"You will be a better mom because you are a theologian, and a better theologian because you are a mom."

Is it true? In this blog, I explore the interplay and intersection of motherhood and theologianhood.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mary, Seat of Wisdom: The Original Theologian Mom

In his Sermon XV, "The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine," John Henry Newman writes: "Thus St. Mary is our pattern of Faith, both in the reception and in the study of Divine Truth. She does not think it enough to accept, she dwells upon it; not enough to possess, she uses it; not enough to assent, she develops it; not enough to submit the Reason, she reasons upon it; not indeed reasoning first, and believing afterwards, wtih Zacharias, yet first believing without reasoning, next from love and reverence, reasoning after believing. And thus she symbolizes to us, not only the faith of the unlearrned, but of the doctors of the Church also..." (313, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford). Theologian moms may often feel themselves to be at a disadvantage in the academic setting. With the demands of committed parenting, they do not have the luxury for daylong theological debates in the office. While others may head to the library or coffee shop for extended reading sessions, theologian moms have to pack as much into a 2-hour nap as possible. When others pull the occasional all-nighters, theologian moms may live in a state of sleep deprivation.

It is for this reason that Newman's description is so profound. Mary - first and foremost a mother - is the model of faith for the great doctors of the Church. We see that in her case, motherhood, far from precluding theological reflection, actually facilitates it. When others have more time for research, teaching, conversation, and writing, motherhood may feel like a hindrance to academic theology, but, in actuality, this is simply not the case for those who aspire to imitate Mary. When I was discussing this with my friend Ethan, I shared my conviction that being a mom should be beneficial both for my theology and theology as a field, despite my lack of study time that others have. Ethan responded frankly, "Well, you are in imitation of the Seat of Wisdom. That's got to do something."

1 comment:

Deb said...

Yeah, I had the luxury of time to do the best work I could do while I was studying at UD. I think about that now, because although not a mom, I sure don't have time to do my best work anymore. I have to live with "good enough."

I would think being a mom keeps you in constant touch with what is really most important in the eyes of God. And good sentence structure is not even on the list! Unless it is something so sublime you cherish it forever, like: "I do not like them, Sam I am, I do not like green eggs and ham."