Modern-Day Saints #1
What would your definition of a saint be? Someone who has led an exemplary life, a performer of miracles, the leader of an enormous organization? Or perhaps it would be a humble hermit, a seeker of truth whose quiet example shows us all perfection? There are the saints of old, saints of minor interest (St. Ives?) and even mystic- warrior saints (Joan of Arc). The Roman Catholic church had made sainthood a growth industry in the last few decades, and there will soon be another one. But all saints have to have an iconic presence. They, and the lives they led, must symbolize some aspect of humanity's struggle between existence and fate.
Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Baker, is certainly an Icon. An actress, a woman, a sex-symbol unequaled. But in her life, as in most of her movie roles, she also shows us the missing part of Christianity, she is Mary Magdelene, worldly, sexual, misunderstood and mis-used by the males in love and life. Always searching for a good man, always disappointed, maintaining a strong moral center that held in spite of betrayal and degradation. A single woman. Was her death a new crucifixion, with her as the Daughter Of God, dying for our sins? Was her death necessary to enable us to appreciate her life?
Her light may fade: she wrote no philosophy, she left no church, there is no Gospel of Marilyn. But she was. She left a body of work that may survive. It shows an actor in a role. The role that billions of women must play, to some degree or another. A role that is half of humanity, without which we are lost. The promise of her sexuality is the promise of love, of new life. As Venus and Aphrodite fulfilled that role in classical times, so does Marilyn in modern times.