Sept 17-19. Flesh, Bodies, Migrant Sacred Spaces

This week we are working on trying to understand the correspondences between flesh, bodies, and migration, and how they contribute to the composition and interpretation of sacred spaces.  To to that, we are going to expand the discussion we began last week regarding place and the study of religions, as well as the usefulness, or not, of the GPS of sacredness and religion.

On Tuesday we dwelled on the poetics of flesh, and not, considering the philosophical framework of Glissant and Fanon, and weighing terms such as relation, gathering, water, miracles, feeding and healing, poetics, feminization, the maternal and motherhood, carnal interdependence, vulnerability, exposure, and disidentification.  On Thursday we are going to journey between Chicago and México, and we are going to explore how some of the terms discussed on Tuesday play a role, or not, in the production of sacred space with the guadalupanas.  We will venture in-and-out of matters pertaining to current issues with migration movements in the world.

Post your reflection by Saturday at 5PM.  You will work in teams for class discussion and exchanges, but reflections are to be written and posted individually from now on, please.

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  1. This week, I was struck by the concept of constructing a sacred space transnationally. This concept is predominantly explored in Elaine Peña’s article “Beyond Mexico: Guadalupan Sacred Space Production and Mobilization in a Chicago Suburb”. The article describes “the gymnasium-cum-sanctuary at the ‘Second Tepayac of North America.’” What is most notable about this space is its ordinary nature. It is not a church or a heavily gilded prayer room, there is nothing seemingly divine or spiritual about the space. But this is not necessary for it to maintain its value in the hearts of those who gather there. As we know, the people define the space as sacred and without them it would hold no special status. For the Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran Guadalupanos that frequent here, this space is held high in their hearts. Despite the “architecture of domination” that persists in Chicago, the Guadalupan devotees maintain this gymnasium as their own.
    The scene that most resonated with me begins at 10:00 pm on the 11th of December in 2003 and it goes as follows. “Two hundred Guadalupan devotees left their respective parishes on Chicago’s Lower West Side and walked more than seven hours in single-digit weather toward the Second Tepeyac.” The description continues with an outline of their entry into the gymnasium but what I found most outstanding was the fact that “the place becomes a sacred space only when devotees’ embodied performances – their voices raised in ecstasy, their praying and dancing bodies in motion, the labor and care they offer to maintain the shrine – initiate the succession of transformative moments that give meaning to the Second Tepeyac.” Although this quote is lengthy, I wanted to include it in full because it directly illustrates my point in the first paragraph that outlines my reasoning for why this article stood out to me. The Guadalupanos make major sacrifices to be present at this location but the description above makes it clear why. This is their community and their sacred space, therefore they are willing to go to extreme lengths to maintain it.

  2. “Flesh is always becoming. Air, water, food, sunlight, and even societies of microorganisms enter our bodies to weave the delicate tissue of our flesh.”

    Rivera, Poetics of the Flesh, p. 2.

    In Poetics of the Flesh, I was particularly drawn to the idea that flesh is not just something simply constructed through the notions of sin, but something that is inherently tied to the earth by the way in which it relates to and is supported by different aspects of nature. This notion, somewhat contradictory to the Christian ideals that flesh is singular according to each individual and inherently sinful, is later expanded by Glissant’s Relation.

    Rivera explains, “The world’s poetic force creates and expresses itself as Relation.” (p. 3). This Relation is an entanglement of all people with each other and with the earth that cannot fully be known or understood. This inability to fully grasp all of the ways in which everything is tied together necessitates poetics, a way to explain it. I believe that the way in which flesh is constructed and supported by the earth creates this Relation and directly influences poetics.

    Perhaps this Relation of flesh to others and the earth is a way in which sacred spaces can be constructed. In class, we have discussed that sacred spaces can be created through people entering a space and deeming its importance. The flesh, which is entangled with the earth, entering a space of importance then creates extra ties, more entanglements with the Relation of the earth. This may assist in constructing its sacred nature.

