Still lovin’ this.
NY Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney at the Met Gala 2021.
‘What if this is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?’ -Valerie Kaur
The Revolutionary Love Project, founded by civil rights leader and prophetic voice Valarie Kaur, inspires and equips people to build beloved community where they are. We teach core practices of revolutionary love, backed by research and infused with ancestral wisdom. Our team produces educational tools, training courses, artwork, films, music, and mass mobilizations that center the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. In an era of great transition, we believe that we can birth a world where we see no stranger. Each of us has a role. When we lead with love, we labor with joy.
“Despite a long and varied career, for many of us, the death of Asner on Sunday at age 91 reminded us of the loss of a fictional recreation that, perhaps for the first time in the mass media, reflected the complex reality of our profession.”
-Society of Professional Journalists, formerly Sigma Delta Chi, DePauw University
Lou Grant was shot through with light and dark humor, but underneath it portrayed the nuts-and-bolts process of “the daily miracle.” It acknowledged ethical issues such as plagiarism, checkbook journalism, entrapment of sources, staging news photos and conflicts of interest. That in itself was unique among most mainstream depictions of journalism. Still, it didn’t take things too seriously: The opening credits tracked the newspaper ending up as the liner in a birdcage.
Between the sardonic observations, the show examined with unusual-for-the-time honesty such topics as nuclear proliferation, mental illness, prostitution, gay rights, domestic violence, capitals punishment, child abuse, rape, and chemical pollution.
Asner then starred for five years on “Lou Grant,” set at “The Trib.”
- As Screen Actors Guild president, the liberal Asner was caught up in a controversy in 1982, during the Reagan years, when he spoke out against U.S. involvement with repressive governments in Latin America.
- “Lou Grant” was canceled during the furor. CBS blamed ratings.
P.S. Betty White, 99, who played home-show hostess Sue Ann Nivens, is the lone surviving major cast member of “Mary Tyler Moore.”
[Ed Asner & Gavin MacLeon]
Ed, after his friend and actor Gavin MacLeon died in May:
“My heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator,” wrote Asner. ” I will see you in a bit Gavin. Tell the gang I will see them in a bit. Betty! It’s just you and me now.”
[Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.]
Edward Asner died on Sunday, August 29th.
Never missed it. ~dayle
The Cosmic We Featuring Barbara Holmes and Donny Bryant
The Cosmic We podcast goes beyond race and racism to consider relatedness as the organizing principle of the universe, exploring our shared cosmic origins though a cultural lens that fuses science, mysticism, spirituality, and the creative arts.
Together with prominent cosmologists, shamans, biblical scholars, poets and activists, CAC core teacher Barbara Holmes and co-host Donny Bryant unveil the “we” of us beyond color, continent, country, and kinship to conjure unseen futures in exploration of the mystery of Divine connection.
Listen to The Cosmic We online or subscribe on your favorite podcast player.
You can expect regular updates on our progress in Returning to the Center, as well as institutional history, community stories, staff essays, videos, and even opportunities to contribute. You will find the latest posts on our website as well as social media and in the News from New Mexico, the CAC’s monthly newsletter. cac.org
While he sees the same structural pathologies afflicting our commercial news media systems today, he also points out meaningful progress in news coverage, especially in confronting historical atrocities.
VP: Speaking of alternatives to capitalism—we on the left are quick to critique corporate media, but less likely to discuss systemic alternatives. As you noted, there’s less actual journalism today and what’s left is increasingly degraded. Do you have any ideas for what a non-capitalist media system might look like?
NC: I got some ideas from reading your book, so I’m “bringing coals to Newcastle” by telling you what you wrote. But you discussed how the founders of the US Republic believed that the government ought to publicly subsidize the dissemination of diverse news media. In this light, the First Amendment should be understood as providing what’s called a “positive freedom”—not just “negative freedom.” It should create opportunities for free and independent media. Subsidizing news media was a primary function of the post office. The vast majority of post office traffic was composed of newspapers.
