I am invited this evening to the Theology of the Body Lecture at Westminister Hall at 6.30pm and agreed to go before I realised tonight is the opening of Man U's Champions League campaign against Rangers [smacks forehead]. I know many readers of this blog might be somewhat sceptical about what is known by afficionados as 'TOTB'. I am going with an open mind to see what all the fuss is about.
So far I have heard differing views. Some friends of mine, who happen to have eight children, have come under attack from certain advocates of TOTB who appear to see it as a pretext to make NFP - that is Natural Family Planning, not No-Family Policy - into a whipping stick for those they call Providentialists. This seems to me to be a perfect example of the corruption of Precept through the absence of Counsel; if all you intend to do is to avoid evil (by using NFP and not contraception) that is praiseworthy, but it is hardly a realisation of Christian living which the Counsels call us to.
My bethrothed has another view about TOTB, seeing in it something far wider than a fertility issue. TOTB, she tells me, is a way of understanding the theological dynamic underpinning all relations between men and women. TOTB, it is argued, is a way of teasing out the divine intentions left behind by the Creator in the physical world of human relations. Revelation makes these clear.
Well, you know me. I try to follow Chesterton's counsel that the point of keeping an open mind is - like keeping an open mouth - to shut it again on something solid. That said, I strictly reject all cultural spin about TOTB's importance; it is for history, not us, to decide whether TOTB is a gift to the 21st century, as some TOTB advocates tell us. Its uses do not become clearer just because we are told how terribly important it is.
So, TOTB is in my mental dock. Let the case begin.