  3. When reading “Beyond Mexico: Guadalupan Sacred Space Production and Mobilization in a Chicago Suburb,” I was particularly interested in Elena Pena’s argument on how cultures can transcend its geographic boundary of origin. As reflected in this article, Chicago became a sanctuary for cultural practices originating in Guadalupe. Pena describes a term used by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo called religio-ethnic cultural expansion. They define this term as “the ways in which a distinctively ethnic and religious form is adopted, transformed, and expanded to new inclusiveness in the United States” (725). This concept is reflected in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, a community that is notoriously known as an immigrant community. Pena discusses the significance of the Via Crucis, which is translated as the Stations of the Cross. This location is one that is used as a port of entry to conduct rituals, often by immigrant communities that traditionally remain hidden in secret for fear of deportation. While the Via Crucis is considered a sacred space by many, the power comes from the community of people that band together to “expand inclusiveness in the United States.” In this way, the voiceless regain a voice and are able to practice their religious and ethnic beliefs in public with a community of people who share in their devotion. However this site is not merely used as a location to perform religious practices, but a location where the Pilsen community and other Mexicanos are able to voice their opinions and combat oppression. In this way, the Pilsen community transcends cultural borders from “Mexico yo Jerusalem, Mexico to the United States, Chicago to Calvary” (725). By inciting religio-ethnic cultural expansion, people are able to recreate american culture as one that is accepting of cultural differences, rather than disapproving of them.

    Similarly to how the second Tepeyac was constructed in Chicago to create an inclusive place for cultural and religious gatherings, the Via Crucis aims to give a voice to disenfranchised communities. These religious sites are also grounds for making political and cultural advancements. Despite many of the immigrants residing in Pilsen coming from different cultural and geographic backgrounds, they find the Via Crucis to be a place where they can collectively celebrate their respective cultures. The Chicago mission to create religious and cultural inclusiveness does not stop at the Via Crucis. As previously mentioned, the second Tepeyac was constructed in Des Plaines at Maryville Academy. This large, seventy acre property, provides a home for all people to commune, worship, and mobilize. The goal of creating the Second Tepeyac was “to produce a transnational sacred space that is distinct from the original” (728). What it most notable is that there was never a goal to imitate the original Tepeyac, but rather to create a space that can be deemed sacred by anyone who wishes. At Maryville Academy, the goal was to “surpass a state-based framework” (730). The concept that sacredness can transcend architectural rules and can be created in any location, proves that religions and cultural practices have the ability to go beyond geographic boundaries and incite inclusiveness. In this way, Pena reiterates her argument that religio-ethnic cultural expansion is vital in American society. In an age where immigrant communities are prevalent in the United States, it is crucial to recognize the importance of creating sacred spaces in the United States that allow for inclusiveness of all cultures and religions.

  4. This week’s readings “Poetics of Flesh” by Mayra Rivera and “Beyond Mexico: Guadalupan Sacred Space Production and Mobilization in a Chicago Suburb” by Elaine Pena both delved into the idea of sacred spaces being linked to the bodies and flesh inside, and how sacredness exists across borders. Rivera mentions a quote from Derek Walcott, “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than the love that took its symmetry for granted when it was whole,” (Rivera, 3) Walcott is a Saint Lucian native, and his quote is in reference to the history of the many people of the Caribbean. Those taken from Africa were forced to practice Christianity, and had to find ways to continue to celebrate their own religions. Rivera emphasizes that poetics were used as a form of dissent, that slave songs and poetry/art were used as a way to hide religions of slaves- using words to imply a separate meaning. This can be seen in statues of Saint Barbara: in Iberia these statues are white, but in Cuba they are black. The quote from Walcott exemplifies this idea. Because they were forced to hide their beliefs, slaves were determined to keep their faiths and their ties to their homes. They themselves are the broken vases, and their beliefs is what reassembles them. The beliefs of slaves crossed oceans, and were forced into hiding but used art as a way to express the religions they believed.
    The idea of religion/beliefs crossing borders is also seen in Pena’s piece. Pena writes of a commune in Chicago, where pilgrims would walk several hours from outside of the city in freezing conditions to reach the shrines inside. “This saying literally suggests that any measure of sacred space, no matter the size, when transposed, will make its new surroundings sacred, like making tap water instantaneously holy by mixing it with water blessed in a church.” (Pena 730) While the Second Tepeyac is thousands of miles away from the original, its importance and sacredness transcends the boundaries of its physical location. The Second Tepeyac, while just a gym, holds so much meaning to those inside. Hondurans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalan, and Americans gather for a common belief. Beliefs do not follow borders, nor are they confined to four walls. They transcend space, and even time to unite people of all ethnicities.