At 92, Chomsky is still leveling sharp critique and astute analysis. In our Zoom conversation, he seamlessly drew from that day’s New York Times to exemplify various points we were discussing. I was especially struck by his nuanced optimism—while he saw the same structural pathologies afflicting our commercial news media systems today, he also discerned meaningful progress in news coverage, especially in confronting historical atrocities that mainstream media accounts had ignored or misrepresented in the past. —Victor Pickard
Lesleigh Coyer, of Saginaw, Michigan, lies down in front of the grave of her brother, Ryan Coyer, who served with the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, at Arlington National Cemetery [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for
Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam
And it’s five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates
Ain’t no time to wonder why, whoopee we’re all gonna die, hey
-Country Joe and The Fish
“The dysfunction we’re seeing in this withdrawal is a continuation of the dysfunction we’ve seen throughout the entire war effort. It’s metaphor for the entire war effort, which is that our predictions are never completely correct. We think we have more control over the situation than we do.”
-Adam Weinstein, a former Marine, coordinated air attacks in 2012 for Australian special forces clearing the Taliban out of remote mountain valleys.
This is an auspicious time to connect with more inner confidence, clarity, good luck and success. Relationships of all kinds are supported – especially around new adventures, novelty and exploration. It could be an exciting time to launch something new and a good time to receive the support you need from others to move forward with commitment and stability. Be inspired, be creative, be social, be outgoing, reach out, share your wildest dreams and focus on being happy no matter what.
If you are struggling, do some self care with your comfort in mind without going over into self indulgence. It may be a discipline not to dwell on the shift, but this full moon is an opportunity to move beyond what brings your vibration down and launch you into a new sense of self, more connected with your passion and desires. Don’t waste this chance for bringing in more happiness, good fortune, creativity, partnership and success.
“I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two –
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.”
[Beinecke Library, rare book library and literary archive of the Yale University Library in New Haven, Connecticut.]
Breath: A Guided Inquiry
Transition: Ways to Practice
“Transition is both a noun and a verb. Transition is the fiery process that is required to move from one reality into another. To transition is to summon the courage to stay in the labors of love and justice, even when we want to give up. It requires us to draw upon collective wisdom to birth something new together.”
Create a wisdom practice. Choose ways to listen to your deepest wisdom, the parts of yourselves that are wise and brave and unfailingly loving. This might mean protecting a few minutes daily to journal, meditate, draw or color or create—whatever gives you the stillness to quiet the noise of the world and listen to the wisest voice within you. If you do not yet hear anything, that is okay. Keep breathing. Keep listening.
Surround yourself with sources of bravery. Who makes you brave? These may be people in your life, or they may be ancestors, authors, artists, or activists you have never met. Keep these people and their voices close to you so that you can nourish the root of your own deepest wisdom.
Transition requires endings as well as new beginnings. As individuals we can ask: What stories am I willing to let die in order for new possibilities to be born? As a society we can ask: What stories about our nation have to die for a new America to be born?
Reflect in your wisdom journal. The wise voice in you will tell you what practice you need on the revolutionary love compass — when you need to breathe, push, grieve, rage, fight, and on. What do you need on any given day, in any given moment? Calling forth our deepest wisdom is not just how we love ourselves. When we lead with our deepest wisdom, not our fear, we can play our role in transitioning the world around us. Imagine a critical mass of people leading from their deepest wisdom: We can transition humanity as a whole.
“Joy is the gift of love. To let in joy is to give our senses over to what is beautiful, delightful, pleasurable, or wondrous in the present moment. Joy returns us to everything good and beautiful and worth fighting for. It gives us energy for the long labor.”
What brings you joy? Choose one thing that is simple and accessible. A person, a place, or an activity that you could go to right now if you wanted to.
Notice what it is about this thing that brings you joy. See it, touch it, taste it. Remember how it felt when you were fully in it. The sensation could be very strong. Or just a slight feeling. Place more attention on it. Let yourself enjoy it.
