Where Did She Go?  A Slothful Seeking of the Divine by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

 A week ago today was my birthday.  I’m the same age as my mother when she died of a stroke some twenty-eight years ago.  This past year has been marked by the deaths of close friends and family; most recently my Uncle Jack who almost made it to his 93rd birthday. This latest passing, coupled with being the same age as my mother when she passed, has left me more than a bit reflective of life and vulnerability.   This internal examination has lead me to acknowledge another loss I have been ignoring for a few years—my love affair with the divine.

It didn’t happen all at once; instead it’s been a slow brew of indifference to the spiritual domain.  Like many who read or contribute to FAR, my spiritual compass was fined tuned to point north in all matters of my life, even at a very early age.  The Virgin Mary, Mass, the Sacraments of the Catholic Church and its rituals are what Andrew Greeley defines as The Catholic Imagination.  Taken together, these insist on a spirituality that sees the divine saturated in all of creation.  Grace, abundant grace, is never outside the reach of those who wish to experience it.    Continue reading “Where Did She Go?  A Slothful Seeking of the Divine by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

It Takes a Village: Responding to the Needs of Rosemary Radford Ruether by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

Rosemary Radford RuetherAs many of you may already know, on August 24, 2016, feminist theologian and scholar Rosemary Radford Ruether suffered a significant stroke. There has been some speculation from those who know or have known Rosemary about her current condition.  Here is the short of it.  While Rosemary has made progress, her doctors and therefore Medicare feel it is insufficient to warrant continued physical and speech therapies. Those who interact with Rosemary on a daily or weekly basis disagree with this medical prognosis.  The stroke damaged the part of Rosemary’s brain that allows for communication, therefore she, at this time, is not able to speak.  That said, Rosemary recognizes individuals, is able to respond to some commands and engage in therapeutic exercises.  The more attention and care she receives the greater her capacity grows for a more meaningful life that includes a level of agency.  

The first year of a stroke demands ongoing therapies in order to truly assess a clear diagnosis.  To what degree Rosemary will recover from her stroke is uncertain, but at the minimum ongoing therapies will prove beneficial towards her overall quality of life.  Unfortunately, Rosemary does not have secondary health insurance that will cover the cost of these badly needed therapies.   For example, one month of Physical Therapy at 3x/week and Speech Therapy 2x/week amounts to $3,289.00.  Put another way, 15 minutes of physical or speech therapy costs $41.00.  To be effective, Rosemary should have, at the minimum, five hours of combined therapy per week.   Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Responding to the Needs of Rosemary Radford Ruether by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

“Spotlight” and the Recovery of a Lost Faith by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

cynthia garrity bondLast week I was finally able to see “Spotlight“, the recent movie depicting the true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation into the priest pedophilia abuses. What makes “Spotlight” so compelling is the shared burden of culpability by those outside the organized Catholic Church. While hunting down the priestly offenders, including Cardinal Bernard Law, “Spotlight” also takes calculated aim at those official offices and individuals that turned a blind eye from the sexual abuse of children. In his NCR review, film critic Steven D. Greydanus praises the film for its ability to include such collaborators as “Lawyers, law enforcement, family members and friends, and pointedly and repeatedly, the fourth estate itself—the press and specifically the Globe – are all implicated.” Which is to say, the sin of silence through a misguided sense of protection of the institution is as damaging as the act itself.

In the Globe’s investigative work, a team of four reporters begins the difficult work of interviewing survivors of sexual abuse. What moved me deeply was the recurrent syllogism expressed by each in their retelling of the abuse at the hands of their parish priest. In the first statement of a syllogism, the major premise is the articulating of the moral principle. Step two, the minor premise, is the particular act to be judged. Step three is the logical conclusion inferred between the major and minor statements. With regard to the Catholic Church’s doctrine of the priesthood and views expressed by survivors, the syllogism looks like this:

Step 1: “By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1581)

Step 2: All priest (as males) reflect Jesus Christ in word and deed.

Step 3: When a priest abuses children it is as if Jesus Christ is also the abuser.

For those survivors interviewed by the Globe, their early religious teaching of the priest as Jesus made Jesus as God a participant in the abuse. Cries of anger over the abuse at the hands of priest who stood in the place of God turned to lament at the losing of ones faith and belief in a benevolent God. Continue reading ““Spotlight” and the Recovery of a Lost Faith by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

The Acid Attack on WomanPriest Alexandra Dyer: The Cancelation of Evil with the Face of God/ess by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

cynthia garrity bondOn August 20, Alexandra Dyer, a Roman Catholic WomanPriest was the victim of a targeted acid attack to her face.  Dyer had just left a meeting at The Healing Arts Initiative in Queens, NY.  As she was walking to her car, a man in his 30’s came up from behind and said, “Can I ask you something?”   As she turned to face her assailant, he threw a full cup of thick acid into her face.  In her pain and hysteria, Dyer somehow managed to get into her car, driving approximately 200 feet before losing complete control.  Her screams from the pain drew the attention of others, who called for help.  Dyer suffered third degree burns to her face and hands.  Here’s the thing about acid—it continues to inflect damage to the skin and bone after the fact.  While Dyer will survive the physical attack, she will never be the same woman.  Her outer scars will forever remind her of what she suffered—those physical features that made her Alexandra are gone, replaced by years of reconstructive surgery and further pain.

