Monday, April 19, 2010

Query: Mary and Quakers

I am working on Mary, as in the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Quakerism. From what I can find, the Quakers have more or less routinely ignored Mary, except for early Quakers like Fox, who excoriated Mary worship as exhibit A in their challenge to idolatrous papacy. Am I missing any strain of Mariology in Quakerism?


Hystery said...

I have a great interest in Mary and spent not a little time on her in grad school which was fun for me given my very Protestant background. She has neat Pagan roots. I'm very curious about what you are learning. What have you found?

Diane said...

Hi Hystery,

It's great to hear from you. I haven't found out much yet--but I did find an interesting comment in a book on the Old Testament--apparently single young women who had babies in ancient Athens were called "Virgin Mothers," apparently to insist upon their chastity because men didn't want to acknowledge that these women had had sexual intercourse. It sheds an interesting light on Mary's virginity. And apparently, in the Quran, Jesus' first miracle, as a newborn, is to chide people (He apparently knew Aramaic from the womb) who accuse Mary of being a "fallen" women because she is a single mother. He informs them she is not.

Actually, I am quite willing to accept Mary's virgnity. My main interest it to start exploring a theology that would peel purity away from virginity. Why are the two still tied together? Purity and virginity should have nothing to do with each other. I'd like to see Mary's purity aligned more closely with her compassion and strength than with her hymen.

Hystery said...

I love reading about Mary. It is the funniest thing for a Protestant preacher's daughter. My house is full of images of her. It may have begun when I read Alone of All Her Sex by Marina Warner back when I was an undergrad. I also really love the images of Mary as described in the work of Hildegard of Bingen. Like the Church, she links Eve, Wisdom, and Mary together but she does so in a way that turns the Church's misogyny on its head. Great stuff!

I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the connections between notions of sin and female sexuality as well as with connections between Mary, Sophia (Holy Wisdom) and Christ. I think it is one of the most fertile and fascinating fields of religion studies.

Bhai Ahimsa said...

Janet Scott (a Quaker from UK) spoke a bit about Mary during the Asia West Pacific Gathering of Quakers in Manila April 2011.

I am also very interested in this. I hope we can continue to share insights about this topic.