He had me edit his chapter yesterday. Considering that my most exciting read in the past few months has been Wind in the Willows, I decided that I should get my thinking cap out. It took a bit of searching, but when I finally found it, it was half buried in dust, some mice had chewed some holes in it, and I'm pretty sure it shrunk. After 3 hours of praying that there were no spiders in the cobwebs, I plucked up the courage to put it on and start editing...all 21 pages...
Talk about a killjoy! Currently he's writing about representations of the Virgin Mary in the Nativity scene in late medieval Ireland, and considering the time of year it is, reading this sucked a bit of magic out of the season! Now I won't be able to sing "Away in a Manger" because when I get to the part where we sing, "...but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes..." I will just be thinking, "The Biblical account gives no detail to how Jesus was as a baby but because a Franciscan monk back in 1300 or something, decided that the Son of God would not be a baby who cried, we have stuck this idea into our Christmas carols!". Sure it's a nice idea that Jesus slept through the night and never cried but how would he have notified the mortals around him that he had pooped? Did the Franciscan monks consider a crying baby to be unholy but a pooping baby was totally fine?
And don't even get me started on Mary breastfeeding! Branden has a huge section on that because there were a lot of depictions of Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus and some of them are quite hysterical!
I suppose now that I know the meaning and significance behind this type of image I can't laugh as much, but the first time I saw images like this in Branden's text books, I was giggling like a hyena! Basically, the "simplified Maggie version" is that back in medieval times, breast milk was considered to be white blood. So Mary was giving her blood to Jesus by breastfeeding him and thus when he died and shed his blood for all of humanity, Mary's blood was part of that, thus making her a key role to salvation in the church at that time. Images, like the one above, show her milk to have healing powers and to be sacred, as Jesus's blood was considered.
Ok, now that you have all learned something for today (some of you should probably wake up now and stop drooling on your keyboards), I can basically sum up my frustration in that most all of our Nativity scenes and ideas of how the Christmas story went came from late medieval monks. Now that I have read where they actually came up with their ideas and philosophies, I am forever ruined. Ignorance really is bliss!
Oh, and on a side note, Branden will also be looking at representations of Mary at the foot of the cross so now my Easter will be ruined as well!