What does joy feel like in your body? Notice where you feel sensation, ease, and tingling. Place your attention there and notice what happens. Go back and forth between your source of joy and the sensations in your body.
Notice any blocks to letting yourself feel this joy. Feelings of guilt or shame? Stories about what you deserve? Call upon your deepest wisdom to speak to yourself as you would your own beloved child or best friend. What do you hear?
The Revolutionary Love Project envisions a world where love is a public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics. We generate stories, tools, and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice.
‘To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee.’
“I used to think that environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are
and to deal with these, we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
-James Gustave Speth, environmental lawyer and advocate
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
World Resources Institute
Since 1989 David Suzuki has been calling for action and urgency.
“Transformational paradigm shift:
That respect for nature and interdependent with it must be our top priority.”
Nature was our touchstone and our reference pint and dictated the way we interacted with it. But as economics and politics have increasingly come to dominate our decisions and actions, we have lost our sinse of place in the world and our reverence for nature.
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
-Chief Seattle, 1854
Sun Valley, Idaho
President Roosevelt’s War Cabinet on Dec. 20, 1941. FDR is wearing a mourning band for his mother, who died 104 days earlier. [Photo: Bettmann Archive via Getty Images]
The group, which has been meeting nearly weekly since last June, wants Biden to embrace “activist” government, Cramer writes:
- “They want him to eliminate the filibuster. They spend hours parsing his words for echoes of the stirring language that helped defeat the Great Depression.”
Henry S. Wallace, 69, grandson of Henry A. Wallace, the second for FDR’s three VPs, said: “The New Deal would have been impossible under today’s filibuster regimen … In FDR, his first 100 days, he got 15 major pieces of legislation passed, every single one was subject to nothing more than the majority.”
[AXIOS & Politico Magazine]
“From the Academy Award-winning director of Icarus, Bryan Fogel, comes the untold story of the murder that shook the world.”
(You’ll want to see it…twice. #MustSee Bryan and his team, although debuting at Sundance to standing ovations and top 10 lists, could not find a distributor for eight months because, you know, Saudi Arabia. Please purchase the film and support the filmmakers, the distributor, Briarcliff, and Jamal. -Dayle)
Then, watch the podcast with Rich Roll and Bryan Fogel, particularly at the 1:20:00, ‘How cyber warfare has become a major threat…’
From the site: “Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Bryan Fogel joins Rich to discuss his new film ‘The Dissident’ a candid portrait of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the bone chilling events surrounding his murder.”
For more and how to take action:
From the site: “As of 2021, dozens of journalists are currently detained in Saudi Arabia. Journalists, Jamal Khashoggi was one of you. Keep his legacy and story alive by sharing his work widely and exposing the truth about MBS and his regime.”
The Academy Awards this year?🦗’s.
The main theme for August is “Managing the Shi(f)t”.
The first part of the month requires great flexibility, acceptance, compassion, and resilience to deal with unexpected and sudden changes whether in yourself or in others. It may look grim at the beginning but we are moving forward into calmer waters that will provide more stability, inspiration, rational thought and clarity as we anchor ourselves into a brighter landscape.
Old emotional and habitual patterns are still bubbling to the surface for forgiveness and expulsion. We get to see where we have been wasting our energy on worry, regret and blame. Old habits of judgment, feeling powerless, victimized, and limited in what we can create have eroded our motivation and bred despair, anger, resistance and negative attitudes towards life. If you get stuck there, and are unwilling to let the past go and accept where the tide is moving, you will be miserable.
On the other hand, if you are willing to open to more trust in the positive and optimistic view of the big picture, you can completely turn anything negative and limited in your life around. The clearing of old trauma in any and many ways is a very useful practice this month. (There is a good exercise on the monthly support audio to help with the understanding and clearing of trauma or “susto”.)
