Living Theology of the Body among “the walking dead”


Some may turn on the television Sunday afternoons to watch a show on AMC that has become a staple of the new culture: “The Walking Dead.”

This show focuses on the few remaining living humans who struggle to survive in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These zombies are unable to feel, to sense or even to understand the beauty of the world around them. The remaining few humans are thus left to admire the beauty and to attempt to keep it intact without becoming infested.

Some fans might see this as an allegory for the culture they find themselves inhabiting. They see it as what society has become, and they wish to be like the living and stay clear of this apocalypse. One of these fans came to Franciscan University on Feb. 15 to offer students her survival guide, in the words of Pope St. John Paul II.

“Turn on the television, log on to Facebook, you will see the walking dead everywhere you look,” said Emily Stimpson, Franciscan University graduate and author. “These are the men and women living in mortal sin. … Those who have broken faith with God in some serious way and have lost the life of sanctifying grace in their soul. They are the spiritually dead, spiritual undead, even if they’re physically alive.”

Stimpson’s talk, titled “Theology of the Body and the Zombie Apocalypse,” consisted of giving practical uses for theology of the body in regards to this zombie apocalypse. She centered her talk around five easy ways to make it practical.

“If you want to live the theology of the body, sometimes you have to turn your phone off,” Stimpson said in her first point. “There is this busy, bustling world around us, but sometimes we miss it because we (have) our faces in our phones. If you go back to the zombies, they just stumble around with a blank expression, and even if you haven’t seen “The Walking Dead,” most of you know what that looks like.”

Stimpson spoke of learning how not to use technology as a horrible distraction from the world. She continued her practical tips by showing how one can live out theology of the body by doing simple things, such as opening the door, taking care of the body itself, feeding the body the right things and doing a complete turnover in your wardrobe.

“In hundreds upon hundreds of little ways, our exterior is always communicating the truth of our inner selves,” Stimpson said. “This is why policemen and firemen wear uniforms, right? So we know at a glance that someone is here to help. It’s one of the reasons why priests and religious wear habits, so with one look we can say there is something special about that person, that there is someone set apart for God.”

Many students, religious and teachers braved the cold weather to come hear this practical talk by Stimpson.

“I like (that) she brought about a lot of things that happen to everyone,” student Abbey Thompson said. “I think with theology of the body, girls can take more from it with the modesty aspect, but this is more that applies to everyone. … I really liked how she gave practical stuff that we can apply to our everyday life.”

Emily Stimpson has written many works surrounding theology and Catholicism. She has also written for Franciscan University itself; she is the author of “These Lovely Bones,” which is being studied on campus in different extracurricular capacities, including Women’s Ministry.

“Theology of the body shows us how to love not just our spouse, boyfriend or loved ones but everyone we meet,” Stimpson said. “It calls us not to use others but to give ourselves away to others, to love others. To live our lives in imitation of the God who is self-gift. It calls us to honor everyone we meet as a gift.”

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