This is where to submit your ideas and suggestions for the 2019 Charles Kingsley 200th anniversary festival hosted in his parish of Eversley
Charles Kingsley, The Apostle of the Flesh.
J. M. I. Klaver has written a detailed and insightful biography of Charles Kingsley entitled ‘The Apostle of the Flesh. A Critical Life of Charles Kingsley’. Most people think of the apostles as Jesus Christ’s disciples and then especially Saint Paul. The Gospels describe the astounding effect on his disciples of Christ’s life and death. A little later Paul had a visionary experience of Christ on his road to Damascus. He was an extremely well educated and ascetic Pharisee, and as a result of his vision, analyses in numerous letters to the first Christians of his time the theological aspects of the life and death of Christ from an orthodox Jewish point of view. He is at pains to describe the ‘dangers of the flesh’ to these new Christians and this became a marked feature of European Christendom in the form of celibate monks, nuns and anchorites.
On page 79 of his book Klaver quotes from a sensuous and erotic letter Kingsley wrote to Francis Grenfell, later his wife, with whom he was deeply and freshly in love and it gives a good description of sensuality or the dangers of the flesh in this context. ‘What is sensuality! Not the enjoyment of holy glorious matter, but blindness to its spiritual meeting’. Klaver adds ‘this view was taken seriously by both lovers in defining and circumscribing their erotic longings and desires, and provides a key to the open experience of sexual enjoyment throughout Kingsley’s life’ and in my view as source of compassion for all the social ills in the Eversley and England of his time. It explains too the title of Klaver’s book.