This will require an open heart and the discipline of trust even though you may not have instant feedback from your prayers and intentions. There may be a lag time that tests you. You may not see or experience results that you are on the right track and you may need to go deep into your own intuition for confidence and confirmation. And, if you continue to come across obstacles and challenges along the way, look to what is not yet cleared in your field or where you are still holding on to something in your past, rather than how the universe may not be supporting you at this time.
Remember that in order to bring your vibration up and move to that next level, you need to make space. Creating space for the abundance available later in the month demands paying attention to your habitual reactions, habits and judgments so you can clear and change them to a better alignment.
The most important thing is to stay out of blame, especially when you are accommodating a change that you did not initiate. Acceptance and neutrality go a long way to ease the discomfort of this experience.
We are definitely in a transition time and a huge shift in consciousness and vibration.
Curiosity, optimism, creativity and humor should be a major part of the management team you build to navigate this month and the months to come. Take responsibility for your own shi(f)t, and stay in your own lane with regards to where others are in their own navigation. Once we get through the potentially cranky new moon on the 8th, we have our work cut out for us. If we do it well, there are many gifts awaiting us as we move into the last part of the month.
What is the “work”?
Courage to tell the truth. Courage to let go. Courage to forgive. Determination to trust. Discipline to stay out of blame. Compassion for yourself and others. Acceptance and cooperation regarding change not initiated by you. Keeping your vibration high no matter what through beauty, inspiration and strong spiritual practices. Staying in your own lane and out of other people’s drama and negativity. Trusting your intuition, your inner guidance, and having the courage to go for what is right for YOU. Taking full responsibility for your own shi(f)t.
How the rest of the month shows up:
“We can and must do more to regulate and support distribution of reliable news.”
CNN public editor: Why CNN’s audience deserves federally regulated news
by Ariana Pekary
Ariana Pekary is the CJR public editor for CNN. She was an award-winning public radio and MSNBC journalist for two decades. Now she focuses on the systemic flaws of commercial broadcast news. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
CNN, AS I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE, has amplified disinformation, relies on panel discussions that increase polarization, and has neglected voices of moderation for the sake of ratings. But is there some way to mitigate such problems, which are so common in cable news? Martha Minow, a professor at Harvard Law School, argues that the Constitution requires efforts to protect the free press––including regulation.
In Saving the News, Minow describes the merits of “deep and extensive government involvement in funding, shaping, and regulating media.” Some may balk at the notion of federal intervention in the news. But Minow chronicles how the government has granted newspapers low postal rates, invested in research that created the internet, established licensing protocols for broadcasters, and regulated telephone lines and features of digital platforms––involving itself in essential elements of the nation’s media infrastructure.
“If the ecosystem fails to provide necessary information to citizens,” she told me, “then democracy dies—and the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”
Minow argues that the First Amendment implies the existence of a functional press, so the government has an obligation to enact reforms and regulations to protect it. Many consider the industry to be a public utility, and therefore subject to regulation. And, as Minow explains in Saving the News, “Regulation of a necessary good or service also helps guard against coercion that works by exploiting people’s dependence, but it still permits private owners to operate for profit.”
The now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which mandated journalistic balance by requiring broadcasters to air multiple viewpoints, is one example of successful oversight, Minow said. Supreme Court justices wrote in 1969 that it was a “protection for ‘the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters.’ ” Public interest, Minow notes, is a vital characteristic of government intervention. Accordingly, we may deduce that the public has authority over an outlet like CNN to protect the audience.
The United States has a long, if forgotten, history of funding the news media.
In The Death and Life of American Journalism, Robert McChesney and John Nichols––cofounders of Free Press, a media reform group––calculated that “the level of government subsidy given to the American press in the 1840s was the equivalent of $30 billion in 2010 dollars.” But federal funding of public media amounted to just $465 million in 2020––an extraordinarily low amount compared with other countries.
Subsidizing public media, Minow told me, would “provide crucial competition and can stimulate for-profits to win viewers by doing better.” Sesame Street, for example, did not exist before broadcasters knew that the format would be popular. Now it’s competitive and profitable. We could use other public-private partnerships, similar to the current collaboration with ProPublica, to create new informative TV programs, she says, calling it a “public option” for journalism.
