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Margaret, Prioress And Mystic
Margaret of Oingt was one of the many women living during the Middle Ages who turned to mysticism to become closer to God. Mysticism, unlike scholasticism, takes a direct approach to God using sensory perception, not reason. For this purpose, it allowed women to identify with God on a very personal and spiritual level. This is significant to Margaret's rationalism for writing her visions in a time when women had such a trivial amount of power in the intellectual community; she did not write her visions for others to learn from, but rather as a personal form of worship to God. In her compositions Margaret describes herself as having almost no importance or authority in matters of the church, and this is why her work was graciously accepted as valuable in her time. Because she disclaimed possession to any understanding of reason, the church believed that her writing was given to her directly by God through prophetic visions. This was the only way that she could have any authority to record her thoughts, because in her time women were seen to have no understanding of reason, and were therefore incapable of understanding knowledge. Although she was a prioress of a Carthusian convent, she still had to adhere to the regulations that women could not practice scholasticism. Margaret denied that she might understand reason, and by virtue of this, she was free to worship God through her writings. The imagery and language in Margaret's meditations, prayers, and letters, captures the essence of her love and passionate devotion to Christ, and they also act as a window to the understanding of this popular form of piety in her time.
The intimate level upon which Margaret identifies with God is strikingly clear in the many ways she addresses Him in her meditations. As a nun, Margaret renounces her earthly family and vows a symbolic marriage to Christ. In a sense, Christ becomes her lover as well her entire family. At times she describes her love for Christ with language that borders along the lines of being erotic. When she thinks of his body lying on the cross, she describes her heart as being on fire. In one of her letter speaks of kissing Christ while he lies on her bed. And when she addresses him she declares when I see you on the cross, I want to be despised and disfigured for your love; and even more, I want to be able to die for your love and for the salvation of those that you so lovingly set free. It was prevalent for nuns to speak of the lord with such passion. In actuality, they vowed to love no other man except for the Lord, and mystics found that referring to God with so much desire defined more prominent and personal relationships between women and Christ.
It also is consequential that, in many instances, Margaret refers to Christ as her mother. Margaret compares the life of Christ to her worldly mother in labor, The mother who bore me labored at my birth for only one day or one night, but youwere in labor for me for more than thirty years. This comparison serves as an insight into the beliefs of female mystics during this period. In Margaret's own time it became common to refer to God as feminine, as well as masculine. Because God was seen by many as sexless, women found that they could identify the term creator to be substantially in common with the term mother. Men occupied most significant roles in the church, and women had a lower level of identification between themselves and God than men did. By incorporating the use of feminine language to describe God, women could identify with God on a much more intimate level than by using masculine language to describe the Lord.
Margaret's effective use of language in her imagery describes the intense vivacity of her visions. Her description of hell in her meditations is an ardent example of the senses she uses to depict her visions. She explicates how people will be tortured by demons, There will be burning flames, stinking, sulfur, and devils in the form of snakes who will gnaw ... more
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To Date or Not to Date: Is that the Question?
Alas, the teenage years. They are years so full of life, emotion, changes, and new information. Filled with homework, football, video games, music, and of course...dating! Ah yes, the age-old ritual of dating...or is it? You know, dating really isn't that old. It started somewhere around the 1920's, when our modern-day culture was starting to move more towards and attitude of the here-and-now. Everybody's mindset became more geared toward instant gratification. After dating became more common and widely accepted in our nation, many problems started arising in relationships. Divorce rates started to soar and pop music began singing songs about broken hearts (Harris, 1997). Is this ritual of dating the cause for all these problems? If so, then as Christians, should we abandon our society's mating rituals and declare dating wrong or evil? This is the question that has puzzled me for many years, and so I now write on what my research into this controversial topic has thus far concluded.
Before dating came into existence, there were a variety of different cultural approaches to marriage. Two of the most widely used have been courtship and arranged marriages. Courtship is where a young man, or possibly an older man, goes to the father of a girl that he knows to ask his permission to begin courting his daughter with the intent of marrying her. You couldn't just court one person and then if it didn't work out, break up and move on to the next person. Once you courted someone, you didn't back out. You only courted if you intended to marry. Arranged marriages were totally different. In an arranged marriage, you had little to no say-so upon whom you would marry. Parents of one child got together with parents of another child and made the arrangements for their children to marry (Harris, 1997).
So why does our culture do this dating thing? To answer that question, I think we first need to look at our need as humans for intimacy. From the beginning of time, since God gave us the gift of life, we have this need for a companion. "And God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone...so He made a woman, and brought her unto man"” (Gen. 2:18a, 22b ASB). You see, we have this drive instilled in us that drives us toward intimacy with another human being. In order to do that, our society has come up with this system of dating. Where you can get to know people of the opposite sex in an intimate way, without marrying them first, in order to make sure it's someone you love. In the other systems of acquiring a mate you didn't have the great luxury that we enjoy now, where you can get to know a person before you decided to marry them. In those systems, the person was either already picked out for you, or you picked him or her out and then got to know that person. That's why our culture turned to dating. We want to be able to choose whom we marry, and to be able to make sure it's someone that we love. That in and of itself isn't a bad idea, but dating was quickly abused as our impatience stepped in and the system quickly turned sour. Instead of using dating to allow two people to get to know each other a little more intimately, as it was intended to do, many people tended to let their impatience drive their dating life and they started getting way too intimate, way too fast (Clark, 2000).
"Well, what's wrong with being intimate," you might ask, "I thought you said that God created us to be intimate." To that I will say, "You are right." There is nothing wrong with that – except becoming intimate too soon and in the wrong way. You see, God created us to be intimate with a significant other, but He also designed it to be within certain boundaries. For example, God designed a man and a woman to be intimate by having sex, but only within the confines of marriage. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and ... more
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