Students will have the chance to reflect about the Virgin Mary and her role in the Christian church on Wednesday and Thursday.
Vanderbilt theologian Robin Jensen has organized a Mary conference, "The Virgin Mary in Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Traditions," which will be held at the Vanderbilt Divinity School and two local churches.
Jensen is a professor of the history of Christian art and worship at the Divinity School and teaches a popular course about Mary. She said she believes that as Christian women expand their leadership within the church, they are looking to Mary for inspiration.
"We’ve moved away from Mary as the feminine face of the church to Mary as a model of Christian discipleship. This creates a way for women to see themselves in leadership position in churches," Jensen said.
Jensen says that writings by the late Pope John Paul II and books like "The Da Vinci Code" have helped spark interest in Mary as the feminine icon of Christianity.
"If you look at what Mary says in Luke 1, it’s quite astonishingly powerful, independent-minded and prophetic," Jensen said. "It’s hardly the words of someone who is submissive." [Source]
While I like the concept of this conference calling Mary "independent-minded" has got to be one of dumbest things I have ever read concerning her. "Let it be done according to they word" is independent-minded? Total submission and faithfulness to God is actually dependent since we all are totally dependent on God and Mary fully lived that truth. When Mary was forthright in her request at the wedding of Cana it was because she had absolute trust that Jesus would answer her intercession and not because she was being daring and independent. Some people try to pigeon hole Mary as some kind of proto-modern-feminist which just totally misses the point. I just can’t imagine modern feminists saying they were the handmaiden of anyone, much less God. It is of course easier to try to paint her in the light of modern sensibilities instead of following the blazing trail of her total discipleship, humility, and trust in God.
The comment about the Da Vinci Code is also just plain strange. As far as I know Dan Brown avoided any mention of Mary and concentrated on his twisted view of Mary Magdalene’s relationship with Jesus. His writing about the "divine feminine" avoided the issue of the Mother of the divine Jesus Christ.
None of this is surprising considering that this is sponsored by a "Religion, Gender, and Sexuality" program which links to such fun stuff as "Cabrini: a Pacific Northwest gathering lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Quakers" – who knew?