Category Archives: Creation Care

Eve Ensler: Suddenly, my body

Today I’d like to share with you the beautiful, honest story Eve Ensler shares of her journey with her body.  (Fair warning, you’ll hear the words vagina and rape.)

Poet, writer, activist Eve Ensler lived in her head. In this powerful talk from TEDWomen, she talks about her lifelong disconnection from her body — and how two shocking events helped her to connect with the reality, the physicality of being human.

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Saturday Sex-versations

My computer crashed this week, and I lost most of the interesting and well-written articles I had pulled for all you lovely readers this week.  I included below the ones I could recover, but I’m afraid the list is a little short this week.  To compensate, share your favorite conversation-starter article from this past week in the comment boxes and include the link so we can all benefit and stay informed together.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Fierceness of God In addition to expressing the nature of God’s protection over us, it also sheds light on the imago dei in women. Although men are traditionally construed as the “protectors,” I think we all know how fierce women can get with their children.

2) Are You There, World? It’s Me, Tina. Without Makeup. In a moment of pure insanity I thought, if my beautiful friend Claire can be honest about how many times she has weighed herself, I can be honest about what I look like without makeup.

3) Letter against gay marriage to be read in every Catholic church this Sunday The letter…restates the anti-gay-marriage campaign’s argument that “neither the Church nor the State has the power to change [the] fundamental understanding of marriage itself”.

4) Fit, not skinny I’ve decided to love my body no matter what the scale says.

5) Relationship Myth #2: If I Have to Tell My Partner My Needs… It is from this vulnerable place that we start to form the distorted thought, “If I have to share my needs, it doesn’t count because he/she should know me well enough to just know them.”

6) Rush Limbaugh and three evangelical blind spots Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Loose All female sins can be reduced to same one: a refusal to allow men to define and control female sexuality.

2) My Take: New TV series ‘GCB’ portrays Christians as caricatures Still, “GCB” challenges every Christian – including me – to consider our own faith journey and if our talk really matches our walk.

3) What the Hunger Games Taught Me (and the Church Should Have) About Men In our culture, men are given license to satisfy their desires for pleasure by using women, just as women are given license to seek pleasure in pampering themselves. This message carries way beyond Christian teachers—it’s everywhere.

4) Gender Disparity in the Clergy: Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling Let us capitalize on this national moment of frustration and revelation and commit to concrete action in promoting women as religious thought leaders in our faiths, culture and society.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) Foundations in Community–Part 1 The geese know that their best chance of survival is to travel in flocks, yet value the individual goose enough that they will not simply abandon them in crisis.  We could learn a lot from these geese.

2) Femsculine Christianity As we learn more about God, we can live out a Christianity that is both uncompromisingly feminine and genuinely masculine.

3) Brew Pubs, Putting Down Roots, and What the Incarnation Means for Local Living A local gospel must be important for a God who entered our physical space, Emmanuel, to dwell with us.

4) Does Suburbia Hurt Christianity? Community is spread out. It occurs irregularly at appointed places such as schools, churches and athletic facilities that are miles apart. It offers little in the way of unifying cultural and civic institutions because there is no commitment to a place … because there is no “place.”

5) the underground railroad when we choose the path of leaving systems & structures that continue to keep us in bondage, we choose a lonelier, scarier road.

6) The Torah and Making Sacred Spaces Confronted repeatedly by frailty, isolation, mortality, and error, we find strength and solace in community and the achievement that community makes possible.

7) Down We Go: Practicing Equality Jesus broke down barriers of inequality. Now we need to play our part in it as well. Equality crosses more than just gender.

8) Taking Root: Creating The church recognized that because God’s attribute of creativity is so important and because people are made in His image, it is essential for humans to create. It’s a part of who we are.

9) The Myth of Religious Superiority [Y]et another group thinks Christianity is one way of salvation, a true way, but there are other ways too (pluralism).

10) Women: The Church’s Most Wasted Resource But for many women (particularly wives and mothers), leaving doesn’t mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present. Women often do this because they want their husbands and children to grow spiritually.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) What the “After-birth Abortion” and “Personhood” Debates Have in Common “Merely being human,” they claim, “is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

2) Let’s Retire the Term “Slut” The term hurts women. Men use it to hurt women. Women use it to hurt women. We think it’s time to stop using it.

3) Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh: Let’s Retire the Word “Slut” [M]ost people — women and men — who call women prostitutes, whores, or sluts don’t do so because they think that’s the truth. They do it to defame, demean, and shame. They do it to keep women quiet and to keep women cautious in speaking about their own sexuality….

4) ‘Dawn of a new hope’ for whom? Systemic violence and impunity plague women in Ivory Coast “Women have a lower status than men, even though the constitution recognizes women’s equal rights. Domestic violence is very accepted as a way of educating and controlling women. Sexual violence is then possible because we don’t see women as protected and supported by the general community.”

