Monday, August 12, 2013

Week Two Discussion of Illuminations Chapters 6-10


























Illuminations
Week two discussion


A lot has happened to Hildegard and her peeps in this section.
So lets talk about it.


In week one there were several comments about Hildegard being given as a tithe and it got me to thinking about where she would have been at age 38 when she left the Anchorage if she had remained in secular life.
What do you think- would her life have been better or worse if she remained in her old life?


Let’s discuss Riardis.
Your thoughts on what really brought her there.
Her devotion to Hilegard.
Her regaining her voice.


Knowing the “worth” of women in this era how “big” of a deal was it that Hildegard was vindicated by the Pope?


Volmar and his importance.


Your thoughts on a whole about this section.


So please expand on this and bring up any or everything else you’d like to discuss.



20 comments:

  1. Good morning everyone. Please keep Muse and her family in your prayers her mother and father-in-law were in a terrible auto accident yesterday, they both survived but are both in the ICU in CA, she and her husband are on their way to be with them now.

    Mary's back from vacation and will be posting today

    Deb

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  2. Just finished the reading, so I'll need to give it some thought. But I am so sorry, Muse, I sincerely hope that your mother and father in law make it through this trauma okay.

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  3. Here's a few quick thoughts, before I head to bed. I think that for the Pope to give Hildegard's manuscript the time of day was really huge. It has the feel of a divine intervention because it's such an amazing event, that a 'lowly nun' would get the attention of the Pope, especially during a time with other ongoing serious events.

    Although she had an unimaginably difficult life, I don't know that I think her life would be as wonderful as she imagined, if she hadn't been locked up with Jutta. Far less grim, no doubt, but Rorich doesn't give glowing reports on the remainder of their family. Her visions would definitely complicated her life and, outside of the religious setting, might have compromised her safety. The neighbors might not have understood..... And it's likely she would have been married to someone not of her own choosing. Far better if she had been at a nunnery, but we'll never know how that would have shaped her life.

    Other thoughts? I love this book and Hildegard; in fact, I purchased a couple of CDs of her music, and enjoy them in my car. And I found a copy of Scivias, and am interested in giving that a closer examination. I find this woman fascinating - so sheltered and yet so strong! She managed to mature and grow, even though she was sequestered away at such a young age, with a girl barely older than herself who was very unstable. And I'm still interested in the visions she has, and if they are related to physical brain problems (tumors, migraines, etc.)
    Elaine

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    1. I love that your reading the novel led to your buying the cd
      I'm glad you're enjoying it Elaine

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  4. Hi everyone, I posted a long reply but it got eaten! I'll try again!

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  5. Okay, I'll try again.

    First of all, THANK YOU to Debbie for hosting this discussion!

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Muse's mother and father-in-law. May they have a swift recovery and heal well.

    Elaine was right. If Hildegard had been an ordinary secular wife and mother, she might not have had the easiest time either. It was religious life that both gave her the container and the education to develop her unique gifts and talents. I don't believe her intellectual, visionary, or creative gifts could have unfolded to the same extent had she been a wife and mother. She probably wouldn't have even learned to read! So the anchorage was the container for her awakening, but it was her own brilliance and genius and the strength of her personality that empowered her to break the walls of silence and submission that held her captive.

    There have been many theories about her visions being caused by neurological disorders or migraines. My take is that it's important for us to remember that Hildegard herself lived in an age of faith and that both she and those around her sincerely believed that her visions were real. Her faith provided both the context and the container for her extraordinary visionary experience that blossomed creativity in the form of the music she composed, her books of visionary theology, and the illuminations made to illustrate her visions.

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    1. Thanks Mary and it's as always my pleasure to bring forward a novel that I think tells an important story not only to entertain.

      I've been thinking about Hildegard and her visions and how utterly skeptic we are today and wonder if they felt the need to have proof of everything back in the age of miracles how many miracles would have made it through the scrutiny?

      I'm sorry about the lost post Mary :(

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    2. Hi Deb, Mary,
      Thank you, Mary, for your response! I value your opinions, as you have researched this topic so thoroughly, and relate this story so clearly. I don't think that life was easy for anyone at that time in history, but maybe particularly hard for women, as they were so devalued. I don't know if that's the right word, but it feels like the right description.

