Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earthen Vessels

Earthen Vessels; Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith, by Mathew Lee Anderson

Matt Anderson has done an excellent job of introducing a less thought about aspect of anthropology, the human body. Although this is only a 231 page work, his notes on each chapter has been a fertile ground for me to add to my reading list. This subject is rich and full in its applications for the Christian and the Church. I will predict that this work will not be his last on this subject and that this little book may just cause some paradigm shifts. I know it has challenged me on many levels. If you are a Christian leader you need to read this book.

Chapter Outline:
  1. Earthen Vessels
  2. Evangelical Inattention an the Secular Body
  3. What is the Body
  4. The Body Toward Others
  5. The Body as Shaped by the World
  6. Tattoos and the Meaning of Our Bodies
  7. The Body and It's Pleasure
  8. Homosexuality an the Christian Body
  9. The Mortal Body
  10. Spiritual Disciplines: The Body Shaped by Grace and Gratitude
  11. The Body and the Church

Quotes that I particularly liked:

pg 31 This is the paradox of the body: The body is a temple, but the temple is in ruins. The incarnation of Jesus affirms the body's original goodness. The death of Jesus reminds us of the need for redemption. And the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for it's restoration.

pg 66 In other words, when our original parents sinned, they did not simply destroy our relationship with God, with each other, and with the creation around us. They also destroyed our integrity as human persons so that our internal and external no longer work in harmony.

pg 69 An embodied theology is a theology that acknowledges the radical uniqueness of Christmas, the cross, and Easter. Only there did the on who transcends creation enter it, die for us, and rise again. But in taking the form of a human, Jesus opened the possibility of redemption for everyone and established the pattern for human flourishing. He is not only the revelation of God to us, but the revelation of man to us.

pg 74 Tyler Wigg Stevenson sums up consumerism: "We buy to be; we are what we buy; we are what we consume." (see also Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age by Tyler Wigg Stevenson)

pg 80 For our creation care to be authentically creation care, we must respect the biblical order of keeping humanity at the center. Because of the incarnation, our ecology flows from our theological anthropology--and not the other way around.

pg 82 The body is the seat of our personal presence, which means it has an inherent dignity from the moment of conception by virtue of being a human body.

pg 131 The new testament's basic contention is that our human flourishing is not found in marriages or the natural families that they inaugurate, but in bearing each others burdens in love within the church. (Matt 10:34-39 & ch 19) The only alternative is to minimize the humanity of Jesus by treating his celibacy as an aberration rather than a possibility for our lives.

pg 149 The basic irrelevance to the biological dimension to the question of our formation should also be noted. In fact, the push to find a "gay gene" represents the moral schizophrenia of the scientific establishment. On the one hand, the slim evidence for a genetic basis for same-sex attraction is put forward as evidence that it is normal. On the other hand, the slim evidence for a genetic basis for alcoholism is put forward to find therapy to change it.

pg 192 The body is a social reality, Which means there is no such thing as a spiritual discipline that does not transform our relationships. When we present our bodies to God we begin to discern the ways in which we have trained them to damage others.

pg 203 Many of our prayers --extemporaneous or otherwise-- are grounded in an anxiety that we are not being heard, which manifests itself through repeating the same thing over and over.

pg 227 I've dubbed the phenomenon "Anderson's Law": the volume of the worship band is inversely proportional to the volume and vitality of the congregational worship.

pg 227 The body of the Christian belongs in the body of Christ. The reality of the hiddenness of our life in Christ is a social reality, for it knits our lives together with those who have been called out of the darkness into the kingdom of Christ's glorious light. The invisible working of the Spirit in us takes a visible form in the life of the Church.