In a High School Theology Class, at Fordham Prep, a Jesuit explained to several of us Science and Greek Honor Majors that the word translated in the bible as “virgin” may more properly be translated as “maiden” – meaning only unmarried. To this day, I find that moment of instruction reassuring.
It allowed us young men to discount the significance that so many believers ascribed to the conception of Jesus in terms defying how every other natural person is born.
Some told us that it was a mystery, the “virgin birth,” that must be taken on faith, but our Jesuit teacher showed us how what is natural was not necessarily contradicted in scripture.
The world is a terrible place if one takes everything literally, does not question the facts, and can’t understand the role of metaphor and symbolism. I’m grateful for my early faith – or indoctrination –and an appreciation that symbols and metaphors are means that are transparent to transcendence.
When considering the liturgy, we know that some aspects of “the faith” and its liturgical events were taken over wholesale from “pagan” rituals. Pagan was a term of slander for religions other than what was Christian.
That adoption of the rites of other religions appealed to my political understanding, but it also depreciated what many insisted to be true, that the Christian was the one true faith, although it’s challenging to know which sect of Christianity we’re talking about – the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran, Fundamentalists, Pietism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Latter Day Saints, Eastern Orthodox, or Gnosticism. Continue reading