See part one for the qualifiers, which happen to be necessary.  Otherwise, here we do go.

First off, I was subject to my first open letter, which happened to be quite a bit more generous than most open letters:

Jesus calls us not just to practices in general but to doing the word in specific—the only acceptable standard for orthopraxy. Thus, this cannot be a call to Christian yoga but a call to do what the church over the centuries (and across the denominations and theological divides) has affirmed as the works of mercy commended by Christ—doing good to our enemies, sharing our bread, opening our homes, visiting the sick and widows and orphans, and healing and comforting, among others.  That’s the real body theology, I reckon.

Eric is one of those folks whose interaction with the book has been a real joy, and it’s a bit humbling to have him work out the book in this direction.  I didn’t do nearly enough in EV on the body and all those issues that he mentioned, which is a drawback (only one of many).  But it’s exciting to see someone want to run with some of the ideas I try to articulate in new directions.

Additionally, Adam Shields (who manages to read more books than anyone) provided one of the more balanced and thorough reviews:

I also have some frustrations with some of the results of the discussion.  The marriage chapter in particular, as married couple that has consciously chosen to not have children as of this time, has a very similar weakness to Catholic conceptions of marriage that make reproduction a center point in the definition of marriage.  This is in part a reaction to the rise of homosexuality, but it is a historic understanding that pre-dates that theological issue.  Maybe I am just wrong on this point.  But I have a problem with an understanding of marriage that requires the potential (but not the reality of children).

Another area is Anderson’s concern with cremation in his chapter on death.  It is very similar to the concerns brought up at the end of Christianity: The First 3000 Years, but I just do not get it.  Our concern for the body after death is a result of our respect for the body before death.  I understand that historically Christians were concerned about burial because of their focus on the resurrection. But we know that bodies decompose and decomposition is not a barrier to the resurrection (or the power of God.)  And his concern that cremation shows a lack of respect for the body seems to be disproved by many, both in the modern West and in history.

He also mentions my lack of explicit attention to race and gender, two concerns that are rightly noted.  My h0pe is, like I say at the end of the book, to continue the discussion on the issues that I raise in it as people are interested.  Adam’s worries are among those that I suspect will continue to show up in discussions here at Mere-O and elsewhere.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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