On the Eros of the Ecclesial Body

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Allow me to step back at this point, because in order to develop this argument in terms of Christology and ecclesiology, I need first to define the formation of a Christian 'enmattered soul', since discipleship implies a formation, a following, a disciplining such that the knowledge attained is a knowledge of Christ. In other words, if the 'enmattered soul'is determined by the body's negotiations with other bodies, then what is distinctive about this determination when those negotiations concern the body of Christ in the threefold sense in which the medievals understood that 'body': as the historical person ofJesus of Nazareth, as the eucharistic elements and as the Church?20 This is where we must return to those Greek and Latin Fathers who reflected upon the relationship between the physical and the spiritual senses and developed, thereby, a theological phenomenology of embodiment. Let us take a passage from Augustine's Confessions as illustrative:

But what do I love, O God, when I love thee? Not the beauty of a body nor the rhythm of moving time. Nor the splendour of the light, which is so dear

19 Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, tr. Rex Warner (London: Penguin, 1954), p. 149. See also Richard Sennett for an extended analysis of the relationship between the Greek polis, desire and nakedness in Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization (New York: Norton Paperback, 1996), pp. 31-67.

20 See Henri de Lubac, Corpus Mysticum: deuxième edition (Paris: Aubier, 1949), particularly 'Le "Corpus triforme" d'Amalaire et ses destinées', pp. 297-342.

to the eyes. Nor the sweet melodies in the world of sounds of all kinds. Nor the fragrance of flowers, balms and spices. Nor manna and not honey; not the bodily members which are so treasured by carnal embrace. None of this do I love when I love my God. And yet I do love a light and a sound and a fragrance and a delicacy and an embrace, when I love my God, who is light and sound and fragrance and delicacy and embrace to my interior man. There my soul receives a radiance that no space can grasp; there something resounds which no time can take away; there something gives a fragrance which no wind can dissipate; there something is savoured which no satiety can make bitter; there something is embraced which can occasion no ennui. This is what I love when I love my God.21

Arguments have been conducted about the nature of the relation between physical and spiritual sensing. Balthasar, commenting upon Rahner's account of the five spiritual senses in Origen, denies there is an utter distinction between the body and the soul such that 'both sensibilities [physical and spiritual] are thus, ontically as well as noetically, but different states [kata-staseis] of the one and only sensibility'.22 Sin creates a distinction; salvation is a training whereby the physical is transformed into the spiritual. Commenting subsequently upon Rahner's account of the spiritual senses in Bonaventure, Balthasar denies for Bonaventure that there is an ontic and noetic correspondence between the two sensibilities. Spiritual perception is brought about by grace such that 'the "spiritual senses" do not constitute a second higher faculty alongside the corporeal senses [as they do in Origen]'.23 In effect, Balthasar reverses the judgements of Rahner with respect to the two most important figures in the development of the notion of spiritual sensing. But on the account of the soul that I have outlined above, whether these two Church Fathers have been correctly interpreted or not, the corporeal senses affect movements of the soul; the world is not simply external, it is profoundly internalised. Any operations of grace work with this enmattered and embedded soul. This is how I would interpret the passage from Augustine, for what is evident here is the confluence between body and soul, the external world and interiority, and the two modes of

21 Confessions, X.6.

22 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. Volume I: Seeing the Form, tr. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1982), p. 369. He is discussing Karl Rahner, 'Le debut d'une doctrine des cinq sens spirituals chez Origene'in RAM, 13 (1932), pp. 113—45.

