I'm reading this book at the moment.
It's a bit of a tough slog, but at the same time fascinating.
I don't like that information has been hidden and misconstrued
and that religion has been 'mis-shapen'.
Bourgeault says "If we can just cut through two millennia of doctrine and dogma to the living heart of Jesus’ teaching, we find here relational health, an astonishing vision of love as a transformational path, and profoundly empowering models of women and women-and-men-working-together in spiritual leadership roles. To reclaim Mary Magdalene is to reclaim Christianity. Without her, our understanding of what Jesus was really teaching is incomplete — in fact, it is significantly distorted."
She proposes that if religion had allowed the idea of Jesus dying not 'alone and rejected, but with one who stood by him and did not leave' that the emotional timbre of the day might be different; that our feelings about Church might be different; that the role of women in the Church would certainly be different; and more importantly, that our attitude to redemptive love would be different.
Here's one example of how said information has been manipulated: In the story of the woman with the alabaster jar, who suddenly bursts into the dining room and starts anointing Jesus' head or feet (depends which gospel you read) and is staunchly defended by Jesus against reprimands for such an atrocious waste of precious perfume, has historically been attributed to Mary Magdalene.
However, did you know that, (according to Bourgeault), 'Not a single one of the scriptures themselves identifies this woman as Mary Magdalene."
Here's how Bourgeault describes the sort of word-association that brought MM into the frame:
1. The seven demons cast out of Mary Magdalene imply that she was a sinner.
2. Since the woman in this anointing incident was a sinner, and Mary Magdalene was also a sinner, they must be the same person.
3. Given the effusiveness of her personality and Simon the Pharisee's comment about "what kind of woman this is," her sin must be lust.
4. Since this woman is also identified as Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany must be the same person.
Then Pope Gregory the Great sealed her fate in a sermon he preached in 594 which defined the Catholic Church's official position on MM for nearly 1400 years. (It wasn't until 1969 that the teaching she was a prostitute was finally repealed.)
"She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven demons were ejected according to Mark, and what did these seven demons signify if not all the vices?...It is clear, brothers, that this woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts. What she therefore displayed more scandalously, she was now offering to God in a more praiseworthy manner."
Bourgeault again..."I offer this book as an alternative to throwing out the baby with the bathwater, by showing how all these oppressive aspects of institutional Christianity are DISTORTIONS of the original message, not intrinsic to it. "
“Christianity isn’t a failure; it just hasn’t been tried yet.”