Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy

Article excerpt

Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy. By Jay Emerson Johnson. (New York: Seabury Books, 2013, London and New York: Routledge, 2010, Pp. x, 182. $20.00.)

The last fifteen years have seen an explosion in historical and theological discussions of human sexuality. What began in the

1970s with women's exploration of faith in the light of feminism has since expanded to include the voices of people of color, postcolonial theologians, eco-theologians, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. All do theology from their particular bodily, cultural, and spiritual locations. This book, however, is not another theological account of human sexuality. Nor is it a critique of mainstream theology from the perspective of a disadvantaged minority. Jay Emerson Johnson identifies as a gay man, but here he aims to illuminate our understanding of the Eucharist by using what we have learned about sexuality. It is an attempt to apply to an important area of Christian theology the tools used in and the insights gleaned from recent debates. Johnson states the obvious, that both "food and sex clearly matter, especially in relation to things divine" (10). He argues that since the church has had so much to say about both food and sex, the two may be connected in deeper ways than we have noticed thus far. He finds the connection in the desire for intimacy, for communion, with God and with other human beings. This deep desire may be met both in sexual intimacy with a beloved partner and also in sacramental eating and drinking in a beloved community.

The book is structured according to the conventional theological sequence of creation, fall and salvation, another indication that this is an attempt at theology for everyone, not just for a marginalized few. The "Creation" chapter laments the post-medieval loss of the eroticism of the Song of Songs to Christian consciousness. It presents an erotic God who desires us. We were not created for bodily shame, but in the chapter on the Fall, which Johnson paraphrases as "The Severing," he explores four "interrelated sources of sexual consternation" which conspire against bodily wisdom. …

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