And the Wind Cried Mary

Sadly, I still haven't had time to properly respond to Ed Heckman's difficulties with the Church's beliefs concerning Mary. I did get one answer to my call for rebuttals from the peanut gallery. Here's Anonymous' defense of Marian doctrines. The opinions expressed by him/her may or may not reflect my beliefs or the beliefs of the Church.

1. Ed's first point is that Mary cannot be the most perfect example of human faithfulness because: a) she's no more faithful than Abraham; and b) she seems to have had doubts over the course of Christ's life.

In response, I would note that: a) Before God asked Abraham to be faithful, He promised Abraham a number of rewards for faithfulness. See Gen. 17. But He promised nothing to Mary directly, yet she was nevertheless willing to do his will. See Luke 1. Being faithful without knowing what the consequences will be is better than being faithful for a reward.

And b) the doubts that Mary had were not, as Ed claims, evidence of a weak faith; they were tests of faith that Mary passed. Simeon warned Mary that "you yourself a sword will pierce," Luke 2:35, and his prophecy came true in each of the instances Ed cites. See this.

2. Ed's second point is that Mary cannot rightly be considered a sinless "New Eve" because: a) she calls God her Savior in Luke 1, and the sinless do not need a savior; and b) there is no explicit scriptural support for Mary as a sinless "New Eve."

In response, I would note that: a) you can "save" people in two ways: getting them out of trouble, or keeping them from getting into it in the first place. Knocking someone out of the path of a speeding car saves that person just as much as providing medical care in the event that he is hit. God saved Mary from sin by keeping her from it; he saves us from sin by getting us out of it.

And b) Ed is right that there is no explicit scriptural support for calling Mary a sinless "New Eve." But this is not a problem for Catholics, who don't demand explicit scriptural support in the way that Protestants do. Catholics believe that the Church came before the Bible in that it preached before the Bible was written, and it chose the Books that were to become part of the Bible (choosing the synoptic Gospels over the gnostic ones, etc.). For this reason, the Church can proclaim a doctrine without explicit scripural support, for the Bible is a creature of the Church, and not the other way round.

It seems Jay is having similar discussions at Deo Omnis Gloria.

Linguistic Issues Regarding the Perpetual Virginity of Mary [regarding Jesus' "brothers"]
Linguistic Issues Regarding the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, Part II [regarding Joseph not knowing Mary "until" Jesus' birth]

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

10 thoughts on “And the Wind Cried Mary

  1. Tom Smith

    “Couldn’t it just be that the concentration of ecclesial authority in Rome emerged as a result of the rise of Islam and the estrangement between Rome and Constantinople and maybe a forged “Donation of Constantine” document and the Church allowing the Roman Emperor to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Emperor?”

    But see, all those things occurred after Roman primacy and authority in doctrinal matters were accepted. It is true, though, that the above saw to it that the papacy achieved a more direct control over liturgical and temporal matters, neither of which are an article of faith in the papal doctrines.

  2. Tom Smith

    “The Roman Catholic Church with the Pope and practices specific to the RCC did not exist until 314 A.D. when it was formed by Constantine.”

    Did you hear that in a Jack Chick tract? Or was it Loraine Boettner? What the heck, man?

    Besides, mere “practices” aren’t dogmatic anyway. As long as the Church’s dogmas and doctrines remain unmolested and not misrepresented, it doesn’t matter how the Church practices.

    How do you account for the ante-Nicene Fathers speaking of Popes, bishops, the sacrificial liturgy, penance, if the Catholic Church hadn’t been formed yet? How do you account for the Letter of Clement? Can you please back up your point, here? I’m interested.

    btw, if you’re referring to the Edict of Milan, that was in 313, dude. And it nothing to do with establishing a Church. Read the text of it here:

  3. dlw

    Couldn’t it just be that the concentration of ecclesial authority in Rome emerged as a result of the rise of Islam and the estrangement between Rome and Constantinople and maybe a forged “Donation of Constantine” document and the Church allowing the Roman Emperor to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Emperor?

