The BODY and HUMAN DIGNITY
Table of Contents
Although there are many institutions that are officially committed to human dignity (think of the UN), the Catholic Church is the only one of them that consistently ties human dignity to man’s bodily nature: the Catholic Church stands alone in proclaiming that man enjoys a transcendent dignity precisely because his body has a theological significance. For the Church, Christian orthodoxy stands or falls with the defense of the integrity of corporeal nature and its characteristic acts, because this integrity is both a condition of, an element in, and in some sense a consequence of the Incarnation and the Resurrection.
The Summer, 2006 issue of Communio is dedicated to the “distinctively Catholic” connection between The Body and Human Dignity.
David L. Schindler, writing in “The Dramatic Nature of Life: Liberal Societies and the Foundations of Human Dignity,” argues that liberal societies fail to grasp that man’s dignity hangs together with the dramatic quality of his life, which in turn depends upon the encounter with God at the very depths of one’s being, and the recognition that freedom is realized finally in binding itself in love forever (in a vow).
Adrian J. Walker’s “‘Sown Psychic, Raised Spiritual’: The Lived Body as the Organ of Theology” makes explicit the bodily density of this encounter with the divine in the depths: thanks to the Resurrection, Walker argues, the lived body is the prime organ by which we know God in this life and the next.
In his “Marriage and the ‘Garments of Skin’ in Irenaeus and the Greek Fathers,” Adam G. Cooper connects the Greek Patristic doctrine of marriage and sexuality to the teaching of John Paul II using Irenaeus’s “theology of the body” as a bridge.
The next three articles consider a range of moral issues in light of the link between human dignity and man’s given bodily nature.
In “Liberal Androgyny: ‘Gay Marriage’ and the Meaning of Sexuality in Our Time,” David S. Crawford demonstrates how the movement for “same-sex marriage” is a “tacit step toward the anthropological nullification of sexuality and gender altogether.”
In “The Gift of Life—Why There Is No Right to Die,” Jörg Splett develops an account of existence as a gift in order to expose the utilitarian and functionalist logic underlying the right to die movement.
Finally, Robert Spaemann, in “Begotten, Not Made,” lays out an argument against both eugenic “improvement” of the gene pool and experimentation with embryos, insisting on the rooting of the communion of human persons in their shared origination through sexual generation—which is not a “making,” but a begetting that distantly mirrors the begetting of the eternal Son.
Notes and Comments closes the present issue with three selections that all address the question of the body and human dignity from different points of view.
Robert Spaemann notes the disappearance of our cultural antennae for the mysterious significance of death and burial in “When Death Becomes Inhuman.”
In “A Writer’s Witness,” prize-winning German writer Karin Struck (1947–2006) explains how she became an opponent of abortion as the “murder of woman’s conscience.”
Finally, Martin Bieler, writing in “Creation, Evolution, and the Drama of Redemption,” explains how Darwinism glimpses, but does not do full justice to, the mysteriousness of our bodily condition in its “subjection to vanity,” whose secret, both as a punishment for sin and a foreshadowing of the sacrificial love of the Cross, only the Paschal Mystery of Christ finally and fully discloses.
Go to Table of Contents.
COMMUNIO: International Catholic Review
P.O. Box 4557 | Washington, DC 20017 | 1-202-526-0251 | fax 1-202-526-1934 | communio-icr.com | Contact Us