23 Ibid., p. 372. He is discussing Rahner's second article, 'La doctrine des "sens spirituel" au moyen-age, en particulier chez S. Bonaventure' in RAM, 14 (1933), pp. 263—99. For a detailed discussion of the spiritual senses within the Orthodox tradition and theologians between Origen and Bonaventure, see B. Fraigneau-Julien, Les Sens spirituels et la vision de Dieu selon Symeon le Nouveau Theologien (Paris: Beauchesne, 1985).

reception — from the world of the senses and from God. The structure of the writing performs a chiasmus rather than a dialectic. In a dialectic one set of statements is confounded by a second. Here one set of negative statements — 'not the' 'nor the', 'none' — passes over into a set of affirmative statements — 'there something is'. From apophasis we move to cataphasis; rather than (as in Pseudo-Dionysius) the opposite. Nor is what the body experiences negated — there is 'beauty' in a body, there is 'splendour' in light, there is 'sweetness' in melody and there is a 'treasure' in carnal embrace. These experiences are themselves good, only they just cannot accurately describe the nature of loving God, who Augustine has learnt over long years to understand is a spiritual not a material being. These experiences of the senses whereby the world is received by the body are translated as the soul receives them from God.

If the body's knowledge is erotic (as in affective), then such knowledge is not only relational, it is tactile. Aristotle observes: 'those living things that have touch also have desire' (414b6). The ensouled flesh comes to an understanding of itself through touch, through contact.24 Aristotle insists 'with the faculty of touch none of the other senses exists' (414b33) and 'in respect of touch [human beings are] accurate above all others. For this reason [we are] also the most intelligent of animals' (421a16). Aquinas's commentary here is important because of the manner in which the faculties of the senses are often hierarchised.

Yet it might seem that mental capacity corresponded rather to excellence of sight than of touch, for sight is the more spiritual sense, and reveals better the differences between things.25 Still, there are two reasons for maintaining that excellence of mind is proportionate to fineness of touch. In the first place touch is the basis of sensitivity as a whole; for obviously the organ of touch pervades the whole body, so that the organ of each of the other senses is also an organ of touch, and the sense of touch by itself constitutes a being as sensitive. Therefore, the finer one's sense of touch, the better, strictly speaking, is one's sensitive nature as a whole, and consequently the higher one's intellectual capacity. For a fine sensitivity is a disposition to a fine intelligence.26

24 For a comprehensive survey of touch in Aristotle see Cynthia Freeland, 'Aristotle on the Sense of Touch' in Nussbaum and Rorty eds., Essays on Aristotle's De Anima, pp. 227—48.

25 The priority of 'sight' as the most spiritual sense has a long history in Greek and Christian thought that concerns the nature of light. Sight is related to fire, whereas touch is related to the earth. Light is related to divine illumination and so, for Augustine, it is light that enables the soul to understand at all. It is the key to the intellectual grasp of what is given in the senses. (See De Genesi ad litteram, III.5—6.)

The second reason for the importance of touch is that 'fine touch is an effect of a good bodily constitution or temperament' such that 'those whose touch is delicate are so much the nobler and the more intelligent'.27 This is a very important comment because it ontologises touch. Touch operates at the juncture between the corporeal and the spiritual. It is more fundamental than sight, which is associated with the epistemological. In fact, we might infer from this that touch is our finest sensibility for apprehending the divine. It is the most immediate of our perceptions since 'touch alone seems to perceive through itself' (435a11). By this I do not imply that God can be directly touched or even directly apprehended. God is not corporeal. I merely suggest the possibility that our profoundest because most immediate understandings of what it is to be incarnate are intuited through touch: where, first, divine spiritual presence (and our participation in it) becomes inseparable from physical existence; and where, second, we are most affected (transformed) by such an intuition. Through touch there is contact, and through contact there is nourishment (or, if the contact is abusive, malnourishment) and nurturing (or violation). Either way, through touch there is movement within the soul such that the whole person is caught up in the circulations of desire — the desire of the other as well as that person's desire for the other.28 Aquinas calls this 'the mover moved'.29 The 'intuition' involved is not blind (in the Kantian sense of intuitions without concepts being blind). For since there are forms of desire in both the rational and irrational parts of the soul, according to Aristotle and Aquinas, and 'movement always ... involves imagination and desire' (432b13), then imagination and desire, touch and movement are related. 'Aristotle includes imagination under intellect', Aquinas observes.30 In fact, intellect and desire are the two forces of movement within the soul and, evidently, not entirely distinguishable because contin

