Friday, December 26, 2008

A few comments on virgins and religion

This post is not about sexual mores or behavior. It is about virgins.  The religious kind.

After posting something on immigration policy in the Obama administration, I decided to include a vintage image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  For those who don't know, she is supposed to be the Virgin Mary (mother of Christ) who appeared to an indigenous man in Mexico in 1531.

Many believe her apparition really occurred.  Some think it is folklore.  I generally stay out of those disputes.  You can't prove anything either way.  What is clear, tangible, and important is that she is considered the most important religious figure to millions of people in the Americas.  Not just to people who are Catholic.

New Age people might say she is an incredibly popular and powerful female diety, along the line of Isis and Quan Yin.

Guadalupe is everywhere these days.  On calenders, t-shirts, posters, table cloths, medals, and painted clocks.  She has gone beyond being the Mexican Mother of Christ to a commodity.  Yet I don't think it has diminished her power and the respect people have in her.

As for myself, I am not actively practicing any religion.  My parents and grandparents are (and were) deeply religious Catholics.  My maternal grandfather died walking home from the 3 pm mass on Good Friday.  (he was in his 60s and had a heart attack)

When I was a child, my parents, who sent me to Catholic school, were very open minded about what I was exposed to.  I would go to church with my Baptist friends, and my Pentecostal friends.  I'm sure I would have gone to a synagogue if I would have had any Jewish friends.

While the nuns at school told us that anyone not Catholic was not going to heaven (this was during the 60s, I hope they no longer do this), I was never convinced they were right.

It was a confusing position for me to be in.  Once, while in college I asked my Dad's best friend (who is a Basilian priest) why wasn't it enough to just be a good person.  He said that believing in God was also necessary.  At least he didn't specify a religion.

With all that in mind.  I can still say that I think the Virgin of Guadalupe is awesome - for women, for Catholics, for Americans, for Mexicans -- for people - whether they go to church or not.

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