The Virgin Mary Tests Positive

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I saw this picture today in a Globe and Mail article outlining the controversy created by the ad. The ad was created by St. Matthew-in-the-City, an Anglican church in Auckland, NZ. The Church’s official statement on the ad says:

“Mary is in the Pink,” is intended “to avoid the sentimental, trite and expected to spark thought and conversation in the community.”

This is an agreeable position. The virgin Mary is not often talked about subject, mainly because there isn’t anything new talk about. Most believers already know the story of the virgin Mary very well.

The Church’s statement goes on to say:

“Christmas is real.  It’s about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child”

Christmas is real?

It’s a very real tradition that, if one follows it’s pagan routes, dates back thousands of years. The tradition itself has some very dark routes. As simple to remember.com summarizes:

Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25.  During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the week long celebration.  The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.”  Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week.  At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

This is not the Christmas Christians want you to know about. The Christmas tree, The holly, the mistletoe and the Yule log are all pagan traditions adopted by the Romans when they first started celebrating Christmas as Christ’s  birth around 200. a.d.

  • The Christmas Tree comes from the Roman pagans who celebrated the solstice with the feast of Saturnalia by decorating their homes with evergreen boughs. More info here.
  • Holly was considered sacred by Druids and it was the official plant of Saturn. More info here and here
  • The Yule Log is more of a Norse tradition that spread around Europe. More Info here.

A real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child?

There is no evidence for Mary’s existence outside the Bible. The evidence for any peasant that existed 2000 plus years ago is always is going very hard to find, if it exists at all (which is very unlikely). This doesn’t necessarily mean that she didn’t exist, it’s simply unknown. Let’s assume she did exist. Did she have a virgin birth? A David Hume said:

What’s more likely that the entire natural order should be suspended or that a Jewish minx should tell a lie?

‘Jewish Minx’ is a bit harsh but he makes a valid point:  even if she did exist a virgin birth is just impossible. Even the Archdeacon of the church responsible for the ad himself admitted that they don’t take the virgin birth as literal.

“We’re not out just to deliberately stir the pot. We’re out to critique the idea of a male god impregnating Mary and the literalism of the virgin birth.”

So the purpose behind the ad was to start people thinking about the virgin Mary, discussion is almost always a good thing. I just wonder how many will be brave enough to admit not only that a virgin birth just doesn’t happen (especially one accomplished by a being that doesn’t exist) but that the likelihood of Mary’s existence is very slim. Which is better in the mind of the lover of life celebrating an impossible birth of an improbable woman to an equally improbable prophet of an ancient religion or celebrating life, love, family and the goodness and compassion that binds us?

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