Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Reconceiving the Immaculate Conception

John Dadosky just gave a wonderful paper on the Immaculate Conception: "Women without Envy: Reconceiving the Immaculate Conception." He used Rene Girard and James Allison (the latter quite new to me) to interpret the doctrine of original sin which is at the basis of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Theologians usually regard Pride as the root of Adam's sin; Girard and Allison seem to suggest that it is Envy that is the real root. Dadosky brought in Aquinas' distinction between good and bad desire: good desire is the desire to be like God with God's grace; bad desire is the desire to be like God on one's own.

Whatever: Mary, woman conceived without original sin, is the woman without envy, without bad desire. She is what she is entirely thanks to the grace and love of God. And, interestingly, Satan-Lucifer is envious of her: Lucifer who was the most beautiful, the brightest, second only to God, has to yield place to Mary, and that is one root of his envy and his revolt... And Mary is marked by Humility and Charity, the opposites of Pride and Envy: My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit exults in God my saviour.

Gilles Mongeau asked about the connection between Mariology and Ecclesiology: that would be important, he said, in offsetting the feeling (envy?) that many people have that Mary is somehow so special, so set apart. I asked Dadosky whether he was familiar with Ratzinger's Daughter Sion, he said no. Ratzinger has this wonderful connection - so obvious now to me - between Mary and the Church, Mary, the faithful woman, the new Israel....

Dadosky's work is a wonderful example of how to take Lonergan's hints further. Lonergan hints in Method in Theology that the development of Marian dogma has to do with humanity's development and refinement of feelings....

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