Synopses & Reviews
Sweeney delves into the mystery, history, and imagination surrounding the life and legends of the Virgin Mary. The text offers a glimpse into how the Incarnation placed Mary at the center of salvation history.
"Pious devotions to Mary the mother of Jesus, once derided as superstitious by non-Catholic Christians, are reconsidered by award-winning Protestant author Sweeney (Born Again and Again). Drawing upon excellent scholarship, Christian history and spiritual traditions, Sweeney recounts how a humble Palestinian teenage girl came to be revered by many Christians as the 'mother of God.' While there is a dearth of historical facts about Mary, it matters not to the Christian imagination, for 'It is her myth that draws us: her power to fascinate us intellectually is only surpassed by her ability to inspire devotion.' Sweeney is clear that Mary's significance transcends even her role as the mother of Jesus. Mary's virginity influenced the development of Christian sexual ethics, she is praised in the Islamic Qur'an and some would say that her role in redeeming humanity is equal to her son's. Sweeney is very evenhanded when addressing some of the more controversial Catholic beliefs about Mary his prose comes across as earnest and respectful, while remaining informed and unafraid of critique. This book may not convince Protestants that Mary deserves the privileged place that the Catholic Church gives to her, but it is a fascinating and well-researched exploration of a powerful female archetypal figure. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Join Jon Sweeney as he delves into the mystery, history and imagination surrounding the life and legends of the Virgin Mary. Strange Heaven explores the many meanings of her life and their importance for the rest of human history. Sweeney searches for Mary in the four gospels, the non-canonical Gnostic gospels, the Qur?an, medieval and Renaissance art, mystical writings of figures such as Beatrice of Nazareth and Anne Catherine Emmerich, the teachings of Bernard of Clairvaux, Martin Luther and various little-known mystics, contemporary novels and art, and throughout twenty centuries of the Christian imagination. The result is a satisfying feast of information and lore. But more importantly, Strange Heaven offers a glimpse into how the Incarnation placed Mary at the center of salvation history, a role that at once benefits all of us and models what is possible in a relationship with God.