Illuminated Apology Laments
by Tina Darragh

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Usually we think of the medieval apology tradition as serving the court of male authors who, after publishing tales of sin and sex, would reaffirm themselves and society by penning apologies blaming the Eves of this world for tempting them to write. But women authors in the Middle Ages started off apologizing - for their gender, for their lack of education, for their second-class spirituality – before justifying their ideas by saying that God called them to write. At once an act of self-defense and self-effacement, women authors often included the apologies of other women writers with their own, and in so doing cataloged all of their accomplishments as partial authors – part apology, part history. The feminine apology tradition used the absent authority for the existing order, God, to justify claims for alternatives to that order. For example, Hildegard of Bingen’s apologies laid the foundation for the founding of her own abbey, much to the dismay of the Church’s hierarchy. She developed a private language for use with her order, composed chant and illuminated texts.

Precautionary Hysteria

I was wrong to worry about the return of hysteria.

Although the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome are consistent with radiation injuries – immune disorders,
dermatis, chronic fatigue, headaches,
erectile dysfunction,
birth defects, etc. –
returning veterans are called “hysterical”
to avoid discussing the effects of depleted uranium in U.S. weapons, a practice which is against the precautionary principle of
the Geneva Conventions’ Protocol I.

Pictures of lone women without words no longer indicate that their minds are dumb.  Instead, such images act as a reminder that the word “hysteria” doesn’t simply mean “womb” but rather refers to the womb as an animal on the move within the body.  Ancient treatment consisted of burning various substances near the vagina in the hope that the animal would settle down.  The classical treatment of hysteria as an environmental illness has much to offer those currently suffering from diseases that can’t be seen.

“Evidence” is the bottom line of corporate time.  If pain has no corresponding image, there is no diagnosis and no care.  Scan results are the property rights of medicine, with hysteria the collective lament moving us beyond hospital walls to environmental squalls.

Since pain is discontinuous with all other moments, stories of illness that share the same words are discounted as merely talk of the times.  But just because the ill need to make their pain reasonable doesn’t mean their diseases don’t have histories.  The burden of proof must fall to those who profit from a medicine of walls.

Lost Limbo

I am sorry that I couldn't save Limbo.

While the Qur’an describes a phase of human existence prior to conception, abortion  isn’t considered the taking of a human life until ensoulment occurs at 120 days after conception.

When the existence of Limbo was first removed from the Roman Catholic Catechism, it was not publicized in the hope that no one would notice. The infallibility of Church teaching on contraception and abortion would be called into question if the faithful were reminded that the proclamation “life begins at conception” was a relatively recent belief.  Until the late 1800s, the Roman Catholic Church promoted St. Thomas Aquinas’ position that ensoulment occurred at three months for a boy and four months for a girl.

Anabaptists rely solely on scripture for moral guidance, and emphasize freedom of conscience. They believe that laws making abortion illegal interfere with their relationship to scripture and disrupt praying with one another in community.

Augustinians put no faith in time frames.  It was a period when priests were overwhelmed by requests for baptism from pagans who were ordered to convert by the state.  St. Augustine was having none of this driver’s license approach to Christianity.  There was the kingdom of God, but no wishy-washy “eternal life”.  After all, Pelagius, who had come to Rome from the British Isles to offer humanism as an antidote to long waiting lines at the baptismal font, was described by St. Jerome as “a giant stuffed with Scottish pudding” for his view that baptism was not a necessary condition for salvation but a way to welcome infants into the world and to celebrate birth as an opportunity for God to remind us how precious we are.  The

From the earliest Mishnaic writings, the fetus is seen as an aggressor if pregnancy endangers a woman’s life, and abortion is permitted as an act of self-defense.

only way for Augustine to nip this heresy in the bud was to link Christ’s Last Supper statement about eternal life to the taking of communion, thus relegating unbaptized infants to eternal damnation.  Over the years, the pastoral approach to Limbo as a “common teaching” of the Church softened gradually, so that by the 1950s grieving parents were advised to engage in a heavenly form of free association with their little lost ones in Limbo.

Rule of Dumbs


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