Monday, November 06, 2006


this is a post about nudity. those of you more comfortable behind your gap and abercrombie, your mossimo and whatever else they sell at target (wal-mart for the slightly more hip), be forewarned. this is a post about nudity.

now that i have your attention....

it really isn't all that sexy. this post, that is. i told you i would post about some of what was discussed at the conference i went to this weekend. one of the cool things that don miller talked about was that genesis 2 and 3 is really a story about nudity (i have always argued that the bible is a great deal more HBO than ABC. it certainly isn't fox family...). he pointed out that the author of genesis (some say moses, others say "who the heck knows?") was deliberate in pointing out that adam and eve were both naked and "felt no shame" (gen 2:25). now, the implications of this little tidbit of knowledge are true whether you take the story literally or not. i, for one, do not take the story literally at all, but that is a conversation for another time. what is germane here is that the author of the story makes a point to tell us that adam and eve were naked, and didn't really care too much about it.

the question that don miller asked was, "what would have to be true for you to be naked and not really notice it?" its a great question, right? we are all so very aware of our own nakedness, even with those with whom we are most intimate. how could we be less aware; how could we feel no shame?

miller's conclusion is that we would have to be so sure of ourselves, so confident and secure in knowing that we are beautiful and loved and precious and made in the very image of God. he argues that the author of genesis is saying that this was the state of things before the fall. after the fall, however, we lost our ability to hear that voice. we lost our confidence. we lost our security, and began to try to affirm ourselves with other voices. we manipulate and pose and posture and beg and self-deprecate and lie and do anything we can to get others to tell us that we are ok and we are beautiful and we are valuable and we are loved.

miller said that if you can learn a great deal about what people believe about God and eternal significance just by asking them why we wear clothes. it seems that the author of genesis believed it had to do with the shame of our sinfulness. pudendum, which is another word for genitals, comes from the latin for, "that of which we ought to be ashamed" (buechner, "whistling in the dark" 1993, page 90). so, shame sells suits and shirts and suspenders and all sorts of sunday clothes. all because we wouldn't want to be caught dead being naked.

nudity. our culture seems continually more and more obsessed with it. the need for more and more skin is obvious in advertising and entertainment, and we know that it turns a profit. why are we so drawn to that of which we are also so ashamed? i believe it is our longing for wholeness. yes, i realize that so many of the images on our tv screens and magazine counters are there simply to sell products, but i am talking about why it sells, and why the sexual appetite is one that is so easily manipulated. i think, at our core, each of us is longing to know one another intimately, without pretense, without conflict, without having to wrestle with one another to try and get affirmation of our worth. we are, basically, hungering for God.

so, i'm off to join a nudist colony. well, maybe not. but, i do hope that someday, on some other shore, i can shed all these second skins like dragon scales and hear the voice of God singing to me.

i look at jackson, and i think he is absolutely beautiful, what with his chubby little legs and the way the back of his neck smells when he first wakes up. i think he's perfect, notwithstanding the times when i have to wipe crap from halfway up his back. if i feel this way for jack, how much more must God feel this way for us?

so, someday i will stop trying to find my identity at the mall. i won't be ashamed. the naked lion will lie down with the naked lamb, and i won't be caught dead with all the baggage of clothing and labels, and i will dance like a cheetah or an otter or a crazed gorilla. it might look more like a hedgehog, but i will dance. i will dance because i will know, without shadow of doubt, without shelter of second skin, that i am beautiful and valuable and loved, above all. hallelujah!

not naked (yet),

greg.


7 comments:

Crafty P said...

you've probably never heard the term before, but this post totally makes me think of John Paul II's Theology of the Body. I have a CD series of talks titled "Naked without Shame", by Christopher West, that breaks it down for the not so theologically minded, like me. It was revolutionary for me to hear and beautiful!

Melanie said...

I clicked over to your site from Crafty P's. Wow, you have given me a lot to think about on this rainy election day in West Virginia. Why is it we are more self concscience when we are surrounded by the people we know and maybe love? Shouldn't we have the most confidence around them? I have 100 more questions churning in my brain. Off to contemplate.

greg. said...

christina - what "term" have i not heard before? John Paul II? Theology of the Body? umm...don't forget that i am a theology student. now, i may not be the papal scholar that you are, but i know a little bit about theologies of the body. give me a little credit, my catholic friend.

and by the way, anyone who listens to theology on cd is a complete nerd, in case you were in doubt.

greg.

Crafty P said...

oh yes, i am a nerd. definitely.

just thought you'd never heard of phenomenology or the term theology of the body. I don't like to ASS-U-ME.

peace

greg. said...

thank you for not assuming. we don't need any donkeys here. and thanks for commenting, christina. apparantly, most of my family has a peeping tom problem and just likes to look at the posts, voyeuristically (sp?) looking in on the conversations, but not contributing in any way. SO, you may have made an ass of you and me, but at least you are putting in your two cents (and 10 cent words like phenomenology). thanks.

and to the rest of you...
say something!

groovy said...

followed you here from christina's site too--just had to throw in my 2 cents--

thought immediately of my youngest kids (3 yrs, 2 yrs and 1 yr...yes, yikes!) , how they LOVE to be naked, how they PREFER to be naked and feel no shame running around in front of us or anyone else really while in this state--but then my mind goes to my almost seven year old daughter who has crossed over to the other side where she often hides now while in this state so we don't see her--obviously we've begun to teach her lessons about modesty and what is proper in our society but i long too for her to feel comfortable in her own skin and love the way she was created--

interesting thought.

(elizabeth king) fellow GCC grad

joe said...

i don't know much about much, but well said my friend. you made me think. and i'm still thinking...