It’s been months since I first saw the image – when the red flags started fluttering. I’ve done some research since then. Hoo boy.
By research, I mean I wanted to know who made the original image of Mary greeting Eve. The little painting, executed with what looks like watercolor and colored pencil, is all over the web. It’s showing up in unexpected places, and is generally getting under my skin. So I went hunting.
The source was fairly easy to find. It’s right there next to descriptions of “Coated Caramels,” “Stocking Stuffers,” and “Other Sweets,” and is located under the “Monastery Candy” logo. Uh, yeah. So many flags are now popping up that I can’t see my computer screen.
|“Greeting: Mary and Eve"|
It turns out the source for “Greeting: Mary and Eve,” is an unnamed sister at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, a monastic community of Trappistine nuns of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Their site claims that “[Their] main means of support is the production and sale of Trappistine Creamy Caramels.” Nice. Oh, and don’t forget the greeting cards in the corner, one of which is the infamous ‘Mary and Eve.’ I didn’t check out the other junk they offer. I think I’ll save that for another time. For now, I want to focus on what Sr. Whatsherface conjured up.
You may have a mind to rap my knuckles with a yardstick, but I suggest you let me have my say. The first problem with the image is that it is overly-sentimental, and any time Holy Scripture is forced on a sentimental journey, it will cover some dangerous ground. Mary’s gaze at the shameful, but rosy-cheeked, Eve is sweeter than any candy the abbey produces, and it doesn’t help that Eve’s hair has been stylistically curled for the greeting. This is the kind of schmaltzy crap that ends up on greeting cards. Oh, wait.
Of course, there is more substance to my argument than inappropriate cutesiness. Let’s start with the time-warp thing. I don’t ever, ever remember reading in Scripture that Mary appeared to Eve. If you do remember reading as much, I suggest you get a better Bible and promptly trash the old. The event did not happen. However, I will concede that the two women are probably now chilling together in heaven. If that is the case, then what’s up with the serpent-on-the-leg thing, and why is Eve so bummed? Those things do not happen in paradise.
Speaking of serpents, this is where the Marian thing gets out of hand. The last portion of Genesis 3: 15 reads, “...He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Someone along the way forcefully misinterpreted Scripture's "he" to read “it” or “she.” Then dumb artists ran off with the idea. Now half the planet is populated by ill-conceived images of Mary stepping on a snake. I could be nice and say those images are marginally sacred, at best, but they are simply wrong. Christ crushed Satan’s head – not Mary.
I suppose there are a few twisted folks out there that will claim that the foot stepping on the snake in the little painting actually belongs to Jesus. Weirdos. You need some anatomy lessons or something. Maybe even a yard stick across your knuckles.
Another problem with the image is that it eclipses a meeting in Scripture that DID happen. Mary meeting Elizabeth probably ranked just as high on the weird-o-meter, but it had greater theological significance and gave Christendom one of its greatest songs. It’s hard to fathom the Marian folks wanting to put such an event in the shadow of a cutesy contrivance.
The recorded meeting was loaded with Divine intervention: A pregnant virgin; a pregnant lady decades past child-bearing years; a fetus jumping for joy over God in the womb next door; songs and blessings filled with rich theology. You can’t make this stuff up.
Which brings us back to the goofy little image of Mary and Eve. You CAN make up that sort of junk. There are times when artists take chances – including me – but this is one case in which the result is a hindrance to The Gospel, and not a help. Next time, stick to the caramels.