Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do you know what I like about Catholics?

Well, one thing anyway. They believe that to everything there IS an answer, and so the asking of the question and the investigation into it is never illegitimate, even if all we find out is that "We don't know". Hence there is no such thing as a silly question. What happens to unbaptised babies? NOT a silly question, according to Catholics. It is possible to use bread without gluten in the Eucharist? NOT a silly question, according to Catholics. Will resurrected human beings in heaven still be "male and female"? NOT a silly question, according to Catholics.

Well, now, here is a question I have never thought about before, and Fr Kenneth Baker, editor of the excellent Homiletic and Pastoral Review, attempts to seek out an answer, for an answer there must, logically, be: Do resurrected human persons wear clothes?. As he points out, there are only two possible answers, Yes and No. Read here and learn something about how Catholics do theology - even with "silly questions".

12 Comments:

At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:27:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Do resurrected human persons wear clothes?.

You have never wondered this?

I certainly have and the answer is of no small importance to me, I can tell you. Much as I love a whole host of Saints, I don't think I really want to see them in the nuddy!

(I also don't wish to inflict my nakedness on anyone else apart from Nick, either, glorified or not!)

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:32:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Well, I've just read the article. Just my thing!

The glorified bodies of Jesus and Mary are clothed, but what is the nature of their clothing? Is it a glorified fabric, similar to a glorified body? What style is it?

As long as the style does not include the Elizabethan Ruff, we'll be alright.

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:36:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Like I said, that's what I like about you (us, now) Catholics. Inquisitive beings. (Inquistorial, perhaps?)

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:31:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Got the angels dancing on the head of a pin thing worked out yet?

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:37:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Well, as you say, to every question there is an answer, but you are wrong to suggest that in this case there are only two possible answers. You overlook the obvious third possibility, which is “we don’t know”, and also possibility no. 4 (or perhaps no. 3A) which is “we don’t know, and we don’t care”.

And this, it seems to me, points to at least one value of asking such questions, which is not that we might actually find the answer, but that they provoke us to deeper, and hopefully more enlightening, reflection. Should we care whether the resurrected will be naked or clothed? Why should we care (or why should we not)? Can we, in our present condition of existence, know the answer to this question? Louise tells us that she has no desire to see the heavenly host in the nip, or be seen by them in the like condition herself, but will the glorified, resurrected Louise share this feeling?

Even to ask the last question is to know the answer, which is that none of us has yet experienced the condition of being glorified, and because it is wholly outside our experience we cannot know what it will be like. And this ignorance points to our fallen condition, which is a truth worthy of appreciation and reflection.

PS: Adam and Eve clothed themselves after the Fall; QED. But don’t worry, Louise, in our glorified condition we will all look like Calvin Klein underwear models, except (a) without the underwear, and (b) without the vacant expressions.

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 8:21:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

David,

I will look up the Summa Triviæ and let you know what I uncover...

As St Paul tells us, we will all behold God with unveiled faces, which seems to imply that the rest of us wil be veiled... ;-)

Then again, Michelangelo's great image of the Last Judgement depicts everyone starkers!

 
At Wednesday, August 13, 2008 12:18:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Wrong, Perry. "I don't know" isn't an answer, it is simply an admission that I do not know the answer. In heaven, bodies either will or will not have clothes. There will be an answer to the question. "I don't care" is a valid point of view, but it isn't an answer either.

I care about asking questions that seek answers for exactly the reason you give - not for the sake of the answer, but for the sake of the understanding that grows with the seeking of the answer.

 
At Wednesday, August 13, 2008 1:19:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David - I think C.S.Lewis gives an interesting spin on this question in his Voyage to Venus novel. In this Eden story revisited, the main characters (except evil Weston, the Satan figure) are naked, but in in this unfallen state, nakedness is so irrelevant to the abundance of life/goodness/humanity that to ponder it seems almost pedantic. But the nakedness is very much part of the weave of the story - it makes perfect sense, and isn't treated as a bit of naughtiness, given the theological dimensions of the tale...
Linards

 
At Wednesday, August 13, 2008 11:13:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Ha! Linards! Great to hear from you!

