Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mary and Martha


38
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-41


Is there anything more annoying than a Christian going on about having become more of a Mary person than a Martha person?

There is no such thing as a martha personality, that this is one instance in a person's life. Mary and Martha's personality we don't know. We are only given a glimpse of this exchange. Mary did something, Martha did something. So at most, we have Mary moments and Martha moments. 


We have moments when we are too busy for the Lord, and we have moments when we think we should be busy but we manage to stop in the middle of all the pressures and quiet ourselves. 


I guess this bothers me because this is one of those stories which Christians use to define themselves. In jokes, in sermons, in conferences. And when they use this story to make the trait a Martha trait or a Mary trait it is often a way to subtly pat themselves on the back. Christians have a gift for patting themselves on the back while appearing humble. And they have a gift for turning Bible stories into sound-bites. I f I hear one more Christian say, "I'm a type A personality, I have to get some more Mary into me." Or, "I love taking time to just sit before Papa. There are so many things to do but I want to choose the better part."


I can be a pain when I hear people getting all into self-praise (they don't think they are getting into self-praise but they ARE) and I often say to the person describing herself as a type A personality, "You do understand that that is a medical diagnostic term, don't you? It means you're going to have a heart attack by age 53. Have you prepared your family for that contingency?" Yep, I can be quite the bitch when I'm in the mood. Or when someone says, "I'm a left brain personality... I'm very rational and I really have to have things just organized and as a doctor/lawyer/indian chief I have to have things proven to my intellect." Everything in me wants to say, "You do understand that neuroscientists have proven that if someone gets damaged in the emotional centers of their brain that the first thing to go is their reasoning, that reason is rooted in the emotional?"


The supposed "Mary personalities" like to think they float around loving Jesus. They take on this flaky New Age persona of "peace" and "openness to God." But again, there is no such thing as a Mary personality or a Martha personality. These are aspects of every Christian's life. So a person is not to say "I am such a worker trying to be a Mary." Or "I wish I weren't so yadda yadda." 


I suspect this false dichotomy was created by religious folks who wanted to make it appear that God created certain kinds of spiritual personalities, or intellectual personalities...that somehow some folks were more born who listens to God more readily (MARY) and some folks are born who are naturally more active at doing work (MARTHA) The contemplative versus the active life, etc. But I think we were all born with all these traits. The problem is we either are praised for being Marthas (type A's supposedly) or for being Mary's (she's so sweet and not of this world) and once we grow up, our human pride use these so called traits. Yes, PRIDE. And so I have returned to the begnining of this post. We humans are darn slick at using "spiritual" matters in a very proud way. 
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