Jay Emerson Johnson's New Book "Divine Communion" Hits The Shelves This Month
Next month, Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson's latest book Divine Communion hits shelves (& e-readers). Here's a brief peek called “Food, Sex, and God", originally posted on his blog Peculiar Faith:
Food, sex, and God intertwine at the very heart of Christian faith and spiritual practice. They always have, yet no one told me this when I was a child growing up in the Evangelical Bible belt. I still don’t hear it today, not from conservatives or from liberals.
What I do hear from pulpits and podcasts sounds one of three themes, sometimes in combination: we have failed and need forgiveness; we need to work harder for social justice; mainline Christianity is over –next!
I mostly agree with each of those declarations, and they don’t say nearly enough. Missing from each is the proverbial elephant in Christianity’s living room. Nearly every Christian sees it sitting there and hardly anyone talks about it – hunger.
Human beings are hungry. We hunger for food in our bellies (essential for survival). We hunger for physical touch (essential for thriving). We hunger for intimacy (the very thing for which God makes us). These are not separate and distinct hungers; they describe the one and fundamental human desire for communion.
Over the last twenty-five years of ordained ministry I have, slowly but surely, come to see what I do and why when I stand at the Eucharistic Table. I stand there and I give voice to a deep and ancient longing, echoing among all the others standing there with me – the hope of communion. Or more precisely, the hope of being at home in our own bodies without shame, at home among others without guilt, and at home with God without any fear all at the same time.
So yes, we all need forgiveness; even more, healing the bodily shame that leads to isolation and violence. Yes, we need to work harder for a more just society; deeper still, for a world freed from the fear of difference. And mainline Christianity? I’m not worried about it. God’s own desire for communion will continue to lure us together, making friends from enemies and families from strangers.
I believe all this more than I might have after spending so much time in ecclesial debates over “homosexuality.” I used to complain – much like Pope Francis just recently did– that those debates merely distract the Church from attending to more important matters. I now see all those years of struggle as a divine gift.
Read the rest of this post at Rev. Johnson's blog, Peculiar Faith. Divine Communion is available for purchase through Church Publishing. Celebrate this new book, and the 25th anniversary of Rev. Johnson's ordination, at the official book launch event, A Celebration of Sacred Desire and Table Worship, Nov. 2 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM at Good Shepard Parish Hall in Berkeley, CA. RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.