Okay, I am glad that a Catholic apologist gets some major exposure in the mainstream media, and I want to repeat again that I believe that those who are popularizing the Theology of the Body are good people and well intentioned. Nevertheless, I take exception to the presentation of Christopher West in this latest interview, precisely for the reasons given in my last post on the subject.
One commenter on that post asserted that the “naked without shame” doctrine contained in the popular catechesis of TOB is really only a “marketing hook,” and that very few, if any, believe that TOB is being proposed as a means of reclaiming original innocence, as suggested by the article I linked to by Father Brian Mullady.
In yesterday’s interview posted on the ABC News website Christopher West compares favorably Pope John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, founder and publisher of Playboy Magazine:
“I actually see very profound historical connections between Hugh Hefner and John Paul II,” said West.
And it’s not just the red slippers?
“No, it’s not just the red slippers.” Each man in his own way, West insisted, rescued sex from prudish Victorian morality.
On Hugh Hefner: ‘I Understand His Ache’
“I love Hugh Hefner,” said West. “I really do. Why? Because I think I understand his ache. I think I understand his longing because I feel it myself. There is this yearning, this ache, this longing we all have for love, for union, for intimacy.”
Now I know this can be read a number of ways and that West’s remarks could be easily taken out of context. I am not suggesting that West is encouraging men to look at pornography, although, undoubtedly this is how it will be taken by some. I am asserting, however, that fair-minded people know that his words will be taken out of context, precisely because they lend themselves to be so taken. I have argued before that that the abuse of a thing does not vitiate its use, but in my humble opinion, the favorable comparison between John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, for marketing purposes or otherwise, crosses the line. Yes, I know it is an interview on ABC which will be read by more non-Catholics than otherwise, and that is precisely why the comparison is bound to be misinterpreted. Perhaps West said more to clarify, and perhaps it will come out in the televised portion; either way, the effect will be the same.
I have never seen a TOB apologist argue for a return to original innocence in so many words, but the now famous anecdote told by West of the two bishops and the prostitute is not merely an illustration of an extraordinary purity granted to an individual holy person, but of a general state produced by the promulgation of TOB. West says that the story illustrates what “mature Christian purity looks like.”
If that is true, then any man who might have a difficulty looking upon feminine voluptuousness is immature or impure or both. I think this kind of reasoning is facile and grossly misleading.
I agree with John Paul the II that prudery is a problem, but in our sex-saturated society, it is also facile to point to prudery as the real culprit and name someone like Hefner as a savior from sexually related hang ups comparable to the likes of John Paul II. The real problems are the extremes to which people are inclined, whether it is to pornography, on the one hand, or to an excessive reliance on the strictest practical rules for modesty in dress, on the other.
I am perfectly willing to critique the more traditionally minded crowd on this matter. Too much attention, I think, is paid to the way women dress and not enough to the ordinary demands of masculine discipline. The fact is that a man can be tempted by a female under any circumstances and that in today’s culture exposure to immodesty is inescapable. By means of the sacraments, prayer and mortification–and an exalted view of sexuality–men are perfectly capable of controlling themselves. I think too much attention paid to controlling women’s fashions which just leads to a kind of negative preoccupation with sexuality that does err on the side of prudery.
Elsewhere, West makes reference to John Paul II’s commentary on the Sistine Chapel as the “sanctuary of the theology of the human body,” where the Holy Father says the following in section 6:
In witnessing to the beauty of man created by God as male and female, it also expresses in a certain way, the hope of a world transfigured, the world inaugurated by the Risen Christ, and even before by Christ on Mount Tabor. We know that the Transfiguration is one of the main sources of Eastern devotion; it is an eloquent book for mystics, just as for St Francis Christ crucified contemplated on the mountain of La Verna was an open book.
Truly, works like that of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine chapel do hearken to a state where man was and might be again naked without shame, but to translate the above general statement, spoken in the context of a very sophisticated presentation of human sexuality (John Paul II’s corpus on TOB) into general advice about the difference between admiration of human beauty and lust, will necessarily lead to confusion and to misinterpretation. Father Mullady’s critique is fully justified. Mystics like St. Francis achieved what appeared to be a state of “original innocence” only by way of radical and mystic conformity to Christ Crucified. During his earlier life St. Francis threw himself into a rose bush to extinguish the fire of concupiscence, which since then continues to miraculously bloom without thorns. At the end of his life he was a living crucifix, and nearly always in a state of supernatural ecstacy. The path to extraordinary innocence is a path of asceticism, mystic suffering and contemplation, not a seminar on TOB.
In West’s commentary on the Sistine Chapel remarks of John Paul II he quotes Dr. Michael Waldstein, who says:
“Some images [of the naked body] push us to concupiscence, others do not… . Going to the Sistine Chapel and looking at the naked women on the ceiling is for this reason a very different experience than watching a pornographic movie. It is not presumption, but the experience of many men, that one can look with purity at Michelangelo’s nudes and take delight in their beauty. Michelangelo himself must have looked at his naked models in a pure way in order to be able to paint nudes in that pure way…. Of course, if one does feel a slide into concupiscence when looking at Michelangelo’s nudes, it is a good idea to look away. That need to look away should also be a trumpet blast for recognizing… that one is in need of a serious transformation.”
This line of thinking, in my opinion is “original sin light.” I don’t dispute his defense of the portrayal of the human body in art. The fact is that the human body is the most perfect and beautiful of all God’s visible creations and therefore has always been considered the proper object of art. But to argue that anyone that might have a problem in practice of reconciling that with the workings of concupiscence is merely immature or in need of some particular “serious transformation,” and that more mature Christians are not, seems to me to be presumptuous and bordering on the arrogant. (This is not a matter of questioning the good doctor’s intentions. I merely critique his ideas.) As advice to the general populace, this line of reasoning is terribly misguided.
Who are the good doctor and Christopher West to judge when the spiritual faculties of an individual are fully developed or not? And how are they able to analyze the dispositions of divine providence relative to the interior workings of individual souls? Is one who finds it difficult to look on the form of a woman’s body without concupiscence being inappropriately stirred to conclude that they simply have not yet grasped the Church’s teaching? Or that if they cannot sublimate pornographic images and transform the phantasms associated with them into a regard for beauty that they simply are simply spiritually underdeveloped? This is simply a facile line of reasoning one that is bound to lead to the opposite extreme.
