Saturday, March 13, 2010

TOB Explained: Prologue

Tackling the Theology of the Body is no small task. This is one heckuva dense text. Pope John Paul II was a world class philosopher and his writing style is not as linear as I would prefer. He spirals concepts throughout his Wednesday Audiences which makes this quite a difficult read. I don't know, maybe it's just me. So as a result, this time, I have enlisted the help of Christopher West's commentary: Theology of the Body Explained. West wrote this commentary with the intention for it to stand alone. I haven't finished the prologue and I'm already blown away. The fact that he takes such a difficult text and popularizes it may cause this theological time bomb to go off sooner than later.

Today's problem is not that people overvalue the body. They don't value it enough. The ancient heresy of Manichaeism has reared it head in the form of Cartesian Dualism which pits the body and spirit against each other. This belief has even found its way into the Church. This dualism causes people to abandon the belief that the spirit gives life to the body and the body receives it's life from the spirit. As a result, Man ceases to live as a person and subject but becomes an object. This has led to human sexuality being regarded as something to be exploited and manipulated rather than the same source of wonder that caused Adam to proclaim, "this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." (Gen 2:23)

When the body is objectified, a person is no longer a "he" or a "she" but an "it." When we begin to understand that the material makes visible the invisible we can see the body in a new light. We begin to understand that a human person doesn't have a body, but a human person is a body. If only we can truly come to grasp this mystery.