A new articulation of pastoral theology, care, and counseling.
Too often we think and teach in ways that reinforce a mind-body split. This can lead people to self-alienation, impeding holistic, healthy relationships between people, God, and each other. Body Connections takes a different approach, teaching us to see the connections between our embodied experience and faithful spiritual care.
Author Michael Koppel focuses on the human body and its relationship to faith and spiritual care. He engages religious texts and traditions as well as scientific insights, offering accessible theology and spiritual practices for healing and care of the body.
Our bodies are amazing resources, but we are too often unaware of their power, or unable to harness it in helpful ways for our own good. This remarkable book empowers pastors, counselors, chaplains, seminarians, and caregivers to understand and provide the ministry of care in an entirely new, life-giving way.
This book is highly useful for individuals and groups. It is for clergy, chaplains, spiritual directors, seminarians, clinical educators, lay people in churches, and those who are institutionally unaffiliated but care deeply about fostering a holistic spiritual path.
Praise for Body Connections
Everything we think, feel, and do comes through the body. But practices of spiritual care tend to downplay the body as a source of knowledge and a tool for responding to others and to God. Koppel’s book reclaims that wisdom, coaching us to strengthen our abilities to read, listen, and think with the body. I can’t wait to teach this practical, wise, and convicting book, which addresses embodied emotion, grief, silence, trauma, and more. Koppel’s seasoned, pastoral voice offers a rich synthesis of sources and insights that demonstrate the body’s place at the center of ministry.
--Duane Bidwell, professor of practical theology, spiritual care, and counseling, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA
Body Connections provides new insights into the voice and language of the body. Koppel crafts a "body theology" that encourages spiritual care practitioners to be proactive in their spiritual practices of listening, adapting and responding to our bodies and to the bodies of those to whom we offer care. Using the image of "body as storyteller" and other metaphors, Koppel captures and defines the healing power of the body in clear and profound ways.
--Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, D.Min., Presiding Bishop, Fifth Episcopal District, The CME Church
Michael Koppel returns the body to its rightful place at the center of each person’s story and the center of the Christian story. He calls readers home to their bodies and gently challenges escapes from the body into hasty fixing, detached rationalizing, anxious dithering, or addictive numbing. At a time when the COVID pandemic has underscored the vulnerability of bodies, Koppel’s focused, healing, deep body consciousness paints a portrait of health far beyond mere absence of disease. Don’t just read this book: absorb it, practice it, and let it heal you.
--Douglas M. Thorpe, PhD, is Executive Director of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care and a past president of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors
It is surprisingly difficult, even confusing: to have a body; to be a body; to touch, talk and listen to, even read a sensing body; to honor and restore the body’s wounds, traumas, and shame while celebrating its healing and resilience… Koppel is a wise guide and caregiver for those seeking to embrace the sacredness of a human body and its unique story. Body Connections empowers a reader to discover body knowledge anew. It deepens trust in the most intimate relationship one has, the relationship with one’s body.
--Jaco J. Hamman, professor of religion, psychology, and culture, and director of the Program iin Theology and Practice, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN