Last updateFri, 06 May 2016 1pm

Miriam was from the shore of the Sea of Galilee, taking part in transforming the western world

Mary Magdalene had an unfortunate name.  It continues in “religious” memory to be too popular.  There were so many Marys that Pope “Gregory the Great” bunched several of Christ’s female followers together and turned Mary of Magdala into a whore.  (Magdala: a well-known city 120 miles north of Jerusalem on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.)  

South of North - No ‘whore,’ not a ‘maudlin’ penitent, Mary Magdalene was the victim of two centuries of mistaken identity

Her name was Miriam.  She was from Magdala, a town 120 miles north of Jerusalem on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  She was to become, first, Miriam of Magdala, then Mary of Magdala, and finally Mary Magdalene, which alternated with The Magdalene.   She was the one female member of Christ’s followers whose personal closeness to Jesus evidently irritated Saint Peter (before he was a saint).   That was when her life was being mauled by what was to become about 2,000 years’ worth of full-time misogynism.   The original Miriam became “the whore” primarily due to her fellow Christians’ mental flaccidity.  

South of North – Lost in a map-less Mexican territory

1964.  We had recently left the busy port town of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave, the Free and Sovereign State of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave.  Now my wife, I and our sturdy Chevy station wagon were lost.  Our sleekly printed, carefully drawn map did not show the unpaved road we were traveling.  Ahead a thin man squatted as if waiting for a bus.  We hoped his presence meant he knew where he was going – unlike the two of us.  We hoped he knew where he was at.  

South of North - Two species of illiteracy, both gravely handicapped in hidden ways, create intricate tangles of confusion, frustration

December 10, 2008, an intriguing, romantic and tragic German-American film titled “The Reader” was released.  It was produced by two great film-makers Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, both of whom died before it was released.  Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet starred.  It remains a movingly fateful love story with a stinging twist shaping the end in which a woman kills herself to hide her illiteracy.  Winslet  won the Academy Award for Best Actress.  

South of North: The lives of non-saints, or presidential optimism – speculative, dramatic, preposterous and flailing

President Enrique Peña Nieto visited China, Australia and the United States after the disappearance of the 43 students in the village of Iguala, Guerrero.  As public pressure forced him to meet with the students’ families, he insisted the encounter take place not in Guerrero, but in presidential territory.   Those grieving and incensed families were not at all pleased.