Seven minutes of liberating preaching on the Assumption of Mary (August 15). Kochurani Abraham is a feminist theologian, gender researcher and trainer from Kerala, India. She has a Masters in Child Development from Kerala University, Licentiate in Systematic Theology from Pontifical University of Comillas, Madrid and PhD in Feminist Theology from University of Madras, India. At present she is the Regional Coordinator of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement for Kerala and the Vice-President of the Indian Theological Association.
AUGUST 15, 2018
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY
As a young student of theology, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary was perplexing to me because I found a very wide gap between the glorified body of Mary in heaven and the bodies of women living here on earth. As we know, the body/spirit divide that informs the philosophies of religions have had a derogatory impact on women. The patriarchal leanings of religions have denied female bodies the capacity to represent the divine. In addition, women’s bodily secretions particularly the menstrual blood is taken to be highly polluting in places set aside as sacred. In India, most of the Hindu temples deny women entry into the inner sanctum where the deity is placed. Even in Christianity, in many churches of the oriental rite, women are not allowed in the sanctum sanctorum during worship. I belong to the Syro-Malabar Church, one of the catholic oriental rites in India and in my home parish, which is a Cathedral;women are not expected to enter the Madbahaor the ‘holy of holies’ that is clearly set apart by railings. I find this practice exceedingly offensive as female bodies are still seen through the lens of purity–pollution set by religious patriarchy. It is only after entering more deeply into feminist theology that I found the imagery of the embodied Mary in heaven subversively fascinating, as it offers scope for challenging the gender politics of Christianity as a religion.
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