The Gospel Truth

Heavenly Bodies

May 15, 2013
4 Comments

In Soul Food, I wrote about both the importance of the body and the soul and how our civilization has for centuries bifurcated the two as some kind of warring entities.

The truth is that they are intricately woven like a fine hand-made or in this case God-make garment.

To separate them or pull out their threads and is to kill the body, thus ruining the garment of life.

Both need each other as Adam needed Eve.

Why the end of time?

That’s why one of the most interesting teachings of the Catholic Church is on the Resurrection of the body, presumably at the end of time.

Quite frankly I don’t know why we have to wait…forever how long that may be.

The body has been the vehicle for the activities of the soul’s will and should be risen at the same time that the soul is.

John Paul II was emphatic when he wrote in his book, Love and Responsibility that it cannot be forgotten that our bodies will be resurrected in the end.

In the book he discussed what role our masculinity and femininity will play in the afterlife, especially since procreation will not be part of it.

For a fuller explanation of this, look for Part III.

It may be a little difficult to imagine what our heavenly bodies might look like but ESPN’s special photo shoot on world-class athletes gives a brief hint as to what our heavenly might look like.

Daniel Leyva - US Men's Gymnastics

A hint of heaven

Our bodies were not only created to be in union with another human person, but also to share in spiritual union with God, which is the ultimate goal of human existence.

I know many people, especially women, might shutter at the thought of having their bodies visibly present in eternity.

Theologians speculate that  our bodies will be glorified.

The imagery often projected is that we will wear flowing robes that will make it hard to distinguish man from women.

To me this is a repudiation of all John Paul II’s ground-breaking book about the human body.

Abby Wambach - US Women's Soccer

ESPN’s celebration of top athletes

I have already written that my view conceives of heaven as partly a nude beach where we are free to wander, swim in the ocean, breathe in the air and exhilarate in the beauties of God, nature and our fellow-men and women without any fabric restrictions.

St. John provided his ideal and highly mysterious vision of Heaven in the Book of Revelation, which is arguably the most difficult of all the books of the Bible.

Even before ESPN the human body attracted many creative people from the first time man learned to capture stick figures on a wall, through the fine arts of European painting.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir celebrated the gift of feminine beauty with his many nudes of voluptuous women in the late 19 century.

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Celebrated feminine beauty

In each attempt the artist was trying to capture the beauty and true of the model’s inner soul–the invisible soul if you would of the material human body.

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the best at trying to present the perfect human body in all of its divine proportions.

Da Vinci drew The Vitruvian Man circa 1490.

The perfect man

The drawing is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise De Architectura.

He believed the workings of the human body were analogous to the workings of the universe.

Nature so designed the human body that the face, from the chin to the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is always a tenth part of the whole height.

The open hand from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is just the same while the head from the chin to the crown is an eighth, and with the neck and shoulder from the top of the breast to the lowest roots of the hair is a sixth.

In his book, Da Vinci’s Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image Toby Lester pointed out that da Vinci’s drawing corresponds in nice ways to existing descriptions of Leonardo that exist.

Lester believes that the drawing of The Vitruvian Man was actually a self-portrait.

His opinion rests on the reports of many of  da Vinci’s contemporaries, who of described him as being very finely built, strong, very beautiful with locks of hair that curled and went down to his shoulders.

My favorite work of art has always been The Thinker a bronze sculpture on marble pedestal by Auguste Rodin, whose first cast, of 1902, is now in the Musée Rodin in Paris.

It was originally named The Poet and alleged to have been Dante, contemplating

It was based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and entitled the portal The Gates of Hell.

Some critics believe The Thinker was originally intended to depict Dante at the Gates of Hell, pondering his great poem.

Paris 2010 - Le Penseur.jpg

A unity of body and soul

The statue is obviously nude and seems to depict perfections of the human body while engaging in a mental or even spiritual activity.

I used to quip that he was thinking about where he left his clothes.

The human body is the pinnacle of God’s creation and in Heaven we can expect a throwback or return to that Sixth Day when God did his best work.

To me this is just an added incentive to make the celestial grade.

However I found out early that there were all kinds of heavenly bodies on earth.

No shame in Heaven

In 1966 I was preparing to visit some friends in New Orleans when some of the older men in the small town where I was teachings suggested I look at the heavenly bodies on Bourbon Street.

Someone else had to explain it to me.

Unfortunately the human body of women has often been used for pornographic imagery, which is designed to unsettle normal relationships between men and women.

It has reached epidemic proportions in this country and around the world.

A real war on women

As a result moral society has been reflexive in its encounter with any kind of female or even male nudity because of the pornographic abuse of freedom in the United States.

Pope John Paul II was valiant in his attempt to put the nude human in its proper moral perspective.

Because God created it, the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty...

Nakedness should not be equated with shamelessness.  Immodesty is present only when nudity plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person.

The human body in itself is never  shameful.

Shamelessness is a function of the interior of a person.’

With regards to viewing nudity, it’s clear that there’s a spectrum of appropriateness.

On one hand, it may be appropriate for a man to view his wife’s or baby’s unclothed body.

In the eye of the beholder

During routine examinations a male physician may be within his right to view a woman’s unclothed body.

On the other hand, it’s never appropriate for a man to view a woman even his wife with lustful desire in his heart, whether she is clothed or unclothed.

By definition lust is the desire to use another person like an object for one’s own sexual gratification.

Treating people like things is always morally wrong.

Impurity of body only occurs when nudity plays a negative role with respect to the value of the person.

The late pope did warn that concupiscence can create a tangible sexual tension that surrounds relations between the sexes.

In these situations the person must make a real interior effort to avoid any utilitarian attitudes toward nudity in any form.

