The first of a three part series of posts of mine on baptism and the body has just gone up over on the Theopolis Institute.
The action of the ritual of baptism isn’t the act of the candidate, but of a minister of Jesus Christ, performed upon the candidate’s body. In contrast to the Lord’s Supper, where the communicant ‘takes’ and ‘eats’ in an actively bodily manner, the body of the baptismal candidate is passive in the act of baptism. While the body’s personal and purposeful activity and our bodily absorption of that which is external to us into our interiority are foregrounded in the Supper, it is the objectivity andexteriority of the body and self that are foregrounded in the rite that necessarily precedes it—baptism.
My body defies the distinction between subject and object: it is both the site of my interiority and subjectivity, yet also an object that exists in continuity with the world and as a part of nature that others can act upon. My body is the site of my consciousness, my sense of self, and my action, but before these come into being, my body receives meaning and identity from other sources. My ‘self’ is never simply my subjectivity: it is also my bodily objectivity and in this objectivity my body is the bearer of ‘given’ meanings that precede me, my subjectivity, my choices, and my actions.
Read the whole piece here and look out for the follow up pieces in coming weeks.