Yes, we are living in an age–and really it’s nothing new–when some Christians are overly preoccupied with matters of chastity. But our age is more particularly characterized by a lack of conscience in matters of human sexuality. I would guess that the vast majority of people, even the majority of Catholics, would laugh at the idea that a person can sin mortally and go to hell for impure thoughts. What is needed is more virility in matters of discipline and virtue. Men need to be encouraged to fight their wayward concupiscence, not merely to sentimentalize their regard for women.
I am not arguing for one pole against another. A more exalted view of human sexuality is needed and a preoccupation with the sinful nature of inappropriate sexuality should be avoided, but in this age when men have been so feminized and have so often recoiled from duty and consoled themselves in soft and lazy sensuality, they do not need to be encouraged to think about sexuality more, they need to be encouraged to mortify themselves, to be men, to be soldiers for Christ.
Hugh Hefner, during the earlier years of the publication of his girly magazine, serialized an apologetic for the “Playboy Philosophy,” in which he presented a sophisticated defense of his outlook on men and human sexuality. In some ways, it is an argument from the “principle of totality,” which in fact can be validly applied in order to distinguish art from pornography. The principle is more properly applied to moral questions concerning the mutilation of the body, for example, the amputation of a limb in order to save the life of a patient. Here the principle is applied so as to justify the removal of the limb in order to save the whole organism. Applied analogously to art, the idea is that a questionable element needs to be regarded within the context of the whole work, whether the work itself is wholesome and whether the questionable element contributes or can at least be reconciled with the presumed good end of the work. I think this argument is valid, for example, relative to works like the Sistine Chapel. But Hefner’s argument is sophistry. All the cultural, political, artistic and human interest content of his magazine merely provides a rationalization for lust. Hefner did not save sexuality from “prudish Victorian morality.” His critique of prudery is a pretext for lust, pure and simple.
Hefner has been sleeping with multiple partners for his whole career. His playmates are exactly that, and he has never grown up. The man, now in his eighties, is sleeping with women that are barely legal. Hefner is quoted as saying “The interesting thing is how one guy, through living out his own fantasies, is living out the fantasies of so many other people.” That’s the fact and those fantasies are concupiscence run wild and fueled by a soft and effemninate indiscipline and by a very sophisticated and gnostic rationalization. God forbid that the association of John Paul II and such a “playboy” should end by promoting a religious version of that effeminate gnosticism.
I don’t think that I really need to say how disgusting Hefner is, but finally! A verdict on the Sistine Chapel! I still stick to my opinion, that Michaelangelo’s reasons for painting naked people weren’t just what is stated… According to PBS, he was gay.
Thank you for posting this, Father. The video of the Nightline segment is now up on the link you’ve posted. I was hoping that the article about the show put things a bit out of proportion, but indeed they say that West’s 2 heroes are Pope John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, and he does not deny it.
He goes on and on in the interview speaking bluntly about things that would make many people blush, and it all comes back to what you said in your last post on this subject – enough said already – there is far too much talk and thought about this subject as it is…
Hate to take up the argument against you Signa, but also according to PBS, Da Vinci was a questionable character, as well as a modern thinker running around in Rennassaince Garb.
Galileo was also a radical thinker, trying to escape the confinements of a Dominating Roman Catholic Culture.
We have to watch out for what we see on Television, especially in documentaries. Why? Because Most of the time, these forms of media are owned by non-Catholics and often enough presumably anti-Catholic organizations who wish to redefine history according to secular standards.
This being the case, I find it very difficult to actual trust any informational source outside of Catholic Teaching.
I agree wholeheartedly with you Father when you speak on how men must learn to chastise and master their passions. Especially of the eyes in today’s scantily clad world. A most difficult task for any man (or knight) to overcome without the proper motives and means (Sacraments and Grace.) Which is why I believe all Protestant forms of full abstinence and chastity plans usually fail, they do not have the sufficient Grace to overcome the temptation, AND deal with it as seen necessary at the proper moments.
Thanks so much for this post, Father Angelo.
Thanks for this excellent post, Father. When I saw the West Nightline segment yesterday, I was dismayed. I too thought that the comparison with Hefner and the Pope was appalling. West should have known better. The takeaway message for many who see this will be that it’s OK to look at pornography. I think West is naive in not realizing, apparently, how much Hefner damaged society by introducing the “Playboy ethic,” if you will.
DaVinci also was not a good Catholic, mocking the Church on several occasions. That is part of the reason that they came up with the DaVinci code.
I love how Father Angelo is quiet here… Priest, get thee to thy peace making! 🙂 Its sunday, so I shall lay down the sword for Holy Church. Beware tomorrow’s comment. 😉 MUAHAHAHHAA *goes off to paint his armor black*
We make things too complicated. Hugh Hefner is an immoral pervert who makes money from sin and wants to attract as many as possible to hell. As if he will find safety in numbers!
Christopher West wants to talk about sex all the time and that is just wrong. Even if there is some redeeming value in some of the points he makes, just stop already. My bet is that he has some serious issues with the 6th and 9th commandments and wants to justify his own position.
Of course some of the naked sculpture and paintings from the past might be “real art”, but frankly, most of it is medieval pornography. I mean, they didn’t have cameras back then, so how else could they satisfy this urge to look on naked people whenever they wanted to. I mean really people, do we honestly think they did not have the same disordered urge that all humans since the fall, especially men, have just because they were born a few hundred years before us? Frankly with all the “exposure” we have had to this, we are proabaly more inured to this type of thing than they were!
No, with the exception of some of the paintings of the blessed Mother feeding Our Lord at the breast, which probably WAS very common in the past, most other pictures of voluptuous naked women in so called art was outright porn, for there is no other reason to omit clothing if not to titillate, and hiding such things in apparent religious images is extremely poor taste, if not scandal.
