Inspiration for Writing the Books
For the longest time, I aspired to write a book about the Catholic Church's prejudice against women. In my research on the topic, I discovered the works of Giorgio Otranto, an Italian scholar of church history who has shown that women participated in the priesthood for the first few hundred years of Christianity. Digging deeper, I was also intrigued by the early Christian writings discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945, which demonstrated that the early Christian movement was far more diverse than orthodox sources chose to indicate. These were complemented by other revealing historical sources, further suggesting that the original Christian message was distorted by the male leaders of the Church.
I found that much had been written from an academic perspective about women in the church, but as a topic, it had generally skirted the public consciousness. It was then that it hit me that an historical novel was a better way to raise public awareness. It was also then that I remembered the words of Ernest Hemingway "... when it hits, you have to have the legs to run with it." So, for the next five years, I exercised my creative and literary skills to have the legs to run with it. I believe that in my first novel, The Priestess and The Pope, my legs ran well. But the years prior to this endeavor contributed in myriad ways to my passion to write this novel.
In recent years, I've taken a step back to dig deeper into my own beliefs, and to address questions about my religion that for me, have lacked satisfying answers. Many of these questions took root early in my life when, through discussions with my sister, it became clear that the core message of love, justice, and equality delivered by the priests of the church rang hollow in their every day application to women. Questions that before had been difficult to define now rung out very clearly
Madeleine’s Inquisition, a sequel, bolsters the already persuasive case of the leadership role of women and sets forth the injustice, superstition and inhumanity of the Church toward women. The years from the time the Church prohibited the ordination of women priest (493) to the period of the Enlightenment (18th century), the Church’s mistreatment of women intensified from prejudice, to bigotry, to persecution, and to execution – culminating in the Witches Bull of 1484 issued by Pope Innocent VIII. Historians estimate that women put to death as a result ranged from 600,000 to more than 9 million over the 250 years of the witch hunts.
Madeleine’s Inquisition portrays the final days of the Inquisition and the Church’s unjust religious persecution of women. And, although there has been an amelioration of the Church’s treatment of women, the prejudice continues to this day. Pope Francis recently has said he thinks the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on priestly ordination for women will continue forever. Pope John Paul in his 1994 apostolic letter banned the practice. And, the Vatican’s 1976 Declaration on the Question of admitting
for me: Why was the radically egalitarian message of Jesus abandoned? Why did church philosophers attribute an inferior nature to women? Why are women not allowed to be priests?
Women to the Priesthood justifies its exclusion of women from the priesthood on the grounds that the female body does not resemble the male body of Christ. It is therefore impossible for a woman to perform the sacramental functions of a priest.
However, inspiration for Madeleine’s Inquisition comes from numerous sources. First, from the Apostle Paul's words: “in Christ there is no male or female.” (Gal. 3:28), the clarion call to change the shameful treatment of women by the Church. Second, by the impassioned words of Karen Jo Torjesen in her remarkable book entitled When Women Were Priests: “Understanding why and how women, once leaders in the Jesus movement and in the early church, were marginalized and scapegoated as Christianity became the state religion is crucial if women are to reclaim their rightful, equal place in the church today. Jesus’ message and practice were radically egalitarian in their day and constituted a social revolution that likely provoked his crucifixion. It is high time that the church, which claims to embody his good news to the world, stop betraying its own essential heritage of absolute equality.” Third, by the example of other Christian and Jewish churches ordaining women priests, rabbis, and bishops. And, fourth, through the encouragement of family, friends and colleagues.
I hope you will read the book and this blog with an open mind, and a willingness to continue to ask questions. I do not claim to have all the answers (you would be rightfully skeptical if I did), but I look forward to sharing what I do know, and coming closer to the truth through a dialogue with you.