Embracing the Body
Our bodies teach us about God, and God communicates to us through our bodies. Our bodies are more good than we can possibly imagine them to be. And yet at times we may struggle with feelings of shame and guilt or even pride in regard to our bodies. What is God trying to do through our skin and bones?
In Embracing the Body spiritual director Tara Owens invites you to listen to your thoughts about your body in a way that draws you closer to God, calling you to explore how your spirituality is intimately tied to your physicality. Using exercises for reflection at the end of each chapter, she guides you to see your body not as an inconvenience but as a place where you can meet the Holy in a new way—a place to embrace God's glorious intention.
"Wise, erudite, loving and tender, Embracing the Body will bring true healing and wholeness to our theology of our physical bodies as a church. Tara Owens is the perfect guide for this holy journey."
"This book is beautiful, learned and wise. It will make you think, and it will make you want to say 'amen'—and, more important, it will enable you more fully to live as a body."
"Tara Owens's Embracing the Body is a gift for anyone seeking to understand how the body—with all of its twitches, itches and bentness toward false unions—is not an enemy of spiritual formation but an amazing gift from God and the ground for personal incarnation—experiencing the reality of the apostle Paul's number one teaching point, Christ within. She makes great use of real-life stories and engaging theological reflection."
"Truth. Beauty. Revelation. Those are just some of the words to describe Embracing the Body by Tara Owens. It is a rare and insightful book written by a poet who longs to love Jesus with every fiber of her being and invites others to do the same."
"Tara M. Owens is a rare find among contemporary writers. Part theologian, part mystic, her insight is bold and rich, and her writing is fine-tuned. . . . I'm grateful for the ways Tara's words have revealed some of my own wounds and fears and helped me make space for new ways of encountering God, through the body, in the body. I will be meditating on this book for a long time to come. I hope the same for you."
"Tara Owens offers us a wise and tender exploration of the gifts our bodies offer to us as portals into God's grace and wisdom. This book is much needed and should be required reading in every church's adult faith formation program. Tara doesn't just invite us to read, but to ponder, to engage and to practice so that we might claim the truth of the incarnation in new ways."
"Tara Owens writes with warmth and wisdom on a subject that many Christians have at best distrusted or at worst discarded—our bodies as carriers and avenues of spiritual growth and connection with God. We claim to be people of the incarnation but often live as if only our souls mattered and our bodies did not. Owens calls us back to our whole selves—body and soul—and in doing so helps us reconnect with incarnational living both through the central historical event that kicked off Christian movement and our ongoing task of being the disciples of Jesus cloaked in flesh and blood."
"God has created us to be connected to our bodies, and life has a way of disconnecting us. Tara has begun a conversation that will be helpful to many who feel alienated or even in conflict with their own bodies."
"Owens, a certified spiritual director and senior editor for Conversations Journal, addresses the disconnect most of us, and our churches, experience between ourselves and the physical world around us, even though it is in the body that heaven actively meets earth. Through a gentle, compassionate exploration of our thoughts and feelings about our bodies, enhanced with exercises for reflection, Owens helps us to learn what it means to be at home in our own skin and sensitive to the body's innate wisdom."
"With tender words and emotional depth, Owens offers a sacred space to ponder the fears of our bodies and how the subtle and overt messages we receive from church and society numb us to the murmurs from God that reverberate through our flesh and bones. . . . What does it mean to be at home in your skin? Step into Embracing the Body to continue your own healing towards an embodied faith."
"Tara Owen's book . . . presents a compelling vision of what an integrated self—a self no longer divided into pure spirit and problematic body—looks and feels like. . . . Embracing the Body provides a heartfelt, accessible introduction to the many ways we can begin to bring body and spirit back together, figure out what our bodies have to do with our faith and embrace the remarkable implications of a God who took on human flesh."
"Our bodies have been the cause of much shame and guilt, as well as false pride—yet they have much to teach us about divinity. Owens unpacks this thesis by examining themes such as fear and impulse, celebration and connectivity. The Canadian author . . . has a strong command of biblical and liturgical theology, and she directs that skill in penetrating and healing ways. Incarnation and resurrection—God in Jesus, both human and divine—are at the core of our understanding of being Christian. We can rejoice in both carnality and divinity, and this book helps us explore that more deeply."
Introduction: An Invitation to More
Part I: Body Reality
1. Where Do Our Fears Come From?
2. How We Lost Our Bodies
3. Broken Body, Broken Church
4. Dust to Dust: Incarnation, Body and Flesh
Part II: Facing the Fears
5. Angel or Animal: Beyond False Dichotomies
6. Beauty or Beast: Living with an Unglorified Body
7. Touch or Temptation: Issues Around Sexuality
8. Desire or Destruction: Exploring Our Impulses
Part III: Becoming Whole
9. Tension Taming: Embracing Our Fears, Finding Redemption
10. At Home in Your Skin: Exploring God's Messages in Your Body
11. Sensing His Kingdom: Encountering God's Physical Creation
12. Flesh of My Flesh: Union, Sexuality and God's Design
13. This Is My Body: Connection and Communion with the Body of Christ
Appendix: Group Discussion Guide