One of the things that is so disturbing about Hefner, and why Christopher West may very well meet his demise on this one, is that Hefner was a former Catholic, I believe. I remember hearing somewhere that he went to Catholic schools!!! So, to compare any aspect of this man to our Late Pope really should leave any committed Catholic with a bad taste his mouth. My goodness, the man has had multiple wives (all bunnies, of course) so he has no problem with his wife being a centerfold. where’s the respect there? How can you compare this to anything holy?
Granted, we all know that West did say that one was a saint and the other a sinner .. but it was all very much in poor taste. Shame shame.
As for West, I believe that his ‘obsession’ with sex is all about the almighty buck. True,to tackle this subject in the first place, one could argue that he had more than a casual *interest* in it … but it could have been an assignment of some sort. Who knows. HOWEVER, once he started making some serious money, he now needed to find a way to continue this … that’s my opinion. So, in the hopes to continue his salary a little while further, he is probably falling deeper and deeper into sin with it.
Hopefully he will start getting some good spiritual direction and be led away from this onto a different subject!
I encourage all who read this article, including Father, to read the following response by Christopher West to the ABC presentation: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=15928
I love you! God Bless
Myself and a friend are following this subject (Heffner/West) in the media world. My friend interpreted that West was simply saying Kinky Sex is permissible between a married couple with the intention of having offspring.
To me this sounds ambiguous and erroneous (kinky sex permissible in matrimony). I could be wrong.
Can anyone who has a good understanding of Church teaching and ethics explain whether “kinky sex” is permissible.
The CNA article is important, the editors reduced 6+ hours of footage to a 7 minute interview.
When the fullness of his point is born out, it makes a lot of sense.
Knives out anyone!
I’m not a big Christopher West fan but to his credit he has made some attempt to connect with people outside the Catholic orthodox ghetto.
I’m sure everyone commenting here is essentially good-willed but to take such offence at JPII being mentioned in connection with or in the same breath as Hugh Hefner should prompt some reflection upon whether one is breaking the first commandment (Catholic version).
I agree with Father Angelo Geiger (if I am reading him correctly) that West’s focus on reaching a stage of zen-like purity in one’s gaze is unhealthy and unhelpful.
But again, Christopher West should be applauded for giving it a go.
If I have a criticism it is that West is not gauche/earthy enough to be taken seriously.
He uses the word “darn” for example and spontaneously, breaks into song which is almost unpardonable.
When he spoke, last year, during his podcast about the Christian upringing of Katy Perry (“I kissed a girl”) he rightly decried the sacharine and tedious leanings of Christian music, only to reference K D Land and Bruce Springsteen – artists whose heyday predates the birth of most teens.
Again, I like the guy, but that stuff has a Christian nerd factor of 10.
And when you’re trying to reach real people with real truth, that’s a problem.
This phenomenon (Catholic sex ed), is a living example of why ordinary folks need to read magisterial documents. One must go far beyond the
New Catechism and deeply into the sense of the faithful throughout the ages to understand why this evil has always been rejected by Catholic thought up until around 1960.
We are living through a time of great magisterial amnesia. And so called Catholic “Chastity Ed” is one of the results of that amnesia.
What I find very strange is not West’s comments (I would half expect that)… but rather the fact that aside from the Friars Immaculate, and perhaps two or three good priests in my diocese.. MOST CONSERVATIVE PRIESTS WOULD DISSUADE THE LAYMAN FROM READING MAGISTERIAL DOCUMENTS. Or… if they did encourage it… they would do so with the proviso of `reading them in light of the Council’ whatever the heck that means.
As much as I love EWTN… I even find that they (even Fr. Groschel) occasionally flirt with this matter in a way which again… does an end run around mom and dad.
Fathers and mothers have a special obligation these days to understand sacred tradition and especially why the mind of the Church has always and everywhere
rejected `group chastity ed’.
West is another Alfred Charles Kinsey!
Danger! Will Robertson. Danger!
What’s annoying is that danger or not this guy and folks like him are loved and revered by most US bishops!
You have me right. Yeah, it’s the Zen thing I don’t like.
Yes, I read it, and if my comments are taken in context, it will be seen that I give credit where it is due. As I was reading I found this:
This defense of the sexual revolution is ludicrous, however it is explained. It’s just gumball apologetics. See Dawn Eden’s comment.
Who’s giving this guy the floor? When we need to be focasing on being HOLY. This guy is thinking about SEX and getting everyone thinking about sex. My blood is boiling right now! Will you people join me
this Saturday and do some reparation at The Day with
Mary at St Marks in Jamestown R.I.
Dawn Eden has a wonderful new post regarding this topic, quoting at length from an interview with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand regarding what went on. Here is a brief quote from Dr. von Hildebrand:
The fight against concupiscence is “not an easy process,” Dr. von Hildebrand continued. “It is something that calls for holiness, which very few of us achieve. It is a sheer illusion to believe that by some sort of new technique we can find the solution to the problem.” …
and a link to the post:
Fr. Angelo; A mom in our circle of friends mentioned this devotion:
I have never heard of of it… have you? Do you think it is worth looking into?
Excellent explanation! I encourage all to watch:
This did greatly dispel the analogy of Hugh Hefner and our Late Pope … which sadly never got mentioned on ABC. However, I think the point Father Angelo and some of the other people are making comes at the end of this monologue you shared with us. That we are fallen and thus we cannot see all of the beauty and holiness in our bodies that God has blessed us with. CW asks if we want to see … do we want to see since Christ came to give us sight? Do we want to see each other as God sees us? Well, of course we do. But I think Fr. Angelo’s point is that most men (and probably many women) no matter how hard they pray and yearn for such perfect eyesight, will never attain it in this fallen world. We will only see each other (and ourselves for that matter) as God sees us when we depart from our human bodies one day.
Therefore, CW’s suggestion that we can see each other purely is probably an unattainable goal for most and the mere act of talking about it as he does, in the end, only makes those who are struggling, think about sex even more and thus struggle even more!! It’s a paradox, I suppose.
The answer isn’t to go back to prudery, but the answer probably isn’t to talk about it with great fervor either.