5) Compassion in the Everyday Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially those who have the spotlight; reach out to those around you, wherever you are, and you will start to see your impact.

6) The best and worst places to be a woman 1) Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Saturday Sex-versations

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Story Is Everything How does kingdom of God reshape the story of sex? How does new creation plot sex in its story?

2) Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed “In truth, few of us are up to the task of effectively teaching our kids ourselves the things they need to know about sex.”

3) Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice [of yoga] can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

4) Why (and How) Abortion Should Be Talked about in Church Churches that speak of abortion without acknowledging that many women have experienced it as an injustice, not as a choice, drive women deeper into their pain rather than set them free from the captivity where they are both bound and gagged.

5) How Old Should You Be to Marry? It’s not just about meeting the right person, but it’s also about their personal maturity.

6) Aw, Hey, Fella Aw, hey, fella–/Whatcha gonna do/When a pretty lady’s/Not ashamed of what she’s got?/Better let her know/Just what nasty names you’re thinkin’/‘Cause it’s so much easier/Than changing whatcha think.

7) Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? The church needs to re-evaluate its relationship with singles, especially in light of the increasing numbers of unmarried adults.

8) Breastfeeding in Church, and Other Petty Crimes Breastfeeding is itself a work of art wrought by the Greatest Artist.

9) Day 13: Seek Intimacy Now Do I find it easier to be loved by God because someone else has said that the body I was created with is beautiful?

10) Birth Control: Burden or Blessing? This decision was meant to be hard—God meant it to be hard. He wants us to contemplate life with the utmost care and caution. He wants us to deeply consider the potential for life that we carry around in our bodies.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Women & Social Media Women are moving from passive purchasers to online authorities and tastemakers.

2) America’s Top Magazines: Still Not Hiring Women Do we really have to educate editors that women can bring new perspectives on major stories, and not just to stories about living as a single woman or going through a divorce?

3) Gender bias in books journalism remains acute, research shows Vida is instead trying to support women writers throughout their careers, and attempting to encourage people to examine their own biases.

4) Dear Oscar: Women Have Stories, Too When girls grow up seeing story after story that tells them they are sex objects, accessories or victims, they will learn that to be a “woman” is to play one of those three roles.

5) O Women, Where Art Thou? Certainly, something like a feminist intersectional analysis is rarely performed in the boardrooms and cafes of the Los Angeles film industry.

6) The Hidden Damage of Eating Disorders This inadequacy is due to the lie that resides beneath our cultural over-emphasis on physical beauty: “The only thing that is truly important or valuable about your identity is your appearance.”

7) People for the Ethical Treatment of Anyone but Women PETA’s use of nudity and sexuality has long been criticized as being exploitative of women, but many feminists say the new campaign crosses a line by trivializing domestic and sexual violence, further injuring an already-fragile demographic.

8) Why Do Only Women Whine? By stating that determined women are “whiners” their opinions instantly lose credibility in a distinctly sexist way.

9) you is smart. you is kind. you is important. the messages passed on to many of us through our families, relationships, and some of our church experiences are more like: “you’re somehow not enough.”

10) Does “The Help” Hurt? It is all too easy to accept caricaturizations of others that affirms our sense of justice while never addressing the inherent assumptions that come from living in a culture that is still largely “white normative”.

11) 3 Lessons Every Writer, Speaker, Blogger, and Musician Can Learn from Led Zeppelin Sometimes staying true to your art grabs the multitudes. But more often it does not. Staying true to yourself and faithful to your calling should always be the goal.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) This Easter Season, Remember: Church Growth is About More Than ‘The Marrieds’ These latest reports about childbirth and marriage suddenly show us that our typical evangelism efforts in churches are aiming at less than half of our nation’s population.

2) “I’m Dad, the Babysitter,” and Other Cultural Myths Dads are parents, not babysitters.

3) Tell Your Story, Tell It Well The church, if it wishes to speak into the culture around it, must regain its ability to tell testimonies. It must read its history and learn to tell its individual stories, and to tell them well, so that hearers hungry for a roadmap might find it in us.

4) More Than Enchanting: A Q&A with Jo Saxton I hope it changes the minds of women who have given up on God, their call on the church because of how difficult it’s been for them. I hope it changes the minds of those who have felt too inadequate to respond to God’s call.

5) Helen Lee: On Not Playing It Safe I still struggle with moments in which I distrust myself, in which I doubt myself, in which I would rather disappear into the background rather than put myself and my ideas forward into the public arena.

6) Reading the Magnificat During Lent [B]ut our faith is not something that concerns just us. We exist as a body and as members of the body of Christ the disciplines we engage in should always work towards the good of that body.

7) Resisting a Segregated Church Except for church, my life was one of post-Civil Rights integration.

