|Stanley Spencer, "The Last Supper"|
If you go here, you'll find a video summary of my participation in Tyndale's "Faith Talk lectures in Christian Spirituality." You'll also find podcasts for each talk. For what it's worth, it was fun to be back in Canada.
In a series of entries, I'll post summaries of each talk. In this entry I've included a précis of my first talk: "The Spirit of the Matter: The Holy Spirit and the Making and Remaking of our Bodies."
Tomorrow our conference begins in earnest and I'm excited to see what God will bring about in his kindness to us.
Oh, and today is my dad's birthday. Happy 71st, dad! You don't look a day over 48. I hope Germany is treating you well right now. A shout-out from the fourth floor of the Perkins Library.
THE SPIRIT OF THE MATTER
… Good friends, I tell you nothing new when I say that we live in a world of imperfect and broken bodies. You know this. I know this. And we each make the best of it, though we often perhaps find ourselves making the worst of it.
Like John Candy, the painful feeling that we might not be loved because of our body leads us to playfully pretend it does not matter. It leads us, that is, to minimize our broken bodies. In other cases, like my friend Mark, the knowledge that no remedy exists for our physical suffering often leads to a secret wish to die. It leads us, that is, to reject our bodies.
Minimizing and rejecting: this is what humans have been doing with bodies since the fall.
Christians, it must be said, haven’t fared much better in their responses to the physical body. At the extreme we have devolved to heretical views: Marcionite and gnostic, for starters.
At a less extreme level, we have enlisted the services of the Holy Spirit to argue for the superiority of the immaterial realm over the material one. We have believed that the Spirit is responsible for “spirit” work but not exactly for “material” work, and we have fretted about our too too sullied fleshy bodies and perhaps wished we could be disembodied spirits instead; or at least Brangelina.
So the focused question I wish to pose in this talk is the following: Have we in fact read the Holy Spirit rightly here? Is “spiritual” work necessarily opposed to “material” work? Might there be a better way to perceive the Spirit’s relation to our physical bodies than perhaps is often done? And what might the arts offer to this question?
My answer: The Holy Spirit has everything to do with our bodies. When you think Holy Spirit, think physicality, think corporeality, and you’ll be thinking biblically. If we’re going to view the Spirit in the light of Christ (which I believe we should), then we’re not looking at an escape from materiality, we’re looking at the preservation, healing and liberation of the material creation so that it can be what the Triune God has eternally purposed for it.
And what do the arts do? Among other things, they come along and deepen our embodied experience of life.
|Happy Birthday, dad!|