Anyway, that’s how I’m understanding all of this. It’s the ol’ dilemma between the ideal and reality … one can discuss the ideal, but eventually has to arrive to the fact that he must live in reality and never achieve that ideal. In the end, the answer lies with, not throwing out the ideal, but with figuring out how to accept reality with the ideal in mind. (Don’t know if I’m making any sense!)
Blessings .. jen
With regards to the video above I will post my comment from another blog. Some explanations in the video are just absurd to use.
I think the video above justifies the criticisms against West for using ambiguous premises to come up with his conclusion that: “Hefner rescued sex from prudish Victorian mentality” in a different way among many things.
Hefner’s reasoning for being where he is today is a classic reductio ad absurdium (reduce to absurdity)argument. To state that I started a soft porn business because I didn’t get hugs and affections in my youth is ABSURD. Such a line of thinking is a text book DARKENING OF THE INTELLECT incident. Hefner’s reason is clearly a pretext to justify lust, but it is also pure sophistry. To use this reasoning as an apologia for placing Hefner alongside JPII with the intent for saving sex from pruddish Victorian morality is not only misleading but erroneous by rules of logic. I do not see how one could conclude that this was Hefner’s intention. He was simply rationalizing to justify sex without moral constraints. West is confusing the causes and effects. It is like saying, as another blogger puts it “completing the culture of death via the culture of life”.
Jen — I can tell you that you’re way off in attributing an economic motive to Christopher West. I was the sound engineer and graphic designer on his first big tape series, Naked without Shame, from The GIFT Foundation.
Christopher donated his time and talents for that series, which sold tens of thousands of copies. The tapes (and later CDs) were sold at cost — nobody made any money on them at all.
Whatever criticisms one may level at Christopher West, to accuse him of greed is totally unfair — and false.
Sorry Eric for offending … didnt’ mean to do that. I wasn’t trying to imply that he was a money-hungry man and that he didn’t have holy intentions but I can see where my writing surely implied that.
I just feel that he continues to sell and expand his audience so that perhaps he’s trying to make this career of his last a smidge longer. But, I will humbly accept that i could be way off.
I was so delighted to hear that Christopher would be on ABC. Of course I share much of the concern regarding how the interview was so very boiled down–and could be taken the wrong way.
First of all, we must keep in mind the immense spiritual battle that is going on as we speak. Of course the Enemy is working on hearts and minds…and of course he wants to cause disunity.
Christ calls us to first look at ourselves, and to recognize our own sin, and to beg for the grace to conform ourselves to Christ.
That being said, consider how infuriated it makes the Enemy to see a man like Christopher West putting himself out there with the message of TOB. Christopher might not be perfect, but he makes a very noble attempt. Complaining about Christopher and his method reminds me of all the times I have complained and heard others complain about our priests and bishops. We are all lacking. We are all sinners. We all need Christ.
It is really time to find constructive ways to bring about the New Evangelization that Papa John Paul called for. I honestly beleive that Christopher is trying to do this. And if any of his brothers and sisters in Christ think he should reconsider some of his methods, than in the spirit of Christ, ought not his brothers and sisters speak to him about it, rather than speak amongst ourselves publicly about what we do not like?
There is a time for everything–including venting–but let us consider our words! We are called to be united in Christ’s Mystical Body! I do not pretend to be perfect, I have a long way to go. But let’s not let the Enemy have his way among us. Let’s find Christ-centered ways to achieve the unity of purpose for which we were created–to lead one another to Heaven, our true home. May God bless us all, and may we respond to his abundant grace!
One of the mothers in our private yahoo home schooling group offered this. I think it is a brilliant summation of reality!
“As a faithful Catholic, you don’t need to study JPII’s TOB in order to follow the church’s teaching on sexuality issues. I strongly recommend that you read Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and Pius XI’s Castii Connubii(on Christian Marriage). The problem with Christopher West is that he tries to convince people that before JPII, there was no clear explanation given by the church about sex and its proper use. It is difficult to read JPII, I agree, and I have found that earlier popes wrote in a clear, succinct manner for the most part. You will have no trouble with these encyclicals that I have mentioned and read with a faithful heart and mind you will find your answers to any questions you may have or any that your children may ask.
They are available online at papalencyclicals.com or just type the name of the encyclical into your search engine and it will lead you to a source.
Dear Alicia: There is no reason to be perplexed!
While your suggestion is a good one… you can be sure that folks have voiced their very valid concerns about Christipher West’s approach in the past directly to him. He has been doing this for a long time.
I think the angst you are sensing in this discussion has to do with the fact that priests & bishops think nothing of subjecting kids to the well intentioned but misdirected Christoper West. Parents find out the content after the fact and some are sorry they permitted their kids to attend.
TOB has become the new “Spirit of the Council”. I mean this in the sense that something good (Love & Responsibility) has been hijacked by well intentioned bishops & laymen and it is doing more harm than good.
I assert that it does more harm because it breaks down the natural modesty which youth have. The points West makes in his presentation are not a true reflection about the Church’s attitude toward sex in the past… nor does he represent John Paul II’s “Love & Responsibility” in a faithful (that is accurate) manner.
But most importantly… Christopher West’s material does an end run around the parents… who don’t know any better.
I’m sure he is a nice guy, dynamic and devoted to his cause… but unfortunately he is a product of the same generation that I am… meaning that he has never been exposed to things like Casti Connubuii.
We should all start there.
I for one am going to reread Casti Connubii. I have not read it since my wife and I were first engaged.
I hope you read it too… and enjoy it’s wisdom. It’s a BEAUTIFUL and easy to read document.
David: Just to be clear… I want to respond to your question “Who is giving this guy the floor”. The US bishops and the USCC are giving this guy the floor.
Opposition to this kind of thing is nascent. But this stuff is just as pernicious as stuff which goes on in our legislatures.
Ave Maria, Bob
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Let’s be clear here. I fail to see how thoughtful criticisms of Christopher West’s public statements should not be stated publicly, but should be, as you suggest, told to Christopher West privately.
I take it you are referring to Mt. 18: “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”
Noone I have read here is accusing Christopher West of personal sins, but is only discussing the possible errors and problematic tendencies in his public teaching.
If we can’t calmly discuss a person’s public statements on important matters of Catholic faith and morality without being accused of sinning against charity, then we’re in real trouble.
