Over at his Crunchy Con blog, Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher has decided to celebrate the anniversary (one third of a century, in fact) of the turning-point day in the life of our dear friend Frederica Mathewes-Green, a columnist, radio commentator, author of a bunch of books, etc.
Please hang in there with me while I join him in this effort. However, rest assured that I have some GetReligion.org business to attend to, as well, in this post.
The story begins with Frederica and her husband — Father Gregory Mathewes-Green, now our parish priest — tramping through Europe on their honeymoon. She is, at this point in her life, a kind of feminist, Hindu hippie. This brings us to the key passage in Frederica’s book Facing East: A Pilgrim’s Journey Into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy:
On June 20, 1974, we took the ferry from Wales to Ireland, then hitchhiked to Dublin. After dropping our bags at a hotel, we walked sightseeing through the city in the waning light and stopped at an old gray church squeezed into the facade of a city block.
I strolled in the dim interior, past the massive main altar, past the statues. At last I came to a small altar surmounted with a statue of Jesus. The sculptor had depicted Jesus’ heart visible in the center of his chest, twined with thorns and springing with flames. I remembered from girlhood the story: he had appeared like this to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque three hundred years ago. He had told her, “Behold the heart which has so loved mankind.”
When I came to myself again I realized I was on my knees. I could hear a voice speaking inside. It was saying, “I am your life.
“I am your life. You think that your life is your name, your personality, your history. But that is not your life. I am your life. …”
She was, in a word, converted to Christian faith in one of those knocked-off-her-horse conversion experiences. Today, Frederica is one of those rare commentators whose traditional faith is rather hard to peg with American political and cultural labels. I mean, she is the author of a pro-life book called Real Choices that looks at the issue strictly through the eyes of women and features an endorsement by (wait for it) Naomi Wolf.
But when it comes to theology, Mathewes-Green is, well, orthodox and Orthodox.
That’s why, back in April, GetReligion called attention to a bizarre article about her in the Lynchburg (Va.) News & Advance, published just before she visited the area for a speaking engagement about her latest book, The Lost Gospel of Mary.
There were a number of strange passages in this article — things that Frederica knows she didn’t say because she knows the details of her own life and faith rather well. But then there was the really, really out of line section that said:
“People are hungry to know more about Mary,” she said. “They want a prequel to the Jesus story.”
Among other things, Mathewes-Green’s research led her to believe that Mary did not live out her life as a virgin.
“No one expected that of her,” she said. “She was a normal human being.”
In another sense, however, Mathewes-Green is quite conservative.
As I said at the time, a misquote is one thing. Heresy is another. Thus, I was one of several people who tried to contact the newspaper — since GetReligion takes his kind of journalistic error rather seriously — to request a correction.
Well, the version of the story on the newspaper’s website remains uncorrected.
So let’s try again. I was spurred to action, in this case, by the news that the ecclesiastical shepherd who leads our corner of the Antiochian Orthodox Church — one Bishop Thomas — heard about the case and suggested that the legal office of the archdiocese might want to give the newspaper a call. For journalists, an error is an error. However, the Orthodox do take doctrine rather seriously.
But perhaps we can head this off at the pass. If you wish, you might want to join me in contacting The News & Advance. Contact information is here. The reporter’s name is Darrell Laurant (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the managing editor is Joe Stinnett (email@example.com).
I know that this rather late for a correction. Still, it’s the right thing to do. Better late than never.
Photo: The Dublin skyline