Monday, April 29, 2013

Natural Bodies

That the following is more provocative, not to mention truer than secular, Butlerian gender theory goes without saying.  What makes it especially noteworthy is that it is more interesting than most serious theological reflection on the body I've come across as well.
Tim Hawkinson, Totem, 2004
The body of the historical Jew from Nazareth, born of the virgin, crucified and buried, is a natural body. The body of that same one, raised by the Father and Spirit, materially continuous with and materially transformed beyond the body that was crucified, is a natural body.  The Church - body and bride of this same crucified and risen one - composed of men's bodies and women's bodies, is a natural body.  The body offered on the table of that Church, broken and consumed, is a natural body.  These sentences describe the body of Jesus Christ as he has granted us access, availability, to it, and these sentences must then be the starting point for our understanding of the nature of bodies.  We do not begin with out bodies as we think we know them - in the bed, in the chair, at the table, in the grave - and then proclaim that the ecclesial body, the Eucharistic body, the resurrected body must only be bodies metaphorically as they do not correspond to the way we usually understand our own bodies.

God's revelation to humanity is given to the senses, given in the body of Christ.  So, we begin instead with the access the Spirit has granted us to the body of the Son and accept that here we encounter the natural body.  Only then can we invoke nature with proper care (Marks of His Wounds, p. 100).
Orthodox Christian reflection on the body, at least as expressed by my colleague Beth Felker Jones, makes body-bending artists like Tim Hawkinson look comparatively tame.