The Theology of the Body, Extended: The Spiritual Signs of Childbirth, Disability, and Death

Team Members/Contributors

Susan M. Windley-Daoust Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

The Theology of the Body—a branch of theology rooted in a set of Pope John Paul II’s reflections on Genesis, Matthew, Song of Songs, John of the Cross and Husserlian phenomenology—merits the title theological phenom of the past decade. The theology describes the creation of the human being as a “first word” of revelation: the body itself and its creation for relationship serve as an incarnate sign, pointing to the most sublime of all transcendental realities, the lavishness of God’s love. Through its evocative presentation of sexuality as a sacred signifier, the Theology of the Body strikes a decidedly counter cultural chord, and has generated a full-scale popular movement of enthusiasts. However, while the movement addresses the beauty of right sexual relationships (including the call to forego sexual relationships), it addresses little else about how the human body, through its creation, points to God. This project explores how this theology’s phenomenological and spiritual insights—our creation for union with God, gift and giving, transcendence and limitation, and the call to spiritual “familyhood”—are connected to the lived bodily signs of childbirth, disability, and death. The result is a theological anthropology that grounds and orients many pressing contemporary ethical challenges.

Image Title Year Type Contributor(s) Other Info
  Theology of the Body, Extended: the spiritual signs of birth, impairment, and dying 2014 Book Susan M. Windley-Daoust