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Transitions in life, pivotal moments, and things of significance often stay in abstraction in our minds. Nevertheless, as humans we are embodied souls–if you will. We are beings who experience a full array of sensations with our felt senses. Instead of being cut off from these very human ways of interacting with the world and with each other, I say we should go the extra bit and bring our interior world to the surface in tangible and representational ways. What if we embody and physically ritualize this part of us–when it makes sense? That is, make it sacramental or give what is invisible a visible placeholder.
Today’s episode focuses on how we might integrate mind and body and inhabit or even perform in a space in the tangible world that allows for rites of passage or significant moments in our times of life transitions. What if we create a holistic and gracious space for our thoughts and feelings representationally, as we journey through difficult, monumental, or joyous moments that seem too rich or deep to keep within? Will this make it possible to be “more authentically ourselves”?
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Tara’s ministry exists to provide a place dedicated to the practice of soul friendship and coming alongside others in order to facilitate healing, wholeness, holiness and spiritual formation.
• We cover topics about embodiment, sexuality, sensuality, body shame, body and brain disconnect, fear, technology, the vow of “staying with”, spiritual direction, holy listening and attending to others, and using an adult coloring book as a spiritual practice.
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I was a sweaty, nervous wreck on my first periscope.
It’s comical…did anyone ever see Broadcast News (the movie)?
I needed two tissues for my sympathetic nervous system.
(Some technical difficulties threw me just before broadcast and I talked SO VERY fast.)
If you didn’t get to see it here you go!
THE #1 Myth about the SOUL…
is that we have one.
But first….we should get on the same page…
WHAT IS A SOUL?
(what are we talking about?)
This is how I’m describing it:
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh. We might use it this way, “1,517 souls were lost in the Titanic disaster.”
SOUL ≠ dead BUGS BUNNY …like a floating ghost and that sort of stuff.
Not a faint rendering of bugs bunny leaving his body to play a harp on a cloud with Porky Pig. Not something that is ghosty and haunting a house or helping Demi Moore on a Pottery Wheel. (Patrick Swayze-style..google it, young people.)
Ancients thought of the mind and heart differently (the will and the emotions)…
Maybe these verses come to mind…but you’ve been thinking about them in your own context instead of the ancient context from which they were written.
Remember this one?
The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things JER 17:9
(Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
….The writers of these scriptures were not talking about emotions and feelings when they said “heart” (like we associate the heart today…they were talking about the HEART as one’s will and control center of a person…(the thing we now associate with the mind.)
For them, the emotions (the heart for us in our context) were associated, instead, with the bowels. Perhaps a bit gross..but there is some
MEDICAL TRUTH/correlation : anxiety and stress are closely associated with disease and problem that happen in the intestines…like….ulcerated colon, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (bloating, constipation, gas, and other fun things), digestion issues, food sensitivities and problems in that part of the body. These are extremely related to one’s emotions and levels of stress.
The GEM MODEL of the Soul (my version)
Think of the SOUL as a gem and the facets are ways to see the soul.
You can go as far as saying other things beyond these are facets:
family of origin, social economic situation, skin color (if that has been a defining factor in your life)
education, the country you live in,
Even Christianity is a facet. A worldview is a facet that we can gain a kind of look at who we are.
Grace is central to Christianity, for instance. We can look at our soul through the facet of grace.
When light is added to a stone you can see its flaws and imperfections and you can see its quality (color, cut, clarity, caret)
UGLY soul? Is that possible? what do you think?
In his book Care of Souls, David Benner writes, “We can define soul care as the support and restoration of the well-being of persons in their depth and totality, with particular concern for their inner life. Soul care is done in the context of community.”
The vantage point of Soul Care views struggle or failings not as fatal flaws or illness to be “cured”. Not therapy or self-help.
It’s a sustaining endeavor for our interior lives and our relationships, like water and food is for the body. Incidentally, caring for the body falls within the bounds of Soul Care.
Ten Signs that You Need the Renewal of Soul Care
1. Fruitlessness. Are there observable deficits in the enacted your Fruit of the Spirit? That means, is there any lack or slack in the
areas of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? (If not, I think E.T. went home without you. Phone again. You might want to text, and retweet as well.)
2. You find yourself perceiving things others say as personally offensive, or as direct attacks.
3. You are “venting” more in person or online. 4. You feel unloved. 5.You feel increased frustration, restlessness, or disconsolation.
6.Your fears and anxiety are more prevalent.
7.You have increased tension in relationships.
8. You struggle with one or more of the “seven deadly
sins”: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
9. You have problems sleeping or bad dreams.
10. You’re in a creative slump.
THE #1 myth about the soul is that…. you have one. You don’t have a soul you are a Soul. You have a body. George MacDonald, in 1892 (C.S. Lewis quotes him and the quote is mistakenly attributed to him sometimes)
Think of the Soul as “the real you” the essence of you. contained in a body, yes, but made up of everything about you in a pure sense.
Some might say the soul gets extinguished or goes to paradise or gets absorbed into the great Life Force (God) …but in terms of what you need…you always need Soul Care, because you are a soul and that include both the visible and the invisible.
All this more and much more is available in my book. Shame-filled plug.
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Shownotes: PART I
A conversation (in 2 parts) with
the author of Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, by practical theologian Tom Reynolds
Tom joined the Emmanuel College (part of the University of Toronto) faculty in 2007. He is committed to an interdisciplinary, practical, and relational vision of theology, his teaching and research address a range of topics related to constructive theology (particularly the doctrine of God and theological anthropology), theological method, intercultural and interfaith engagements, contextual theologies and globalization, philosophical theology, disability studies, and the thought and influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher.
