109. The Danish Girl & the Death-Dealing Darkness of Dualism

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At the end of a trailer for The Danish Girl, in which he plays the leading role, Eddie Redmayne says proudly and emphatically, “For me this film is a reassertion of the profundity of love: what an extraordinary thing it can be, how it is not defined by gender, by sexuality, by anything – it’s about the soul.”

I have a link to the trailer in my previous blog. There I asked who could name the heresy being celebrated in this statement and articulate why it is so dangerous. As of this writing, a great many people properly named the heresy – the gnostic/Manichaean dualism that separates body and soul – but few commented on why this heresy is so dangerous.

There’s a fancy name for the separation of body and soul; perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s called death. A culture that separates body and soul – by definition – is a culture of death. And the end result of a culture of death is … you guessed it: death.

[tweetthis]A culture that has separated body and soul is a culture that–by definition–doesn’t know what love is. -@cwestTOB[/tweetthis]


A culture that has separated body and soul is a culture that – by definition – doesn’t know what love is. Contrary to Redmayne’s assertion that love is merely “about the soul,” Pope Benedict XVI observes that it “is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love – eros – able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur” (God Is Love 5).

Saint John Paul II expressed this same important truth in this way: “As an incarnate spirit, that is, a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit, man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love” (Familiaris Consortio 11).

Redmayne’s unabashed embrace of this ancient dualistic body-soul split is evidence, as John Paul II affirmed, that

the human family is facing the challenge of a new Manichaeism, in which body and spirit are put in radical opposition; the body does not receive life from the spirit, and the spirit does not give life to the body. Man thus ceases to live as a person and a subject. Regardless of all intentions and declarations to the contrary, he becomes merely an object. This neo-Manichaean culture has led, for example, to human sexuality being regarded more as an area for manipulation and exploitation than as the basis of that primordial wonder which led Adam on the morning of creation to exclaim before Eve: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). This same wonder is echoed in the words of the Song of Solomon: “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes” (Song 4:9). How far removed are some modern ideas from the profound understanding of masculinity and femininity found in divine revelation! (Letter to Families 19).

Unless we reclaim this “profound understanding of masculinity and femininity found in divine revelation” our future is in peril. For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Please help us at The Cor Project to spread this healing, liberating vision of life and love by sharing our introductory CD (available at bulk discount) with friends, family, and parishioners. Learn more here.

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Image: Focus Features