Tuesday, March 29, 2022

"DRESS ME IN YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS ALONE!"


The above, quickly done ink and watercolor image was part of a recent online CFO retreat held using Zoom. This portion of the short, one-morning retreat was that part of our daily CFO camp activities called "Creatives." It's a personal time of prayer in which you ask for God's guidance in some creative activity (using clay, paints, pastels, poetry or prose), then let God speak more deeply to you through what you've created. Finally, if so led in the show & tell conclusion, you can share with the group what you created and what God said to you through it.

This image was in my mind as soon as "Creatives" began. After its completion, God spoke to me about how the righteousness of Christ is much larger than we are. We need to grow up spiritually so that it fits on us, or rather, that we fit into it. The verse that came to mind was Ephesians 4:13, where we must continue to be "edified" (built up) "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

For almost 40 years of my life, CFO (Camps Farthest Out) has been a vehicle of spiritual formation, especially in the area of prayer. It was established back in the 1930s by Glenn Clark, a college professor who taught creative writing and coached sports. He took some students for a 2-week camping adventure in prayer on an island the farthest out from the New York coast. That's how the camp got its name.

Besides daily morning "Meditations" and afternoon "Prayer Groups," Glenn Clark's emphasis on experimentation in prayer involved using bodily movement in a daily part of the camp called "Rhythms" or "Devotion in Motion" or, less commonly, "Spiritual Aerobics." It is very much like the playful bodily exercises done in kindergarten. But after first discovering CFO as an adult, I found that it was a stretch for me to participate (pun intended). Now, however, with my body's shortness-of-breath issues, I can still stand and make gentle hand motions, but any kind of dance-like activity would send me to the ground praying for more air!

This year (2022), the Silver Sierra CFO Camp, which I usually attend, is scheduled at Camp Alta in Alta, CA (off of I-80, 10 miles above Colfax) from June 12th thru June 17th. If you'd like to attend, here is their link for registration: California Silver Sierra CFO | Association of Camps Farthest Out (cfonorthamerica.org). Or on that page, click on the "Home" button to see where and when other camps are scheduled in the USA this year.

If you've never been to a CFO, I promise you, it will be a "far out" experience with God.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

ADOPTING GOD’S VIEW OF BARE ANATOMY

(The title preface and accompanying image below were given to my article when originally posted on the Seedbed blog for pastors. For an unknown reason, it was removed recently. It had been listed in the "Top 14 Articles for 2014," but it disappeared. This is unfortunate for those with a sex-focus on the body that chains them to porn and body shame problems. I reproduce it here because its message remains prophetic and crucially needed by Christians caught up in the demonic lie of porno-prudery.)

Embracing Nakedness: Adopting God’s View of Bare Anatomy

by David L. Hatton (published on Seedbed.com, Jan. 9, 2014)


I’m a Wesleyan pastor who is grateful for the landmark Theology of the Body of Karol Wojtyla (late Pope John Paul II). No theologian ever dealt so comprehensively with God’s purpose for gendered human embodiment. This quote summarizes his theme:

“The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.”

As an art lover and amateur artist, I was surprised to read Wojtyla’s ideas somewhat echoed by Henri Robert in his book The Art Spirit:

“There is nothing in all the world more beautiful or significant of the laws of the universe than the nude human body. In fact it is not only among artists but among all people that a greater appreciation and respect for the human body should develop. When we respect the nude we will no longer have any shame about it.”

But before ordination or art classes, I was an L&D nurse, and still am. I work routinely and intimately with bare female anatomy. If this raises any brows, I’ve hammered out my own quote that brings Wojtyla’s and Robert’s together:

“A Creator-honoring, incarnational view of the naked human body dispels the fantasy-laden, porno-prudish conception religiously taught and pornographically exploited in Western culture.”

For almost 25 years, I put up with the uncomfortable contradiction between my experiential view of hospital nudity and the one taught by my Christian upbringing. Finally, when God opened my eyes to the dysfunctional immaturity of our culture’s reaction to public breastfeeding, I did my homework. Through intense research about the phenomenon of human nakedness biblically, historically, culturally, and psycho-socially, I experienced a radical paradigm shift in my thinking. My studies showed me the American church’s urgent need of repentance, reformation and restitution for having adopted and promoted Victorianism’s flight from the body.

The bottom line is this: a prudish view of the body is a pornographic one. Religiously placing an obscene or indecent sexual connotation on the sight of gender-distinguishing body parts creates a sexually objectified body. Such legalism, if socially embraced, becomes the conceptual foundation for a pornographic culture, as ours is now. Also, this objectification trivializes the body language of human genitalia, allowing them to be ignored as features of personal gender identity and distinction. Take some time to do the math on this, and it should cause tears.

Theologically, beyond shining a spotlight on the church’s notorious support of Victorian prudery, these personal insights showed me how Gnosticism’s influence on the early church still lingers in popular Christian thinking.[1]

Practically, my discoveries led me to join some other pastors in creating a website to fight porn addiction. Our message at MCAG (mychainsaregone.org) is body acceptance, calling men to see women as the Creator does, in opposition to the traditional body-shame approach, which tells them, “Bounce your eyes!”

Ministerially, I feel like “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Christian porno-prudery is so well established as a virtue that most are blind to its real nature as a vice. Yet it has kept Christians from being the world-renowned experts in sex education that our understanding of creation and the Incarnation ought to have made us. It has stopped multiple thousands of Christian art students from ever becoming skilled with the nude. If we hadn’t abandoned the human body by surrendering God’s image and temple into secular hands, these young artists might have become modern Michelangelos painting contemporary “Sistine-Chapel” ceilings. Such a holy display of human nudity in our churches might have been a realistic preventative to our current religious and social focus on naked anatomy as an avenue of lust and on gender-specific body parts as sex objects.