8) Good Girls Never Change the World: Part 2 Esther more closely resembles the monarchs favourite prostitute than she does his married-in-a-church-before-God-and-all-our-friends-in-a-white-dress wife.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) Earth Care as Lenten Practice If fashioned from the earth, and blessed and called by God, how can we live into an awakened relationship with the earth?

2) Living Abundantly “We understand that we can’t think about food without referring to the narrative of creation and linking it with a deep understanding of how we have been created to be the bearers of the Spirit and part of the community of life on this planet, not its owners,” Claudio said.

3) Because Children Need a Defender For children suffering in silence…justice and healing may seem impossible. But they are not—not when there is a strong defender standing beside them in the fight for justice.

4) Finding a Home for Oklahoma’s Orphans While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, every follower of Christ is called to bring justice to orphans and can do something to change the outcome for these kids.

5) Criminalizing Homelessness? Fallout feared from anti-Occupy bill “It’s criminalizing the right to exist as a human being. It’s outlawing homelessness.”

6) Desmond Tutu: Tackling Child Marriage in India One of the most common features of all these women is that they are educated, but has it reduced their worth? No, their worth has been enhanced.

7) One Small Wardrobe, One Huge Cause “I’m using my body and what I wear to represent these women. I feel like they can’t speak.”

8) Black Evangelicals, White Evangelicals, and Franklin Graham’s Repentence They see those 2,000 scriptures about poverty and injustice. And this new generation of white evangelicals is committed to fight systemic and structural justice because of the Gospel.

9) Feeling a Sacred Trust But the idea that we are separate from our world is a dangerous delusion. Every breath of oxygen we take was first exhaled by a leaf. No animal, even us, can be safer or healthier than its habitat.

10) Altering Clothes, and Lives, with Design “You have these smart students who care about the community, the planet and using recycled materials, and we have these people here in Detroit who really want to work and need money.”

11) Picturing the hands of Christ I touch people on their hands and feet and bodies to be a reminder to them that they are not alone when they are ill or dying, especially when they are dying. It is a holy moment to be with people in death.

12) Our Hands Tell Our Stories We receive the body of Christ in upturned hands every time we kneel at the altar. And as we kneel and wait, our hands, so unique and revealing about our lives, are made equal.

A Confession and an Open Door

Any assault, manipulation, depersonalization of our earth is even more destructive to our humanity than is the depersonalization of our own bodies. – Wuellner, Prayer and Our Bodies

I have a confession to make.  I’m not a very good activist.  I’m not politically-minded, and I don’t enjoy creating or participating in demonstrations or rallies.  I believe that issues of social justice and creation care are important and that, as a Christian, I should work for them.  But I’m not good at it.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to explore Wuellner’s book with all of you, and I’ve enjoyed and resonated with every chapter…except this one.

Chapter 9: Prayer for the Body of the Earth

As she did in Chapter 8 with the human body and embodied community, Wuellner draws parallels between the human body and what she calls “the body of the earth.”  She writes, “Our earth body, with its atmosphere, its water, its soil, its shrubs, trees, grass, animal life, is as much a bodily self as we are.”

Wuellner suggests that, as we often do with our own bodies, humankind has treated the earth with disdain and disgust: “At best, we have taken it for granted, used it, manipulated it.  At worst, we have assaulted it, ravaged it, and, for immediate gain, destroyed many forms of its life with careless unconcern, poisoning its air, water, and soil.”

That sounds like a social activist‘s speech, doesn’t it?  Next, we expect to hear some pithy catchphrase like “Save the Whales.”

But Wuellner takes a different tactic.  As a professor, ordained minister, and trained spiritual director, Wuellner is much less interested in taking up The Cause and much more interested in a holistic discussion of bodily prayer–one that includes prayer for the earth that Genesis tells us God gave into our hands to maintain.

In fact, Wuellner suggests that part of the empowerment we feel when we experience healing is a desire toward creation care: “As we relate anew to our bodily selves, we begin to feel an urgency to relate anew to the body of our earth.”  She takes a step further to suggest that the “earth itself, even as our bodies, needs our healing and prayer as much as we need its healing and prayer.”

Wuellner takes care to remind her readers that concern with the well-being of the earth is not a new concept in Christian history and theology.  She quotes a reflection from Hildegard of Bingen:

Does not humanity know that God
is the world’s creator?

With nature’s help,
humankind can set into creation
all that is necessary and life sustaining.

An Open Door

Are you an advocate for social justice and creation care?  Would you like to share your experience?  I’d like to establish an open door, through which any of you lovely readers are welcome to step by way of writing a guest post that explores the service aspect of body theology.  This is a standing offer, at least for the time being.  If you’re interested, please send me your submission at  bodytheologyblog@gmail.com.

