"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wWednesday, June 09, 2004

SOMETHING ABOUT MARY: Now this is cool. My review of a Lesley Hazleton's Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother is in the Washington Post's Style Section today. Hazleton, author of, among other works, Confessions of a Fast Woman, thinks she has the goods on the "real" Mary but, as I argue, she's only looking at herself:

At the beginning of the past century, theologian and medical doctor Albert Schweitzer gave Jesus scholarship its own metaphor to rival Plato's cave: the wishing well. While they sifted the historical data for clues into the life of the Christ, he explained, most scholars may as well have been peering down a long dark well. Looking back down the narrow tunnel chiseled out by modern historical methods, they believed they had caught a glimpse of some primitive Jesus, unencumbered by dogma or dressed up with the trappings of faith, but they probably saw only their own reflections. The results of any quest for the real Jesus were so influenced by the assumptions of the inquirers that these men of science were creating their own designer Jesuses.

As with Jesus, so with his remarkable mother. Lesley Hazleton makes explicit in the last sentence of "Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother" what she assumes throughout. To her, the mother of the Christ is a Whitmanesque Everywoman: "we are all her." Nor is Whitman a bad referent here; Hazleton's scattershot portrait of Mary -- whom she stubbornly and quirkily insists on calling "Maryam" -- does indeed contain multitudes. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:22 AM