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« Before, during and after | Main | A prophetic postscript »


Yes, Christopher, he and a few other Fathers (a little litotes here) said just that. I contend in this essay that the Theotokos was able to be sinless in her own natural living: this should be offensive to the doctrine of total depravity (and I mean it to be). Of course, "naturality" cannot proceed without Grace (as no Creation can).

My other point is that culture and society fail insofar as the "normality" within that milieu diverges or degenerates from created naturality.

Didn't St Symeon the New Theologian say that Adam was created natural, we live unnaturally, and Christ has opened to us the ability to live above and beyond our nature.

Yes, Steve, I think we're dabbling in semantics here.

God help us toward that special norm!

Perhaps it has more to do with definitions than anything else. To me "normal" has nothing to do with Bell curves. Statistics may tell you what is usual, but what is usual for fallen humanity is not "normal", in the sense of living up to a norm or standard of what the creator intended us to be. Sin is usual, but not normal. Normal means hitting the target, but human beings usually fall short. The Theotokos is an image of our humanity, not just what God wants Christians to be, but what he wnats all humanity to be. So in a sense she represents a norm.

Steve, that was my point. I took the definition of normalcy as the central tendency of the population. Your stipulation that she is "unusual" is precisely the same as my contention of "abnormality." You are proposing a different population -- i.e., I suppose, of Christians -- than the population of humanity to which I was referring. Of course, if the population is that of the Church, then the experience of the Theotokos should be normal (but even then it transcends most observed behavior). But the population about which I was concerned in the article is all of humanity: and in that bell curve, you must admit that the Theotokos is most abnormal of all.

Now, if you want to say that the Theotokos was most "natural," then we're agreed.

One of my aims in this piece was to insinuate a darker meaning to the term "normal." As a former laborer in the secular psyche industry, statistical definitions of normalcy (that always seem to slight downward) left me cold, lead and dead.

I'm not sure that "normal" and "abnormal" hit the right not. The Theotokos, I believe, IS normal. She's just unusual, and there is a difference between normal and usual.

The bell curve thingy represents the usual, but the normal is the norm, it is what we aspire to, and in that sense the Theotokos lived what one Protestant author called "the normal Christian life."

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