What is the point of human discourse if it is now somehow sinful to make intellectual judgements on the objective truth/merit of another’s words?
We might as well end all debate and discussion right now if these are the new rules of engagement.
Bottom line, Alicia:
Public actions and words are fair game.
I might also add that St. Thomas Aquinas knew this when he said, “A subject may rebuke his prelate even publicly when the faith is in danger.”
Now Chris West is certainly not out prelate so let’s cut out the guilt tripping which has no basis in Christian thought.
Thank you for your posts which clarify more clearly issues which are dealt with too simplistically as you point out. Would it be possible for the main author to list his/her name with the articles/posts? I cannot see who the writer is from what is available to me on this page.
Philosophy, Theology Professor
I don’t know anything about the devotion, but it looks intriguing. Father Mullady is great.
Thanks everyone for the comments. Interesting discussion.
I have some strong opinions on this subject, but I wish Mr. West well and pray for his ministry.
Don’t know if this late post will get any attention, but just found this article and blog string and had to comment. A couple years back I wrote a novel called One Like Us. It is a novel written explicitly to explore the ideas in J.P.II’s T.O.B. It has been very interesting for me watching the response to my work. It is often hated by people at both ends of the faith spectrum, that is, by liberals and reactionary conservatives.
I fully concur with the thoughts and concerns expressed by the opening article in this string, yet I cannot help but be very glad that Christopher West is out there doing what he does. John Paul’s work is a masterpiece. It is not an invention, but a synthesis of Christian thought on the subject of what it means to be an embodied being; a work that shines with the perspective of an anthropologist of genius proportions. It is a great gift to mankind. The fact that it is not geared for the average reader brings us to the unavoidable reality that, if the world is to benefit from it, it’s contents will need to be presented in an understandable format. Christopher West understands the value of a provocative argument.
Attempting to enlarge one’s audience by means of provocative argument can certainly be dangerous ground, but it is the kind of dangerous ground that has always been the hallmark of Catholicism in every age in which the faith has advanced. Let me say here that I believe that I know what CW was trying to say, and that I don’t believe that it worked very well. But there is the distinct possibility that it worked well for someone; that some poor soul decided to look further than the interview and discovered a world of Catholic thought on human sexuality that was hitherto unknown to them.
Above Pascendi says:
“TOB has become the new “Spirit of the Council”. I mean this in the sense that something good (Love & Responsibility) has been hijacked by well intentioned bishops & laymen and it is doing more harm than good.
I assert that it does more harm because it breaks down the natural modesty which youth have. The points West makes in his presentation are not a true reflection about the Church’s attitude toward sex in the past… nor does he represent John Paul II’s “Love & Responsibility” in a faithful (that is accurate) manner.
But most importantly… Christopher West’s material does an end run around the parents… who don’t know any better.”
I have not heard West speak directly to teens, so I cannot speak to the “breaks down the natural modesty which youth have” comment, but I can’t see any of the presentations that I have seen him giving having that kind of effect. When you use a phrase like, “The points West makes in his presentation are not a true reflection about the Church’s attitude toward sex in the past”, what does that mean? St. Augustine suggested in a sermon that partaking in sexual intercourse at a time when procreation was impossible was certainly at least a venial sin. Is this the view of the Church? Though it was the teaching of one specific teacher of great note at one point in the church’s past, it certainly does not represent the fullness of the Church’s teaching on the subject, and is a perfect example of why a work like John Paul’s TOB is of the utmost importance. The universal church must devote itself to universal thought, not some constant reactionary-ism.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I thought the leading article to be absolutely on the spot, voicing reasonable, specific concern for CW’s methods. Reaction beyond that is far scarier than anything Chris West could concoct.
There is great irony in overreacting to West’s provocative rendition of J.P.II’s TOB, a work that, by its very universal nature, is the anti-thesis of reactionary-ism.
Thanks for the comment. I am with you all the way to the provocative argument being a Catholic tool, but I have to depart when such a tool introduces ambiguity into the faith, especially in matters of sexuality. See Schindler’s critique of West’s work.
I am not sure in what sense you mean that the provocative argument is a “hallmark of Catholicism in every age.” Certainly, arguments were not sexually provocative in every age. I do not understand you to mean that. But in fact, West’s work is often sexually provocative and that is what, I think, Pascendi is talking about when he mentions the breakdown of “natural modesty.”
I understand you to be speaking about the playboy/pope comparison as being a provocative argument. From what you say I am sure you understand that West’s comparison was only an indicator of what I consider a larger problem.
The only reactionary thought being put forth here is the assertion that READING Church teaching is better than making up Church teaching. Every magisterial teaching forms a part of the whole which is unified and unbroken. New ways can be found to express old truths… but the truths never change or contradict themselves. And so it is with nearly 2,000 years of Church teaching on married love.
First of all… you must understand that there are quite a few Catholics between those two ends of the spectrum which you are describing (liberals & reactionaries). I’m one of them. I have now watched many different Christopher West presentations in video format and though I am no reactionary conservative… I would not send my kids to any of them (or waste any more time watching his material myself).
Attempting to enlarge one’s audience by provocative statements is usually the method of an opportunist. In other words, brilliant and orthodox teachers gain traction by personal holiness… and the rest will use provocative means for shock value. I see this often even at the parish pulpit. It always causes me to ask “Is it cool… or is it Jesus Christ”?
G.K. Chesterton said that the Catholic Church is the only institution on the face of the earth which “frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” I believe CW is a child of this age we live in. I hope that changes some day for him.
No one here said John Paul II’s work was an invention… but rather that West’s interpretation of it was a novelty. I’m now even more certain of it than when I posted my first comment, because I have had more time to study West now.
As for “that some poor soul (who) decided to look further than the interview” and who managed to work his way past the impertinencies of West’s schtik… I would say that if one blows enough hot air… one can eventually cause a flower to grow somewhere… even if the side effect IS a destructive tropical storm for the rest of the hemisphere.
Having watched some of the presentations which were done expressly for youth… I can say with confidence that the parent’s rights were trumped even if the parents were too dumb to realize it.
