I'm not sure why, really. I still think Body Matters has a lot going for it, but it lacks something that I can't quite put my finger on. And at any rate, I'm going to have to say it--over and over and over--when the book comes out, so I want to make sure I get this right.
So, I'm asking for help.
Necessary disclosure: we may not use your title suggestion. Don't be surprised by that, and don't be offended. It could be a perfectly good title, but for a book that's different than mine. It could be a good title for a book like mine, but I'm just too muddled headed to like it. It's no reflection of you. Honest.
In order to prime the pump, here's a few of the titles I am kicking around:
The Shape of Grace: The Body and Evangelical Spirituality
Two Feet on Solid Ground: The Body and Evangelical Spirituality
A Physical Faith: The Evangelical Body into the 21st Century
The Body for the Lord: Evangelicals and Bodies into the 21st Century
The Lord for the Body: Evangelicals and Flesh into the 21st Century
I am working off of several themes here. First, it's not just a question ofthe body or not within evangelicalism. The question is what will shape our bodies? Will we ultimately have an embodied life that is governed by grace, or by something else?
Second, human bodies are suspended between two worlds: on the one hand, we are animals. On the other, we are oriented toward God, and so are bodies can be shaped in ways that animals cannot be. Neither beast nor angel, as the traditional formulation goes.
Third, the body is contested within evangelicalism. Many of the faultlines between the generations have to do with how we think about bodies. One way of reading the younger generation is rebelling against the perceived gnosticism of our parents. Much of my content will address these sorts of issues (and in that sense, my book is more of a social ethic than a book on spirituality per se).
Fourth, the body is good--but what kind of good? So often decisions about aspects of the body get subordinated to pragmatism, as in the church architecture conversation. Pragmatism, in fact, can end up being subtly gnostic inasmuch as it allies itself with technocratic optimism.
Fifth, there's clearly a theological component at work. The body for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. But what precisely does that mean, and more precisely, what does that look like within evangelicalism?
Sixth, there's a sense in which we don't need to just appreciate or think about our bodies: we need to embrace them in a particular way. I've kicked around deploying the imagery of kissing the dust, or embracing the dirt along these lines. But I can't quite figure out how to phrase it.
There's more depth that I'll be covering, of course. But in terms of motifs and questions, those will come up often.
Your feedback would be incredibly helpful to me. Feel free to add a comment about which title you like best (if any) and why, or (even better!) suggest an alternate title. I'm not even sure which one I'm partial to anymore, so feel free to be blunt. And anyone who contributes will be not-quite-immortalized in the (ever-expanding!) acknowledgments.
And thanks. This has been a long road, and there's a long ways yet to go. I'm grateful that a few readers are willing to help me out on the journey.
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.