Mary, Modernity, and the Mythic Imagination Charlene Spretnak

The traditional complex of associations and symbolism surrounding the Virgin Mary was largely disallowed within Catholicism when the Church modernized itself at Vatican II (1962-65). As part of the streamlining, Mary was dethroned as Queen of Heaven, reduced solely to being the Nazarene village woman in the gospels for almost an entire generation of Catholics under 45 (except for those in ethnic parishes). Drawing from her new book, Missing Mary, Spretnak will analyze the dynamics of this clash between modernity and the Catholic imagination. She will also present a framework with which to appreciate the grassroots renewal of Marian spirituality, including parallels between the premodern Marian imagination and the post-mechanistic discoveries of scientific cosmology. Spretnak makes the case for the mythic understanding of Mary’s cosmological dimension as a unique female embodiment of grace, humility, and powerful compassion. She became the Great Mother of the West – and now “Big Mary” is back.