When I say “The points West makes in his presentation are not a true reflection about the Church’s attitude toward sex in the past”, I mean that West implies in more than half the presentations I saw that the Church has been essentially silent or puritanical about human sexuality before his vapid version of TOB and John Paul. Based upon that I must logically conclude that West either 1.) Has not read any encyclicals before 1970 or 2.) He HAS read them but finds it more PROVOCATIVE to falsely portray a blind and silent past to Catholic teaching on the matter. For the fact is that much of what John Paul II wrote has been handled in other encyclicals which pre date the Second Vatican Council.
Jerry: Perhaps the real problem is that nobody READS today because they are too busy writing and lecturing. All the Holy Father did was apply what was already taught and express it through his own particular lens as a philosopher. Nothing more… nothing less.
And now Jerry, allow me to get to what I believe is the heart of the matter… contraception. You state “St. Augustine suggested in a sermon that partaking in sexual intercourse at a time when procreation was impossible was certainly at least a venial sin. Is this the view of the Church? “
St. Augustine was saying that knowingly avoiding marital intercourse until such time that conception was impossible was in fact a venial sin. We can go further than Augustine did and say with certainty that if it is done habitually & intentionally by a married couple, then it would be a mortal in. In short… it was a sin then and it is a sin now. If you know what the sensus fidelium (the sense of the faithful) was relating to the unitive and procreative aspects of marital love… you can indeed conclude that even if modern Natural Family Planning is used in this way knowingly and habitually, then it is contraceptive. So YES! If understood with the sense of the faithful… St.Augustine DOES represent the fullness of the Church’s teaching even now… if one has the backdrop of Sacred Tradition to view it from both then and now. It seems (at least from your writings and West’s own videos) that this lacking backdrop is what you and CW have in common. I don’t say that flippantly or to be unkind… but as a simple observation. You could start with CASTI CONNUBII which was written in 1930. But I also wish to point out that St. Augustine could have written something which we now know to be theologically false. It would not matter as it is not part of magisterial teaching. Catholics in my great grandmother’s day knew this… Catholics of today do not. We have more information today… but we are somehow dumber! Go figure!
As to West’s slip on national television.. Let me assure you that I know of more than 50 families in my own circle of friends who were rejecting Molly Kelly 15 years ago, long before Chris West came on the scene. It’s not about West or JP II or the interview… but rather it is the interview which focused light on a dark spot (Catholic sex ed) which needs to have light shone on it.
It’s easy to refer to a reaction against something as ‘reactionism’. What IS a difficult and manly to do is to challenge your own cherished ‘feelings’ on the subject and discover why John Paul II would not approve of West’s interpretation. John Paul II was a great man and a great pope in many ways. By the way, exactly what of John Paul’s have you actually read which deals directly with what CW is pushing?
If you came to this discussion simply to defend West… without much critical analysis on your own part… then you are wasting your time friend. But if you came to have a real discussion about why many assert that it is a novelty then continue on. But understand that you will need to read what Catholics believed always and everywhere about human sexuality until around 1960. Reading those things could be a little dangerous for you if you are hoping for a tacit approval of homosexuality, contraception, self abuse, fornication, or pornography. These topics are mostly “off limits” for your average parish priest… for they are the third rail of ecclesial politics.
My job in life (and the job of many other dad’s like me) is to see to it that the man in the pew stops subsidizing a version of TOB which would give a wink and a nod to any of these fatal sins since they have been rejected by good Catholics (and Jews) since the beginning.
May the good Lord bless you and keep you.
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Moral Theologian Says Christopher West’s Work is ‘Completely Sound’
Dr. Janet Smith Calls Schindler Attack ‘Puzzling’
by Dr. Janet Smith
Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
Christopher West’s interview on ABC’s Nightline has sparked some terrific discussion on the Internet. An impressive amount of the interaction is intelligent and illuminating, even some of that which is seriously wrong. One of the better responses is that by Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers and the follow-up comments to his blog.
Here, I want to offer a brief, partial, response to Prof. David Schindler’s assessment of West’s work. The fact that Nightline got a lot wrong about West’s work is not surprising. In fact, it is surprising how much it got right. Those of us who work with the media know that potential martyrdom awaits us at the hands of an editor. West has likely been suffering a kind of crucifixion over the past week. What is puzzling is that an influential scholar chose this moment to issue a sweeping, negative critique of West in such a public forum. I have great respect for the work and thought of Schindler and realize that it must be difficult to be on the receiving end of criticisms of the work of one of their most high profile graduates. I wish, however, he had found another occasion to express his reservations about West’s work.
[This comment has been edited. I posted on Professor Smith’s article last night]
Click here to read more of Professor Smith’s article.
Based upon the “fruits” that I have seen in my old parish from those exposed to the Christopher West method… I’m unimpressed.
On the other hand, a saintly confessor I know recently had 500 people show up when he retired because he met them on the streets, got theminto the confessional, made them return to the sacraments. He did this with nothing else but personal holiness… not ‘shock value’.
Sorry… I’m not buying the Catholic sex ed thing… and neither is my wife, our teen aged children or rather large circle of Catholic friends.
Peace. I’m a simple man, simple enough to know that presumption is the seed of all sin. Let’s not lead each other into sin.
My dictionary says: Provocative: Serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate; exciting. Chesterton says, “There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.” Amen. There is scarcely a more provocative writer than Chesterton. Augustine was provocative. Aquinas was provocative. Lutheran theologians are still obsessing over him mentioning Christ and Aristotle on the same page.
Christianity is provocative because Christ is provocative. “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot have life within you.” “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” His audiences were in shock. He said, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” He could have just talked about abstinence; he didn’t have to bring up castration, but it got their attention. They all knew what a eunuch was, but their culture held few examples of abstinent chastity by choice. He met them where they were at, using an image from their vulgar culture. The Pharisees found him exceedingly vulgar. He profaned himself by entering the homes of sinners. He spoke in public with prostitutes. Do you ‘spose he would have broken bread with Hef? What would you expect from someone whose Father thought it appropriate to establish the circumcised penis as the symbol of a holy covenant? Can you even imagine how vulgar that must have seemed to the Romans? And what’s this business about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb? Is this all a bit obsessive?
