Friday, May 25, 2007

Mary Douglas, 1921-2007

I have referred to the works of Mary Douglas many times in this blog, and her thinking continues to shape my approach to monastic life, especially the argument for a highly ritualized and stable community contra the individualistic transience of the surrounding culture. As I so often do, I recommend to readers any of her major works: Purity and Danger, Natural Symbols, How Institutions Think, and especially her late Bible commentaries In the Wilderness and Leviticus as Literature. It is rare to encounter today a voice so authoritative and yet so humane, someone with the finest Oxford education and anthropological pedigree (having studied with Evans-Pritchard) and yet whose heart fell in with the 'Bog Irish'. Dame Mary Douglas, rest in peace.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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