Thursday, December 11, 2008

Embodied Thought

I have been reading a book by Carol P. Christ. I know, I know, it's not a "Christian" book. But it is about feminist spirituality and that is a key interest of mine. It is also part of a pet project about reframing things so that our faith can resonate more with women who are reclaiming a place for themselves in a world that is still dominated by patriarchal understandings (although we are making progress).

There is a section on embodied thought and that has struck a chord with some of what I have been thinking lately. According to Carol: "When we think through the body , we reflect upon the standpoints embedded in our life experiences, histories, values, judgments, and interests. Not presuming to speak universally or dispassionately, we acknowledge that our perspectives are finite and limited. Rather than being "subjective," "narrowly personal", "merely confessional," "self-referential," or "self-indulgent" (discrediting terms taken from the ethos of objectivity), embodied thinking enlarges experience through empathy." (from the book, Rebirth of the Goddess)

I was reading this on coffee row. The usual suspects were not present at the inbetween times and so I had the rare opportunity to pull out my book and do some reading as well as some reflecting. The following are some of the thoughts I had.

Embodied thinking allows for compassion and flexibility. It is not as rigid and is more open to dialogue, which then facilitates open and "polite" discussion. Because we don't have "pretend" (we can never be truly objective inspite of what others would have us believe about objectivity) that we are being objective or that our personal feelings and fears are not a part of what we believe, we are freer to express ourselves and also to better listen.

Coming quickly on the heels of that thought was - embodied thinking openly acknowledges our subjectivity and fallibility. This facilitates our being more open to challenge without being so defensive. We may end up with a more rounded and grounded sense of where we are on any given issue because we can more freely seek and assimilate information from outside sources that help inform and challenge any beliefs we may hold.

Following on the post below and a post on Father T. Listens to the World, I also reflected on the idea that embodied thinking evens the playing ground. There is a better ability for equality. We are meeting on equal ground rather than insisting that one side prove itself to the other in a system that is set up to favour the latter. In an ironic twist, this actually makes it easier to be more objective in one's thinking.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

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