One of the things that I learned while researching the bible verses that say that “the man is the head of the woman as Jesus is head of the church” is that in the days when Paul and the rest of the bible’s writers were living, no one really knew what the brain was for. It was widely believed to be some sort of cooling system. But there were cases where brain damage caused changes in people’s behavior and abilities and no one could quite figure out how damage to the cooling system could cause the problems they were observing. So no one knew quite what to make of that. There was even one school of thought on the brain which had sperm being produced in the brain and transported to it’s destination through the nervous system. It wasn’t until the 2nd century AD that Roman physician Galen popularized the idea of the head as controlling the body and storing memories, and thus thought.
Prior to that, it was believed that the seat of thought, emotion and will was the heart. Which actually makes sense because if you’ve ever paid attention, we feel emotions in our bodies – particularly around our chest. Thoughts quickly follow from emotions and our will is determined between the two. Today we think of the heart as symbolic of our emotions, but in the Egyptian, Greek and Roman worlds, the heart was the center of not just emotion, but of thought and will as well.
When I was a Catholic, I went through the stations of the cross several times, including a couple which included props and sound effects. It’s one of the reasons I never felt the need to go see Mel Gibson’s snuff movie – as a former Catholic, I was well aware of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. It was real for me already.
However, since The Passion of the Christ, the movie, accomplished the task of helping Christians experience the horror and suffering of Jesus’ passion and death, the Episcopalian Relief and Development Agency has apparently decided that they can move on other, important topics. Like reducing our carbon food print and promoting third world debt relief. From an article about it on Slate:
This year in time for Lent, Episcopal Relief and Development, the relief agency of the Episcopal Church, began offering a variation on the Stations of the Cross called the Stations of the Millennium Development Goals. It features eight stations, one for each of the global priorities identified by the United Nations in 2000, from eradicating poverty to promoting gender equality. Where each of the 14 stations of the traditional Stations of the Cross represents an event leading up to Jesus’ death—”Jesus is condemned to death” and “Jesus falls the first time,” for example—the alternative version, promoted by Episcopal Relief and Development, shifts the focus to righting global problems. At Station 8, “Create a Global Partnership for Development,” participants are reminded that a “fair trading system, increased international aid, and debt relief for developing countries will help us realize” the U.N. goals. An optional activity at Station 7, “Ensure Environmental Sustainability,” asks that “pilgrims calculate their carbon footprint and come up with three strategies to reduce it.” . . . A suggested activity for Station 4, on reducing child mortality, calls for participants to shade in drawings of children’s faces, coloring-book-style.