Dear Carrol, thanks for the information. I was educated by Benedictine nuns and we were certainly taught to regard the body as something to be overcome by denial. And they were happy to help us disrespect our bodies by smacking us with rulers and making us kneel on dry beans as punishment! We were praised for fasting and giving up foods we liked for Lent. If you have been to Italy you have probably witnessed the devout crawling up enormous flights of stairs in churches on their hands and knees. Self-flagellation is practiced by some (remember the scene in The Da Vinci Code?) Jesus set the ultimate example of denying the body when he allowed himself to be crucified when he could have avoided it. It seems to me this descends from Platonic dualism. The spirit/body split. Catholic ascetics are not all Manicheans are they? Diana


From:  Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: Fearing death by water
Date:  Thu, 9 Aug 2007 12:32:00 -0500
Diana Manister wrote:
>
> Tom, if the body is seen as an impediment to salvation, its
> destruction is a good thing, right? This attitude exists within
> Christianity - from Aquinas maybe.

You describe Manichaeism -- which Aquinas so hated that there is a
legend to the effect that once while an invited guest at a banquet put
on by Louis XI(?) he suddenly leaped up with the medieval equivalent of
Eureka and dashed out of the room to get down an idea he had just had
for the refutation of Manichaeism. Hatred of the body is heresy because
it casts doubt on the doctrine of the Incarnation and the Sacrament of
the Mass. Gnosticism had a similar hatred of the body.

This is not to say there isn't a strong flavor of manichaeism in a lot
of Christian thought, but don't blame it on Aquinas. For Dante heaven is
only a sort of semi-heaven until the last judgment when the souls in
heaven will be reunited with their bodies, that union being essential
for true human bliss. (Incidentally, contrdicting modern Papist dogma,
Aquinas held that the fetus acquired a soul only with the second
trimester, hence he could have approved of abortion in the first
trimester.

Carrol


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