Other possibilities include tax incentives; for instance, if CNN adopted a certain set of ethical standards (see the Society of Professional Journalists’ as an example), then it could receive tax benefits for implementing procedures in the public interest. Minow said the government could also encourage measures to label news programming, to more clearly “distinguish news, analysis, and opinion.”
As a democratic nation, we may have lost sight of the need for an informed electorate. Commercial outlets dominate our media environment. But in Saving the News, Minow reminds us of our constitutional obligations. We can and must do more to regulate and support distribution of reliable news. CNN’s audience deserves it. All American audiences do.
The Society of Professional Journalists is the former Sigma Delta Chi, founded at DePauw University.
…is our super power.”
-Krista Tippet, On Being
‘Narrated by David Attenborough, this timely documentary special takes a look at nature’s extraordinary response to a year of global lockdown. This love letter to planet Earth will take you from hearing birdsong in deserted cities for the first time in decades, to witnessing whales communicating in ways never before seen.
Produced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, directed by Tom Beard, and executive produced by Mike Gunton and Alice Keens-Soper.’
“One of the first documentary reflections of our strange times.”
Dayle, here. At once heartbreaking and hopeful. Not hopeful in a passive sense, as in ‘some day,’ but now. Together. Living not in dominance over, but interconnection with our planet, our species, all living beings.
Our planet is gorgeous, alive, breathing. Pulsing with birth.
And it is burning. We are destroying it in present tense.
Life is being extinguished. We saw how the earth changed in days, weeks, and months early in global lockdowns WITHOUT the interaction of our destructive beings…humans. Carl Jung: “Man won’t deviate the original pattern of his being.” Is this, then, destruction?
We can give permanent pause, space, quiet, and tender mercies in our practices and consciousness, asking, what can I do in my corner of the sky? (Nod to Valarie Kaur.)
I had so much hope for our planet, for each other, in the early days of this current pandemic, our isolation. It quickly faded when the pause became political, when health and care became virtue signaling, when science became overridden by misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda, hate, disorder, power, and greed.
As a collective human body the focus became on getting ‘back to normal’ instead of shifting to what’s possible. What’s necessary.
We’re on the edge, balancing destruction with possibility. Let’s choose possibility. All of us.
The food we eat.
The cars we drive.
The Energy we use.
The resources we deplete.
The privilege we strive to achieve at the expense of other.
I want to believe there is still time.
And I want to protect all that thrived when we were silent and away.
Let’s give Gaia a chance to live, heal, and breathe. She’s given us so many.
In the silence, did you hear? Did you hear the birdsong? Did you see the animals congregate and communicate? Did you know the whales could hear again? The Himalayas could be seen again?
The future of the natural world is co-existing. We must do the one thing we can do, interconnected, to shift the planet back to health, as we inadvertently did in our absence, the year earth changed.
From Maria Popova, sharing a BBC interview with Carl Jung from 1959:
“…the only danger that exists is man himself — he is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man — far too little. We are the origin of all coming evil [30:27].”
John Freeman and his team filmed the interview at Jung’s house at Küsnacht (near Zurich, Switzerland) in march 1959, it was broadcast in Great Britain on october 22, 1959. This film has undouptedly brought Jung to more people than any other piece of journalism and any of Jung’s own writings. Freeman was deputy editor at the “New Statesman” at the time of the interview. They formed a friendship, that continued until Jung’s death. -posted by ‘peacefulness’ on YouTube.
Jung: “We need more psychology, more study of human nature.”
We need Gaia’s nature, she does not need us. -dayle
Fr Richard Rohr:
Living in a transitional age such as ours is scary: things are falling apart, the future is unknowable, so much doesn’t cohere or make sense. We can’t seem to put order to it. This is the postmodern panic. It lies beneath most of our cynicism, our anxiety, and our aggression.