Appreciation and not desire has always been my rule in such situations.

The human body per se is not impure, nor is the reaction of sensuality, nor sensuality itself.

Lust begins when the will appropriates the reaction of sensuality and reduces the other person – because of his or her body and sex – to an object of pleasure.

The Vitruvian Female

Our earthly bodies can also be the transmitters of spiritual joy.

With regard to our earthly bodies St. Francis, the namesake of the Catholic Church’s new pope, was quoted in Omer Engelbert’s definitive biography about the 13th century saint as saying that spiritual joy is as necessary to the soul as blood is to the body.

What Francis missed here was the fact that because of the body’s meticulous make-up bodily hormones can transport feelings of heavenly ecstasy through the blood to every inch of the body and even the soul.

I have felt this in my own life with the incessant and overpowering feelings of joy, well-being and near mind-expanding ecstasy after a therapeutic massage.

The gateway to joy

These feelings were not just ephemeral but not only made me smile more but warmed my relationships with all the people I came in contact with that day.

As I have stated before these are not just temporary feelings but to me a foretouch of what heaven may be like.

I feel that they are ground in my religious faith and inspire me to look to the heavens above with hope, anticipation and high expectations.

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The Disease of Man

March 15, 2012
1 Comment

I know that my title sounds a good deal like a statement from the Green Movement, which thinks that humanity, or at least too many humans leaving their dirty carbon footprints all over the globe makes human beings comparable to a disease or even a plague.

Of course I assume the green people are human and not little men from Mars and carbon-joggers themselves.

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The greens are humans, aren't they?

Are these self-hating environmentalists or do they have an Obamian exemption from their own thinking?

This sounds very liberal to me.

I am writing more about the moral pandemic that is transmitted to every human being that is fortunate to dodge the green suction machine at birth.

Theologians have filled large libraries with theories and commentaries on man and his and her fallen nature.

Ironically it is many of the same kind of greens above that would disagree.

They like to promote the view that man is basically good by nature…except when he is driving a gas-guzzler or having a fetus.

they much prefer Jean Jacques Rousseau’s noble savage.

Goodness was the essence of his heart

The tension between fallen man and Rousseau’s noble savage is the same tension that divides the sides in the modern culture war.

In political terms, it explains the major differences between conservatism and liberalism.

The term the right uses for fallen human nature is usually concupiscence.

It is a loaded term that most people think refers to lust and unmarried sexual relationships.

Pope John Paul II created quite a stir in 1979 when he said in one of his sermons on his revolutionary thinking that even married men should not lust after their own wives, let alone the wives of others.

What meant by that was that even married men should not treat their wives as merely sex objects but should learn the meaning of the spousal meaning of the body, which he defined as a mutual openness and giving of one to the other that recognized the subjective personhood of the other.

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Must treat each other as subjects and not objects

It has a much broader calculus.

Concupiscence applies to all aspects of human endeavor.

It is that special force in human relationships that seeks to spoil the good that people want to do but feel compelled by inner feelings to follow the dictates of anger, bodily urges and past slights or injuries.

This the condition that many people often excuse by saying well it is just human or even natural to do what they do.

St. Paul felt it when he pleaded with God to help him to attain the good that he wanted, not the evil he did.

Cartoon character Charlie Brown felt its inner tug-of-war.

I have felt that same tug virtually every day of my life.

In the 1970s, comedian Flip Wilson did a female character, Geraldine who often defended her inappropriate behavior by saying, the devil made me do that!

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Like Charlie Brown, he knew about evil.

Catholic philosopher and humorist, G. K. Chesterton said it was the one dogma in Catholic teaching that did not have to be proven.

One need only pick up a newspaper.

The 10 Commandments and or the Seven Deadly Sins are all the proof one needs to recognize the depth and breadth of the inner urge to sin, do wrong or even evil.

It is the same weakness that caused Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to shake his head in bewilderment when President Obama went back on a promise he never intended to keep in the first place.

How could he trust a man such as Obama?

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Why did he trust the president?

Did he see him as Rousseau’s perfect noble savage?

Or should he listened to the wisdom of Ronald Reagan, who said trust but verify or we might say get it in writing.

It is also reminiscent of Heraclitus‘ statement that if one put a foot in the river or stream the stream would change every second but it would still be the same river.

This is what Charles Darwin or the Progressive School of 19th century historians and the Whig Theory of change could not understand.

While circumstances, accidentals, like height and weight and even intelligence, may evolve over time, the one constant that never changes, nor will it ever change is man’s human nature.

As long as we are alive, we will always have that capacity to do harm and maybe some evil.

Our intellect rationalizes often enable us to do that so we can sleep at nights.

Study German history in the Nazi period and you will easily understand this.

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Could they sleep nights?

Politicians today are great at rationalizations, especially those in the Democratic Party.

They can rationalize killing millions of unborn children as a good thing that is justified because of freedom of conscience, women’s rights or health and the pressures of the environment.

Presumably they sleep well at night or maybe they just drink a lot to ease their pain.

Religion and self-disciple are the best ways to ease and mollify the extreme effects of the disease of man.

Pope John Paul wrote of the redemption of the body that would allow a return  the original nakedness of the Garden when Adam and Eve could look at each other without lust or bad feeling.

They would see in their respective bodies the Imagio Dei and feel nothing love and respect.

That was until the snake showed up and made human history possible.

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Made history possible

Mass, prayer, the sacraments are all tools for Catholics that can provide an antidote to concupiscence that will make our lives more loving and more enjoyable.

As a result a baby’s innocent smile, a party with friends, or even the geometric sway of a beautiful woman will make us think of God’s love and the greater joys that await us.

It is possible!


About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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