Of course, the final answer is given in scripture itself in the book of the Revelation, where not only Christ is represented in white garments (1:14), but also the elders and the people and so on (3:4,5,18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9,13). Heaven is not simply the restoration of the primeval paradise - Adam and Eve, for instance, had bodies just like ours (though without the stain of sin) - they were not the bodies which Paul describes in 1 Cor 15 as "Spiritual Bodies". Every instance of a resurrected body in the Scriptures (Christ's and the Saints) is described with "clothes". One suspects that the whiteness of these "clothes" is intended to express their "spiritual" nature. My guess is that these clothes will not be garments that are taken off and put in the laundry basket, but are part of who we are - part, if you like, of our "spiritual bodies", part of our identity as baptised members of the royal priesthood.

If that is the case, then vesting in white for the liturgy is all the more important - it is not an attempt to "cover" our identity, but rather to reveal our true priestly identity.

 
At Wednesday, August 13, 2008 2:11:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

OK, I grant you that “I don’t know” is not really an answer in the sense that “yes” and “no” are answers. But it is still not true to say that there is an answer and that it is either “yes” or “no”, and you illustrate this yourself when you say that “these clothes will not be garments that are taken off . . . but are part of who we are – part, if you like, of our ‘spiritual bodies’”. In what sense, then, are they “clothes”? A part of the body which cannot be taken off is not “clothes” in any ordinary meaning of that word.

Sure, Rev images the heavenly host in clothes, but we should bear in mind the possibility – to put it no higher – that the language of Rev is figurative, rather than literal.

So, a possible answer to the question must be, “If by ‘clothes’ you mean not garments which can be taken off but rather parts of our spiritual bodies which are coloured white and which may in fact be figurative rather than literal then, yes, we will ‘wear’ ‘clothes’ in that sense, but if by ‘clothes’ you mean, well, clothes, then maybe not”.

It’s useful at this point to reflect on the significance of clothing. In our sex-obsessed age we tend to assume that its primary function is for sexual modesty and./or, suitably artfully arranged, for attractiveness and allure.

Not so, I suggest, for the culture that produced the scriptures. For them, nakedness did not suggest sex; it suggested weakness, powerlessness. Clothing was essential protection from the elements — from rain, from cold, from the burning sun, from wind, from sandstorms. The naked person was the defenceless person. Clothing also was an indicator of status, and the naked person had no status.

So resurrected people are always depicted in the scriptures as clothed because they are not weak, or defenceless, or of no status or significance. This is, I suspect, the same reason why Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve clothed themselves after the Fall; it was their response to being confronted with their own weakness.

So will we be “clothed” in the sense of being strong, significant? Yes. Will we be clothed in the sense of wearing cotton and polyester? I dunno. Who cares? Does the question even have any meaning for us, when we cannot imagine the bodies we will have?

 
At Wednesday, August 13, 2008 3:58:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Inquistorial, perhaps?

Well, I have long thought it would be fun to host a TV show called "The Inquisition" somewhat along the lines of "Hypothetical." And with punishments for the guilty, such as "Death... by Chocoalte" etc.

Got the angels dancing on the head of a pin thing worked out yet?

Yep. The answer, which is as plain as the nose on my face, is 64578345687346573485763847568

 
At Wednesday, August 13, 2008 4:08:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

but will the glorified, resurrected Louise share this feeling?

That's what I don't know and I allow that I may feel decidedly different about it when and if I get there. Just getting there seems to be the main difficulty, but thinking of Heaven makes me more desirous to do so and hence is an excellent reason for pondering such questions.

But don’t worry, Louise, in our glorified condition we will all look like Calvin Klein underwear models, except (a) without the underwear, and (b) without the vacant expressions.

Very amusing, but not quite accurate. I will almost certainly be the height I am now (I think St Thomas has something to say to this effect) which is 5'4" and will probably weigh around 57 - 60kg, which for my skeleton (I am a mesomorph) is probably the ideal. I will look something like I did on my wedding day (only more luminous), minus any blemishes.

I hope I keep my strech marks and certain other signs of maternity on my glorified body, since I consider them to be something of a trophy or medal and my maternity is one of God's greatest calllings and gifts to me.

Only He knows, of course.

I used to think I might like to look more like Elle MacPherson, but I think I'd rather look like me after all.

 

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