Chaos often precedes great creativity, and faith precedes great leaps into new knowledge. The pattern of transformation begins in order, but it very quickly yields to disorder and—if we stay with it long enough in love—eventual reordering. Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender.
Center for Action and Contemplation teacher Barbara Holmes:
The crisis begins without warning, shatters our assumptions about the way the world works, and changes our story and the stories of our neighbors. The reality that was so familiar to us is gone suddenly, and we don’t know what is happening. . . .
If life, as we experience it, is a fragile crystal orb that holds our daily routines and dreams of order and stability, then sudden and catastrophic crises shatter this illusion of normalcy. . . . I am referring to oppression, violence, pandemics, abuses of power, or natural disasters and planetary disturbances. . . .
I consider crisis contemplation to be an aspect of disorder that prepares communities for a leap toward the future. This is a leap toward our beginnings. We are not just organisms functioning on a biological level; our sphere of being also includes stardust ☆ and consciousness. We all have a spark of divinity within, a flicker of Holy Fire that can be diminished, but never extinguished.
Mystery and Surrender.
Please, invite me in.
“Chaos often precedes great creativity.”
“People are attracted to that that makes them feel love.”
-Marriane Williamson, A Course in Miracles
Try. Intersect great ℒℴve love with great surrender.
A meditation from Megan McKenna on the importance of translation. Scholar and author Neil Douglas-Klotz has worked for decades with the Aramaic language, which Jesus most likely spoke as a first-century Jewish man from Nazareth. Because translation is never an exact science, Dr. Douglas-Klotz offers several possible understandings of Jesus’ teaching “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed are those in emotional turmoil; they shall be united inside by love.
Healthy are those weak and overextended for their purpose; they shall feel their inner flow of strength return.
Healed are those who weep for their frustrated desire; they shall see the face of fulfillment in a new form.
Aligned with the One are the mourners; they shall be comforted.
Turned to the Source are those feeling deeply confused by life; they shall be returned from their wandering.
Dr. Douglas-Klotz continues:
Lawile can mean “mourners” (as translated from the Greek), but in Aramaic it also carries the sense of those who long deeply for something to occur, those troubled or in emotional turmoil, or those who are weak and in want from such longing. Netbayun can mean “comforted,” but also connotes being returned from wandering, united inside by love, feeling an inner continuity, or seeing the arrival of (literally, the face of) what one longs for.
Dr. Douglas-Klotz offers this embodied prayer practice to help readers sense the powerful message of this beatitude.
When in emotional turmoil—or unable to clearly feel any emotion—experiment in this fashion: breathe in while feeling the word lawile (lay-wee-ley) [longing]; breathe out while feeling the word netbayun (net-bah-yoon) [loving]. Embrace all of what you feel and allow all emotions to wash through as though you were standing under a gentle waterfall. Follow this flow back to its source and find there the spring from which all emotion arises. At this source, consider what emotion has meaning for the moment, what action or nonaction is important now.
‘…the first great bough, the fruit of love & compassion, the foundation of all things.’ -Mary Magdalene ღ
Today, the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene.
Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood of all saints. In this excerpt from A Jesuit Off-Broadway, I relate her (true) tale and how her life intersected with that of the gifted actress who would portray her in the play “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”
America/The Jesuit Review
Who was Mary of Magdala?
by James Martin, S.J.
One of the note cards from the cathedral gift shop in Los Angeles struck a chord with the actress Yetta Gottesman, because it depicted her character, Mary Magdalene. The delicate tapestry presented a young woman with close-cropped black hair, her head bowed in prayer, her hands clasped to her chin.
Thanks in great part to Dan Brown’s best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, interest in the historical Mary Magdalene has risen stratospherically during the past few years. As with her fellow disciple, Judas, we know very little about her. Jesus cast seven demons out of her (we don’t know how these demons had manifested themselves in her behavior); she remained at the cross with two other women when the other (male) disciples had all fled; she watched Jesus die; and she was the first one to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection. In a touching scene on Easter morning, a grieving Mary initially mistakes the risen Jesus for the local gardener.