  5. Tuesday’s reading allowed me to view poetics from a different perspective in that poetics are particularly important for people with “disruption, displacement, and irrecoverable loss” etched into their histories. Rivera described that poetics allow people to creatively interact with the world and express themselves more completely. This ultimately ties into how they experience relation. I thought the key term of relation was particularly interesting because it highlighted that the world itself plays into perspective. From Glissant, “the world’s poetic force creates and expresses itself as Relation” (p. 2). Rivera clarifies that relation is the expression world’s inherent, poetic force. Though relation is hard to pin down because it is so varied, this is fitting because the varied language of poetics allows people to better express themselves.
    I think this led into Thursday’s reading, connecting to the people with potentially “disrupted” histories who find themselves at Maryville. When describing Second Tepeyac as a sacred space, just as much so as the First Tepeyac, two women explained how they experience sacredness there. They expressed that the sacredness of Second Tepeyac stems from the fact that you only need “un grano de arena” to transform a place (p.730). As Peña elaborated, this meant that even a small “measure of sacred space” could transform its surroundings with a real sense of sacredness. For these two women, and by extension all the worshipers at Second Tepeyac, they relate to their faith here even though there was no actual apparition at that exact location. The statues in this Chicago garden are just as sacred as those in Mexico City. Here, they relate to their religion poetically, using the place they have to create a sacred space. The sacredness assigned to the Second Tepeyac statues allows the rest of the grounds to be just as sacred of a garden space. In the words of these two women, “Ella, sí esta,” and Second Tepeyac was transformed from a place into a space (p. 730).

  6. In the article, “Beyond Mexico,” the production of sacred space in both Mexico and Chicago are heavily influenced by gatherings. The article states, “replicated place becomes a sacred space only when devotees’ embodied performances” “ initiate the succession of transformative moments that give meaning to the Second Tepeyac.” In other words, just the creation of a space does not make space sacred, even if the place created is meant to be a replica of another major sacred space. Buildings become sacred in how they are used and, in this case, the second Tepeyac, created by the Guadalupanas, is sacred because of the activities performed within such as prayers and dances done within the space. Furthermore, the gatherings also serve not only to make the Tepayac a religious haven but also to make it a “political safehaven.” In other words, the Tepeyac, based on activities performed within such as religion and immigration services, serves as a sacred place for two activities for the Guadalupanas.
    Furthermore, the article “Beyond Mexico,” also incorporates an opposition toward the idea of disidentification in creating sacred space with the Guadalupanas. The article explains that the Tetayac is meant to be multicultural and therefore, it welcomes people of all backgrounds. This idea is exemplified in the first few paragraphs of the article when the author while in the second Tetayac, experienced firsthand the celebration of the different cultures in the Tetayac. Furthermore, despite not being in their original country, the Guadalupanas who worship in the second Tetayac still identify with their homeland and strongly support helping children identify with the cultures of their parents. “Angeles also spoke of the necessity of keeping and teaching “nuestra cultura, nuestra lenguaje” [our culture, our language] to our children.” In short, the diversity in culture of people that come together to worship in the Tetayac also contributes to its sacredness it is a place where anyone can worship and not feel out of place. It is made to bring people of different identities together.

  7. The Poetics of Flesh reading by Maya Rivera played on one of my key interests in this course. I think the consideration of flesh not only as a sacred space, but as a medium through which we experience, interpret and create external sacred spaces is extremely interesting. One key distinction, that “flesh” carries with it a theological and religious significance, is an interesting and I believe increasingly controversial idea. Considering flesh as a separate entity from the body, or at least as it refers to a different aspect of the human form, I think it is important to make the distinction that flesh is not intrinsically linked to religion, a point which I do not think is made clear enough in the reading, because while the two certainly overlap, it would be a grave mistake to tether flesh to religion which I believe to be only true where religion is relevant. Flesh can, and indeed does, exist without religion. The important point, however, may be that religion cannot exist without flesh. The flesh interacts with the world through relation, another point which Rivera correctly brings up. We contextualize and understand through various relations, most of which are filtered through the flesh. Flesh, then, is an integral part of the human experience. Being so integral, it will ultimately become entangled with many other facets of the human experience. Seeing as religion seeks to understand and order human experience, religion will inevitably collide with the idea of the flesh, and, as it does with everything it encounters, attempt to understand it and control it through a unified belief system. Religion, through seeking to understand the flesh and the relations flesh allows us to experience with the world, creates standards of practice and boundaries around flesh in order to control the human experience; eventually anyone who is born into the religious system will inevitably come to conflate flesh and religion as inseparable. While this is not inherently a bad or “wrong” thing, it is, I believe, a small mistake that leads to large consequences (another discussion which I will not go into here). But as the age of reason and the scientific method increasingly comes to dominate our world and replace the dogma of standardized religion, the separation of flesh and religion becomes easier to perceive and more widely accepted. However, as religion loses control of the conduct of flesh and process of thought aorund flesh, this bring to bear critical problems with how to understand and conceptualize flesh. Without the moral compass that religion installs on the flesh, humanity is left with a clinical understanding of the corporeal. I believe it is crucial to study the concept of flesh and arrive at a more sophisticated, yet societally and personally health understanding of flesh and the carnal relations it brings to the human experience.

