Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

We Call her Mary Mags

by Dr. Susan Corso

I can’t wait till I reach 150. It won’t be long. I’m already up to 148. Someone just has to write them. I’m talking about books about Mary Magdalene. Some of us have been onto her for decades. We call her Mary Mags at home.

Foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds (Ralph Waldo Emerson), I want to recommend a delicious, modern, go-away-and-hide-in-another-world novel by Elizabeth Cunningham called “The Passion of Mary Magdalen.” Yes, Virginia, that’s how she spells it.


It’s a romp, a rant, a rave about a Celtic version of Mary Mags named Maeve that will make you laugh out loud because of her sheer audacity, brilliant intellect, and passionate commitment. Here are the first few words from the dust jacket:

“This is a Passion Story: my passion, his passion, ours—yours.”

Passion is good. Actually, passion in life is a requirement. Cunningham’s redheaded Maeve is an already-built-and-walked-over-the-bridge character. This is the delightful advantage of fiction. Truth, however, being so often stranger than fiction (Mark Twain), a caveat is in order. Although a named, incarnate, modern Magdalene hasn’t come forward, I consider Cunningham a visionary, to wit: someone is envisioning her, so, by the nature of vision, she could happen, or better, she might be happening even now.


Another bonus: there’s a prequel! (When I went on her website, I thought she’d written another one and jumped for joy, but alas… no.) It’s called “Magdalene Rising: The Beginning” or, in its earlier incarnation, “Daughter of the Shining Isles,” and, there’s a sequel in the works with the working title “Bright Dark Madonna,” promised in the endpages of the second in the trilogy. Series which follow a character are some of my favorites. (Try Harry Potter or Diana Gabaldon.)

Mary Mags has enraptured scholars for a long time. It’s when the artists in society begin to embrace an image that we know true change is coming. Art is always ahead of pack. Let me just put it this way: Were I to write a novel about Mary Mags, this is one I would want to write.

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posted May 26, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Sounds like a fascinating book to read. I’ll have to put that on my “must read list”. Passion is the fuel that moves us forward, gives us incentive and helps us to realize our dreams and desires.

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N.B. -San Jose CA

posted May 28, 2007 at 9:35 pm

Thanks for your tantalizing intro to this Author. I also love Diana Gabaldon’s work.. Consider me another sale! I also wanted to give my thanks to you. I have taken much joy and intellectual stimulation from reading your column as you filled in for Amy. I’m a new convert to your seeds for sanctuary blog as well! As you say, Dona Nobis Pacem

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posted May 29, 2007 at 7:54 pm

I’m so happy to hear someone else carries the torch for a long-since-dead-but-still-living-in-our-imagination person. I curry the same fascination for Joan of Arc, a woman-child who is both larger than life and seriously mundane. And like Magdalene, there’s as much conjecture as fact about her life. I’m also a fan of Rowling and Gabaldon as well as the historical fiction of Elizabeth Peters, Gillian Bradshaw, Sara Donati and Howard Bahr.

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