Blog Info, body, images

Welcome to Frank Answers!

Welcome to my blog, “Frank-Answers.” I began posting articles on this blog on April 1, 2015. You can read about me and why I started this web page in “About Frank and ‘Frank-Answers.’”

Here’s how this blog works. I answer questions submitted by readers. Questions submitted from the blog platform come to me anonymously, so I don’t know who is asking the question. If the question is on a topic I’m willing and able to answer, I’ll do so. You are also invited to comment on my answers through the “comment” feature provided on the blog platform.  But I get to approve all comments and your name or ID will appear with it. I want to keep the comments civil and informative, even on controversial topics.

An “answer” can be explored further through the comments section or it may prompt a new question. We can return to topics already discussed. The articles are archived, so comments made long after the date an article was posted are still welcome to keep the discussion going or to reignite discussion on the topic.

When I started “Frank Answers” on my church web site, I received a lot of questions such as church people might ask. Now that I’m retired from pastoral ministry and I’m “out there” on the worldwide web, I get different kinds of questions. Many of the questions I answer concern liturgy and worship practices because that has been my academic field of study and I’m still teaching and writing about liturgy. Many of my articles focus on the body—in liturgy and theology, as well as in philosophy and  sexuality— because the body has become a particular interest of mine in recent years.  I have an interest in yoga and environmental issues, so a number of articles deal with those topics. I’ve also posted a few sermons I’ve preached. 

Unlike printed articles, blog articles are “living” documents, that is, evolving pieces. Sometimes long after an article has been posted I notice an error or think an idea can be stated better or I get a new insight or new information. So I don’t hesitate to go in and correct errors or rewrite a paragraph or add new information. So I invite users to return to a favorite topic.

I have enjoyed finding images for the articles. Blog writers usually break up their essay-type articles with images that enhance or support the topic being discussed. Hopefully the images are in public domain for free use. If one is not, please notify me and I will take it down. Sometimes when looking for images for a new article I find one that is just right for another article. So I may add or change images as I find new ones that seem appropriate, just as I do with words. You can’t do that in a print medium.

After a timid start, I began including illustrative images of nude bodies. I deal with a number of topics for which nude images are appropriate: Christ’s passion and resurrection, sexuality, swimming naked, yoga, etc.  I have flagged those articles that display nude images by including the category or tag of “nakedness” or “nudity” among the topics addressed or represented in the article, to forewarn readers who might be offended. I’ve also indicated warning: some nude images or warning: some explicit images at the top of the article.

Michelangelo’s Adam and Eve on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Succumbing to temptation and being driven out of the paradise garden. They are clearly nude. Are they intimate? I guess that’s debatable. Has anyone ever tried to count the number of nudes on the walls and ceilings of the Sistine Chapel?

I try to avoid blatant pornography, although some of the images may strike some readers as pornographic. Indeed, some of the Greek etchings, ancient Indian sculptures, and medieval drawings are pornographic! But they’re also illustrative of life and philosophy in those cultures. I do not regard displays of the nude body in art and photography sinful.  The naked human body is how God created us; clothing is a cultural addition.  It is a condition of what theology calls “our fallen state.” A condition of our fallen state is that we experience body shame. Many of my questioners and commentators have expressed their difficulties with this issue.

Adam and Eve Ashamed by Peter Paul Rubens (ca. 1600)

I admit that some of the questions I’ve been asked pushed me beyond my previous ideas, especially in areas regarding human sexuality. In preparing answers I’ve done research and have come to different conclusions, particularly in biblical interpretation. By critical biblical interpretation I mean trying to see clearly what the text actually says in the light of its biblical, historical. and cultural context, not what we think it says on the basis of conventional assumptions (often derived from our own historical and cultural contexts).

Since these articles are sometimes evolving pieces, I invite you to return again to answers on topics that interest you. They may be slightly different.

General comments about this blog are welcome below in the comments feature. I have enjoyed writing these answers. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Pastor Frank Senn

Updated August 15, 2021

On the Giant Ledge in the Catskills celebrating my 75th birthday in 2018.

10 Comments

  1. Comment by post author

    The following comments were sent via the “Questions” platform, which are relayed to my email. Please use the “Comments” feature to post comments.

    “I found your blog while doing some google searching to find information about Christianity and yoga. Interesting articles. Stick with it. I will continue checking on it.”

    “I have been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting articles like yours. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made as good content as you do, the net will be much more useful than ever before.”

    “Merely wanna comment that you have a very decent internet site. I love the design. It really stands out.”

    • Comment by post author

      Submitted as a question, but it is really a comment.

      Pr. Senn,
      Is yours a subscription blog that’s sent out to interested readers automatically, or does one need to go in consciously to see what’s going on? If subscriptions are possible, I’m missing the sign-up form… Help me there, please.

      I’ve just discovered your site over the weekend while searching for something else (so it often goes…), and am gratified by the good sense, the theological underpinnings, and the pastoral approach that drives you.

      I’m also a retired ELCA pastor, and actually crossed paths with you many years ago when I was a seminarian. We said hello just once, but I doubt you’d recall.

      What I’m finding in your blog is a rare, sensible, thoughtful, balanced attitude toward topics like yoga, spirituality, the human body generally and nakedness in particular, scarcely seen in the USA and the American Churches. You share so many of my views on these topics it astonishes me. So few others do…

  2. Comment by post author

    This came by email from a gay college student:

    Hi Frank,

    I really enjoy your blog. Not only do I find it very insightful, but I have to admit reading some of your posts is very stimulating. I just started my freshman in year in college, and as a young college guy I really enjoy your openness on certain topics like massage, masturbation, and naked male bonding. And of course the pornography and penis size posts I can certainly relate to. Of course the masturbation and prayer article is great. Reminds me of not too long ago exploring with myself and others.

    I love the pictures on your blog. I think I’ve seen them all. I especially love the ones about swimming naked. I can’t imagine what it must have been like back then when everyone was naked in PE swimming and at the Y. The words and vintage pics are great.

  3. Comment by post author

    A comment from Ric:

    “Hi Frank. Came across your website. Great blogs. Thoroughly enjoyed and can relate. Finally a site about men’s issues with real uncensored dialogue. Could definitely relate to the swimming nude blogs as I did through my entire childhood. Made it easier to be nude later in life. Can’t understand why men would ever need any clothes in an all male environment like a locker room or pool. Keep up the good work.”

    • Comment by post author

      Thanks, Ric. I guess the incredulity about and outright hostility to male naked swimming that many of us men experienced in earlier times is what set me off. As more comments came in I kept thinking about that and related issues. I pretty much allowed all comments as long as they were civil. I only suppressed a few that were becoming antagonistic. Finding and posting vintage photos to illustrate the issues raised about swimming naked emboldened me to post more nude images throughout my blog than I might have otherwise.

      • Ric

        Many younger people I speak to cannot believe there was a time when men swam fully nude as well as had group open showers. We had no problems with it. Since your readers are probably mostly male, we have no problem with any of your images. That’s the point, men should not be embarrassed to be nude in front of anyone.

  4. William Wassner

    So good to see you again…you taught our Arts of Ministry class at the U of C in 1982…blessings to you and yours

  5. Comment by post author

    From an email:
    “Dear Pastor Frank: as I’ve read all of your articles I could find about the body (I am a retired massage therapist), I find that you unceasingly answer them clearly, conscientiously, with deeply caring sensible thinking. You are a gold-mine of helpful knowledge to me in your personal life history and bravado of controversial thoughts, ideas, and photos. I’m amazed as a Pastor that you get away with it, without scowling angry moralist mobs chasing you with torches and pitchforks. But what you post is sorely needed. “

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