Sunday, October 6, 2013

It's All About the Bones

A number of years ago I read von Hildebrand’s Privilege of Being a Woman. To say it was life-changing would be an understatement. Of course, there is a saying that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” and that may have well been the case with Alice’s book. As a grown woman I can safely say that I was ready for the truth that was found in her words—hence “life-changing.”

The problem with life-changing experiences, per se, is that they sort of leave you wondering “Now what? Where do I go from here?”

In the years since reading Privilege of Being a Woman I have read countless other non-fiction books that have been touted as “must reads” and yet without exception each has left me feeling a bit empty. Not quite doing it for me. They are okay, don’t get me wrong; but of the caliber of the von Hildebrand book? Nope. And I know they serve a purpose—but I have yearned for something more than a book that seems to be a mere collection of blog articles (as a dear friend has said about all the recent books hitting the market).

Maybe my quickly advancing age has something to do with it—but then again, I don’t feel I have to make excuses for wanting more epiphanies, more substance.

I was again a willing student searching for a teacher and waiting patiently (okay, maybe not always so patiently).

Enter Emily Stimpson.

These Beautiful Bones is an incredible book that truly has it all. Emily Stimpson is intelligent, funny, clever, and very, very likeable.

So it is no surprise that she tackles the topic of theology of the body the same way: with astuteness, humor, wit, and a countenance that sort of gently oozes from the pages. She doesn’t get mired in stories about herself but gives us just enough to endear us to her (when she gives a little nod to great-grandma Rose, you will actually smile if not laugh out loud). This book isn’t about Emily Stimpson, it is about God and you and your dignity as found in all facets of your life under the blanket of theology of the body.

Having said that, it is my experience that the TOB topic either sends people running for cover or has them shrugging their shoulders in a “who cares?” sort of way.

Stimpson’s handling of this topic is so new, so refreshing, so insightful that if you are one of those who would rather run for cover than hear more about sex and the theology of the body, she will stop you in your tracks.

On the other hand, if you aren’t really sure what this whole thing is all about: you will be blessed that this is the first book you read on the topic. In fact, it should have been the one out the gate all those many years ago; chances are we would have had a much more cohesive understanding of theology of the body and a lot less fractured feelings toward the topic.

Yes, it’s about sex but no, it’s not all about sex; it’s about bones. (I find that I don’t even want to give away the whole “bones” thing because it is a gift in and of itself and the way she winds back to the “bones” in the end actually made me cry. Just incredible.)

But back to the sex.

Even then, These Beautiful Bones is not about physical sex, it is about spousal love, dignity in the form of work, reflecting who you are by what you wear and even the way you decorate your home. Stimpson handles the topic of theology of the body as it pertains to food as adroitly as she tackles it in light of manners—yes, manners!

I simply can’t imagine who would not benefit from reading this book.

For those who are well-versed in theology of the body, I would suggest that Emily will take you into a deeper awareness of it in a way that you will live it more authentically. If you really never understood what all the hoopla was about, you will once Emily gets done with you!

These Beautiful Bones is absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in years. Make no bones about it.


Cheryl Dickow


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