In our Table Talk on “Incarnation and Embodiment”, Liz Hall and Erik Thoennes address a central aspect of Christian anthropology—the fact that we are embodied creatures
To view the videos of the presentation, click here:
Our embodiment is hardly surprising since we worship the Creator of a physical world and a God who became incarnate within human flesh. But despite these validations of our physicality, it seems Christians have never been quite at ease with our physical bodies. All too often we have drifted toward an ascetic denial of the body and a suspicion of the flesh that would be more appropriate for Gnosticism than orthodox Christianity.
Our culture is equally confounded by the body. We spend over 30 billion dollars a year on diets, but all too often that money is spent not by those who are obese but those who are already thin—just not “thin enough”. And no matter how much we spend on dieting, the bottom line is that obesity is the greatest health crisis in modern America. In 2006, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at as much as $147 billion. 75 million adults are considered obese, a figure that accounts for almost 30% of the population. At the same time, we also have near epidemic levels of eating disoders. Whether obese, underweight, or somewhere in between, Americans dislike their bodies, objectifying and commodifying and altering them. We spent 11 billion dollars last year on cosmetic medical procedures—and this is not including the 19 billion dollars spent on cosmetics. These are just a few of the numbers that tells us that we are not at peace with our bodies.
This Table Talk, therefore, will help us understand how God would have us view our bodies and the implications of the divine perspective on how we should live as embodied souls in our contemporary world.
Some helpful resources:
Theological outline on the humanity of Christ: This outline includes the main material conveyed in Dr. Thoennes’ lecture. The version included here is much more complete than the outline handed out at the Table Talk lunch. (Table Talk handout)
Here are some helpful resources:
Baerveldt, C., & Voestermans, P. (1998). The body as a selfing device: The case of anorexia nervosa.” In H. Stam (Ed.), (pp. 72-ff). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Link
Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173-206. Link
Fredrickson, B. L., Roberts, T. A., Noll, S. M., Quinn, D. M., & Twenge, J. M. (1998). That swimsuit becomes you: Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 269-284. Link
Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ for Character, Health, and Lifelong Achievement. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.
Hall, M. E. L. (2010). What are bodies for?: An integrative examination of embodiment. Christian Scholar’s Review, 39(2), 159-176. Link
Hall, M. E. L., & Thoennes, E. (2006). At home in our bodies: Implications of the incarnation for embodiment. Christian Scholars Review, 36(1), 29-46. Link
Madison, G. B. The Phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1981.
Mellor, P.A., & Shilling, C. (1997). Re-forming the Body: Religion, Community and Modernity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Link