27 Ibid., p. 153. For the theological importance of touch for Aquinas see John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, 'Truth and Touch' in Truth in Aquinas (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 60—87; for the theological implications of touch see John Milbank, 'The Soul of Reciprocity Part Two: Reciprocity Granted' in Modern Theology 17 (4), October (2001), pp. 485—507. See also Jean-Louis Chretien, 'Body and Touch', in his The Call and the Response, tr. Anne A. Davenport (New York: Fordham University Press, 2004), pp. 83-131.

28 See De Anima 433a9-443b21 on the faculty of desire as it relates to motion. Aquinas, in what constitutes a refutation of Lacan (and ZiZek), claims: 'It is absurd to say that desire is for the sake of desiring; desire is essentially a tendency to "the other"' (Commentary, p. 244).

29 Ibid., pp. 246-7: 'The mover moved is the desire itself; for whatever desires is moved inasmuch as it desires, desire itself being a certain act or movement in the sense that we give the term "movement" when we apply it to activities that are consequent upon actuality (prout motus est actus perfecti), such as sensing and understanding.' Later Aquinas outlines how this movement of desire is 'circular'.

30 Ibid.

ually crossed by the operations of the imagination.31 Contemplation requires images (432a3); so contemplation concerns movement, desire and an intuition that is imagined, imaged. 'The soul never thinks without an image' (431a8); and such thinking is inseparable from being affected physically, even if the intellect can distinguish itself from the flesh (and judge it) (429a29). If such intuition, contemplation, imagination, movement and desire require contact, depend upon touch, then the ensouled flesh is not monadic. It only realises itself in community; in political and erotic communities or ekklesia.

I want to suggest that such a construal of the enmattered soul and its desiring can be developed Christologically and ecclesiologically through an examination of the following passage from John's Gospel:

I am the living bread which comes down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh [sa»x]. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat [phagein]?' So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat [phagete] the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats [trogon] my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food [brosis] indeed [alethes estin] and my blood is drink indeed [alethes estin]. He who eats [trogon] of my flesh and drinks of my blood abides [menei] in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because [dia] of the Father, so he who eats [trogon] me will live because [di'] of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate [ephagon] and died; he who eats [trogon] of this bread will live for ever.' (John 6.51—9)32

31 Aquinas: '[I]ntellect only moves anything by virtue of appetition' (Commentary, p. 245); 'the final motive-force derives from the soul itself acting through the appetitve power' (ibid., p. 246).

32 This passage is the final section of what has been termed the 'Bread of Heaven' discourses. Commentary on it is manifold. Every aspect of its form, its linguistic structure, its editing has been argued over. That presents difficulties for any theologian wishing to use it — to read it — in a specific way. The literary approach to interpretation that I employ challenges redaction criticism. I am assuming then that this passage is not a later edition (Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, tr. G.R. Beasley-Murray, Oxford: Blackwell, 1971). I accept P. Borgen's argument for the unity of the discourse (Bread of Heaven, Supplements to Novum Testamentum, 10, Leiden: Brill, 1965), though not necessarily because of the 'homiletic pattern' he discerns there. A number of scholars have questioned Borgen's suggestions (see Uno Schnelle, Antidocetic Christology in the Gospel of John, tr. Linda M. Maloney (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1992), pp. 196—7 for a summary of these responses). If any redaction has taken place then there is no need to posit Bultmann's ecclesiastic figure. The unity of the chapter is the work of the Evangelist. We are concerned here with another aspect of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand (6.1—14) and the 'bread of life' discourse (6.35ff), where the strictly Christological presentation develops into that which is inseparable from it: ecclesiological considerations. I accept also what most of the commentators agree upon: that this exposition relates directly to the eucharist and stands in place of an institution narrative at the Last Supper (that John does not provide).