  8. I was intrigued by Rivera’s proposal of the separation of body and flesh. Body is defined as the physical representation or presence of a human that can give an image to their personality. As Rivera says, “body commonly denotes and entity complete in itself and visible to those around it” (2). Certain aspects of a body, such as race, ethnicity, or gender, can cause someone to draw generalizations about the identity of another. These are often erroneous and do not accurately represent an individual, as they are preliminary and simple, and only come from an initial view of a person. The body is also commonly normalized, leading to standards and expectations that upset those who do not fit them. It seems to me that Rivera believes that the concept of the body is largely negative and provides fuel for superficial predispositions.

    Flesh is something much more abstract than the body. Rivera argues that, “flesh is conceived as formless and impermanent, crossing the boundaries
    between the individual body and the world” (2). This is where body and flesh differentiate; flesh is “formless”, and is less visible to an external viewer. Flesh also has the ability to be changed and shaped by the outside world. It has more emotional charge, and seems to be more or less the soul of a person.

    This definition of flesh is largely positive, however, as Rivera points out, flesh has a negative history in certain religious contexts. In Western Christian culture, flesh is commonly associated with desire or lust, and is generally thought of as taboo. This comes with a twist though. As Rivera says, “flesh is also feminized” (10). In this sense she means that the flesh which is often considered taboo is flesh belonging to women. More specifically, this flesh is negative as it relates to the desire it creates in men. This rarely goes the other way in the sense that men’s flesh is rarely considered negative as it relates to desire in women. This can be seen in a religious context where women are told to cover their skin completely, while men typically are not.

    Despite this negative use of flesh in religion, I believe that the focus should be shifted to a more positive association. Flesh is used as a way of forming connections between people and creating unified groups. In the readings from last week it was discussed how a space is generally not inherently sacred, its sacredness comes from a group of people who choose to meet there together and carry out religious practices. The connections formed through the flesh allow for the creation of a sacred space. The flesh is the soul that makes a space sacred.

  9. The topic of migration was brought up as we explored sacred spaces with topics of flesh, mind, and body. In the Poetics of Flesh, Glissant’s philosophical approach to relations and the “gathering of broken pieces,” referring to the cultural loss of Caribbean people as a result of colonization. Expressions through intertwine relations between the body and flesh, flesh and the world, and the body and the world emphasizes the disruption of identification of people in the space through colonization. As we brought up the idea of disidentification, it is defined as authoritative enforcements that cause a sense of detachment that build up resistance among people in places. In the article Beyond Mexico: Guadalupe Sacred Space Production and Mobilization in Chicago Suburb, Pena mentions that building a culture of inclusion is key to constructing a sacred space, as the Second Tepeyac is a place built to “celebrate the presence of La Virgincinta’s with others, regardless of race, citizenship, or class status.” In this context, constructing a sacred space requires “disidentification” in the way that we should see all in that as one, without judgement and preferences. However, that is not to say respecting the cultural and historical background of the piece is not an important factor. Rather, it is a fundamental value that makes the place sacred. As we explore more into methods of “disidentification,” the interrelation between migration and the construction of sacred place can be understood even further.

