Quick Note: A Visit With Betty Sue Flowers

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 31, 2009 — 2 Comments

Betty Sue Flowers, poet, mythology expert, Jungian, and consultant for “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth”, is making headlines in Texas as she steps down from her position as director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum to start a new life with her current partner, former Senator Bill Bradley.

“Sometime in July, Flowers — award-winning teacher of English and religion, expert in mythology, past director of Plan II, confidante of PBS journalist Bill Moyers, consultant to NASA and corporations around the world, author of three poetry volumes — will move away from her home in West Lake Hills to commence a personal and romantic adventure with Bill Bradley in New York City.”

In honour of her leaving, the Austin American-Statesman has reprinted a profile of Flowers from 2002, shortly after she was named as the new director of the LBJ Library. In it, Flowers recalls how the goddesses of ancient myth, specifically Demeter and Aphrodite, helped spur her forward into becoming a powerful woman, and sparked a lifelong love of myth.

“Sometime before the sixth grade, the Bookworm of Abilene happened upon the beauty of mythology. To her delight, Flowers discovered that the women in Greek myth were star players in moral drama. While not always virtuous, the Greek goddesses were spunky and brazen. They wielded power. They were the focus of stories. “The Greek myths were the only stories I could find, in fact, that involved powerful women,” says Flowers. “These goddesses: They throw their weight around! Demeter blasts the world! Zeus has to beg her to stop!” Flowers was so enthralled by the Greek myths that she carried a personal copy of Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology” back and forth to school with her throughout the sixth grade. But since this was West Texas, circa 1958, shy Betty Sue Marable covered her book of myths with aluminum foil — concealing the cover illustration of the naked Perseus, sword in hand, hoisting up the head of the slain Medusa.”

I encourage reading the entire profile, for while Flowers is no Pagan in the formal sense of the term, she lives a life that sings with the virtues of the ancient world. A powerful personal example that refutes the idea of Christianity or moral chaos. An individual who embodies some of the best qualities of the emerging post-Christian cultural reality.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • R.S.

    Wow neat! I took a class in my undergraduate years with Prof. Flowers that has influenced me to this day. She's an amazing person and an outstanding teacher. Thanks for highlighting this, Jason.

  • dragoneyes

    Thanks for the update on Betty Sue! I attended a few of her talks at Mythic Journeys '06 and was very impressed with her (mostly folks interested in mythology from a more academic and/or "Power of Myth" perspective, but there was a solid, if not large, contingent of pagans). One day I saw her walking around the lunch room with this tall somewhat familiar looking guy, which I finally recognized to be Bill Bradley. And I remember thinking that I was surprised to see Bill Bradley at that sort of conference and wondering what had drawn him to it.. Thanks Jason for finally resolving my curiosity on that!