I want to share thoughts from my friend. She has a lot of great stuff to say! So, go visit "The Roamin' Rev: A Smokin' Hot Woman of God" here. And she has inspired me to share some thoughts that I developed during work on a presentation (along with my team the fabulous Terra, Denise, and Bjorn...woot!).
I have to say that in the realm of the body, we, the Western world, have a looooong way to go towards creating a holistic vision of who we are and who we should be. We have bought into this separation of the mind and the body that Plato proposed a jillion years ago. The world of forms vs. particulars. In the world of forms, we have perfection, transcendence, the mind, and reason. All "good." In the world of particulars, we have the senses, our opinions, passions, and the body. All "bad." At least considered inferior to forms and reason.
“Your mind holds the past, your body holds the present, your soul holds the future. Put another way, the mind analyzes and remembers, the body experiences and feels, the soul observes and knows.”
–Neale Donald Walsh
This impacts Christianity in a particularly harsh way. Western interpretation of Jesus' "ascetic" practices (remember, he thought the world was ending) lead some to believe that Jesus did not support embodiment. Paul, who was Greek and much more Platonic than Jesus, further lent support to this philosophy. Then Augustine came along and declared that the body was sinful and the church has been sitting here ever since. I think it is time for a change! Look at this:
Pelagius and Augustine were both born in the year 354 of the Common Era.
- denied the original sin doctrine
- developed a doctrine of free will
- embraced Christ's humanity
- said human nature is good
- and said that we grow and take responsibility over time (mature in our faith)
- original sin is transmitted through the semen
- we can only rely on God's grace, humans have no free will
- Christ is the only source of that grace
- human nature is characterized by a disordered will
- people are essentially infants dependent upon God for everything
And Pelagius was branded the heretic.
Why is this important?
First, Jesus was Jewish. In Judaism, there is no separation of mind-body-spirit. That is a gift from the Greeks and Plato. Jesus, in his JEWISHNESS, would never go for this. So this entire line of thought is heresy. God is not transcendent other. God is fully immanent and in that immanence (incarnation), God becomes transcendent. It is that wonderful both/and of theology and philosophy. You would think Christians would get it by now. The entire theology is prefaced on God incarnate.
Next, follow this:
With a body/mind dualism, it allows objectification of the other. This leads to so many problems it isn't even fathomable. The beginning point is that if "the other" is a body that is disordered and not as good as our "reasonable minds" would suppose, then we can certainly do horrible things to that other body. What is a flagrant example? Slavery. A modern example? The sexual objectification of women as portrayed in our media. Just think of the hyper-sexuality of Angelina Jolie.
Objectification leads to disembodiment in the sense of our body then becoming unholy other. We become foreign to ourselves. We lose touch with our bodies. We then fill our bodies with things to fix it that in fact, destroy it.
When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to creation. The incarnational aspects of God.
When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to "the other." Also, the incarnational aspects of God.
When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to the holy other within ourselves. Again, the incarnational aspects of God.
When we are disembodied, we can not connect to transcendence or immanence.
Embodiment is sacred. All bodies are holy. Spirit and matter are intrinsically related. God's transcendence in our embodiment summons us to a new ethic of inter-relatedness, connection, and relationship. Again, ALL BODIES ARE HOLY. If we start here, where all bodies are holy, we cannot persecute those whose skin is a different color. We cannot persecute those whose sexuality is expressed differently. We cannot persecute those whose belief system seems different than our owns. Simply put, we cannot persecute.
“The glory of God is the human person fully alive, and the life of the human person is the vision of God.”
Irenaeus of Lyons, 2nd Century CE to c. 202
It is with great honor that I share these thoughts. And they would not have developed were it not for the great work done by wonderful liberation theologians:
So thank you to these wonderful women that laid the groundwork for those of us who are coming along now. (And P.S. they are all brilliant and you should read their books!)