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Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality Paperback – March 4, 2011
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...The value of this book is that it begins a conversation that needs to be explored. Many of the discussions to date about human sexuality have ignored the impact of a disgust reaction on the ways that people respond to those discussions. A more honest recognition of personal response will allow a more honest conversation. For that reason, I am grateful for the contribution this book makes... (Marion Chatterley The Expository Times 1900-01-00)
“Beck’s skillful writing and psychological wisdom make this book a thought-provoking read.” (Sue Dickinson Reviews in Religion & Theology 1900-01-00) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unclean links, expands, and more fully documents several lines of thought that have appeared on his blog in the past (you can preview the most important of them if you simply search "Spiritual Pollution" on his site). I think the main idea is that much of church life is driven by the psychology of disgust. Disgust is one of the emotions that regulates inner/outer borders of the self. For instance, core disgust keeps us from drinking spoiled milk or eating food that's fallen in the floor, and it can make us vomit to expel a contaminant (real or imagined) from us. Disgust is also peculiarly irrational, driven by "magical thinking." Studies, for instance, show that humans will not eat brownies that are shaped like dog poop, even if they know it's a brownie, and they won't drink apple juice that they've seen contaminated by contact with a cockroach, even if they then immediately afterward see the juice boiled and cleansed in front of them.
Importantly, humans extend the logic of disgust so that it also governs sociomoral boundaries.Read more ›
Within the church there is a continual split between a focus on purity and a focus on hospitality or mission. Richard Beck's simple argument is that it is a necessary tension that needs to be regulated. Churches commonly known as liberal have collapsed the tension in the favor of hospitality, but in doing this they have lost the transcendent. Churches commonly known as conservative have turned inward to guard purity, but in doing this they have lost Jesus' own mission to the sinners and tax collectors exemplified in his table fellowship. Dr. Beck's method of regulation is what strikes this reviewer as that rarest of items - a new understanding of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper that at the same time is deeply orthodox.
Dr. Beck achieves this by a solid grounding of the Psychology of disgust which is the emotion that grounds purity. He reviews how core disgust is a psychology regulating food and disease vectors. He then builds the argument how that core understanding spreads in moral, hospitality and mortality dimensions. He clearly demonstrates, through simple explanations of current research and theological reflection, how disgust is both necessary and toxic. It necessarily protects groups from unsafe practices, but it also shuts down mission and dialog. Understanding purity and its basis in disgust is necessary for regulating or keeping the tension.Read more ›
Beck effectively confronts the purity impulse within the church asking: Does the compulsion toward purity prevent the church from existing in a missional relationship to the world? In other words, can the church accomplish what it is called to do by Christ without ceasing its emphasis upon maintaining purity? (This purity is exhibited both behaviorally and relationally.)
By exploring the meaning of Christian hospitality as expressed within the life of the Trinity Beck can offer some important reflections regarding the conflict between purity and hospitality within the church. For the Christian hospitality is expressed to those who need it the most and they are not those typically described as "pure". Unless, the one doing the describing is Jesus himself.
This is an important book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book was in very good shape. Thanks for your good work.Published 4 months ago by peterson G. Kamau
Beck expertly reviews the psychology of disgust and shows how the research can be applied to the life of the church. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Geoff W Sutton
Thought provoking... necessary correction... and valuable for ministering in our complex Western culture.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I thought it would be purely about purity; it is religiously accented. Its about social aversions caused by disgust (what the author calls socio-moral disgust). Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jason Ball
Fantastic, challenging book. Dr. Beck harnesses his psychology background to look at the way in which churches deal with disgust and "uncleanliness." Highly recommend.Published 8 months ago by Michael Boyle
I think this is a book that makes profound points about human nature and our proclivity towards organized religion. Read morePublished 10 months ago by C. Forbess
Beck's Unclean is a unique book for someone used to reading a lot of Biblical studies and theology. In the work Beck examines Matthew 9 and Jesus quotation of the Old Testament:... Read morePublished 16 months ago by J. Lussier
Richard Beck has produced a genius text that is moving, challenging, insightful, and highly readable.Published 19 months ago by robosnake