    I mean the whole Protestant/Catholic Schism thing came about in large part as a matter of ecclesiology:Who has say-so in the traditions/interpretations of scripture that guide how we as Christians let our lights shine before the world? It may have also had a good deal to do with a desire tithe-relief/land-grabbing in the northern states of Europe, but I generally find trying to debate about Mary’s virginity as an exercise in futility because of the whole unnecessary web of associations made with the issue.

    For me, that’s like so half a millenium ago and of no relevance to the sorts of debates we ought to be having today across denominational boundaries.

  4. Tom Smith

    I agree that the Church did not create, so much as consruct, scripture (think of a blueprint, sorta). But I still maintain that to say that the Church did not predate scripture is just silly. What was the case in between the Christ’s life and the writing of scripture? Was there no church then? Was the church founded only after the scriptures were compiled?

    I can’t help but think that this model was invented by the Reformers to justify the lack of true teaching for the 1500 years between Christ’s life and the Reformation. I may be wrong, but it seems that way to me.

  5. sibert

    I partially agree with you. She, the bride, put the Bible together under the guidance of God. Would you give a third grader credit for building an atomic bomb as his science fair project knowing that his dad was a nuclear physicist? The kid doesn’t even understand 90% of what he is being directed to do. That is, I think, an appropriate analogy. She would not have recognized anything without divine guidance. I think if you could ask any of the men working on that project, they would have conceded this.
    You are right in saying that God acts through His church, but He has also given us a specific assignment. He also acts thru the lost, through circumstances, through a talking donkey if He wants to!
    My beef was probably just with a regetable choice of words. I object to calling the Bible the creature of the church because it is not, and woe to us if it is. Anyway, God bless.

  6. Tom Smith

    I read both pages (well, only skimmed the second), but don’t see how they undermine the dogmas surrounding the papacy at all. The second page only tackles a few arguments for the papacy, rather than the institution itself. The Von Dollinger quote to me seems the most damning, but it ignores that one of the strongest arguments in favor of Papacy, the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (written AD 96), is not a forgery (there are, I think, 1-2 other letters of Clement that are, though).

  7. sibert

    I’m not sure anyone will even read this, but here goes anyway. The Bible is most assuredly not the creature of the church. The Bible is the living Word of God, spoken, maintained, protected, and passed to us by His active or passive agency. The church is the Bride of Christ, not the keeper of the word, nor the repository of all answers, nor key to all mysteries, and maybe not even the extent of His creation. We (the church) are certainly the apple of His eye, but we do not translate for Him nor keep Him from speaking or acting as He would. If the church ( or religeon, or truth, for that matter) were simply a construct of our collective imagination created to satiate some deep-seated psychological need then I would understand this point of view, but we are not. The church did not come before the Word.

  8. Spak


    Depends on what you understand “creature” to mean. It’s true that the Church did not write the Bible — God did that, albeit through human hands. Yet it’s also true that the Church “created” the Bible in that She recognized which books were divinely insprired (e.g., Hebrews) and which were not (e.g., Gospel of Thomas), and placed the books into the order we use today.

    It’s worth noting that while you are right to say that the Church does not and cannot keep God from “acting as He would,” God has nevertheless chosen to act through the Church (e.g., giving the keys to Peter, telling the Apostles to perform the sacraments “in memory of me,” etc.). I don’t know why the Word decided to become flesh, but He did.

  9. Ed \


    I don’t know the history nearly well enough to argue the point. I’m merely pointing out what others are saying.

    I will be addressing the issue on my blog, but by comparing scripture (which I know well) and The Catechism. I do not have the time — or quite frankly, the desire — to spend hundreds of hours reading up on history over which there is much controversy.

    Here is something to consider though:

    First, from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Benedict Levita

    Second, Benedict Levita and the Papacy

  10. Ed "What the" Heckman


    The position of the Reformers is that the definition of “church” is everyone who believes in Christ, otherwise known as the body of Christ (Rom 12:5) and the bride of Christ (John 3:29) (Eph 5:23-33). The Roman Catholic Church with the Pope and practices specific to the RCC did not exist until 314 A.D. when it was formed by Constantine.

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