Thursday, January 23, 2014

A TWO-FER just for you

Book 1: These Beautiful Bones by Emily Stimpson

I was really excited when I heard about this book. I have always loved learning more about Blessed John Paul II’s teachings on the theology of the body. But most of what I read was often too theological for this former theology student. I couldn’t maintain the focus necessary to slog through it all. 

Also, most of the writing on TOB is focused on the Church’s teachings on Sexuality—which is fine and all, but I guess I felt like I am on board with those teachings and didn’t need to rehash a lot of it. 

At any rate, a book on TOB that professed to be an “everyday theology of the body” seemed perfect. And when I read the chapter headings, I knew I was in for a treat:

  • The Joy of Labor, Laundry and Lice: The Theology of the Body and Work
  • The Steps Within the Dance: The Theology of the Body and Manners
  • The Last and Other Suppers: The Theology of the Body and the Gift of Food

Emily Stimpson has a great style of writing. She is easy to read, always relevant, personal (in a good way) and yet theologically and doctrinally precise enough to not leave you confused. 

I highly recommend this book to all readers from youth on up. Your high school student can benefit,  your college aged child, you, your mother, even your grandmother! And certainly your parish priest or seminarian. In short, read it and pass it on. 

Now for some favorite quotes that will serve to set up my next book review. 
“The Theology of the Body is like Hooked on Phonics for the sacramental worldview, offering the contemporary mind a step by step lesson plan for how to read the world rightly once more.” pg 26

Loved this quote. The sacramental worldview is really what makes a uniquely Catholic world view and it is so lost on the modern man. 

"…as the Catholic anthropology of the theology of the body reminds us, man is a union of body and soul, made in the mirage of God. Which means our bodies are us. Your body is you. my body is me." pg 27

Far from despising our bodies, we as Catholics highly respect our bodies, even reverence our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us. 

"In all that, the theology of the body offers a resounding response to the modernist lies about the body, helping us see that the body isn’t a piece of matter to be molded, manipulated and used. Rather it’s a gift to be cared for and cherished. The body is us. It reveals our soul to the world, enabling us to love, serve, and give ourselves to others, while, at the same time speaking to the unique splendor of man in the order of creation as the only creature to posses both a material body and an eternal soul." by 36
Molded, manipulated, and used. Isn't that what we see in the culture around us? And does it not lead only to unhappiness and dissatisfaction? Women are especially tempted in this way. If you have ever felt that the particular shape of your body somehow makes you less than you should be, the Theology of the Body is the answer. 

Book 2: Alignment Matters: The First Five Year of Katy Says by Katy Bowman

And now, the unlikely second review: a book that on the surface seems to have nothing to do with Emily Stimpson’s book. In fact, the two online worlds in which I found these two books would seem to have little intersection at all. I doubt Ms Stimpson is a Katy Bowman fan (not that she shouldn’t be, just that she isn’t…yet), nor is Katy likely to be found on the Theology of the Body discussion forums (yet). 

But here they are together on my blog. 

I first came across Katy Bowman via a mommy blog that linked to a mommy blog that talked about PFD (pelvic floor disorder) and why Kegels were NOT the answer. And my first reaction to Katy’s stuff was that it made so much sense. 

Now, although I am a mostly conservative and traditional girl (I mean those here in the most basic way—not politically or liturgically), I tend to love anything that bucks conventional wisdom, yet makes perfect sense. 

And so when I read on Katy’s blog about what heels on shoes do to our feet and how her studies as a “biomechanist”* showed her that the foot was not created to be used the way we use it (stuffed into a shoe on an incline anywhere from 1/4in to 7+in and in a state of non-motion for the greater part of our day). 

Of course, her expertise spreads beyond the feet to the whole body, but my introduction to Katy was mostly via the feet (and the PFD thing too). 

Because of Katy I spend most of my days with pain free feet for the first time in my adult memory. Most of that has to do with my shoe choices these days, but it also has to do with stretches, exercises and ways of moving that I have learned from her. 

This review is as much about Katy, and her blog, and her classes, as it is about her latest book. In fact, it is as much about her first book as it is about this second book (and I think there is a third coming too!). Her writing style is easy to understand, and fun. She cracks me up all the time. And her videos on her blogs inspired me to JUST get it done and not worry about perfection. 

Her first book, Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief is a must for anyone who ever has any sort of foot pain (plantar fascists, corns, bunions, heel pain, ankle pain, cramped toes, etc.) but this second book goes way beyond the feet. 

Alignment Matters really is Katy’s blog in book form. It is organized by topics (rather than date) and so makes searching for the information that is most pertinent to you much easier. 

Coming upon Katy and world of alignment and natural movement can be overwhelming, but this book takes all that great stuff and arranges it in a way that helps you to take baby steps—starting on your own journey to better health where ever YOU need to start first!

Now, why, oh why you ask, did you put these two books together. Let me see if I can explain. 

Emily’s book shows us how God reveals Himself and His plan for us in the way He created our bodies. 

Katy’s book (and blog) show us how the way the body was created explains how it is best used. 

Make sense? 

When I came across Katy's blog and the way her study of the human body, from biological and mechanical point of view, helped her to come to conclusions about general health and the diseases that plague us moderns, it changed the way I looked at my own body. And it confirmed for me something that I have believed all of my life, but somehow hadn't taken to the next step. God created my body (and your body and every body) in a certain way knowing full well the sort of environment those bodies would be living in for most of human history. And, though He could see what modern life would be, He knew it would take thousands of years to get there. 

In other words...
your body does not need a chair in order to be at rest
your body does not need specialized shoes (that only modern technology could give you) to be properly aligned and protected
your body was not designed in need of a 1.5 inch heel.
your body was not made to be still for most of the day (what the heck are all those little muscles for, if not to be used).
you DO use that high school geometry in every day're just doing it wrong

If any of this makes any sense to you I highly recommend visiting Katy's Blog. And if you find yourself going from blog post to blog post looking up your particular issues, I HIGHLY recommend getting Alignment Matters

Now for a little quiz. Who said these two things? 

“Lectio divina is a way to mediate with the written word….of course, you can always read this way, but what makes it a meditation is that you have chosen a time in which your behaviors match your choice of behaviors exactly….Your body executing your mind’s wishes is mindfulness.”

“Once upon a time, before the automobile, the steam engine and the jet plane people moved every day of their own accord. They had to. Their survival depended on it….Today, however, moving is mostly optional. For many of us the only movement our work requires of us is flapping our lips or tapping our fingers. That is not enough to keep a body fit.” 

If you think you know, leave a comment.  

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