Restoring the female image

North Peace author publishes Mary: Woman of Sorrows to dispel negative portrayals of Biblical women

By Reinisa MacLeod Herald-Tribune staff

It might not be a conventional approach to a biblical story, but North Peace author Beverly Lein makes it work.

The writer’s recently-published book Mary: Woman of Sorrows is a historical fiction that lends a voice to two of the most prominent women in the King James Version of the Bible – Mary of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene.

It is also a commentary, according to Lein, on the poor treatment of women in the Holy Book.

“The reason I wrote the book from beginning to end, or beginning to now (is) women have always had a bad deal,” she said. “And I do feel men did write the Bible, and I think they had a bad image of women.”

Lein, from Manning, who cited many examples, both from biblical and modern life, is a strong believer that women have always gotten the short end of the proverbial stick with regards to how they are treated.

“Through history, from Genesis as far as I’m concerned, this started with women, the degrading of women,” she said.

Lein says the story gave her the opportunity to show “the Marys” in a different light, even though it may be in a fictional outlet. She says she put herself in the positions that she imagined the women would be in, and admits that a lot of their opinions and reactions in the book connect very strongly to her own.

One example she used was of all the pictures and paintings of Mary praying at the foot of Jesus’ cross with no expression on her face.

“If somebody hung my son on a cross and beat him and dragged him, I would not be praying piously at the bottom of the cross,” she said. “So I gave Mary a voice, how she felt. I gave her my voice, how I would have felt.”

Lein, acknowledges her fictional interpretation and expansion of a Bible story may be viewed as controversial and result in some backlash, but she is not concerned.

“I’ve got to got take criticism with praise,” she said, “naturally I’m going to get a bit of flak back.”

Lein says she wrote the book, like three other published works, in the evenings between chores, being a grandmother and raising elk on her farm.

Her biggest challenge in the process, though, was not the three years of researching and writing: It was getting publishing companies interested.

“I have a closet full of rejections that would just make a person quit,” she said.

It hasn’t stopped her, though. Mary: Woman of Sorrows is Lein’s fourth published book, and third with Inkwater Press.

Her other books include Wolf Spirit (2010), The Three Saints of Christmas (2009), and the non-fictional An Elk in the House (2006).

reinisa@dailyheraldtribune.com

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Appointment of Ambassador for Religious Freedom signals important movement towards gender equality for Canadian author

Manning, AB– This month marked an important step forward in ensuring equality of engagement in women in matters of religion. The appointment of the first Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, the Rev. Suzan Johnson cook, by Hilary Clinton signalled a commitment to recognize the roles played by women of faith. It’s a development that author Beverly Lein thinks is a long time in coming, and it’s a theme she’s chosen to address in her latest novel.

In Mary: Woman of Sorrows, Alberta writer Lein used the stories of Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene to examine the deeper issues of gender equality in the Bible. Delving into the King James Version of the Bible, Lein discovered that many of the obstacles faced by biblical women transcend time and are as applicable today as they were centuries ago.

“Women have long been left out of the picture when it comes to religion. They’re continually presented in a subordinate position to women, and oftentimes their experiences are discounted altogether,” says Lein. “There’s no doubt that these women played a much greater role than we’ve been led to believe, and I wanted to use this opportunity to bring women to the forefront. Historical fiction gives me the freedom to be able to explore these issues further and help make it relevant for a modern audience.”

Beverly Lein is the author of two additional novels and one non-fiction book. Her latest release is available from Inkwater Press http://bit.ly/lGr7aZ and visit her website at www.beverlylein.wordpress.com

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