Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Slow reading

When possible, read the originals instead of the commenters. I just checked the UW library system, and found 11,627 title that include the name Shakespeare. I'll bet Shakespeare is more fun to read than any of them.

So, when I heard about The Theology of the Body, of course I tried to read Male and Female He Created Them.

I am bald enough already, and I'm only 44% of the way through, according to the kindle meter. The intro was mostly interesting (explanations of where his philosophical themes came from), but the body of the work is the individual weekly addresses. He tells you what he's going to tell you, then he tells you, then he tells you that he told you. Then he recaps during the next week's talk.

Unfortunately skimming doesn't pay, since scattered here and there are some good brief insights and some "say what?" moments.

For example, in one section he mentions a model of the union with God in Heaven as though the beatific vision were all-absorbing, with no room for anything else. That's a plausible assumption, but you can easily model other possibilities. Orthodox doctrine says that after the resurrection we will be incarnate bodies again, not bodiless spirits. The whole point of creating incarnation and divinization seems to be to bring the spirit thoroughly in union with the world. While we're here we're to try to incarnate love and beauty and other good things from God; it seems plausible that in Heaven we are to do the same.

Nobody can know God in Himself as He is--no finite creature can--we can only know Him in ways we are designed for. (Exodus 33:20, anybody?) Here we are given the opportunity to love God through our neighbors. How would that be different in Heaven? And if we are to be interacting with each other, it seems plausible that we would also be reflecting God to each other, enlightening each other. Divinization would be both directly with God and in community.

But I've not been there, so I'm just guessing too.

Pressing on.

UPDATE: In a slightly later address, JohnPaul affirms something closer to my model than the one he mentioned earlier.


DOuglas2 said...

Did you intend to leave a link to some version of like https://www.amazon.com/Man-Woman-He-Created-Them/dp/0819874213 ?

I recall reading "Love and Responsibility" some 25 years ago, and it was also slow going. Much that was "wow", much that I wasn't sure I understood, some that I disagreed with but with the uneasy feeling that if I really understood it I might not like it but would have to agree it was correct.

I did/do wonder if half the slow-going is just because what was conversational in the original language was labored over a bit too much in translation to make sure that the translation was "accurate" rather than being a bit looser to make it good writing.

james said...

I should have, but now I'm wondering if my link encodes my own info in the URL. The translation would be very much improved if JohnPaul were raising his voice and waving his hands from time to time.