You are right in assuming that I am not a scholar. With a wife, eleven children, and eighteen grandchildren, reading time is tight. I have only read John Paul’s TOB a couple of times, but I have studied some passages many times. I have also read Love and Responsibility and several TOB derivative works. But I found no surprises in the TOB, only verification of what the Spirit had already taught me through the graces of Matrimony. The genius of John Paul is that he spoke with married couples both inside and outside of the confessional. He gleaned from them a vision of the joy attainable in a holy marriage.
You talk about the errors of Catholic sex education. My grandmother once bragged to my mother that she could “honestly say that I have never stood completely naked before your father.” Wow. You see, the simple truth is that sex education happens, whether organized or spontaneous, promulgated or forgotten, driven by curiosity or need, it happens. If people are not taught something, they learn non-the-less. They just learn something else. Catholic sex-ed since Vatican II has often not been good, but before that, it was, well, something else. A novice of the Sisters of St. Francis once said to my sister, “Your parents must have loved each other an awful lot to have had intercourse eleven times.” Simple math: eleven children, eleven encounters—something else.
My own children have come home from Catholic school and alerted us that they were being misinformed about sexual morality, particularly contraception, and we’ve had to go and deal with teachers and administration. Those who were taught badly teach badly. A few copies of encyclicals usually got them headed in the right direction, or at least, sympathetic to our consternation. Marriage has often been done badly, but I still believe in Marriage.
Just for the record, some liberals hate my novel because one of the characters declares that “contraception is the greatest moral evil of our times,” and the story goes on to demonstrate that point. The interesting thing is that my Protestant and agnostic friends, and my Jewish in-law, take no offense at this—only my liberal Catholic friends. I think they feel judged.
I did not know about JP II’s TOB until 2004, when I heard Chris West speak. When I hear a valid point, like the potential to interpret CW’s story of the two bishops to indicate that all should be able to achieve that same level of grace in this life, I note the concern and incorporate that learning into my own approach. CW is perhaps guilty of not covering the subject completely or succinctly (imagine that—TOB is only 192,000 words). Yet I personally know individuals who, in their effort to overcome addiction to porn, have been greatly helped by exposure to West’s material. To my knowledge, they did not take what he said as either a license or an unattainable goal.
When I was a child of thirteen, I asked my parents what sexual intercourse was. I was told that I would find out “soon enough.” The next year I attended a high school seminary, and received some excellent, morally-sound sex ed. But it was not “soon enough”—curiosity had already taken its toll.
A friend of mine, a mother of seven, says that she wishes that she could have children without sex. She had a very promiscuous youth and carries a mountain of guilt, and has become extremely comfortable with that guilt. It has become a cozy cocoon; one that it seems she thinks protects her from reverting to what she once was. She’s content with the goal of eternal salvation; not interested in being transformed, in being pulled from her comfort zone within her lifetime. When she tells others about her past and her obsessive guilt, there seems to be a bit of pride; guilt has become a banner of respectability.
So your contention that Chris West is doing more harm than good baffles me. I cannot imagine anything doing more harm than has already been done by…something else.
I too am a simple and peaceful man. I do not see how good and respectable dialogue can lead one to sin. But peace at any cost is not what I’m about.
Chesterton is my favorite writer. You should read what Chesterton has to say about sex ed.
Chesterton also says: “There is a case for telling the truth; there is a case for avoiding the scandal; but there is no possible defense for the man who tells the scandal, but does not tell the truth.”
Your comments about “Christianity being “provocative” are very anecdotal. I mean that while in and of themselves they show that controversy when Christ is teaching can be a good and jarring thing… it does not translate that therefore shock is always the right tool to use to impart the truth about God and man for us. That is especially the case when it comes to this very beautiful and also sensitive subject of marital fecundity. Chris West is not Christ. I have seen Mr. West’s presentations now and the parallels fall flat on their face once you watch his material. They are stimulating, entertaining, even riveting, and perhaps good individual therapy for someone who has an addiction… but NEVER in a group setting… NEVER. Your logic fails because Christ’s teachings on sexuality do not actually square with Christ West’s methods. I am not judging CW’s intentions however… just his praxis.
I am also a husband with children and I know what you mean about getting reading time. But I’m VERY puzzled by your reference to “reading John Paul II’s TOB a couple of times” since there is no such book by that name and John Paul II did not write a single thing with the phrase “Theology of the Body” in the title or the subtitle. So I respectfully repeat my question: What of John Paul II’s writings have you actually read which deals specifically with this subject (as opposed to the reading of self appointed commentators)?
Your descriptions about yesteryear and folks who were completely confused about human sexuality as it relates to married love… again… all very anecdotal but they do not address the real issues which have already been expertly articulated against the methods of Christopher West. Who don’t you simply address the observations Fr. Angelo made on Dawn Eden’s blog instead of all this stuff which really does not deal squarely with the objections articulated? I’m not saying that to ridicule… it’s an honest question. Most importantly though… your anecdotes sidestep the fact that great encyclicals have been around which deal with the subject of married love for more than 200 years. Since the 30’s any Catholic who could read had access to them. The Daughters of St. Paul sold ALL the encyclicals when your granddad was a kid for about 5 cents a copy. YES! Shocking but the truth about what we believe WAS available even to our grandparents. Any parish priest had access to them. Any layman could ask.
Your reference to your own encounter in Catholic schools tells me something. And so I ask you: Are we now going to let those same Catholic schools call in their “experts” and the expert can do the teaching? The very principle of this is logically faulty. You are putting people in charge of forming the conscience of your kids while you (the tuition payer) are giving them on the job training as to how they should teach YOUR kids about human sexuality. Would you let the mechanic handle your car that way? Sounds kind of silly. A teenager’s consciences is fare more important and tricky than even the most sophisticated car. It’s very illogical and goes against Catholic reason to let those folks teach your kids anything about human sexuality simply because they are not the parents. If we feel the need to help these kids… we can never sidestep the parents… even if they have lousy parents.