  10. Rivera’s Poetics of the Flesh introduces the many ideas that deal with the body and flesh. From focusing from Christian to postmodern ideals, she explores the different levels of meaning the body has had in many ideologies and whether they have been beneficial or detrimental. From her introduction, it appears that idea of flesh and body have really affected the many ways we view the world. For example, bodies in Christian theology have been written as second nature to the spirit. That in many ways could lead people to ignore the plight the poor, who concerns deal with bodily needs. Another example of this would be the idea of the body in relation to sexism and racism. Because of certain bodily characteristics, people have either been left out off or oppressed in certain societies. The fact that how we view the body even deals with how we treat people or decide to help them shows the power the conception of the body has.
    Elaine Pena’s article, “Beyond Mexico: Guadalupan Sacred Space Production and Mobilization in a Chicago Suburb”, focused on how to recreate another sacred space for a specific religion. In the article, she discusses how modeling the outside of the Tepeyac to resemble the original el Cerrito, performing the reenactment the virgin’s apparition, and making the pilgrimage to the place deems it another sacred space. What was interesting about Pena’s approach is that it also involved elements from Lang’s and Otero’s ideas about what a sacred space should have. For example, the Second Tepeyac was designed to resemble the original, which reminded me of Lang’s argument about how sacred places do have a certain style that should presented when designing one. The focus on the rituals and people from many different cultures coming together to worship was very similar to Otero’s ideas about sacred spaces being centered around the people and the actions performed by them. The fact that the second Tepeyac was also U.S. citizen naturalization workshop realizes Otero’s vision of a sacred place being used to help the marginalized and oppressed as well. I found the combination of these two opposite ideas in this one article to be very interesting.

  11. On Tuesday we discussed Mayra Rivera’s Poetics of Flesh. What struck me the most is the statement that “flesh is also feminized” (Rivera). When trying to conceptualize what it means to feminize the flesh, I initially thought of the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Because of Eve’s sin (as mainstream Christianity teaches), the naked human body now became inappropriate — one’s bear flesh now had to be censored and covered. Here, the blame is all placed on Eve which is connected to society’s negative association of women and femininity with inferiority or simply put — as something bad.
    From my understanding, to feminize the flesh is to associate the flesh with sin. Coming from a Christian perspective, the body is described as a temple while the flesh is described as an element we must suppress and surveil in order to be holy and Godly. However, as Rivera argues, the flesh is an integral part of us. Following a religion that teaches us that an integral part of us — our flesh which is connected to our body — is sinful makes it clear why many followers leave Christianity or have difficulty with self-love when following this teaching.

  12. These two readings both brought my awareness to a couple interesting concepts that I had never before considered. One idea was the idea of the use of poetics across religions. In one discussion we had in class, I was confused as to how poetry has to do with religions and the way they try to communicate their rules, ideas, and morals. I had grown up always understanding that religions have their rules and “commandments” so that they can follow their beliefs accordingly. It was not until we discussed the use of poetics in the various religions and pointed out all their different interpretations of “flesh” did I begin to think of the impact this tool has on religious peoples. I found it fascinating that so many different religions can interpret the same idea/word to mean and represent such vastly different things.

    On another note, one quote that stood out to me throughout the two readings was, “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than the love that took its symmetry for granted when it was whole,” (Rivera, 3). This quote, basically explaining the peoples’ ability to maintain it’s community despite hardships, made me think of the impact any purpose can have on any group of people. When these peoples were taken out of context or out of their comfort zones and were pulled away from their religion, it was like their vase – the things that they knew and found comfort in – was broken. However, when they found themselves “gathering of broken pieces of the vase” there was also a beauty in finding a way to rebuild the community of worshipers outside of the expectation of perfection or comfort. When they built themselves back together, they felt stronger and more resilient even despite their tribulations.

  13. “The emerging vision is one where bodies are not simply located in society—as suggested by the commonly used phrase “social location”—but constituted in relation to the world” (Rivera 10).

    This week, I was struck with a comparison between the ideas of flesh and the body and our discussions in the first week of class. How can the body be a sacred space in itself? How should we think about the body/flesh in relation to the world? Rivera presented a compelling argument, that the body is not merely a part of society but related to the world as a whole. In this concept, Rivera suggests that a single concept of the body and flesh is not all-encompassing, a concept which relates to our second reading of the week from Pena discussing the idea of a sacred space both in Mexico and in Chicago.

