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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