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Invisible Grief? Theological Reflections on Miscarriage


It is the hard work of mothering always to remember. —Walter Brueggemann   About six minutes into what will become a ninety-minute conversation, the woman on the other side of the kitchen table begins to cry. As I fight—and fail—to hold back my own tears, I am struck that so far in my research, I’m five for five in reducing these women, some of them strangers to me,... Read More

You Should Give a Shit


Shit and what you do with it is like an ecological Rorschach test—how we treat it tells us whether we are in a society of waste or a society of flourishing.1 Shit, more than food, is the stuff that ties us into the network of nutrients that make up the ecosystem in which we live. And yet we deny shit. We flush it away, treat it, and dispose of it like trash. In doing so, we turn... Read More

Seeking the Perfect Body: Christian Acceptance of Genetic Enhancement


The genetic engineering of human beings, for so long relegated to the realm of fiction, creeps ever closer to reality, and the closer it gets, the more pressing it becomes for Christian theology to address it. The term genetic engineering could refer to a wide variety of practices, but my comments in this essay will mainly address gene transfer, the direct alteration of an individual’s... Read More

Embodiment Takes Practice: The Neurological Necessity of Counter-Practices in Transforming Culture

Axons firing in a neural cell

Before it was in vogue, theologian James Wm. McClendon Jr. wrote about the importance of the body, indeed the entire organic world, to any truly holistic and coherent theological program. According to McClendon, any adequate and faithful account of Christian ethics will necessarily contain three distinct but interpenetrating strands: a body strand, a social strand, and a resurrection... Read More

Naked and Ashamed: Women and Evangelical Purity Culture


Throughout its history, the church has had a complicated relationship with the body, fraught with ambiguity and contradiction.1 The body has been seen as both a vessel for salvation and a barrier to salvation, and sometimes those positions have been held simultaneously. In the book Introducing Body Theology, Elizabeth Stuart discusses the evolution of a wide range of body theologies... Read More

Nativity: Embodiment of Future and Faith


Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present, as if they were taking something away from our lives. Children are seen as a liability rather than as a source of hope. —Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI   One well-worn critique of Christianity is that it dwells in the realm of the abstract, concerned with ephemeral spirituality and the salvation of the incorporeal... Read More

A Christian Vagina Monologue


But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. —1 Timothy 2:12–15 KJV The body’s grace itself... Read More

Soulful Resistance: Theological Body Knowledge on Tennessee’s Death Row (Part Two)


Editor’s Note: Part One of this essay was published earlier this week. Theological Anthropology on Death Row Because particular conceptions of the body and the soul have long been encoded in the development of the prison system, and because on death row one’s body is always already outside one’s control, I also asked my interviewees about the theological concepts that... Read More

Soulful Resistance: Theological Body Knowledge on Tennessee’s Death Row (Part One)


In his search for the truth beyond all doubt, the seventeenth-century philosopher René Descartes posited that the fundamental source and constitution of human personhood is the thinking mind, not the body: cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am. Descartes argued that “I am really distinct from my body, and can exist without it.”1 But bodies, too, are fundamental to personhood.... Read More

The Problem of Gay Friendship


Rounding the bend in the road from the village of Thirsk in North Yorkshire, your first glimpse of Rievaulx Abbey will take your breath away. One minute you’re on a backcountry lane, charmed by the gentle slopes and the green of the farmlands but unprepared for the sudden sight of gray stone walls and arches. The next minute you’re staring at an eleventh-century Cistercian ruin,... Read More