Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Body Work Revisited

Paul Evdokimov (1902-1970) was a noted french Orthodox theologian whose works are studied by persons interested in Orthodox Christianity. He has been known as "a theological bridge between East and West," since he brings patristic insights to bear upon the present day situations. Even after his death, his books are still sold throughout the world. Unfortunately, most of what is written about him is in French.

Last night I attended the second night of my "Theology of the Body" class. When I got home, I pulled two books off the "Eastern Christian Studies" shelf of my library, to find two of his works that had been sitting there, waiting for the right time to read them.

The Sacrament of Love reflects on marriage in light of the Orthodox tradition. As is believed by Catholics, the union of man and woman in marriage is a relationship of persons united in love, as is seen in its perfection in the case of God in the Trinity. Evdokimov elaborates on the fruitfullness of this love -- not only as expressed through the procreation of children, but through other works such as hospitality, service, or through a common creation. He goes on to view love as manifest in monastic and non-monastic celibacy.

In his more daring work, Woman and the Salvation of the World, Evdokimov challenges contemporary Christianity to face up to the current phenomenon, of the dominance of the male both in the Church and in the world, asserting this as the root of many evils in the modern world. Not unlike John Paul II in his Theology of the Body, Evdokimov proposes a rediscovery of an authentic Christian anthropology, that sees male and female as complementary, yet with distinct charisms and vocations.

How to bring this all to bear in real life, is a subject for another day. After all, I just got started on all this. Stay tuned...

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