Theologizing from the Site of the Flesh
"To theologize from the site of the flesh entails attending not only to the historical and social determinations of bodies but also to that which exceeds representation and yet also gives impulse to corporeal transformations: their unruly materiality, their mysterious spirituality." (Mayra Rivera, Professor of Religion, Harvard Divinity School)
Theology as a Dancing Lesson
"Chickens dance, people dance, and trees dance. Colors dance, too. So do sounds. Rocks dance as well. Wherever there is a movement there is a kind of dancing. A smile, a frown, a wink, a movement of the body during sleep: all is dancing. Often, in human life, dance emerges through struggle and pain. Grief is a form of dancing, as is turning grief into beauty. This transformation of grief into beauty is what process theologians call creative transformation, or, in the words of Monica Coleman, "making a way of no way." Creative transformation is one way, and not the only way, of turning flesh into spirit and spirit into flesh. You might call it materialized or embodied spirituality. One key to life to dance in whatever ways are possible, by whatever means, for the well-being of life, your own included. Theology at its best is much more than a description of how things were, or how things are, or even how things can be. It offers guidelines for turning spirit into flesh. It is a dancing lesson. (Jay McDaniel)
'To theologize from the site of the flesh entails attending not only to the historical and social determinations of bodies but also to that which exceeds representation and yet also gives impulse to corporeal transformations: their unruly materiality, their mysterious spirituality. It is perhaps in relation to these un-objectifiable elements that theology should talk about the spirit...I have proposed elsewhere that a theology that truly embraces flesh and materiality may need to speak of spirit-flesh, to emphasize the inseparability of these concepts, where the hyphen marks a boundary of distinction that does not tend to separation. Spirit materializes in flesh; flesh (carne) is indispensable for the spirit’s incarnation—not as an exceptional event, but rather as an inherent dimension of corporeality. Spirit and flesh flow into one another, each transfigures the other. Spirit is not conceived here as a simple being; it does not presuppose completeness or absolute separation, but instead moves in theflux and disruptions of flesh. Being in carne, permeating and soaking all flesh,the spirit does not eliminate the ambiguities of our corporality: ephemeral and tangible, fragmented and manifold, neither whole nor deficient. Pain, difficulty,and failure are not antithetical to the movements of the spirit; we do not dream of pneumatic bodies liberated from flesh."
from "Unsettling Bodies," an article by Mayra Rivera Rivera in the
Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Volume 26, Number 2, Fall 2010, pp. 119-123.