What does exercise have to do with our souls?
How do our sleeping habits relate to being conformed to the likeness of Christ?
What do our bodies have to do with spiritual formation?
Valerie Hess has taken up these questions with her spiritual formation graduate students. And Lane Arnold has processed them with others as a spiritual director. They have discovered that the life of our bodies has quite a bit to do with the life of our souls.
Together they have written a book that helps readers explore
Each chapter has reflection questions and creative exercises to help you engage body and soul with these themes. This is not just a book to read. It's an invitation to a new way of experiencing God.
"There are a handful of books that I couldn't stop thinking about after I put them down. The Life of the Body is one of them. It is thought-provoking, insightful and well-grounded. . . . If you want to push yourself toward who you are intended to be, let this book challenge your assumptions."
"The risen Christ said, 'Touch me and see.' Valerie Hess and Lane Arnold illuminate the truth that resurrection life is lived in and through our bodies. As the authors reclaim the long-neglected relationships between spirit, mind and body, we discover grace-filled ways to discover life abundant in Christ. I heartily recommend this book."
"Do body wisdom and spiritual formation belong together? Two experienced Christian teachers of spiritual formation say yes. Valerie Hess and Lane Arnold give us an energizing workout for the weary soul, suggesting ways to discard the burden of bad ideas and false behavior in favor of energetic Christ-living that works on many levels. An encouraging book."
"In a gentle, humble, yet firm way, Valerie and Lane have ventured into a subject where few authors have dared to go. I appreciate the way they challenge us as persons with individual bodies and members of Christ's body to examine our issues and embrace the healing offered in Christ."
"Through the wisdom of their words, through numerous probing questions and through embodied spiritual exercises, Valerie and Lane artfully show us how, in love and obedience, to present our bodies as living sacrifices to our Lord who sacrificed his body for us. In a day when the physical body is used as a tool for selfish pleasure or neglected as excess baggage on a more 'spiritual' journey, Life of the Body provides a sturdy corrective and a refreshing way forward. The hopeful result that the faithful reader can expect, along with the apostle Paul, is that 'Christ will be exalted in my body.'"
"The Life of the Body is a timely gift to the body of Christ, which, even today, stands guilty of the tendency to split off the body from the whole notion of spirituality. The authors' work is richly informative and educational, highly practical and--to my own embarrassment--personally convicting! A much-needed corrective to our misguided understanding of what holistic formation is about."
"The Life of the Body skillfully illustrates how God mediates transforming grace through the God-created body and its senses. Carefully researched and winsomely written, the book offers constructive protocols for formation into Christlikeness and optimal health. Here is an engaging contribution to vital spirituality and physical wellness, or total-person shalom."
"Rejecting the body-soul dualism to which Christians have often succumbed, authors Valerie Hess and Lane Arnold reflect on the many ways fitness, nutrition, and other aspects of bodily care can aid or impede a relationship with God." (4/5 stars)
Introduction: Here's the Question
1. Jesus Has a Body
2. Bodies Within the Body
3. Our Body in Worship
4. Toward a Balanced Lifestyle
5. Theology of Food
6. Questioning Cultural Messages
7. Extremes Examined
8. The Body Gone Awry
9. Seasoned Well
10. The Next Generation
11. Caring for the Planet
Conclusion: Going On From Here
Appendix A: Holy Habits for the Whole Body
Appendix B: The Bible and the Body
Appendix C: Resources
Appendix D: Small Group Guide