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Title:  Body and Belief: Why the body of Jesus cannot heal Author:  Theresa Sanders Philosophical and Cultural Studies in Religion Imprint:  The Davies Group, Publishers soft cover 166 pp. $20.00  US ISBN  978-1-888570-55-7 August  2000   This work in postmodern Catholic theology explores the meaning of brokenness: the broken bodies of Jesus and of the saints. The wounds of Jesus have been the focal point for innumerable devotions throughout the history of Catholic piety; there has, however, been very little attempt to read those wounds from a contemporary theological/philosophical perspective. This book is such an attempt, focusing not only on the broken and resurrected body of Jesus, but also on the martyred bodies of the saints, drawing on sources ranging from Saint Augustine and medieval mystic Angela of Foligno to deconstructionists Jacques Derrida and Mark C. Taylor. Its thesis, as fully developed in the final chapter, is that the holes in Jesus’ body articulate a longing for God that is humans’ deepest knowledge of God, a longing that is not a lack that could ever be filled, but is grace itself. In our present life it is the grace that impels us outwards towards others in love, and in the resurrected life it is the very space that love requires in order to be itself. Contents Preface Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. The Pierced Body of Jesus Chapter 3. The Pierced Heart of Jesus Chapter 4. The Pierced Body of the Saint Chapter 5. The Dead Body of the Saint Chapter 6. The Resurrection of the Body Index Reviews Body and Belief is a small book taking a big step towards theodicy: in asking us to ask God where he was (And where were we?) during this century’s worst human crimes. Sanders offers us an intellectual meditation on how we should think of those crimes in full view of the continuing Catholic church reassessment of its sacraments and doctrine. She guides us through a host of heavy thinkers like Rahner, Scarry, Derrida, Marion, Wyschogrod, Winquist, and Girard. The result is a clear, well-written book that invites itself into introductory college courses in religious thought and theology. Professor Sanders asks all the right questions. The answers might be unsettling. Read at your own risk. But read.” — T. D. Idinopulos “This is a remarkably readable book on what makes Christianity an earthy religion. Professor Sanders explores the realms of the bodiliness of believing in dialogue with postmodern writers. She provides an authentic alternative to the ethereally thin spiritualities all too evident in popular writing. She offers us a new way of thinking deeply about what it means to be and be in the body of Christ.” — Terrence W. Tilley “No theologian faces the body as squarely as Theresa Sanders. After noting that the body of Jesus still has holes in almost all accounts of the Resurrection, she passes an unflinching gaze over a photograph of corpses from a massacre in Bosnia, Christian saints eating skin that fell from lepers, the rhythm of hips in intercourse, and the connection of syphilis with the founding of ghettoes for Jews, among many other things. The result is a theology of desire rather than fulfillment, of mystery and faith rather than certainty and dogma. Retelling the story of creation, loss, and redemption, she shows how creation and redemption express their power in loss, in disease, even through death and decomposition. She provides new ways to understand why relics and ascetic practices have such power in Catholic spiritual life. Building beyond psychology and philosophy with the clarity of spiritual practice, Sanders offers the founding insight for a systematic theology that gives Flesh and Word equal prestige and equal power.” — Peter Gardella Author Theresa Sanders (PhD, Syracuse University) is on the faculty of the Department of Theology at Georgetown University where she teaches courses in Christian thought. Her research interest is the intersection of the postmodern and Catholicism. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Postmodernism, and is the author of Celluloid Saints: Images of Sanctity in Film.
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