Introducing a splendid special section, "Perfect Bodies: Why We Want Them; Why We Hate Them," in the Summer 1999 issue of re:generation quarterly editor Andy Crouch observed that our "obsessions" with our bodies are rooted in our identity as creatures made in the image of God, disfigured by sin.
"But thanks to the Spirit he promised to leave with us," Crouch writes, we are in contact with a gloriously embodied Friend and Lord who eats fish on the beach, walks through walls, ascends into heaven, from which he will return, still bearing nailprints in his flesh, to reign over a recreated earth. He is everything we want to be: fully enfleshed yet fully free, disfigured yet beautiful, dead yet alive. Our obsessions have a reason: every human being, whether she knows it or not, seeks that real embodied humanity which he is.
The distance between Crouch's theological reflections on the body and the exhibition, "Picturing the Modern Amazon" (at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, 583 Broadway in New York, through June 25), may at first seem too vast to bridge. Here is an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, posters, comic-book illustrations, and a miscellany of other items devoted to physically powerful women, with an emphasis on bodybuilders. Both the exhibition and the book that accompanies it, edited by Joanna Frueh, Laurie Fierstein, and Judith Stein and published by Rizzoli, are framed by the discourse of academic feminism.But it is precisely the distance and the polarization between Crouch's column (and the rq special section more generally) and the exhibition that generates energy and goads us to reactions and reflections beyond superficial assent or dismissal. The pages of Picturing the Modern Amazon force ...1
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