TOB Study: The Desire for God
Take an aerial tour of the Theology of the Body from start to finish through this 10 hour course, covering all the key concepts, and unpacking the Catholic understanding of human sexuality and the human person.
What is the Theology of the Body?
The Theology of the Body (TOB) is a series of 135 general audiences delivered by Pope St. John Paul II reflecting on what it means to be human, created male and female in the image and likeness of God, and how we should live our lives, on a journey towards our call to communion with one another and with God, with the love that truly satisfies.
A 10min overview of the TOB:
The TOB is a John-Pauline lens for the entire Catechism, a Bible study on what it means to be human, created in the image and likeness of God, who is love. It’s an exploration of the reality that our bodies tell God’s story, they show us that we’re called to make a sincere gift of self to another, that we’re called to communion with each other and with God. The TOB is not just about marriage or human sexuality, but rather about the whole Christian faith and the call to love as Christ loves that’s at the heart of the Gospel.
As the TOB Institute explains:
As Saint John Paul II’s masterwork, the Theology of the Body (TOB) provides beautiful and compelling answers to the deepest questions we all ask ourselves: Who am I? Why am I here? How can I be happy? Why do I experience all these deep longings in my body and soul and what am I to do with them? What is my ultimate destiny and how do I get there?
In the midst of the profound sexual crisis that is wreaking havoc in both the secular world and in the Church, the TOB offers the hope of healing and restoration we all so desperately need, enabling everyone to rediscover not only the meaning of our creation as male and female, but through that, “the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life” (TOB 46:6).
Learn More About the TOB: Recommended Resources
- The Theology of the Body and Music: A Desire for God (Blaise) — an introductory talk on the Theology of the Body I gave at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto, including some of my songwriting reflections on the TOB.
- Fill These Hearts (Christopher West) — Christopher West’s introduction to the TOB, and finding the sweet spot between the sacred and the secular, the ache and the universal longing and how it’s meant to lead us to God.
- Introduction to the Theology of the Body (Christopher West) — A general introduction to the TOB.
- Theology of the Body, Sexual Redemption, and the New Evangelization (Christopher West)
- Fill These Hearts: God, Sex and the Universal Longing (Christopher West) — A fantastic introduction to the TOB in an accessible and culturally relevant way, as orienting our desire according to our design so that we can reach our destiny. (Promo Video)
- Theology of the Body for Beginners (Christopher West) — A fantastic walk-through of the TOB, summarizing the main themes and teachings in 150 accessible pages. An enlightening read even for those who have or will read the main text (I regret ignoring this for years!).
- Our Bodies Proclaim God’s Story (Christopher West) — An exploration of St. John Paul II’s bold biblical vision of human sexuality for Protestant Christians, focusing on common ground themes.
- Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body (St. John Paul II, translated by Michael Waldstein) — The Theology of the Body.
- Theology of the Body Explained (Christopher West) — A full-length commentary on the TOB, section by section. Christopher West’s most academic work. This works great as training wheels for reading the actual TOB:
- Read a section from the commentary, then from the TOB, so you can look for the kinds of things West finds in the original text yourself;
- Once you’re more comfortable, read the TOB section first, and then read the same section in the commentary as a way to check to see if you missed anything or if you picked up on the important themes;
- Eventually, you may be able to drop the training wheels and just read the TOB itself.
- Love and Responsibility (Karol Wojtyla / St. John Paul II) — The prequel to the TOB, a philosophical work on a personalistic approach to sexual ethics.
- At the Heart of the Gospel (Christopher West)
- Good News About Sex and Marriage (Christopher West) — The TOB in an FAQ format.
- Heaven’s Song (Christopher West)
- Deus Caritas Est (Pope Benedict XVI) — Pope Benedict’s encyclical on human love. The first section has a beautiful and profound exploration of the relationship between eros and agape.
- The Love That Satisfies (Christopher West) — Christopher West’s reflections on Deus Caritas Est.
- The Year of Faith: A Desire for God (Pope Benedict XVI) — Short, profound, relevant: “every desire that springs up in the human heart echoes a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied”…
- The Reed of God (Caryll Houselander) — A profound spiritual reflection on the life of Mary, that while not explicitly referencing the TOB (it was written in 1944), is full of TOB themes from start to finish.