I’m the first to admit that I understand very little about Christianity, but one of the biggest puzzles that I wrestle with is the difference between the extreme attention paid to every moment of the bloody mess that ended Jesus’ life, and the almost complete inattention paid to the bloody mess that started his life.
In other words, why isn’t there a labor story for the world’s most famous teen mom, Mary? The poor woman pushed our Savior out in the crudest possible situation, in a time where death from childbirth was a regular occurrence. She was attended by a man whose only experience with mammalian childbirth was spring lambing. No one else accompanied her during her labor, and she was probably scared and in pain for hours.
Even so, her ordeal is a mere footnote in the magical story of Jesus’ birth. Unlike Jesus, who basically asked to be executed, Mary didn’t solicit the pain of bringing him into the world. God knocked her up without consultation or consent.
Every year millions of Catholics engage in a prayer ritual focused on every step Jesus took from the moment he was condemned to death to his consignment to a tomb. Yet the stations of Mary’s labor are lost to antiquity. Even nativity scenes, which are frank enough to show the act of defecation, portray her as a happy, radiant non-entity rather than the sweaty, exhausted mess she must have been at that point in her life.
This is all to say that, when I raise a glass later today, I’m going to toast Mary. She did it the hard way.
Here’s an open thread.