Not ready for a guest post? Drop me a line in the comments below to share your story.

Saturday Sex-versations — A Series

Due to the interest in my recent Sex-versations posts (see here and here), I’ve decided to create an ongoing post series called Saturday Sex-versations.  These posts will provide similar links to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.  The purpose is to help us stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying about these issues so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions. I’ll post Saturday Sex-versations on Saturday mornings.

Here’s this week’s installment.  Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

1) Paul, Women, and New Creation In my experience, the number one reason people have issues with Paul is because of the passages regarding women’s roles in his letters…As some read Paul…he seems to be denying the very humanity and dignity of women – something that Jesus never did. (Be sure to read Julie’s eloquent response to JR Daniel Kirk’s comment on Jan 16th at the bottom of her post.)

2) Miss-Representation: How the Media Harms Both Women and Men In short, Newsom argues, it’s up to us – men and women alike – to take a stand…We need to find healthy ways for boys and men to express their emotions in ways that aren’t physically or psychologically harmful.

3) Body image concerns more men than women, research finds More men worry about their body shape and appearance – beer bellies, “man boobs” or going bald – than women do about how they look, according to research.

4) Peace is a Garden …[W]e, the sowers of peace, must continue to cultivate and grow peace in each of our homes, in our neighborhoods, in each of our souls, in each of our marriages, and families and all the relationships we attend to. It sounds small, but that’s just the way it is.

5) What Effect Is Social Media Having on Your Relationships? So what effect does all of this communication, without the sense of community, have on us? One could argue that it has resulted in a loss of authentic relationships and a loss of community.

6) Driscoll & Brierley on Women in Leadership Driscoll seems to think he’s got a real zinger. If a woman is pastor, who’s going to do all that important sex counseling that Driscoll seems so obsessed with? Faced with the rather obvious explanation that it’s the same in Brierley’s church as in his own (men counsel men and women counsel women) Driscoll insists that it’s still not as good because the men aren’t “in charge”.

7) Overcoming the Porn Problem The film’s most moving comments come, not surprisingly, from Lubben, but this one was perhaps the most powerful: “When people view porn, they are really watching mentally ill and physically diseased people having sex.” Puts quite a perspective on it.

8) The Sex Challenge Evangelicals Never Give (But Scripture Does) When was the last time you heard a pastor challenge a zealous young couple deeply passionate in their intimacy that they might mutually agree to take some time off for a season of prayer together? It makes me wonder: in our zeal to recover Biblical sexuality have we lost the balance of Scripture? What if prayer can do more for your marriage?

9) Resolve to Be Green in 2012 But, if we are going to treat this world, God’s good world, in a way that reflects the intentions of the Creator, then we ought to be willing to make small gestures of this sort.  Small acts can  become a drastic movement for change.

10) The Church Doesn’t Know How to Have Sex So, in reality, what occurs is that Sex has become God for the Church. It now defines ethics, defines relationships (i.e., men can’t be with men, no sex outside of marriage, and etc.). Just because its not spoken doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sex has become the forgotten whore that the Church does not know how to love.

11) The Gospel in an Abortionist Culture What we often forget is the second casualty of an abortion culture: the consciences of countless men and women.

12) The Best Christian Marriage Book You’ve Never Heard Of Instead of hard-and-fast statements about the One Best Biblical Way to Do Relationships, the Petersons offer a gentle, reasoned approach that allows room for Christian singles and couples to discover, within the context of faith, what works best in their own unique relationships.

13) From Woman in Ministry to Woman Who Ministers The truth is, the women who ministered to my own wanting soul weren’t “women in ministry” at all. They were good neighbors and generous friends.

What is Body Theology?

Body theology is traditionally used to refer to body image and sexuality; however, I believe a true body theology is much more holistic, involving not only what we look like (physicality) but who we are as human beings (identity) and what we do with our bodies (community and service).

Holistic body theology is four-fold: sexuality/physicality, cultural discernment/media literacy, community, and service. Topics covered on this blog will stem from one of these categories, always with the underlying principle belief that our bodies were made good and, though corrupted by the fall, have been redeemed through Christ.

Holistic body theology, then, is based on the incarnation of Christ: God took on flesh, not merely the appearance of flesh; God lived and suffered and died—and rose again!—in the actual, fleshly sense. Likewise, we are both corporeal (bodily) and spiritual beings.  My goal is to encourage Christians to realize our true identity in Christ, free ourselves from bondage to the lies that can be perpetuated through culture, and be empowered to enter into the redemption Christ offers both for our bodies and how we use them in the world. I believe that as we grow in knowledge and discernment, we can redeem both the way we see ourselves and the way we interact with culture–and enjoy living in freedom in the space where the sacred and secular blur into messy, surprising beauty.

Come join me on this journey toward healthy, holy living.

Image: farconville / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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