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Click here to read a hilarious column by Pasha Malla, who guest “blogs” in Susan Henderson’s Journal every Wednesday. While you never do learn how to cook large pumpkins, there is much to be mirthful about…

A Deep Blue Interview – Lesa Bellevie – Founder of www.magdalene.org

Through a recent, odd string of events, starting with the National Geographic special on “The Book of Judas,” followed by the renewed interest in my novel “The Temptation of Blood,” and some obsessive net surfing (remember my six click tour a few posts back? This was like that) I discovered a mention of my novel, “This is My Blood,” in a positive light. I commented on the blog, explaining that I was the author of the book, and thanking the man for his time. That was on the site “Intolerable Amounts of Hedgehog” – in this post HERE

When he figured out who I was, the author of said post wanted me to speak to his wife, Lesa, who also enjoyed my novel and wants to interview me about it for Magdalene.org. I was, of course, thrilled to contact her, and even more thrilled to find out she’d written a book:



This book actually references my novel, “This is My Blood,” as one of the odder fictionalizations of the life of Mary Magdalene. I now have my own copy of the book, and it sits beside letter “A” of the lettered edition of the original Terminal Frights release of the novel. I should mention this book is for sale At my web site or that you can purchase the newer release, “The Temptation of Blood,” at either www.shocklines.com or at www.amazon.com – I’ll be happy to autograph any and all copies for those who contact me.

But back to the subject. Being a lover of Mary Magdalene and all history biblical, I wanted to know more. What ensued (and what I now present to you) is a Deep Blue Five Question Interview with Lesa Bellevie. Let us begin!

DBJ: The obvious starting point for this interview is to ask you about Magdalene.org. Obviously, at some point, your interest in my personal favorite of the many Biblical Marys blossomed into something more than curiosity. When did you decide to create the website, and when you started, what was it that you most hoped to accomplish?

LB: When I created Magdalene.org in 1998, there was very little being said about Mary Magdalene on the Web. At the time I was really getting into investigating who she was, and I wanted a place to collect everything I was learning for anyone else who shared my interest. As it turned out, there were quite a few other people who were intrigued by Mary Magdalene. This was, of course, way before The Da Vinci Code. At the beginning it was really just an experiment, kind of a learning exercise. At some point I realized that I could really provide a valuable service to curious readers, by presenting information about the many different perspectives on Mary Magdalene.

DBJ: Can you tell us the high, and low of your personal investigations? What I mean is, in researching Magdalene, what have you discovered about her, yourself, or others that most inspires or intrigues you, and what did you find to be the biggest annoyance or disappointment?

LB: By far the biggest annoyance and disappointment I have is that most of the people who appreciate Mary Magdalene as intimate of Jesus take it all so literally, and in the course of promoting their views, find it necessary to revise history (and occasionally, reality) to fit their beliefs. It was a calming moment for me when I realized that I can draw spiritual meaning from some of these ideas without compromising my love of history and critical thinking; it’s mythology! I think the most important thing that I’ve realized on this journey though is that Mary Magdalene is a great symbol for the human desire to know God. It’s a fairly obscure concept, and I can’t encapsulate all of the reasons in few words, but very often I see her as a “psychopomp” figure, a “guide of souls.” One of the Gnostic texts says that Mary Magdalene was here to “reveal the greatness of the Revealer.” I do tend to take a very Gnostic approach to her spiritually, which helps balance out the very critical approach that I take to her historically.

DBJ: Have you faced any sort of reaction from religious leaders or fanatics? Given the subject matter of your site, and the depth in which you cover all aspects of Magdalene lore, I would expect you’d have had some odd encounters along the way.

LB: There are fanatics on both sides. There are the fundamentalist Christians who send me helpful emails to let me know I’m going to hell for promoting the idea that Jesus was married, and then there are the Mary Magdalene fundamentalists who criticize me for insisting on treating historical claims critically. So it appears that Abe Lincoln was right: you can’t please everyone all the time. Occasionally it seems like I can’t please anyone any of the time, but for the most part the people I hear from are appreciative of my efforts, even if they disagree with one point or another.

DBJ: I have to say that the last title I ever expected to see on a book was “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mary Magdalene,” and yet, you wrote it. How did this come about, and did you consider going with the other company and doing Mary Magdalene for Dummies? (lol) I have to say, I was absolutely THRILLED to find out that my obscure Mary as a vampire novel had come to your attention and was actually mentioned in your book. I want my copy autographed.

LB: I have a signed and numbered copy of This Is My Blood, so I’d be happy to sign your copy of my book! The book happened when I was contacted by a literary agent who was scouting an author for Alpha Books, the publisher of the Complete Idiot’s series. They had decided that they wanted a book about Mary Magdalene, and I landed the job. They gave me 12 weeks to write it, during which I was pretty busy with other things, like working 40 hours a week, being a mom, and planning my own Mary Magdalene feast day event. My husband had given me a copy of your book for Christmas, and that’s how it came to be mentioned. Good timing!

DBJ: Though the years between biblical times and present day increase, the lore of Mary Magdalene just seems to branch out and grow. Can you point out what you think are the most significant areas of interest in modern times, and what you expect (or maybe hope) to see in upcoming years in regard to research, discoveries, and belief?

LB: By far the two most prominent perspectives on Mary Magdalene today are those of the “apostle of the apostles” and that she was married to Jesus. The apostle view is generally held by people who are more conservative, either religiously or academically, given that it is the only perspective that has any real chance of being accepted as historically accurate. The “married to Jesus” view is extremely popular though, and has been in circulation for quite a long time. Since pretty early on, people have wondered this about Mary Magdalene and Jesus, but it didn’t really gain any kind of widespread interest until the 1980s when Holy Blood, Holy Grail was published. Since The Da Vinci Code though, the whole world has been curious about the idea.

In the future, I’d like to see more research performed on how Mary Magdalene could have gotten a reputation as a prostitute that doesn’t assume that a conspiracy to oppress women was to blame. Conspiracy theorizing is a pretty common occupation in the world of Mary Magdalene scholarship; both mystics and historians tend to indulge in this as an answer to some very tough questions. I think it’s a cop-out though, even when it does sound like a possibility. The world is filled with possibilities, as historians know; the hard part is figuring out the probabilities.

I don’t think that the Church fathers coordinating a “smear campaign” against Mary Magdalene is a realistic probability. They used her reputation to great effect, certainly, but I doubt that is how it all started. There are some gender politics tied up in all of this, and it has become near taboo to even suggest that there could have been a historical reason for her reputation. Yet it remains a possibility, along with many others that don’t involve her actually being a “sinner.” We really need scholars to treat this topic as objectively as possible, which to date, hasn’t been done. For the most part, a tradition that has lasted for more than a millennium is now simply dismissed with the wave of a hand—or a finger pointing at the “patriarchy”—and I find that terribly unfortunate.

You can find more about Mary Magdalene, Lesa, and the ongoing saga at www.magdalene.org – and you can follow her posts at www.magdalenereview.org

ONWARD!

DNW

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