As the disciples are more than aware, 'This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?' But it is significant that they are already employing the word 'listen' in a complex overdetermined manner; a manner more in line with sensations as a movement of the soul. For to listen is not only to understand intellectually; as a mode of being in contact with, a mode of touch, it is to receive, accept, accommodate. The 'saying' here emphatically concerns two things: eating and flesh/blood. What makes this a hard saying is the way it evades being read either metaphorically or symbolically. Whether what we have here is the eucharistic language of the Johannine community or an anti-docetic polemic — or both — the sheer physicality of the language is striking. The eucharistic 'body' (soma) and 'blood'is now 'flesh' (sarx) and 'blood'.33 Commentators disagree strongly about the impact of this physicality. Bultmann believes the 'suggestion that people are horrified by Jesus's exhortation to anthropophagy ... can hardly be found in the text'.34 He believes the people are scandalised by the 'absurdity of Jesus's words' given that Jesus is still alive.35 But Brown points to the later charges of cannibalism brought against Christians and observes 'the Fourth Gospel makes no concession to Jewish sensibilities and insists stubbornly on the reality of the flesh and the blood'.36 The blood is blood, true blood (to aima ... alethes);37 the flesh is food, true food (brosis alethes). And the consumption moves from a general prescription (phageo) to the specific act of chewing or gnawing (trogo).38 Trogein is only found here and in 13.18 (another eucharistic allusion); elsewhere in the

33 I am aware that Bultmann (Commentary, p. 235), Brown (The Gospel According to St John), p. 285 and Borgen (Bread of Heaven, pp. 86—98) all agree the change here reflects a Syrian/Semitic usage, since there is no word in Hebrew or Aramaic for 'body' as we understand the term. There have been suggestions that John's Gospel was translated into Greek from an Aramaic original. Nevertheless all three agree that the physicality of the language is striking.

34 Bultmann, Commentary, p. 235.

36 Brown, The Gospel According to St John, p. 292.

37 Commentators differ on their interpretations of John's use of alethes rather than alethinos. The later word has a Platonic resonance — the heavenly reality as distinct from its natural one — whereas the former means much more 'genuine'. Hence Brown views 'Jesus [a]s insisting on the genuine value of his flesh and blood as food and drink' (The Gospel According to St John, p. 283). Barrett, The Gospel According to St John, seems to see both words as interchangeable and so here it is both genuinely blood and food and also fulfils a heavenly archetype (p. 299).

38 Bultmann: 'the offence is heightened in v. 54 by the substitution of the stronger trogein for phagein. It is a matter of real eating and not simply of some sort of spiritual participation' (p. 236). Brown agrees and see the change as part ofJohn's attempt to 'emphasize the realism' (p. 283). Barrett disagrees with both of them and views the two words as synonyms (see p. 283). For a longer examination of the issue, which still has not convinced all the scholars, see Ceslas Spicq, 'Trogein. Est-il synonyme de phagein et d'esthiein dans le Nouveau Testament?', New Testament Studies, 26 (1979—80), pp. 414-19.

Gospel John uses either phagein or esthiein. If anything is metaphorical or symbolic in this passage it is the bread.39 As 'living bread' related to God's own self as 'I am [who I am]' it transcends its most common reference in a way that runs contrary to the insistence upon the common reference of 'flesh'. I suggest that it is not so much that cannibalism is suggested here, but something even more unthinkable for the Jew: the flesh and blood of a human sacrifice. Several commentators note the deepening of the scandal when the drinking of blood is referred to — contrary to God's law (Leviticus 3.17 and Deuteronomy 12.23). It is not a lamb, a goat or a bull ritually slaughtered in the Temple precincts, but one made in the image and likeness of God — ha-adam, a man. Their response is visceral as they recoil in horror at a theological giving and an exchange beyond anything they could imagine. 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' they demand. In fact, after this saying many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with Jesus (John 6.66).

