3. Made in the Image: The Christian Understanding of the Body

Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health - Bettina E. Schmidt

Jeff Leonardi [+-]
University of Wales Trinity St David
Jeff Leonardi is a retired Anglican priest who was for 17 years Bishop's Adviser for Pastoral Care and Counselling in the Lichfield Diocese of the Church of England. He has been a qualified Person-centred Counsellor for the past forty years, and has a PhD in the spirituality of Person-centred Counselling in relation to Christian spirituality, and the implications for Christian ministry and pastoral practice. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow of the Religious Experience Research Centre at the University of Wales Trinity St David at Lam-peter, undertaking a joint research project into relational spirituality with Professor Bettina Schmidt. He has chapters in J.Moore and C. Purton (eds.) 2006 Spirituality and Counselling: Experiential and Theoretical Perspectives, PCCS Books, Ross on Wye; and C. Lago and D. Charura (eds.) 2016 The Person-Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy Handbook: Origins, Developments and Current Applications, Open University Press, Maidenhead. He is the editor of The Human Being Fully Alive: Writings in Celebration of Brian Thorne, 2010, PCCS Books, Ross on Wye.

Description

Historically, Christianity has for the most part tended to view the body as a relatively unimportant vessel for the soul. The body has been associated with desire - and therefore sin - mortality and decay. In our own time this legacy has led to Christianity being seen as anti-pleasure and anti-sex, and even more so with regard to same-sex relations. All this is somewhat surprising given the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, and indeed Resurrection (of the body). This chapter will outline some of the negative theological attitudes to the body and suggest ways in which this aspect of Christian culture impacts negatively upon health and wellbeing. It is also suggested that the wider post-Enlightenment culture incorporates an extent of Mind-Body dualism which can also contribute to these unhelpful effects. It will also be suggested that Christianity can offer a more appreciative and celebratory perspective on the body, with important implications for health and wellbeing. Drawing from Person-centred psychology it is suggested that the concepts of the actualising tendency and organismic awareness can offer a more holistic balance to these historical quandaries.

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Citation

Leonardi, Jeff. 3. Made in the Image: The Christian Understanding of the Body. Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Feb 2020. ISBN 9781781797655. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35868. Date accessed: 14 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35868. Feb 2020

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