Imagining Mary breaks new ground in the long tradition of Christian mariology. The book is an interdisciplinary investigation of some of the many Marys, East and West, from the New Testament Mary of Nazareth down to Our Lady of the Good Death in the twentieth century. In Imagining Mary, Professor Rancour-Laferriere examines the mother of God in her multireligious and pan-historical context.
The book is a scholarly study, but it is written in a clear, straightforward style and will be comprehensible to an educated – and, above all, intellectually curious – general audience. It will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered, for example, about the flimsy scriptural basis of many beliefs about Mary; or the tendency of many mariologists to depict Mary as an incestuous "bride of Christ"; or the theological notion of Mary’s "loving consent" to her son’s crucifixion; or the idea that Mary was a "priest" officiating at the sacrifice of her son; or the unfortunate association of Mary with Christian anti-semitism; or the curious appeal of Mary to the terminally ill; and so on. Special attention is given to the psychology of representations of Mary, such as: the psychological basis for promoting Mary to the status of a "goddess"; the psychology of Mary’s compassion for her son at the foot of the cross; and the psychological conflict in Mary’s personal relationship with her son Jesus.
These topics are admittedly diverse, but they all have long been on the minds of mariologists. The author takes a questioning approach to received wisdom about marian themes – including the assumption that one has to be a theist in order to understand the great appeal of Mary down the centuries. Indeed, Imagining Mary may be regarded as a first step in the direction of an atheist mariology.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: From a Humble Mother of Nazareth to "Our Lady of Everywhere" 2. Mary and the Foolishness of Wisdom 3. Mary Dies and Goes to Heaven 4. Daughter Zion, Mother Church 5. Class Considerations 6. The Eucharist as Maternalized Son of Mary 7. Mary’s Dispute with Her Son’s Cross: A Poem by Philip the Chancellor 8. Back to Scripture: A Son’s Grievance Against Mary 9. Jesus at the Breast 10. Marian Laments and the Psychology of Compassion 11. Time Future, Time Past 12. Theologizing Mary at the Foot of the Cross 13. Mary of the Eucharist 14. Mary the Priest 15. Our Lady of the Good Death
Daniel Rancour-Laferriere was born and was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church in 1943, grew up a devout Catholic, and served as president of his Newman Club in college. Since receiving a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Brown University in 1972, Rancour-Laferriere has published numerous scholarly articles, as well as a dozen books, including The Slave Soul of Russia (1995), Tolstoy on the Couch (1998), Tolstoy’s Quest for God (2007), and The Sign of the Cross (2011). As Emeritus Professor at the University of California, Davis, Rancour-Laferriere continues his psychological research on Christian themes.