If we interpret the 'How' of the Jewish question — 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat' — not as a technical question ('in what way') but a hermeneutical question ('in what manner do we understand the offer of his flesh to eat'), we can further appreciate how the materiality of what Jesus is saying offends cultic rationality. What is suggested by this corporeal feeding is not simply absorption, and this is significant. There is an 'abiding' in Christ, but there is also an abiding of Christ (in the one who eats).40 This co-abiding is complex and richly suggestive. It is, I suggest, the chiasmic heart of an ekklesia performed and constituted through the eucharist. Why chiasmic? Because observe the curious manner of the reciprocal relation. I eat the flesh of Christ. I take his body into my own. Yet in this act I place myself in Christ — rather than simply placing Christ within me. I consume but I do not absorb Christ without being absorbed into Christ. Only in this complex co-abiding is there life, nourishment, nurture: because or through or by means of (an instrumental use of dia) this feeding there is both participation of human life in God's life and participation of God's life in human life. Something comes into its own in this relationality. Something of what it is to be fully human comes about by an identification with that which is divine; so there is something of what it is to be God that comes about by an

39 Ernst Haenchen, John, vol. 1, tr. Robert W. Funk (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress Press, 1984): 'The subject ofJesus's discourse is no longer bread but flesh' (p. 294).

40 Barrett notes 'abiding' (menein) is an important word for John. It has Trinitarian reference for it frequently refers to the nature of the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The Father abides in the Son (14.10), the Spirit abides with Jesus (1.32), now those who believe abide in Christ.

identification with what is human. Let me develop this further, for it will deeply inform and challenge our understanding of Christ and the Trinitarian God. It would suggest the incarnation is not fully realised by God becoming human (in Jesus of Nazareth). The incarnation is only fully realised by the God-made-man absorbing into himself all human beings, through the offering of his flesh and blood. The incarnation is only fully realised by the participation of God in human life and the participation of human life in God. Käsemann observes: 'Incarnation rather means, as the prologue unmistakeably indicates, the encounter of the Creator with his creation.'41 Redemption is the fulfilment of the economy of the incarnation, and incorporation into Christ in and through partaking of the eucharist is fundamental to that economy. Two Christological points proceed from this before we start to consider the implications here for ecclesiology. First, Jesus is the Christ only in relation to other human beings; the act of redemption is a relational act; Christology needs to pay more attention not to the identity of the God-man, but to the redemptive operation effected in and through this complex co-abiding. Secondly, though I would insist on a profound difference between the human and the divine, there must exist within the nature and self-understanding of the Trinity, a quality that has affinity with what it is to be human. To create human beings there must abide in God an image and likeness of what it is to be human that Christ incarnates.

Now we can proceed to ecclesiology. A Christology conceived in terms of a redemptive operation emphasises movement. 'I live because [dia] of the Father, so he who eats [trogon] me will live because [di'] of me.' Dia is a word implying the flowing out from a source; transits, movements effected not only within, but also by means of the ensouled body. Let us consider further two characteristics of this spiritual embodiment. Firstly, I embody Christ's body and this body embodies mine. In other words the bodies here are emphatically carnal and carnally relating, but their co-location is unthinkable. We continually return to that chiasmus 'I in you and you in me'. The coming together of the two bodies does not create a third body whose location can be determined. It is exactly the opposite: the coming together of the two bodies effects a reciprocal dislocation of both bodies: I am not in you but you are now in me. There is an 'abiding' (menei) but it takes place in this complex space whose boundaries are folded back upon themselves. One

41 The Testament of Jesus, tr. Gerhard Krodel (London: SCM Press, 1968), p. 34. Haenchen, John, vol. 1, argues against this view in which Christology becomes inseparable from a developed sacramental theology (pp. 298—300), but evidently my interpretation would develop Käsemann's suggestion.

