Our Bodies Talk
Body Talk: What Do We Say with our Bodies?
We are ensouled bodies, or embodied souls--Christian faith proclaims the dignity of the whole person
By: Deacon Keith A Fournier (c) Third Millennium, LLC
Olivia Newton John had a long musical career. However, most people remember her for one particular song--the lyrics of which offer an insight into contemporary culture and its view of the body:
"Let's get Physical"
"I'm saying all the things that I know you'll like, making good conversation-I took you to an intimate restaurant, then to a suggestive movie-There's nothing left to talk about unless it's horizontally
CHORUS: "Let's get physical, physical, I wanna get physical, let's get into physical Let me hear your body talk, your body talk, let me hear your body talk
In his encyclical letter entitled "The Gospel of Life", John Paul II speaks of a "profound crisis of culture" which permeates the contemporary age. The lyrics to this popular song strike at the root of this crisis.
We have lost our respect for human dignity, a holy and healthy view of human sexuality and the respect and dignity proper to the human body.
Yet this is the culture into which Christians are now sent on mission of evangelization. We must understand the cultural climate in order to effect its transformation. These lyrics and their sentiment are not unique. In fact, they are rather tame by modern standards.
They reveal a view of the body as an object to be used and a real loss of the beauty of faithful married love as the only proper environment for sexual activity as the complete gift of self.
Yet, they do express a profound truth often forgotten. Our bodies do talk. The real question is what are we saying through them?
This song continues to be extremely popular even though it is ten years old. Even this provides an insight into our culture. Serious mission- minded Christians need to understand the insight if we are to learn to articulate the profound truth of the Christian revelation concerning the dignity and wonder of the human body.
John Paul II coined a phrase in his extraordinary teachings on this subject. He speaks of the "language of the body." In other words, our bodies are the vehicle through which we speak the language of love.We are not Manichees!
Manicheeism was only one of several heresies that infiltrated the early Christian Church. Manichees viewed the body, indeed all matter, as evil!
Christians do not believe that matter and the human body are evil.To the contrary, the body is an expression of the "Imago Dei", the image of God. The Christian faith proclaims that our bodies will be raised from the dead! We will live in a new heaven and new earth.
In an insightful document entitled "Toward a pastoral Approach to Culture", the Pontifical Council for Culture (A Vatican Missions Council) speaks to the challenges faced in efforts geared toward the evangelization of cultures:
"From the time the Gospel was first preached, the Church has known the process of encounter and engagement with cultures, (Fides et ratio n.70), for it is one of the properties of the human person, that he can achieve true and full humanity, only by means of culture (Gaudium et Spes, n. 53).
In this way, the Good News, which is Christ's Gospel for all men and the whole human person, both child and parent of the culture in which they are immersed, (Fides et ratio, n.71), reaches them in their own culture, which absorbs their manner of living the faith and is in turn gradually shaped by it.
Today as the Gospel gradually comes into contact with cultural worlds, which once lay beyond Christian influence, there are new tasks of inculturation (Ibid. 72). At the same time, some traditionally Christian cultures, or cultures imbued with thousand-year-old religious traditions are being shattered.
Thus, it is not only a question of grafting the faith onto these cultures, but of revitalizing a de-Christianized world whose only Christian references are of a cultural nature. On the threshold of the third Millennium, the Church throughout the world is faced with new cultural situations, new fields of evangelization"
This lengthy excerpt from this theologically dense document sets the framework for the task that we face in our missionary work in a de-Christianized America.
It has been my experience that those involved in the task of evangelization often fail to see the depth of the loss of even an echo of Christian influence in America.The current morasse surrounding the area of human sexuality is only one more bad fruit of this corruption and loss.
Some Christians face all of this and pine for the past, others fear the future. Neither response is the proper one. Rather, what is needed is revealed in the now popular phrase coined again by John Paul II, a "New Evangelization."
In his apostolic letter "The Light Of The East" John Paul synthesizes his wonderful theology of the body:
"Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who Himself took a body for the world's salvation.... With the rejection of all dualism and every cult of pleasure as an end in itself, the body becomes a place made luminous by grace and thus fully human." (n.11)
The modern age is actually pagan. It offers a counterfeit promise of freedom and an anthropology at odds with a Christian view of life. It is also dualistic. Though it promises liberation it actually promotes slavery to unbridled passion. In it's misguided sensuality it has lost the sense of the beauty and dignity of the human person in his/her fullness as a "body person."
We do not "have a body"- we are a body. The truth of the Christian revelation is that we will one day have resurrected bodies!We are en-souled bodies or em-bodied souls. The two cannot and must not be separated.
The body is not evil. It is beautiful! It is a part of how we image the God who created us! The mystery and marvel of the Incarnation is that God the Son took a Body and is at the right hand of the Father even now in a resurrected Body!
Once again, the giant in Peter's chair has done us a great service by re-presenting a classical Christian view of the body right at a critical time in history where the human race is being led into new forms of old heresies regarding the body and the entirety of creation.
Our bodies do talk.
They express not only who we are and who God is, but they are the vehicle through which we speak the language of love.The pinnacle of that expression is the conjugal love at the heart of married love.
The mystery and the marvel of an authentic Christian view of the body will be our subject of exploration as we embark upon regular discussions in "Body Talk".
This article begins a periodic series that will break open the inspired material given by John Paul II in his now famous "Wednesday Catechesis" on the subject.
Part of the blame for the confusion found in lyrics of this song, and in the culture which it reflects, lies at the feet of a Christian Church that has itself lost the biblical view of the beauty and dignity of the entire human person and the human body.
Unfortunately the Manichean impulse runs deep.
It is time for a theology of the body that acknowledges the plan of God in creating us in His image. It is time to rediscover that the body does talk.
What we were created to speak through our body is the language of self giving love.
Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier, a deacon of the Church, is the founder and president of "Common Good", and a constitutional lawyer. Long active in political participation, Fournier was a founder of Catholic Alliance and served as its first President. With Michael Galloway, founder of Catholic Online, he serves as a Co-Director of "Your Catholic Voice."
He is a pro-life and pro-family lobbyist. He was the first Executive Director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice). He also served as an advisor to the presidential campaign of Steve Forbes. Fournier holds a Bachelors degree (B.A.) from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Philosophy and Theology, a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) from St. Thomas University.
Fournier served as a Dean at Franciscan University of Steubenville and has served on Boards of Catholic secondary and higher institutions. He has also taught law. Fournier is the author of seven books on issues concerning life, faith, evangelization, ecumenism, family, political participation, public policy and cultural issues.
http://www.commongoodonline.com VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Founder/Deacon, 757 546-9580
Our Bodies Talk
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