The Life of the Body: Physical Well-Being and Spiritual Formation, By Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold alt

The Life of the Body

Physical Well-Being and Spiritual Formation

by Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold

The Life of the Body
  • Length: 200 pages
  • Published: November 14, 2012
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: 6638
  • ISBN: 9780830866380

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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

  • choices about what we eat
  • worshiping with our bodies
  • seasons of life for body and soul
  • caring for the planet
  • and more

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."

Keith Eigel, Ph.D., cofounder of The Leaders Lyceum

"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."

Karen Wright Marsh, executive director, Theological Horizons

"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."

Emilie Griffin, author, Souls in Full Sail and Green Leaves for Later Years

"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."

Richella Parham,

"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.'"

Howard Baker, instructor of Christian formation at Denver Seminary and author of The One True Thing

"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."

Wil Hernandez, Ph.D., Andrews Chair in Spiritual Formation at Spring Arbor University and the author of Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities

"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."

Bruce Demarest, senior professor of Christian formation, Denver Seminary, and author of Seasons of the Soul

"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)

Matt Reynolds, Christianity Today, January / February 2013


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


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Valerie E. Hess

Valerie E. Hess is a pastor's wife, mother, teacher, retreat speaker, and musician. She received her master's in church music from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. She is currently the coordinator of music ministries for Trinity Lutheran Church in Boulder, Colorado. Valerie is an instructor in the Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Leadership program at Spring Arbor University. She is part of the Renovaré Partners in Renewal group and led a workshop at the 2005 Renovaré International Conference. She is the coauthor of Habits of a Child's Heart (NavPress, 2004).

Lane M. Arnold

Lane M. Arnold (MEd, Georgia State University) is a spiritual director with a certification in Christian formation and soul care from Denver Seminary. She offers spiritual direction to those in her local area of Colorado and internationally via Skype. Lane loves exploring invitations from the Holy Trinity and encourages adults to go deeper in their relationship with Christ.