body relates to the other, but each are relocated with respect to a co-abiding. In this realm, rather than space, the mutual indwelling which characterises what St Paul calls koinonia announces the presence of an ekklesia always living beyond itself, because always interpenetrated by that which refigures its boundaries. As such, the ekklesia is much less the institution and much more the history of a body that continually over-reaches itself, what Nyssa might term the body's skopos — a notion that might be rethought in terms of its tradition. It is the history of its co-relation, its indwelling and being indwelt; an erotic history, as I shall outline. In fact, it is the eros that can never fully possess the object of its desire that renders the co-relation dynamic. We saw this above: the circulations of desire in which Christ as other is not consumed but is nevertheless continually in touch and therefore continually causing the movements within the soul. As such the Church has a history, a tradition, a temporality. It is not that location is eclipsed. A location remains, the body or collected bodies of believers, that is/are material and particular. Such bodies constitute and contest social and political meaning, institutional and behavioural norms, with respect to their dwelling in Christ and Christ in them. But the co-abiding is not reducible to the particular and material location or the social and political meanings embedded in them. The ekklesia is a location of liminality; a co-relation that lives always on the edge of both itself and what is other. We might see this liminality in action through a peripatetic teacher like St Paul, moving from one ecclesial community to another, from one koinonia to another, not simply relating these nodal points but involving them with issues beyond their own frontiers, persuading them to participate in community life in other terrestrial centres. This is the effect, for example, of his plea for money for famine relief. So the Churches of Macedonia are related to Corinth and both to Jerusalem, and greetings are exchanged and hospitality offered.42

We can see how, in my first observation, I moved from the relation of the individual believer to Christ to the relation of the individual believer to another believer in and through Christ. This points to my second ecclesial observation. In the complex location of the chiasmus (I in you and you in me), relation itself is changed. The Hegelian and Sartrean relations of towards (or in) oneself and for oneself have no place here. Neither do the relations of subject to object, object to subject. A new relation is born, and through (did) this Christic co-indwelling all relations are transformed with respect to what is other. To borrow from Rowan Williams, the ekklesia is

42 See here Rowan Williams's essay 'Does It Makes Sense to Speak of a Pre-Nicene Orthodoxy?' and the role played in the early Church by the epistolary form in On Christian Doctrine (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), pp. 11-15.

then not 'a "special" system of human relations, but a place where the rationale of all relations is made plain and their deepening and securing made possible'.43 I would use the word 'character'rather than rationale. The ekkle-sia is constituted in and through these transformed relations and so renders carnal the character of relation as such.

The third ecclesial observation follows from this. There is no incorporation here. As I pointed out earlier, I am not absorbed into Christ. I participate. In fact I only have life through this participation, but it remains my life. I do not disappear within this relational exchange. I come most truly to myself, but not as a monadic nor Cartesian self. Here is an account of human belonging where the 'I' is continually aware of the other in whom it abides and who abides in it. This is not the ruptured or the fissured 'I' so beloved of Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricreur and various neo-Freudians like Julia Kris-teva, concerned with the ego in the accusative, oneself as another or the stranger within. For this other does not violently displace me — rendering me a hostage and forever accused. My language of dislocation must be understood topographically, not physiologically or psychologically. The language of this co-abiding is a language of co-existence, mutual indwelling; an abiding that is profoundly integral to my living at all. Of course what is re-figured here in this complex indwelling that extends each body beyond itself, is the nature of mission and the whole economy of Trinitarian life as both processio and missio. What is also refigured here is the nature of being in exile; of the Church always in exile, always a disapora, always in some sense not at home with itself like the migrant who is the 'resident alien'.44

Now, how do these observations relate back to desire? First, with respect to eros: this carnal indwelling and the operations it effects as movements of the soul are intercourse. For this reason koinonia understood in terms of participation is frequently conceived in terms of betrothal. In fact, more than one New Testament scholar has drawn attention to the way St Paul parallels the cup of blessing of the covenant participation with the wedding contract (1 Cor. 10.14—22 with 2 Cor. 11.1—2). It is not simply that the only models we have for conceiving of such a mutuality concern sexual congress, and so the language of sexual intimacy is employed in an exposition of such texts. I do not believe for example that the Church Fathers and mystics who use the language of sexual intercourse to describe their relation to Christ are using such language metaphorically, as a symbolic resource. To return to

43 'Incarnation and the Renewal of Community', ibid., p. 226.

44 There are certain aspects of this relation that might sound Levinasian; see my essay 'Hospitality and Justice: A Theological Reflection' (www. katholische-akademie-berlin.de/Veranstaltungen/ 2003112729/ward_pdf.pdf) for a more detailed account of why this is not so.

what happens to 'bread' in the passage from John — if anything is symbolic it is the bread not the flesh. In the same way I suggest sexual union becomes a metaphorical act of the relation to Christ. Or rather, the erotic relation to Christ is the completion or perfection of what is most desired in sexual intimacy; sexual intimacy being an intimation of the divine relation that operates between God and human beings. Relation in Christ is 'true relation' in the same way as Christ's body offers 'true food' and 'true blood'. Both the erotic relation and the divine relation are carnal from the human and Christic perspective, for both of them are profoundly related to movements within the enmattered soul; and so both of them are, in their different ways, spiritual. The relation between them is analogical such that this mutual indwelling truly is (alethes estin) the erotic relation. And if we return to my second observation about the ekklesia embodying the character of all relations, then eros governs the very possibility of true relation.

But eros can also become the basis for a whole set of negative relations — exploitative relations, possessive relations, abusive relations. We return to my earlier account of the enmattered soul where desire and sensation (sensation which for Aristotle finds its organ par excellence in touch) are psychosomatic movements and the body is caught up in imaginings, intuitions and therefore knowledges that are inseparable from desire and the politics of relation. Eros renders the boundaries of our bodies porous and malleable. It renders both bodies and souls vulnerable because receptive. With passion there arrives an eros that classically cannot be entirely divorced from suffering and subjection; although this suffering and subjection is not simply passively borne but actively lived (as 'movements of the soul').45 The suffering is integral to that living on the edge that characterises co-indwelling. The distorted erotic relations return us to those untransfigured relations — those ego-centred relations, those instrumental relations of subject and object, those possessive relations that seek to consume the other. I would argue that each of these distorted erotic relations is an attempt to avoid the suffering that passion demands, that a life centred on touch demands. For touch makes us, in the words of the German Protestant theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher, 'absolutely dependent'. In terms of both Aristotle and Aquinas, those who avoid the demands of being absolutely dependent that touch fosters, reduce desire to simply the appetite for consumption. And this appetitive desire eclipses rational desire and a longing that relates to both hope and compassion. The true erotic relation, figured on the Christic description I in you and you in me, is not a masochistic relation. The suffering

45 For a development of this idea see chapter nine, 'Suffering and Incarnation', pp. 248—66.

passion demands is not desired as such. The masochistic relation is love-as-not-having.46 That, like its counterpart the sadistic relation, is a distorted desire. Our desire, our bodies' knowledge, our relations have to be governed (and transfigured by being governed) by that I in you and you in me chiasmus. But we have no means of characterising and articulating that chiasmus outside of those intersubjective relations I sketched in the first part of my essay: those relations so profoundly caught up in webs of communication that are more primordial than 'the power of thinking' and the circulations of desire. A discernment is necessary; a discernment available only through time and the disciplined practices of piety. It is a discernment that cannot evade or transcend the politics of its own knowledge, the politics of its own hermeneutics, the politics of believing. But this too is living on the edge. In the erotic politics that constitutes the embodied ekklesia, a thin line separates truth claim from wish, revelation from projection, the eternity of conviction from the contingency of orgasm. To live in Christ and for Christ to live in us leaves each and all walking on water.

46 See Hélène Cixous's essay '"The Egg and the Chicken": Love as Not Having' in Reading with Clarice Lispector, tr. Verena Andermatt Conley (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990), pp. 98-122.

Part Two

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