My soul magnifies the Lord

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 22, 2003

In this month's U.S. Catholic, Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., performs a makeover on "Miriam of Nazareth" and presents her as a 1970s In-Yo-Face feminist. Here's Johnson on the Magnificat:

No passivity here, but solidarity with divine outrage over the degradation of life and with the divine promise to repair the world. In the process she bursts out of the boundaries of male-defined femininity while still every inch a woman. Singing of her joy in God and God's victory over oppression, she becomes not a subjugated but a prophetic woman. Catholic women wrestle with the significance of this canticle for their own subordinate position in current church structures. ...

Theologian Susan Ross' critique spells out the implications. In many ways in the church, the mighty still occupy their thrones; the lowly still await their exaltation. "Women's very real lack of power in the church today stands as an indictment of the power structures as they exist.... The scandal of women's exclusion from power cannot be overlooked. Therefore any discussion of the empowerment of women must be juxtaposed with our lack of political and symbolic power and the failure of the leadership of the church to rectify this scandal."

Leni Riefenstahl fans will recognize the Kraft durch Freude theology in play. Power is to be savored because it's ... power. Coincidentally, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput also reflected on the Blessed Virgin recently. The contrast with Sr. Johnson's exegesis is instructive (link via Catholic Light):

The reason the secular world seeks to reinvent or reinterpret Mary is because she's dangerous. She's the model of mature human character -- a human being who co-creates a new world not through power, but through unselfish love, faith in God, and the rejection of power.

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  • Posted by: Sterling - Nov. 24, 2003 11:19 PM ET USA

    Can't they come up with anything new? I remember going to a retreat in 1988, where I had to listen to a poem about Mary that started out, "O, Marginalized Woman." Not to worry, Sound-Offers. It's just the last few hippies. They occasionally rise up, dracula-like, from the mothballs. They spout their nonsense, then go home, listen to Joni Mitchell: "Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now ..." etc. They put themselves back to sleep. Snore

  • Posted by: - Nov. 23, 2003 8:55 AM ET USA

    I know I shouldn't feel this way, but these women make me embarrasssed to be a woman. So full of virulent hatred and anger, this feminist force, in league with the homosexual agenda, has used us all, even the men, to be among the primary means of destroying our society and forwarding the Culture of Death. Little do they know they are only a tool of evil themselves. I pray I am a different woman.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 22, 2003 10:36 PM ET USA

    Hey, Sr. Johnson can take it home and fry it up in a pan, because she's a woooman, w.o.m.a.n...let's hear it again, woooman. Too bad, that unlike Mary, she doesn't scrub floors, carry for a crying infant, see to Joseph's tired needs, pluck and scald the chickens, and stand by the cross to see her son die a slow, excruciating death. No, Sr. Johnson has come a long way, Baby!

  • Posted by: visions - Nov. 22, 2003 6:17 PM ET USA

    In Sr. Elizabeth's piece she mentions that she must fine a diverse Mary. We already have Our Lady of Guadalupe, The Black Madonna of Poland, Our Lady of Pompei, Our Lady Of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima and many more throughout the world. Mary's clearest instruction for one seeking true discipleship: "Do whatever He tells you." I don't think Sr. Elizabeth is listening.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Nov. 22, 2003 11:46 AM ET USA

    Somehow I remember something recently about a "Babushka of gold???" If you are into worldly power for its own sake I suppose, dear feminists, its a "free" country, but don't drag the Blessed Mother into it or have any bizarre delusions of your place (or lack thereof) in the world to come.