“Can I Ask You Something?” Continue reading “The Acid Attack on WomanPriest Alexandra Dyer: The Cancelation of Evil with the Face of God/ess by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

An Indecent Reading of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

cynthia garrity bondRecently I took one of those on-line quizzes that show up on Facebook. Based on my response to particular questions, it promised to tell me what my Biblical name would be. To my joy I received Mary Magdalene. To my disappointment her bio lacked any of the historical tensions we have come to expect.

On July 22 we celebrate the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene, witness to the Resurrection and therefore deemed, “apostle to the apostles.” For as many depictions of Mary there are just as many interpretations. Her status in early Christianity surpassed the Virgin Mother in popularity but by the fourth century her positive image began to decline. In 594 Pope Gregory the Great delivered a sermon in which he conflated the story of the unnamed woman anointing Jesus in the Gospel of Luke with Mary of Magdala as penitent whore, a title she would embody for nearly 1,400 years until in 1969 when the Catholic Church repealed its teaching of Mary as prostitute.

On the other hand, recent feminist theological scholarship, especially by Karen King, offers a depiction of Mary as leader within ecclesial settings, where, “From the second to the twenty-first century, women prophets and preachers have continued to appeal to her to legitimate their own leadership roles,” (King, 153). By casting Mary as prostitute and adulteress, King argues, the church tarnished the image of Mary as a spiritual leader. It is this binary of Mary as repentant whore or “prominent disciple of Jesus, a visionary, and a spiritual teacher” (King, 154) that I wish to explore.

To begin I ask the question what does it mean for Mary’s role as leader for her to have been a prostitute who also functioned, in the words of King, as disciple of Jesus, a visionary and spiritual teacher? Continue reading “An Indecent Reading of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen By Barbara Ardinger

The Great Goddess and Divine Mother of Us All manifests where and to whom She chooses, no matter what faith we hold. In the 12th century, She manifested to a German nun named Hildegard. Hildegard’s story has been told in many places, including a highly detailed entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is a wonderful resource for stories about saints. I’ve just finished reading Illuminations (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), a splendid new novel about Hildegard by Mary Sharratt, who is the author of other excellent novels, including Daughters of the Witching Hill.

illuminationsHildegard, who lived from 1092 to 1179, was the tenth child of a family of minor nobility in the Holy Roman Empire. She’s a sturdy child who loves the outdoors and enjoys running through the forest with her brother. But early in the novel, she learns that she is to be her family’s tithe to the church. Her mother has already arranged for this bright and curious eight-year-old child to be the companion to Jutta von Sponheim, a “holy virgin” who yearns to be bricked up as an anchorite in the Abby of Disibodenberg. Being an anchorite means that, like Julian of Norwich (about 250 years later), this girl and her magistra are bricked in. There is a screened opening in the wall through which their meager meals are passed and through which they can witness mass and speak to Abbott Cuno, the other monks, and visiting pilgrims, but they can never go out. Never. In the Afterword, Sharratt writes that “Disibodenberg Abbey is now in ruins and it’s impossible to precisely pinpoint where the anchorage was, but the suggested location is two suffocatingly narrow rooms and a narrow courtyard built on to the back of the church” (p. 272). As Sharratt vividly shows us, Hildegard survived in that awful place for thirty years. Continue reading “Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen By Barbara Ardinger”

The Misbegotten Male: Male Sex-Selection & Female Abortion By Cynthia Garrity Bond

I turned away and, despite myself, the tears came, tears
Of weakness and disappointment; for what woman
wants a girl for her first-born?  They took the child from
me.  Kali said: “Never mind.  There will be many later
On.  You have plenty of time”
To our modern sensibility, the ancient Greeks understanding of procreation is as far reaching as say Nordstrom’s may be to any dollar store.  To the Greeks, men’s testicles had a particular function or job to fulfill: the left one produced girls with the right one producing boys.  For Aristotle, if you were willing to “man-up” and take the pain, tie off your left testicle during intercourse in order to insure the birth of a son.  In this formula, if something were to go wrong, even though you followed the correct game plan and a girl was born instead of the hope for son, something obviously went wrong at conception, thus the term “The Misbegotten Male,”i.e. a daughter, as the misbegotten.   Continue reading “The Misbegotten Male: Male Sex-Selection & Female Abortion By Cynthia Garrity Bond”

Sex as a Weapon of Sustenance By Cynthia Garrity-Bond

In a recent news post, Filipino women went on a sex-strike in order to bring peace to their rural village. “If you keep fighting,” warned Aninon E. Kamanza, of the Dado Village Sewing Cooperative, “you’ll be cut off.”  It seems their cottage business of sewing made delivery of goods impossible due to road closures brought on by the violence.  Dado, the small village of 102 families mostly affected, is a town caught in the middle of conflict involving clan feuds and land disputes. The ultimatum worked. Vis-a-vie the threat of no sex, the violence has stopped, the roads are open, the women can transport their goods and the men can breath a sigh of relief.  What I find so compelling about this story is the resourcefulness of the women. Understanding the nature of their men, they used the withholding of sex to accomplish their goal of making money in order to care for their families.  But what about the reverse? What about women who also use sex to care for their families but as sex workers?  Can we applaud their resourcefulness and commitment to family as well?   Continue reading “Sex as a Weapon of Sustenance By Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

%d bloggers like this: