religion and body image

4 02 2009

Newsweek’s religion editor Lisa Miller wrote in the February 2 issue about “God’s Miraculous Makeover.” The piece talks about differing religious viewpoints on the topic of resurrection. The central question is, “What does resurrection look like?”

You likely believe that when you die, you’re going to heaven. More than 80 percent of Americans do. But in what form? Are you “you”? If so, are you old or young, fat or thin? If not, what are you? An angel? A spirit? A spark?

Near the end of the article, Lisa Miller writes

Saint Augustine, in an effort to convince skeptics of the truth of resurrection, took the opposite tack. He devoted himself to describing the benefits of the real, resurrected body. In heaven, he wrote in “City of God,” you will be your perfect self: unblemished and 30-something. If you were fat in life, you will become pleasingly thinner; if too thin, you will become robust. According to Augustine, “we will be in our physical bodies in a universe that has no dimension, and we will know God without interpretation,” explains Paula Fredriksen, author most recently of “Augustine and the Jews.” “Our bodies will be the very same as the ones we had in life, but buff and beautiful.”

The implication is that our existing bodies are not beautiful. The most telling line is: “If you were fat in life, you will become pleasingly thinner; if too thin, you will become robust.” In other words, if you are not a buff young hotbody, you’re not good enough for God, but he can “fix” you. Is anyone else a little bit annoyed by this idea?

I don’t mean to suggest that they aren’t entitled to their beliefs. Rather, I find it a bit sad that religious belief is so often used to tell people that they’re not good enough as they are (this does not speak to their actions, but rather to their basic characteristics). I just don’t understand why you’d want a god who is more interested in appearance than character.

Fundamental to nudism is the acceptance of our bodies, imperfect as they may be. If we’re not good enough for God, how can we accept ourselves?

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7 responses

4 02 2009
jonolan

There is another interpretation Augustine’s hypothesis. Perhaps if you are not a buff young hotbody, you’re not good enough for yourself, but He can fix” you.

Augustine could have meant that we’ll all be our own idealized versions of ourselves.

Also, If we’re not good enough for ourselves, how can God accept us? So nudism’s underlying premise is quite valid and important. 😉

4 02 2009
local nudist

I get what you’re saying. My only point is that if resurrection is a real physical restoration, shouldn’t there be a corresponding shift in our mental & emotional selves, to the effect that we accept our imperfect bodies?

Honestly, I’d planned to avoid religion & politics, but they’re everywhere! I’ll try to keep them to a minimum, but every once in a while my dander may get uppity and I’ll be forced to do its bidding

5 02 2009
Rick

I think the idea that the “soul” takes on some physical form when we ascend to Heaven or wherever we go, makes it easier for us to imagine the afterlife. I really haven’t been able to imagine what the soul really is or what form it takes.

I like to think that God accepts us no matter what we look like even we don’t.

5 02 2009
All Nudist

God who? Haven’t seen much evidence of His existance lately. As to his supposed Adversary, oh yeah. All over the place.

But, of course, that’s been the case through Human history…

6 02 2009
local nudist

I’m actually with you, All Nudist, on the issue of God’s existence. I’ve described myself as atheist, agnostic, humanist, and rationalist. I’m not entirely sure which term I feel best describes my own thoughts on the subject. But I’ll leave my religious rants for another blog.

6 02 2009
jonolan

All Nudist,

You really can’t have an Adversary without a Protagonist, so…

In other words, if you’re monotheistic, it’s a bit irrational to dispute God’s existence while admitting to Satan’s. Well – unless you read Black Easter too often at a young age and believe Satan won the war.

10 02 2009
h

Pathetically, St. Augustine is central to the Christianity myth. He was ordered by the Pope to invent good reasons to pursuade us pagans to convert.
Unless there is oxygen, food, water, outhouses, and natural aging, then our bodies are not the same are they? There must have been dissenters like me, but they were promptly tortured and executed.

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