A Study Guide to John Paul II’s Theology of the Body
by Mary Healy. Servant Press, 113 pp. 2005.
The phrase “theology of the body” is by now part of the common language in the Church. We hear it referenced in homilies, as backdrop to discussions on human sexuality, and as one point in the credentials for Catholic writers and speakers who talk about how to live the faith – but what does it really mean? Trying to read the enormous volume of weekly discourses by the previous pope is beyond daunting, even choosing among a plethora of titles on interpretations of John Paul II’s work is mightily confusing. Where would one begin?
Mary Healy has provided a slim volume explaining the topic in just the right words for the interested reader. She writes clearly, showing respect for her audience’s ability to reach for these beautiful truths about the human person and yet not get lost down frustrating philosophic rabbit holes. She illustrates the topic using broad brushstrokes, and yet, marvelously, without losing the nuances that show the Church’s inspired ability to combine faith and reason so well. This is just the right place to begin – or the tool to explain it effectively to others.
There are nine chapters, each readable yet satisfying, and all capped with scripture references, reminder of key concepts, questions for discussion, and practical applications. There are also carefully chosen resources for those who wish to go deeper. Thus, this books works for the individual reader, a parent needing to explain God’s plan for sexuality to growing children, or a study group hoping to tackle the topic in a foundational way.
Mysogyny surrounds us – in the media, in the entertainment industry, in much of the school curricula, and in the poorly formed souls living without any understanding of their own dignity. Thus it falls to Catholics to give an answer for the faith that is in us. Men and Women are from Eden is treasure to form us all so that we can bring an end to the suffering around us.