You don't mess with the Mother of God

(Mother of God Icon written by Jan Isham, available here)

Lots of emails from outraged folks wondering why I haven’t commented on Playboy’s putting a nude image on its cover and suggesting it is the Virgin Mary.

The headline reads, “te adoramos, Maria,” or, “We adore you, Mary.”

Playboy released the edition on the Feastday of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In Mexico.

Is it vulgar and insulting? Sure is. Is it worth my ire? No. And I’ll tell you why.

Because the people responsible for that cover have dissed the wrong guy’s mother, that’s why.

Jesus has big shoulders. He can take what idiots throw his way. But you don’t diss his mother, fool.

Have you ever noticed that even Madonna, who routinely drags her carcass around with a crucifix she can hang herself on, or a cross she can burn, or a statue she can make out with while pretending to have the stigmata, never disrespects the Theotokos, the God-bearer, Mary-most-Holy, the created creature who gave birth to the Creator?

That’s mystery you don’t mess with. Even Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie knows it.

Back when Christopher Hitchens
was on his Whack-A-Christian Book Promo and Debating Tour, he and a priest had a little fracas, in public. I don’t believe either man was experiencing his finest hour, and the priest said to Hitchens, “And you will either die a Catholic or a madman, and I’ll tell you the difference...”

Sadly, the priest’s statement caused such an uproar that the difference never did seem to get recorded. I – like many other Catholics – humorously wondered how anyone could tell the difference. It was a joke, but I did understand the point the priest was making.

Oftentimes people push farthest away from them that thing to which they are most attracted, because they know they are attracted, and that the attraction makes them vulnerable.

People who harbor the illusion that they are completely in control of themselves, their lives and their destinies, will resist an attraction to anything that they know will – upon embracing it – ask them to relinquish that illusion.

So, Playboy
– having done everything possible over the last 50 years to declare itself completely of the world and the flesh – is perhaps wondering if it has made itself sufficiently clear. Thus it feels the need to make a profound pledge of allegiance to the flesh, and to all that is mortal, and “as grass” or as “fleeting as a Texas wind.” It declares, “we belong to the prevailing culture,” which – because of the fickle nature of man – is always a dead thing. Pop culture is DOA, Dead on Arrival, because it floats on a stream, and as Chesterton said,

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. ”

No sense in getting all nuts over that cover. No sense getting nuts over a dead thing.

In my experience, people who go out of their way to disrespect Mary generally get surprised. Perhaps someone involved with that cover will die “a Catholic or a madman.”

Maybe he’ll be able to tell the rest of us the difference! :-)

All joking aside, it is also interesting to me that the image was released the same day the Vatican released a teaching on the dignity of the human person, Dignitas Personae.

The paper has to do with humanity and bioethical questions, (you can read it here) but I found it just a little ironic that the two things were released on the same day. The Dignity of the Person should be considered in bioethical matters, of course. But it should also be considered in terms of the people involved with putting a young woman into a soft-porn focus, or the dignity of the people who – in their weakness – will be enticed by it.

And, of course, we have every reason to expect that the dignity of a young Jewish girl, who begins an entire pageant of salvific interaction between God and humanity with a humble, faith-filled “yes,” should be considered, too.

Ed Morrissey wonders where the rampaging, insulted Christians are keeping themselves.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • ShanaSFO

    The difference between a Catholic and a madman?

    A madman has no clue that he’s mad.

    The devout Catholic – he suspects.

  • PeggyR

    For me “getting Mary” was a process which included learning that in old days she was considered the defender of Constantinople as she was the patron or else it was dedicated to her something like that (sorry if its a bit garbled but that is my memory for you) Anyway, I think she was sometimes depicted with a sword in her hand. Of course the symbol meant something else the opposite of her as some goddess of war striding through battlefield carnage like Athena. She was in fact the opposite of Athena. Still Mary, Still a virgin full of grace, meek and mild. But depicting her this way would be no accident at all in that it speaks to the might and the power of faith, particularly of her faith, against evil. When she said yes, she became the mightiest of God’s human “warriors.” She struck that blow long ago promised about the part that a woman would play in the triumph of good over evil.

    But this alone was enough for me. Another step in the process was watching Return of the King when my intellectual knowledge described above met up with the part of the movie where Eowyn slays the Witch King. I had read the LOTR books many times and just didnt get it (although it had always been one of my favorite parts). But upon seeing it, I finally did. All that had been missing was the emotional knowledge to bring it home. I was so overwhelmed by the visual that it finally slammed home. What Eowyn was literally doing on a fictional battlefield, a maid slaying the chief of the Nazgul, was what Mary, in effect, actually did in the spiritual reality.

    That is why you don’t mess with her. It takes a kind of righteous ferocity to do what she did, to be the first human to go toe to toe with Satan and win powered by the Holy Spirit. She was the first to escape him entirely. Who else in their right mind would take her on?

  • PeggyR

    Ok while I am gushing about Mary, I thought I would mention one other scene from a movie which seems to pick up on her fierce qualities.

    I love the scene in the Passion, sorry I don’t remember if its during or after the crucifixion, but she suddenly lets go of two fistfuls of rocks that she has just had clenched in her hands. What was she going to do with those rocks before she decided to let them go? You only have to think about it for a minute. I remember thinking, Mel Gibson really gets her too!

    How “fierce” must she had to have been to stay by her Son’s side the way that she did? Not being a mother myself, I can only guess, but I think that every good and loving mother on earth knows the answer to that question.

  • culperjr.

    Well, I cannot comment on the differences between a Catholic and a madman, but I can tell you the difference between a Catholic and a W.A.S.P. with some authority.

    My mother (the Catholic) and father (WASPy McWasp) went to buy a Nativity set when I was very young. They were cheap things, but rather pretty, and came in three sizes: small, slightly less small and WHOA! We decided on small,

    My father built a stable out of scrap lumber, rigged a tiny bulb for the star and all was well. Each year found us adding another piece–a donkey, camel or additional cows.

    One year, upon returning home from the store, we found a brand new Madonna figure beside the manger. My father stopped, laughed and asked my mother what had become of the “normal” Mary.

    My mother did not understand his question. He clarified: Where is the other one that is the same size as the others?

    My mother could absolutely not see that she had, for whatever reason, bought a Mary from the next size up. The Blessed Mother loomed over the manger and over poor Joseph like a professional wrestler. It then became a game for my parents, with my father sneaking in to restore the “right” Mary and my mother replacing her with the oversized Madonna.

    Somehow, it just seemed correct to my mother that the Mother of God should be just a bit bigger than all the other players in our little tabletop drama.

    I still have both figurines. We placed the smaller figure beside Joseph and the donkey yesterday, but the larger one resides on our sideboard all year long. She reminds me of my mother and my Mother.

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  • Aunty Franny

    Well, as I always say, “Come on down, Jesus–THE PRICE IS RIGHT!!!!!”

    We’re so cheapened we’re going for a song.

    I’m more afraid for the nitwits at plaything magazine than us. I feel as if Jesus is gettin’ ready to RUMBLE!!!!

    culperjr – that was one hilarious story. Made us laugh. Needed that.

  • Leopold Stotch

    I still feel bad about saying “Notre Dame (the university) sucks!” Not because of what I meant to say, but because of how it may have sounded.

  • Leopold Stotch

    And that was over 20 years ago!

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