Reviewed by Chuck White, Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam.

What is the meaning of sex? Does our gender and sexuality have a meaning beyond babies and bonding? And what good is celibacy? These questions and others are thoroughly answered in “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West, an outstanding introduction to Pope John Paul II’s revolutionary teaching on sex and the meaning of life.

The “Theology of the Body” was John Paul II’s first major teaching project of his pontificate, and consisted of 129 short talks spanning some five years. In these talks the Pope proposed an entirely new, refreshing perspective on sexuality and embodiment – one that explains some of the Church’s most controversial teachings and at the same time avoids the finger wagging and moral judgmentalism of the past.

West divides his book into chapters that reflect the six cycles or divisions of the Pope’s teaching. In each chapter he makes generous use of colorful analogies, scriptural references and paraphrase to make the depths of the Pope’s thinking intelligible to the average layperson. A helpful glossary is included at the end of the book to define key terms used in each chapter. West also includes some concrete strategies to help us find true “sexual liberation”, and he suggests ways to use the topic of sexuality as a launch pad for evangelism.

I heartily recommend Christopher West’s introduction to a new sexual revolution, Theology of the Body for Beginners. It’s available locally at the John Paul the Great Bookstore in the Agana Shopping Center. Check it out!

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