The Body Of The Church And Its Erotic Politics

The real presence of diversity in our flesh and blood which are at the same time bread and wine .

I want to begin with theological accounts of being human that lie at the heart of the Christian tradition and develop their implications both Chris-tologically and ecclesiologically. These accounts can be found in both the Greek and Latin Fathers, in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, John Damascene and Maximus the Confessor as well as Augustine, Bonaventure, Aquinas and Ignatius of Loyola. They concern a certain confluence between the soul and the body that issues not quite in a doctrine (the accounts are too slim and ambiguous for that) but in what I would term a theological phenomenology of the senses, even a Christian epistemology. Damascene, in his treatise De Fide Orthodoxa, puts the matter tersely when he states that sensations of the world, acts of intellection and the stirring of desire all involve 'movements of the soul'.2 The Greek word is kinemapsyches and it is indebted to Aristotle.3 I want to suggest — contrary to all dualisms of mind and body, psyche and soma — that it is an investigation into the operations of the soul that will deliver to us a theological materiality. This is not another form of post-Cartesian idealism: the material order is not a construct of mind. For mind,

1 Lines from Czeslaw Milosz's poem, 'Capri', in Facing the River: New Poems, translated from the Polish by the author and Robert Hass (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1995), p. 12.

2 De Fide Orthodoxa, II, 11.22.46, 248 in Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, ed. B. Kotter, vol. 2 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1973).

3 Aristotle distinguished between motion, kinesis, and actuality or energeia. They were not dualistic concepts but constituted two poles of a spectrum. Energeia was the perfection or realisation of all that was potential. Kinesis was the movement that moved all things towards their formal (in the Aristotelian sense of 'form') completion. The form is the 'logos of the essence' (Physics, II.3.194b27). See L.S.A. Kosman, 'Aristole's Definition ofMotion'in Phronesis, 14 (1969), pp. 40—62.

as we will see, is only one aspect of being ensouled and being embodied, and the theological materiality of the world is its sheer givenness in wonder. Only having understood this theological materiality — which, at heart, is nothing more or less than incarnationalism — can we appreciate the nature of the Church as the body of Christ and the eros of its political relations.

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