denominational theology.
I'd be happy to start with a list of state and federal Representatives just from New York, DrLBJ, if you provide a similar list of the protestant female representatives in Oklahoma. I remember hearing about one in particular.
Shall we survey the CEOs of the Fortune 500, gather the handful of women and list their religious persuasion? Or academics working in medical ethics, technology, the media, nursing, teaching, etc. How much do you want to bet that the number of Catholic women in management positions outpaces their demographic presence in the population?
Does the name, Sonia Sotomayor ring a bell? Nancy Pelosi?
Ireland elected a female President; Argentine has elected two. Not exactly protestant countries.
Proof is in the pudding, not the pussy.
"Proof is in the pudding, not the pud."
See? Same meaning, minus the unnecessary spice, but you get a nice play on words. :-) LOL
Ella T. Grasso
Jane Dee Hull
Jane M. Swift
These would be the eight declared Catholic women among the 30 female governors of US states in our history.
Ten or more others are not listed by religion. Two are Jewish, four or five Anglican, three Methodist, one Mormon, one non-denominational.
Kirsten Gillibrand, NY
Lisa Murkowski, Al
Mary Landrieu, La
Susan Collins, Ma
Barbara Milkulski, Md
Claire McCaskill, Mo
Patty Murray, Wa
Olympia Snowe, MA, Eastern Orthodox
Kay Bailey Hutchison, TX, Anglican
Blance Lincoln, AR Anglican
Diane Feinstine, CA, Jewish
Barbara Boxer, CA, Jewish
Leaving the true protestants:
Kay Hagan, NC
Jeanne Shaheen, NH
Debbie Stabenow, MI
Amy Klobuchar, MN
DrLBJ, I was serious when I mentioned that in Catholic/Orthodoxy East and West you can pray to ERs mother. You can ask for her prayers to Christ on your behalf. And more.
In orthodoxy, the dead are with Christ and God the Father. They are now made perfect (or await only the perfection of all of creation). In this life they are in perfect communion with God and therefore are in communion with us, since we are not outside God and God is in communion with them.
It is the practicing belief of orthodoxy that the discipline of the sacraments are means to aid us in experiencing the grace of God, but not only that, also in experiencing communion with God on an ongoing basis. One need not wait for a sacramental event to be in relationship. The sacraments are like food for the relationship, or therapy for the relationship, or sleep, or any kind of help that is ongoing, sustaining nourishment to our capacity to draw near to the divinity, open ourselves up spiritually, and have an ongoing relationship of love, forgiveness, dedication, renewal, etc.
The Saints, of whom mamma ER is one, are fully part of the community on earth and in heaven which serves as the context, the family, in which the all important relationship to the divine Creator carries on.
As such, the saints in heaven can be counselors, guides, models, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters in the faith. I've known people who count Teresa of Avila as their mother in faith in a real, existentially vital way. Or Julian of Norwich. Or Richard of St. Victor. Or a parish priest long dead, or a godparent long departed, etc.
Now this relationship is born of and developed in a discipline of prayer, meditation, and silent, still waiting. And within the discipline, a freedom to enter into a relationship with someone in heaven, with all of heaven itself is made possible, and with the divine Trinity, a pleroma of communion.
Now. How is this not gnostic at its heart? How is this not Sophia, in her love, moving as a conduit does the intentions and connections between the sinner on earth and the saint in heaven?
The Blessed Virgin Mary serves both as conduit and as mother to millions over the centuries. The church, in its history, slowly and then quickly developed a whole spiritual process in which the faithful are schooled in reaching for Mary as intercessor, advocate, advisor.
Sure, a lot of it has been polluted, corrupted. A LOT!
But so has the notion of grace. Or incarnation. Or judgment. And, frightfully, so has love.
They have their female priests by the hundreds where they live, where they worship.
I, myself, named my daughter after St. Clare of Assisi. Clare has been the mother or sister or counselor in faith to hundreds of thousands in the centuries since she took her vows of poverty and service. She has received millions upon millions of prayers. And she, like mamma ER, is in communion with the Trinity in heaven. So, why not?
It is in these traditions, these kinds of lives lived not in the institutional sense, or even in consciousness of orthodoxy, that I find the deepest of truths about Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit, Sophia, Mary, et al. For people who enter into the discipline of spiritual life in order to find freedom to love in the world and to love the world, male pronouns as metaphors for God mean nothing. It is convention and has no power and changing them will have no power.
For them, in history and next door, ouroboros is God and Christ and male and female and earth and heaven and all of life and love, constantly circling, eternally in touch, suspended and protected in love.
I find virtually nothing of any of this living and active in a domestic, every day sense in protestantism.
Only, sometimes, among the searchers and the questers, the honorably deep souls, there are books by the reading chair or the nightstand. There are small groups of like minds, feeling conspicuous in their cities and towns of the plains. Sometimes these books are found in homes like yours and these groups are led by far seeing, people like you.
A few years ago, once when Dr. ER was very ill, for days, she saw what she saw as the Virgin Mother -- and she felt comforted by the experience, which should be about the only concern.
Such a world tends to make one see far and wonder what's out there. My father once said of me, you left home as soon as you could walk and only came back for meals and a place to sleep.
I once described myself as living alone with my wife and children.
These are things that happen when you are formed in the vast and open prairies or deserts of the world. Acute individualism is a product of this environment. Anti-authoritarianism is a product of this invironment. Egalitarianism, rejection of the elite, self reliance, forming one's own opinions (at least in theory), all come from the physical space acting on the mind and soul. That's why I've said geography is a primary element of all religions.
All of what we are and how we act are contained by the stage upon which the play is presented. Mine was open and vast with damn few actors on it.
It warped me into what I am.
It is not susprizing that we don't things the same way.
Now you've really pissed me off!
Wrong side of the River.:)
"Is everybody like you where you grew up?"
No, most are worse.