I explained the gist of this article to one senior pastor who agreed with my viewpoint but believed the situation hopeless, saying that society and the church are too far into this to ever be changed. I must disagree. The naked truth of reality changed me. Porno-prudery is a learned attitude that can be unlearned through repentance. Gnostic ideas that devalue matter and flesh can be dispelled from our pulpits. Preaching theologically-correct body acceptance can bring a reformation in Christian thinking that restores the strong incarnational message our modern world needs to hear.[2] Although it means swallowing our pride, even the last step is possible: restitution. If our porno-prudery has played a role in the development of a society riddled with porn addiction, body-image dysfunctions, gender confusion issues, human-trafficking, and more, we must confess our error, ask forgiveness, and start behaving as if the “fearfully and wonderfully made” naked human body never stopped being “very good” (Gen 1:31).

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[1] For further study on this, see my article, “Incarnational Truth about Humanity’s Sexual Nature (Doing Body-friendly Theology Free from Gnostic Prudery)”.

[2] Anyone truly serious about this area might like to read some of the same material I have on this subject in my webpage “Rebuilding a Godly View of the Unclad Human Body - Why and How to Stop ‘Thinking Dirty’ about God’s Image and Temple”.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

MUSE - Naked Truth Poses Again (a novel)

Signed copy available - CLICK here

I started out 2022 by publishing a novel that I've been working on a couple of years. My son Samuel designed the cover to be similar to my other two books that deal with the subject of body acceptance. Rather than explain why I wrote a third one, I'm letting you read my explanatory preface. Or, if you would rather read both it and well into Chapter 3 of the story, you can skip it here and go directly to the novel's KINDLE PAGE and use its helpful "Look Inside" feature to do that reading.

I've already seen two favorable blog reviews of it, which you may also like to read. One is by a fellow who does art modeling and the other by a Christian naturist (yes, there are such people who authentically love Jesus and enjoy fun in the sun as naked as God made us). And if you decide to read the whole novel, which I hope you will, please leave me a comment here or give it a review on Amazon. Thanks!

MUSE - Naked Truth Poses Again

"Preface"

A novel needs no introduction, if its narrative quality provides attractive bait to hook readers and reel them in. But I’m just an old poet-prophet, destitute of a seasoned novelist’s years of writing fiction. This explanatory preface raises no hopes for a big catch. I’m not even sure it will draw many bites. I merely feel that prospective readers, before investing their time, deserve a word or two about a book’s purpose. If you don’t need or want to know why this story was written, feel free to skip this section and dive into the first chapter, or at least to test its waters.

Some may be baffled by my title, MUSE, wondering if it stands for the mythical name given to personified creative inspiration or for the directive to think over, consider carefully, ponder deeply. But I refuse to tell which one it is. As most poets, I love the fruitful fun of employing double entendre. I even slipped it into my subtitle: Naked Truth Poses Again. So, is she replaying her role as artist’s model or posing again her searching questions? Actually, the reader’s own interaction with the story will determine whether it’s either-or or both-and.

Those familiar with my first two body-acceptance books—Meeting at the River, an annotated novelette, and “Who Said You Were Naked?”, a mixed anthology—will find these prefatory remarks redundant. But new readers should be warned about my continuing mission. I feel divinely called to confront society’s dysfunctional, porno-prudishly sexualized view of the body. This third book again utilizes fiction, especially focusing on a culturally supported context where nude human anatomy is creatively observed, maturely accepted, and respectfully treated. In Meeting at the River, the comparable contextual backdrop was my own years of experiencing normal, nonsexual nudity in hospital nursing. This tale involves another area I’m personally familiar with as well as perpetually thrilled by: art.

My novel started out as a short story, but as the plot thickened, new chapters kept materializing. In fact, I discovered first hand what I knew about only from rumors, that fictional characters can take a story down unforeseen paths, steering it wherever they wish. Drawing on subconscious reservoirs of thought, they make serendipitous decisions, bypassing the writer’s original plans. While watching this phenomenon play out, I decided to supplement the story’s main theme. Here and there, I slipped a few sub-messages into the scenes, allowing issues to come on stage directly from my own ideas and concerns. After all, shouldn’t I, as an author, have some say-so to add to that of the imaginary personalities I allowed to take control of my drama?

Finally, as with my other books, I aim at and pull the trigger on a special Christian audience: those practicing and preaching the lie of porno-prudery. On this world’s shooting range, they’re not the only guilty targets at which the naked truth needs to be fired. But unfortunately, the ammo loaded here is a liberating message Bible-believing churches have been dodging for years. My sights zero in on the same bullseye Jesus wants to hit: the heart. God delights in “truth in the inward being” (Psalm 51:6, ESV). There He’s able to transform our lives from the inward to the outward. Truth begins by leading us to change our thinking (repentance). But when truth firmly grips our hearts, we change our behavior (reformation).

Truth sets people free; lies keep them bound. One deceptive web Satan spins to capture today’s Christians is a sexualized body. This falsehood traps multitudes in the devastating social evils of pornography, sex addictions, body-shame issues and a growing array of sexual excesses, aberrancies and abuses. For years, many pulpits zealously communicated this sex-focus, sanctimoniously translating it as a “holy” body shame. Such preaching tragically confirmed society’s sexual objectification of our bodies, which were meant to be temples of the Holy Spirit. Such false language has only reinforced our wayward culture’s sexualized treatment of God’s embodied image. My prayerful hope is that this novel’s presentation of the naked truth will help God’s people abandon the unwholesome, sexually-obsessed religious lie they grew up with and to adopt the emancipating truth of a godly, Creator-honoring, mature and healthy body acceptance.

— DLH