Maria Lectrix is my podcast of free public domain audiobooks, made from public domain books. Ideally, it goes out four days a week. Here’s the basic scheme of things as of October 2009. (It changes periodically.)
Mondays, I do a mystery novel. Tuesdays are currently dedicated to science fiction. Thursdays are for poetry and Fridays are for fantasy, if I manage them (which I usually don’t).
Wednesdays are for reading the Fathers of the Church and other Early Christian literature. (As members of a diverse and advanced civilization that is often hostile to their religion or very bad at living it out, their problems are very similar to ours.) Saturdays are for the works of later Christians.
In general, the idea behind this podcast is that I catch up on my reading while sharing it with others. There are a lot of things that just work better read out loud; there are others that could go either way. Sometimes my choices may prove less than felicitous, since I’m often reading works for the first time. But I will try to keep things from getting boring.
How do I justify all the non-Catholic stuff as a Catholic podcast? Well, the Bible is inspired by God, and it includes Proverbs by non-Jewish wisdom writers, and stories about non-Jewish people. Philippians advocates keeping our minds on whatever is true or lovely or has any virtue whatsoever — which creates a rather large potential reading list. In Second Maccabees 2:23-32, the Bible even provides inspired advice to editors and writers, and compares a good book on a topic of general interest to a festive banquet and a beautifully decorated house! If you want further justification, there is plenty of stuff in the Fathers and Aquinas…. But an interesting podcast pretty much justifies itself. :)
And the name of the blog? Partly a joke on all the Latin blog names in St. Blog’s Parish. Partly a reference to my own name (Maureen is a form of Mary, and obviously I do a lot of lectoring on this podcast). Partly a pun (my early slogan for the blog was all about power and light). But mostly, it’s a tribute to my favorite depiction of Our Lady: Mary reading, Mary teaching Christ to read, Mary being taught to read by St. Anne. You don’t see it much these days, so I like to show it around.
If you’d like to read more about Mary depicted as a reader, there’s a good bit about the image in “Picturing the Word: A Literacy Odyssey in Painting”, written by Sarah Dowhower for the Americana Reading Forum. Just scroll on down to Figure 23. (Or don’t. It’s an interesting paper with lots of pictures; you may as well read it all.)
“In Christian devotional paintings, the Madonna is sometimes pictured as the “Queen of Heaven”, sitting enthroned and holding both an open book and the baby Jesus. The particular kind of book chosen by the artist was highly symbolic. Manguel (1996, p. 219) suggests several interpretations: (a) Mary’s intellectualism and stance as “Mother of Wisdom” was represented if she was reading the Book of Wisdom; (b) literary parallelism, if the book was the Old Testament chapter in Isaiah which told of Mary conceiving and bearing a son to be called Immanuel; (c) Christ’s intellectual and dominant role in giving the world the word of God, if he held the New Testament Gospels; (d) prayer and inspiration, if both were sharing a Book of Hours; or (e) parental tutoring, if they were studying it.”
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