One of the fascinating things about traveling around the world is how much religious perceptions vary by nation. While the people of many nations are connected by common faith and even common theology of that faith, their pictures of that faith may vary dramatically.
Mary, As Envisioned By The Nations
When I was in Nazareth, I found a fascinating collection of mosaics and paintings of Mary, mother of Jesus, around the grounds of the Basilica of the Annunciation.
I grew up with a brown-haired, blue-eyed version of Mary giving birth to little blonde-haired baby Jesus, who was about as white as I am and looked much more like a European or American than a Near Eastern man of color.
Like last week when I discussed the significance of historical places, it doesn’t really matter what Jesus or Mary looked like in a physical way…that’s not a central issue.
Nevertheless, from an anthropological perspective I was fascinated to see how Mary is envisioned around the world. Take a look:
Ultimately, this exhibit was a reminder that humans, whether in an overtly physical sense or in a more Machiavellian way, have the capacity and the tendency to construct gods (I don’t mean Mary specifically) in their own image…and have as far back as records were kept.