Holistic Theology/Spirituality

Martin Thorton speaks of the English tradition as a balance of affective and speculative elements.  I wonder if it’s worth going a step further and adding in the kinetic dimension. In reductionistic terms, then, it’d be theology and spirituality that balances and integrates heart, head, and body. The pay-off is that we recognize the bodily dimensions—kneeling, fasting/feasting, crossings, etc. as just as much a part of our theology and spirituality as what we think and feel.

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2 Responses to Holistic Theology/Spirituality

  1. Matt Gunter says:

    I like this, Derek. I think we tend to underestimate the formational reality of the kinetic dimension. I was just reading something along these lines in Untamed Hospitality by Elizabeth Newman.

  2. I think this is meaningful. I find myself wondering if this isn’t also something that was lost, or at least vitiated, with the coming of the current Prayer Book. That is, there were patterns of movement consistent to being an Episcopalian, at least regionally and certainly within a given congregation. It was often phrased, “Sit to listen; stand to praise; kneel to pray.” With the hard lean toward Eastern Christian practice as the oldest consistent practice, we added standing to pray, and commonly losing kneeling even for penance. There is also a pattern of movement in Orthodox churches, but is wasn’t one familiar to us. Moreover, many of us, myself included, were comfortable with individuals choosing their own patterns of behavior. On the other hand, neither did we teach that patterns of behavior could be a meaningful part of personal spirituality, nor talk about how an individual might think such a choice through.

    There have been discussions, including here I think, of returning to our Benedictine roots and considering formation and spiritual discipline as means for bringing together our congregations and forming new members. I wonder how we might consider making some physical expressions of spiritual discipline part of our worship life.

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