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Monday, April 7, A.D. 2014
Our Champion Leader

On the Feast of the Annunciation, I was thinking about how prevalent women are in the New Testament, and I laughed as I recalled “The Embarrassing Gospels.” I then remembered being forced to listen to a crazy professor in undergrad harp on and on about how Western civilization restricted women to virgins, whores, and mothers, and, for the thousandth time, I became angry at the utter stupidity of such an opinion. What nonsense! I then noticed that the importance of women in literature, at least, was not peculiar to Christianity or even the Judeo-Christian tradition—though Esther and Judith surely fit Ambrose Bierce’s observation millennia before he defined Hebrew: “n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior creation.” Consider the classics of Western civilization and the place of women in them. In a bizarre, freakish disconnect from reality, “feminist scholars” have convinced contemporary Americans that half the human race has been absent from art and literature until recently. At the same time, such folks (or least the ones among them who can read) have an intense interest in “subversive” characters such as Antigone, Diotima, and Camilla, showing that they must realize that Western literature has always included women who do not fit into their virgin, whore, mother Canopic jars. (Such dames are fine, but one of my favorites has long been Andromache. I suppose that she is too feminine to be considered interesting for the womynist crowd.)

Anyway, Camilla led my stream of consciousness to John C. Wright’s recent “Saving Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters,” wherein he reflects upon the butt-kicking babes of modern fantasy and science fiction. Long before Xena was Camilla—in addition to (other?) historical examples (Deborah, Boudica, Joan) that have inspired the Western imagination for ages. Indeed, if we consider immortals, we see the pagans make Athena the goddess of the battle and Artemis the goddess of the hunt. What underlies this—a fascination with mixing opposites? A long prepared divine joke to mock and to confuse feminists once they arise? Something more fundamental?

Christians themselves follow this pattern in their veneration of the Theotokos. The aforementioned academic liked to mention the Virgin Mother Mary and the redeemed whore Mary Magdalene (in the Roman tradition) as iconic representations of Western women, but what would she make of our actual liturgical texts and Marian piety that depict the Mother of God more like a combination of Attila the Hun and Aristotle than a tender mother or quiet nun (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? From the beloved akathist:

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride! . . .

Rejoice, initiate of God’s ineffable will:
Rejoice, assurance of those who pray in silence!
Rejoice, beginning of Christ’s miracles:
Rejoice, crown of His dogmas!
Rejoice, heavenly ladder by which God came down:
Rejoice, bridge that conveyest us from earth to Heaven!
Rejoice, wonder of angels sounded abroad:
Rejoice, wound of demons bewailed afar!
Rejoice, Thou Who ineffably gavest birth to the Light:
Rejoice, Thou Who didst reveal Thy secret to none!
Rejoice, Thou Who surpassest the knowledge of the wise:
Rejoice, Thou Who givest light to the minds of the faithful!
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded! . . .

Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd:
Rejoice, fold of rational sheep!
Rejoice, torment of invisible enemies:
Rejoice, opening of the gates of Paradise!
Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth:
Rejoice, for the things of earth join chorus with the heavens!
Rejoice, never-silent mouth of the Apostles:
Rejoice, invincible courage of the passion-bearers!
Rejoice, firm support of faith:
Rejoice, radiant token of Grace!
Rejoice, Thou through whom hades was stripped bare:
Rejoice, Thou through whom we are clothed with glory!
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded! . . .

Rejoice, uplifting of men:
Rejoice, downfall of demons!
Rejoice, Thou who didst trample down the dominion of delusion:
Rejoice, Thou who didst unmask the fraud of idols!
Rejoice, sea that didst drown the Pharaoh of the mind:
Rejoice, rock that doth refresh those thirsting for life!
Rejoice, pillar of fire that guideth those in darkness:
Rejoice, shelter of the world broader than a cloud!
Rejoice, sustenance replacing manna:
Rejoice, minister of holy delight!
Rejoice, land of promise:
Rejoice, Thou from whom floweth milk and honey!
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded! . . .

Rejoice, tabernacle of God the Word:
Rejoice, saint greater than the saints!
Rejoice, ark gilded by the Spirit:
Rejoice, inexhaustible treasury of life!
Rejoice, precious diadem of pious kings:
Rejoice, venerable boast of reverent priests!
Rejoice, unshakable fortress of the Church:
Rejoice, inviolable wall of the kingdom!
Rejoice, Thou through whom victories are obtained:
Rejoice, Thou through whom foes fall prostrate!
Rejoice, healing of my flesh:
Rejoice, salvation of my soul!
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!

Allow me, if you would, to indulge in a bit of imaginative speculation. Consider the end of days when the armies of heaven begin the final counteroffensive. As fearsome to the minions of hell as Michael must be, imagine what will happen if You Know Who joins the mêlée.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, April 7, Anno Domini 2014
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