    Both Pena and Rivera suggested that we can go outside of the typical boundaries presented by a religion and find sacredness in other locations and concepts. A particularly compelling part of Pena’s argument for me was that this “Second Tepeyac” was modelled off an original Tepeyac in Mexico but is broader in the community it represents: Guadalupe’s “presence […] does not represent a solely “Mexican” perspective; the Second Tepeyac provides an atmosphere in which communities are encouraged to celebrate their distinct heritages and homelands” (Pena 724). On a hillside where battered and orphaned children were formerly cared for is now a sacred space that invites community and worship, much like in the reading last week wherein Martell posited that place was of lesser concern than community and togetherness.

  14. Within different religions, flesh holds different connotations that can be good or bad. Regardless of the meaning between religions, flesh holds great significance when it comes to sacredness. I was very drawn to Rivera’s statement that, “Air, water, food, sunlight, and even societies of microorganisms enter our bodies to weave the delicate tissue of our flesh” (2). This line of thinking that everything we interact with can contribute to the composition of our flesh and who we are is extremely interesting to me especially since there is such a heavy emphasis on flesh as a form of sacredness. Rivera brings this into the idea of relationships because she brings up Glissant’s beliefs that we (as humans) are entangled in relations but it is difficult to fully understand them, but it is still important to care about them and emphasize them. Since relations and people are such an important aspect of weaving our flesh as described in the quote, I enjoy how they are stressed as being highly important. In this way, flesh and sacredness is transformed into a much more personal form. 
    For Peña, meaningful traditions and practices can usher in sacredness regardless of the place it is. Whereas Rivera focuses on the way flesh is materialized, Peña focuses far more on materializing a traditional figure as a way to usher in sacredness. This is showcased when she says “when Guadalupanas/os in Des Plaines perform the apparition story, they embody it and make it flesh” (732). For her, such an act exemplifies how sacredness can cross borders and transcend place. While this is different from Rivera’s interpretations, both women associate flesh with sacredness and seem to value the importance of human relationships as a way to promote sacredness.

  15. One subject that we discussed this week was the marginalized people’s views on religion. In “Beyond Mexico,” Pena describes the differences between the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico and the Second Tepeyac. At the Second Tepeyac, the statues are focused “on the upright Spanish church official and not on the kneeling indigenous man.” The message of the church as a nurtering and protective figure rather than authoratative is better suited for the Second Tepeyac as Hispanic immigrants already face discrimination and subjugation from a predominantly white America willing to exploit the work these laborers. By incorporating new perspectives into the traditional core values of the Guadalupan church, the Second Tepeyac is the culmination of the everchanging Latin American experience.
    For many, the sacredness of the Second Tepeyac comes from more than just religion.
    Occasionally, the gymnasium-cum-santuary is transformed “into an assembly line for U.S. naturalization.” The church helps these immigrants obtain citizenship and informs them on legislation that may affect their lives. The support of the Guadalupan community is reflected in “Poetics of the Flesh,” in which Rivera shares Derek Walcott’s idea of “a gathering of broken pieces.” Just as the reassembled vase is more cherished, new immigrants broken down by “the xenophobic realities of life in “El Norte” have built a nurturing community based on gathering each other up.

  16. In the chapter, “Introduction. Both Flesh and Not”, Rivera introduces literal and metaphorical definitions of flesh and how they can differ upon cultural, geographical, or literal context as she explains “flesh” as “formless and impermanent, crossing the boundaries between the individual body and the world” (Rivera 2) .
    The unique definition that delineated from others to me was the definition of “flesh” in Christian Body interpretation. Rivera asserts that “flesh” is vastly involved in the topics of violence, poverty, eroticism and sexuality. In Christianity, human’s many basic needs often get suppressed in order to obtain and behave like a true Christian, attempting to overcome the egotistical personal needs. When I was reading through Rivera’s Christian interpretation of “flesh”, a story, “Binding of Isaac”, came in to my mind. Rivera asserts that flesh is formless and thus can be anything. In “Binding of Isaac”, in one of the midrash, when God talks to Abraham and asks him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, God requests him to sacrifice him as a burnt-offering. In this context, burning something valuable, flesh, meant showing the highest honor. While flesh was portrayed as physical components of human, flesh also conveyed a meaning, equivalent to somethin that has the most surmounting value. Just like Rivera’s assertion, flesh, according to biblical reference from bible, carries multiple meanings.

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