Even with these distinguished credentials, Mary Magdalene (the name means “of Magdala,” a town in Galilee) gradually became known as a prostitute, though there is no mention of this in the Gospels. (The word maudlin comes from her name, presumably the result of her grieving for a sinful past.) The most benign explanation for this confusion over Mary’s identity is that there is a veritable crowd of Marys in the Gospel stories (besides Mary, the mother of Jesus, there is Mary of Bethany and Mary, the wife of Clopas). Mary Magdalene was also, oddly, conflated with a woman who had bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and then anointed them with oil. In AD 591, Pope Gregory I preached a sermon in which he proclaimed, “She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark.”
This inaccurate identification became more or less church teaching for at least a millennium.
A less benign interpretation of this “confusion” is that the early church was threatened, even horrified, by the stunning example of a woman among the early disciples. Strictly based on the evidence in the Gospels, Mary Magdalene enjoyed an exalted standing. She was not only the first one to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection, but also the one who proclaimed the news of his resurrection to the other disciples, including those who would be the leaders of the early church communities: Peter, James, Andrew, and the rest.
Thus comes Mary’s traditional title: “Apostle to the Apostles.” Her fidelity to Jesus during the Crucifixion, as well as Jesus’ appearance to her, are marks of distinction that place her, at least in terms of her faith, above the men. Some of the “extracanonical,” or “apocryphal,” gospels (that is, those not included by the early church councils with the traditional four Gospels) picture her as the most favored of all the disciples. “[Christ loved] her more than all the disciples,” says the text known as The Gospel of Philip.
[Image: Thomas Merton]
“Mary Magdalene belongs to the great worldwide stream of spiritual awakening and has nothing whatsoever to do with organized religion.
If we are serious about activating Mary Magdalene’s wisdom presence within contemporary Christianity, the first step is to increase her visibility within the liturgy, particularly during Holy Week, where her presence is so crucial to understanding the Paschal Mystery as an act of redeeming ℒℴve.
I would like to see the entire Holy Week liturgy reframed around two parallel anointings…at Bethany and in the garden of the resurrection…which so powerfully convey the energy of transformative love.
Early Easter morning ceremonially enacted, rather than merely read, the gospel account of Mary Magdalene’s visit to the tomb. The basic ceremony, the Visitatio Sepulchri, has been around since the tenth century; it merely needs to be returned to active duty.
Mary Magdalene weaves into one whole cloth those strands that have traditionally been kept so stringently separated: conscious ℒℴve, healing, kenotic surrender, the feminine, singleness, transformation. To touch any part of the this hologram is to invoke all the rest.
We do not know for certain what happened to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection. The gospel bearing her name confirms that her spiritual leadership was honored in a least some circles of early Christianity. She may well have sojourned in France. What we do know for certain is that the fragrance of her presence did not disappear from Christianity. In mysticism and allegory, in art and folklore, in esoteric circles…all veiled, but pointing like a finger at the moon…her mysterious alchemical feminine was kept alive. Now at last, in our own times, it comes above ground again, asking us to awaken yet again to the morning of the resurrection and find ourselves in the garden, awaiting the encounter that can change our institutional hearts.
The imaginal realm is real, and through it you will never be separated from any one or anything you have ever loved, for ℒℴve is the ground in which you live and and move and have your being. This is the message that Mary Magdalene has perennially to bring. This is the message we most need to hear.”
‘In 591 Pope Gregory claimed that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute, a misconception that remains to this day. In 2016 she was named by the Vatican as the apostle of the apostles, their equal.’
-Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett. Directed by Garth Davis.
“As someone who watched it twice in 24 hours, ‘Mary Magdalene’ moved me in a way that no previous film about Christianity ever has.
Mary finds a place in the world and a cause in which to place her profound empathy. She was not just any spectator, this telling argues, so much as proof that at the core of Jesus’ teachings is a feminine influence.” -Nick Allen