      Yes, we do tend to be skeptics, but then again, wasn't the church also skeptical? While they didn't have the technology to discuss brain disorders, they did describe their skepticism in terms of receiving information from Satan. I think that today's questions really exemplify the difference, in today's terms, between blind faith and questioning the church. I personally find it fascinating that the possibility of a brain tumor in just the right location has the ability to cause visions from the heavens.
      Elaine

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    3. Good point, Elaine! Yes, the Church in Hildegard's age was skeptical and didn't accept things on *blind* faith. Hildegard's visionary book Scivias was thoroughly examined by a Vatican committee before they endorsed her visions as "real" and endorsed her as a prophet. She could have also been denounced as a madwoman or a heretic. But it wasn't just a neurological condition at work--she linked her visionary experiences, whatever may have caused them, to her considerable learning base to create her own visionary theology, visionary music, visionary medicine, etc. etc. If she had just been having otherworldly experiences but didn't tie them to any lasting body of work, we wouldn't be talking about her today!

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    4. Mary this is something I never considered, thank you. Yes I can see that she would have just been another heretic statistic probably had she not been an anchorite and educated.

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  6. Well as expected this has been a great month of discussion and I can't believe that we'll be going into week three on Monday.
    I heard from Muse, both parents are hanging in there the critical times have passed and hopefully things will start improving rapidly now. Continue to send her your thoughts and prayers.

    Check out my post about September's line up - http://thereadingfrenzy.blogspot.com/2013/08/september-line-up.html
    for information about the next read

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    1. So glad Muse's parents are recovering. Sending them prayers for a speedy recovery!

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  7. Muse, your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Sending you and your family all the best.

    -April

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  8. Would Hildegard's life have been better or worse if she remained in her old life?

    Throughout reading this book, I've often wondered that myself. Knowing how women were treated by men in this time, I'm not sure Hildegard's life would have been as great as she imagined. Yes, being forced to live in the anchorage at such a young age against her will with Jutta as her companion was no easy life, but I don't think her life would have been made any easier if she were married off to a stranger like her sisters. I think Hildegard assumed if she were free of the anchorage, she would have been free to do as she pleased with her life, but after reading about the life her sisters led, we know theirs was no easy path to follow either. Possibly, Hildegard had even more opportunities being forced to live in the anchorage. Here Jutta taught her many things, most importantly how to read and write and, thanks to Volmar, she had access to as many books as she could read.

    -April

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  9. Knowing the “worth” of women in this era how “big” of a deal was it that Hildegard was vindicated by the Pope?

    The fact that the Pope even read Hildegard's book was a big deal especially at this time. There was a war going on and also most women did not read or write at this time, let alone write down visions that came to them. In fact, most people thought those who saw visions to be evil, so for the Pope to even consider reading Hildegard's book was a huge feat. The fact that he believed her visions to be true and vindicated Hildegard was an even bigger deal. The Pope saved her (and possibly Richardis and Volmar) from being thrown out of the church. What an amazing feeling it must have been for Hildegard to receive this news. She had to hide her visions from her mother and Jutta and countless others for fear of others saying her visions came from evil. And now to have the Pope believe in her visions and command her to finish her book. How joyous she must have felt.

    -April

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  10. Volmar and his importance:

    Volmar played a huge part in Hildegard's life. He was her closest friend and ally while she was in the anchorage with Jutta. After Jutta's death, he continued to help Hildegard in any way he could, even helping her pen her visions in secret. He believed in her visions and stood by her when her visions were questioned. Without Volmar by her side all those years, I'm not sure what would have happened to Hildegard. He was someone she could always count on to be there, to encourage her to go on and help her through even the toughest times.

    -April

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    1. April, thank you for all your wonderful comments.
      I agree with you that it must have been a wonderful feeling for Hilegard being vindicated and we'll touch more on this in week three
      I hope your doing well
      the countdown is on!

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  11. Richardis: Your thoughts on what really brought her there, her devotion to Hildegard, her regaining her voice:

    I really grew to love Richardis in this section. She started off mute, shadowing Hildegard and by the end of this section, she had found her voice and her calling and was one of Hildegard's greatest friends and allies.

    I really believed Richardis' mother when she made her plea to Hildegard, wanting her daughter to be raised in the nunnery with Hildegard to guide her, to shield her from a worse fate: of being ridiculed, locked away or being married off to a stranger. I could see the love she had for her daughter and how she only wanted to give her the best life she possibly could.

    Richardis had found a mother of sorts in Hildegard and took to following her around, absorbing everything Hildegard taught her. With Hildegard's guidance, Richardis was able to flourish. She found her calling in her drawings and drew the illuminations for Hildegard's book even though she could have suffered great consequences because of it.

    Richardis regaining her voice to protect Hildegard was an amazing sight to behold. When Hildegard was first confronted by Cuno about her visions, Richardis stunned them all by speaking up for her friend, letting them all know she believed Hildegard's visions to be holy. With this miracle, Cuno had no choice but to leave them alone for the time being.

    -April

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