Conversatio Divina

Conversations Journal Spring 2011

Conversations 9.1: Spirituality and the Body

I don’t recall the other titles we tossed around for this issue on the body. I can imagine witty comments from a few colleagues on the editorial team, perhaps something like, “What Does the Bible say about Botox?” and it makes me wish that we were all still gathered around a table collaborating on this work.  “Spirituality and the Body” certainly covers the topic for which the editors and authors sought to provide content. But, as I’ve re-read this issue a decade later, I feel as if we just scratched the surface of this extensive subject. I suppose that’s the case with any enriching conversation . . . it leaves you curious about what you know, and longing for more. And this issue of Conversations, will do just that!

With his inviting style, Gary W. Moon opened the issue by reminding readers just how vital a proper theology of the body is.

Perhaps it is this apparent bifurcation that has caused so many Christians throughout the centuries to adopt Plato’s body/soul dualism. Indeed, in Gnosticism both past and present, the chasm between dust and light may be dug so deep that the ultimate end of all being is thought to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter.

But all such dualism, be it subtle or exaggerated, stands in stark contrast to the unitive, mind-bending teachings found throughout the Bible.

This issue of Conversations was put together to provide you with the opportunity to take a serious look at the chasm of dualism—and the implications for a more unitive view of the body and soul. You’ll find essays on fasting and feasting, and even how engaging in a physical activity that you enjoy can become a spiritual practice. Some of the writers you’ll hear from on this topic include regular contributors Ruth Haley Barton and Michael Glerup. David G. Benner and Gary Moon engaged in a discussion on Soulful Spirituality. Scot McKnight contributed a thoughtful essay on fasting—and how a resistance to do so might reveal a disconnection from one’s body. And in Life Together, Tara Owens writes about the disconnection between sexuality and spirituality that is so common in Christian circles. Juliet Benner offers an engaging interview on her book which is a collection of reflections on classical art and Biblical texts.  Robert Morris writes with passion about reclaiming the body in prayer. In Classical Spiritual Exercises, Nathan Foster takes us on a poetically described bicycle trip through the seasons of a year, while Christian George walks us through a labyrinth as a “discipline of sole and soul.”  We hope these words will challenge and inspire your view of your own body and leave you longing for a deeper connection with yourself, others, and the Divine Creator.

The classroom experience this time is an in-depth look at Marilyn Chandler McEntyre’s article “Love your Hands: Care for the Body as Sacred Task.” She discusses how caring for one’s body is a sacred act, inseparable from the care of the soul. You’re invited to read this article and use the discussion questions provided for an individual or group engagement with the topic.

See class here.