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3.31.2013

Witnesses


There are some things that I was taught as a child to understand literally, which I no longer understand that way. I do not think that Noah got polar bears onto a boat. I do not think that all this around us was made in seven, twenty-four hour days. But some things - some very important things - I do still understand that way.

I do believe He was resurrected. Bodily. On the third day.

I will always believe this.

For many reasons,but foundationally, fundamentally, deal-breakingly because I will not betray the women.

All the Gospels say that Magdalen and a few other women were the first witnesses. Mark, the first writer says that they were not believed. Matthew leaves that little shame out. John inserts Peter and most likely himself into the story and does not mention incredulity . Luke tries to make amends. Luke is interesting. Tradition says he was a physician in Antioch. Tradition says that Antioch is where Mary, His mother fled. Luke has stories, like the birth story, that are women's stories.

Luke says that "Their words seemed like non-sense (idle tales) and they believed them not."

They were not legal witnesses - no woman was.

What a betrayal that must have been, or maybe they were just used to it.

The Eleven must have felt embarrassed a short time later. I hope they apologized.
Well I guess some of them did. The earliest writer put it in the story. It would have been so easy to forget. To erase. Matthew and John seemed to do so. But Luke was not letting them get away with it. He put the radical, ground-shaking witnesses in the story, and he documented the shame of their brothers. If you were cleaning up a myth to make people look good, you would take that bit out. The fact that Luke leaves that in has the ring of truth. It is making amends, which always comes out of a place of truth

Others could have erased it later. But no one did.  Not the first tellers of the story, or the first writers, or the the successive copiers.

The Nicene Council  - Patriarchs all - chose to believe the women, and document their witness and leave in the shame.

And for two millennia no Pope or Patriarch, potentate or preacher has been able to wipe those women out of the story. No one has had the nerve. Until lately.

I will not discredit the voice of Magdalen, nor her spiritual mothers and sisters.
I will not stand with the unbelieving brothers, the skeptics.
I will not turn them into metaphor, or allegory or hagiography.

I will not let my modernist sensibilities black ball their words in shadow - Less than other words, even the words of the Master.

I won't make them smaller. Their part has been shrunk enough.
I won't discount them. They are already a bargain.

I know what it is like to not be believed when telling the Gospel Truth.
I also know what it is like to create metaphor, and allegory, and hagiography.
I have told tales and sold nonsense. I, a story teller, know the difference.

These women told the most important truth ever told.

And if their witness is  discounted in my presence, I will not be silent.

Because I believe them. Quite Literally.


A poem for the Apostola Apostolorum












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