Incorporating the theology of disability into his work training pastors at Emmanuel Seminary, because theology is personal, and not disconnected from the real world concerns of the church and people living their lives.
About his son Chris sparking his interest and work in the theology of disability.
5:30 Learning that disability isn’t a problem to figure out, but rather it’s about a person who I love and live with, and care with and for, which radically reoriented my perspective on theology.
Disability and God’s Providence
(Questioning does God “cause” disability as a curse or opportunity for healing…or a kind of moral lesson…)
His son exploded the theological categories (and assumptions) pertain to Providence…making everything confusing and needing to be re-thought.
What is abnormal? What is “faulty” humanity?
Amos Yong, Hans Reinders, John Swinton writing on the topic too.
Tom details the new book on the Theology of Care which builds on the first book.
Some churches stress Cure over Care in terms of disability.
(Lisa) My visit to a church where the leadership was interested in healing my son from his non normative experience of the world.
The range of responses churches have when encountering people with disabilities.
The church’s “urge to cure” is better than outright exclusion, which plenty of families have encountered.
It comes from the the idea of remaking and fixing someone in a way that is more comfortable for non disable people and normalcy (what they consider normal). Not helpful or Christian.
About the church that didn’t want his son as a disruption and a church that did receive them.
“How can we help you?” was water for his parched soul. How the church accepted and welcomed the uniqueness of his son.
Hospitality vs. a narrow view of what is preferred.
The messiness of various kinds of people, in general, means we have to expand our view of grace.
Who gets to be a full-fledge member of the church community?
and the “mascot syndrome” for those with disabilities.
16:30 – 17:50
Levels and types of responses:
• Tolerate disabled, but they do not get to be a true part of the church.
• “Inclusion” sometimes means means the the “outsiders” get invites to the inside group based on the good graces of the in group, but are still treated as problems to be solved, or people that are to receive the gestures of charity from others (people for whom things are “done for (them”)”. Doing for instead of “being with”.
What is access? In is not just accommodations (i.e. ramps and special bathrooms) and alterations but ongoing…
Faith communities may be not expecting and not ready to receive those with disabilities.
It’s not an issue about outsiders, because disability extend to a broad range of issues, both visible and not visible, including mental health challenges that are already there.
Thinking of the word “BELONGING”
as in “to be longed for when you aren’t there in the fullest sense.”
John Swinton and belonging
Jean Vanier “In giving and receiving do we really thrive as people”
Unconscious bias that includes “fear of the stranger” and “fear of the stranger within”.
We fear weakness and vulnerability.
Before “mainstream”…the stigma of “retard”…and fearing and disposing weakness.
Nathan means gift. (Lisa) I learned that I had to recognize weaknesses (shortcomings) in myself the I saw reflected in my son…and communities can do the same type of thing unconsciously.
“The encounter with disability punctures the illusions of what we think of as our own strengths.”
The journey with a child with disabilities is isolating.
Societal epidemic that fears being vulnerable or perceived as weak or unable to perform in ways that are considered valuable by society.
We have to see what are myths about autonomy, independence, and productivity where are assume we are self-reliant and these qualities are prized so highly. “Able-ism” (The idea that being able in body and mind is normal and most vital which serves as the lens by which we see and judge the world and others outside those parameters as faulty.)
Tom’s latest work called “A spirituality of attentiveness”. Christianity: St Paul’s strength in weakness serves as a prophetic witness against a society that prizes the strong as the main thing of value. 1 Corinthinians pretense of strength undercuts our ideas of grace)
We are all only temporarily-abled. (Lisa).
On hearing “You must be so blessed to have a disabled person as a teacher.” Is this sometimes a reframing of the situation that spins the situation to be more palatable? A glossing with spiritual truths and making it about spiritual growth.
Instead, Chris’s life seeks its own flourishes, and he may at times function as a teacher.
Thoughts on intellectual ability (or inability) and belief in terms of Salvation.
God’s works God’s own path in different ways and in different capacities with people. This undercuts my arrogance (as a theologian), so I don’t think I can so easily map it out definitively and universal for all people in all places.
His son’s atheism (who is the God he doesn’t believe in)…and how that challenges our presuppositions about God.
“It is in the kind of relationships of mutual belonging that the full image of God is borne out.”
(Lisa) To my son I said, “when you see someone who is loving you, you are seeing God.”
(Lisa) On how I changed from thinking “right belief” as the way to understand God was central. Our intellectualizing what God has done is not salvific.
Martin Luther’s theology of the Cross:
The pretense that we know exactly where God is and how God works. Where God is most hidden is where God is most vividly revealed in saving ways.
“Who I am to declare that God’s grace only works in some ways? and the God’s capacity and God’s own mystery is limited to what I would deem and my community would deem adequate.”
What the practical theology of disability tells us about Grace with God and relationships with others.
“The longer I live and work as a theologian the more I realize the limitations of theology and the true infinite mysteries of God.”
Jesus was disruptive to religious pretense and suppositions. “You say this..but I say this…”
Theodicy – The question of why does God allow suffering and how should we think about suffering.
How Tom, as a theologian, answers the question,
“Why would a sovereign God allow a person to be born disable and encounter such suffering?” (This is great!)
The best is yet to come! Come back for part II next week.
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