Monday, December 5, 2011

Edgy Catholicism-The External Light and the Internal Darkness

I feel like I ought to write a Thanksgiving Post, what with it being such an awesome and meaningful holiday, revolving around one of my favourite topics...but I don't think I can make myself move that far backward now that there's a Christmas Tree in my living room! I'll share a little of my Thanksgiving feast in the next 'Eating Omily' post.
If you were raised around Catholicism, you'll know that this time of year is called Advent. It's a time of preparation, like Lent is before Easter, but it's also distinct from Lent. You may recall that Lent is a season of repentance, of realigning your lifestyle so it's a better reflection of the Divine.

Advent is a season of joyful anticipation: the focus isn't on the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us, but on the simple miracle that he was born on earth at all, of a virgin no less! For me, it's a time of simple, child-like awe. I get swept back up into all the old magic every the Advent candles, decorating the tree, choosing presents...I try to spare some time, too, to think about other celebrations that fall around the Solstice. All the ones that I can think of center around ideas and symbols of Light: Christ as the light of the world: the light of the flames kept burning by miraculous oil, the sunlight we will see a bit more of each day after the 21st, the light of our families around surprise the human consciousness would be a little preoccupied with light this time of year!

It's easy to forget about the darkness outside with our 24/7 electric lighting possibilities. We can sit in a dark room and stare at our 21st century glowing idol: the smart phone! A little creepy, and really not healthy. Our body responds to changes in light patterns all the time; our internal clock is based on sunlight exposure. You'll likely notice a different in your energy level and quality of sleep if you take a moment to open all your blinds and let the sun in first thing when you wake up, and keep the lights on the dim side after the sun sets, or at least for a couple hours before bed. That means no screen time! (To be fair, as strong a proponent of that rule as I am, I definitely have been known to break it in an effort to get the next blog post out...)

So in honor of child-like awe and wonder, Christmas, the Incarnation, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this Thursday, I want to share with you this incredible image of the Virgin Mary I saw at an art show in Bushwick the other day:
Wow! I was just floored. Do I mean offended? Well, when I first saw it, I just froze. And I knew...thanks to years of conditioning...that I should be offended by such an image. I mean, definitely, there's an air of the shocking, of irreverence, about it. But, the thing is, according to church doctrine, this depiction is 100% accurate: Mary channeled her sexuality in a way that allowed her to deliver the Ultimate Gift of Love to the Universe out of her Vagina! How empowering, and beautiful is that??

My husband sees in the image a depiction of Mary as an exhibitionist, turning the viewer into a Virgin Voyeur of sorts...hmmmm...well, we are pretty obsessed with Mary's sexuality as Catholic Christians. Her sacrifice is a big deal. Instead of sharing her sacred gift of sexuality with one special person in marriage, which it was totally her privilege to do, she made a choice out of her total free will to instead devote her sexuality to all of us by letting God use it in a different way. I wonder if the artist behind this image is a believer, or not. I wonder if the artist had in mind the tradition of checking the sheets from the wedding bed the morning after for blood, as proof that the union was consummated, and that the bride was a virgin.

I wonder what Mary herself thinks of such an image...and does anyone have anything to say about her being depicted as a pale-skinned blue-eyed WHITE GIRL?? Mary herself set that precedent, though: in each of her apparitions, she has appeared not as she historically would have, but as a member of the race of people she was appearing too, to emphasize that she is all our mother.

I miss, achingly so at times, something I wasn't alive for: the Age of the Goddess, when vaginas were worshiped because, good Lord, babies came out of them!! We laugh at peni(ses?), but vaginas are more censored, more denigrated, more, well, feared it seems like. They are the Unknown, the Negative Space out of which comes new, that sounds like the perfect metaphor for God[dess] to me! That's it...I'm buying one of those vagina-molding kits and making an image of my own baby-maker for my altar! And if that scares you...ask yourself why.

Lily supplied my new catchphrase: I AM Edgy Catholicism.

Live Omily,

P.S. So can we dialogue about this image? I'm dying to hear other people's views on it...I'm also dying to get this drawing for Christmas...anyone? Anyone..?


  1. Wow! This is quite a posting, my dear Emily! Does not scare me a bit that you want to have your own image of your baby maker for your altar (not alter). I think it would be very powerful for the creative portion of your altar.

    Ah, the age of the Goddess, how fun that must have been. Don't let anyone convince you that you are not a Goddess!

    I totally agree with your new catchphrase! Go Emily

  2. Spelling error duly noted and corrected! That's what I get for staying up late trying to get a blog post can't trust those red dotted lines!!