Your comment about non Catholic friends understanding the faith more than your so called Catholic friends is interesting. I too have encountered this phenomena. The root of it is that Catholic people have been deprived of everything except “fee-good Christianity” and shock value spirituality (like Catholic sex ed) for 40 years by the same bishops who LOVE the methods of Chris West.
I am not saying Chris West should not be working with individuals who may have an addiction to porn or some other sexual matter. I’m saying that he should not be using the same material with kids who are mainly normal… who have not come to him with some addiction but are simply there because some Catholic school bureaucrat arranged for him to come and speak to them. And that is exactly what is happening.
When you tell the story of your own inquiry and your parent’s unwillingness to answer you at the age of 13 you indicate the negligence of your parents. It has nothing to do with the damage Chris West is doing. I’m sorry that your parents did not act honestly with you… (though they were probably otherwise very good parents) but it only emphasizes the point that this can ONLY be done well by the parents… not Chris West & Co. I have never failed to answer any of my own children’s questions in this matter… but I have always answered them in the light of the beatitudes.
Sex, separated from the theological & cardinal virtues and the beatitudes is just sex ed. When I watch Chris West videos, I see some aspect of Christ and religion thrown in, some VERY stretched analogies relating to John Paul’s philosophical writings… and nothing about the virtues, beatitudes, or the obvious dangers associated with sex outside of Catholic truth. And since West does not deal directly with concupiscence, one is left thinking that as long as we are Christians… we are angelic in nature and our sexuality should be exalted (which is a half truth). It’s only a partial truth. The first lie was also a half truth! “… if you eat it you will become like Gods…”.
Your friend and mother of seven is an interesting story and emotionally evocative… but again has nothing to do with our objection to Chris West’s methods. It only demonstrates that Catholic parents have been out of the loop on this for hundreds of years. Ignoring the problem was wrong. Obsessing over the problem is wrong too. Teaching holiness in practice is the only cure for this… not “group therapy” and seminars masquerading ad “Chastity Ed”.
The root of all Catholic morality is that we can not commit an evil act for an eventual good. An ever increasing number of parents know that so called Catholic chastity ed is really just sex ed with some Catholic theology (albeit poorly transmitted) thrown in. People have hijacked the personalism which John Paul II wrote so beautifully about and simply repackaged it (mostly with good intentions, but very ignorantly).
If you want anecdotes, I can offer you stories of 20ish year old young women who came across Christopher West while volunteering in the Pro Life movement in my parish. Their parents also were negligent in discussing the connection between the beatitudes and marital fecundity. After Chris West, sex is all these gals can talk about. Why? Because they were educated in the diocesan Catholic school system where they were taught every idea except Catholicism by Sister Mary Nazi who runs the religious ed department and wears her habit on her lapel. Their parents are nice people but would not lift a finger to educate themselves about their own faith. Thus, these gals now see all of Christianity through a kind of protestant and spiritually narcisstic lens, with sex as the focal point. Their encounters with Chris West left them star struck and dumb. They no longer hunger for the Gospel, they hunger for ‘religious experience’. It’s all about emotion. There is little room for reason.
Respectfully I disagree with much of your conclusions. I know they are deadly wrong.
“Your comments about “Christianity being “provocative” are very anecdotal. I mean that while in and of themselves they show that controversy when Christ is teaching can be a good and jarring thing… it does not translate that therefore shock is always the right tool to use to impart the truth about God and man for us.” Pascendi, does this mean that it is never the right tool? It happens to be CW’s style, a style that you don’t like. I don’t care that you don’t like it. And I don’t like that every time I make a point, you concede it without conceding it; you admit it and then drive it into the ground with some sweeping generality.
“since there is no such book by that name and John Paul II did not write a single thing with the phrase “Theology of the Body” in the title or the subtitle”. Seriously, Pascendi, I haven’t the time for this. John Paul II gave a series of general audiences that were later published under the title Theology of the Body, a phrase that recurs repeatedly throughout the talks. They can be found here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2TBIND.HTM. You must certainly know this. John Paul did not object to the assignment of this title to the body of work. What exactly is your point?
We eventually removed our children from Catholic school, home-schooled them for a while, and the last two are now finishing high school in public school. Life is filled with hard decisions. We’ve made some mistakes, but throughout all we have been the primary teachers of our children when it comes to sexuality and sexual morality. And I agree that any sexual education course that teaches children in mixed company is flawed. Your point about one-on-one teaching is well taken. Each one of our children got “the talk” when the time seemed appropriate for their level of development. We did it as a couple one child at a time, with follow-up sessions later to answer any questions.
I think that Chris West’s time would be better spent teaching a course to parents on how to teach their children. When we saw him in ’04, during the question and answer session, parents were asking about material for teens. He answered that he had no such material. It seems obvious to me that he developed a course in answer to the demand for one. I can neither condemn the material nor defend it as I have not heard it, but I still believe the man is being unfairly maligned for attempting to fill a void. Sound Catholic teaching does no good if no one presents it. Besides bashing Chris West and arguing with me, what are you doing to make sure that it is presented?
VERY thoughtful comments Jerry. Thanks for taking the time. You are a good man.
No, it does not mean “provocative” should never be used. It DOES mean that provocative should be used sparingly… especially with a subject as beautiful and as delicate as the one being treated. I am not BASHING anyone. I believe he is a good man attempting to fill a void. I DON’T believe his talks are aimed only at parents. In fact I know they are not.
By asking you the question relating directly to John Paul’s own writings I’m pointing out that many of us are committing the same mistake with TOB as we did with the interpretation & implementation of the Council documents. I’m saying that we discussed the Council for 40 plus years putting our own individual spin on it without any of us actually READING the council documents (myself included). Talk about making mistakes and being SORRY for it.
I really don’t want to see that happening with the personalism of John Paul II. My intent was to twice ask you directly what you have read which was actually written by the Holy Father which constitutes the body of teaching we call TOB. Your reply is a good one and I will once again peruse these teachings.
I was trying to make the point that we often read commentaries by good but ill informed men about a subject we know little about. We then impute our own (well intentioned, but erroneous) meanings into the commentary and believe we are versed in the original thought. I was EMPHASIZING the crucial nature of ORIGINAL sources.
We are all capable of doing this (reading into) and I assert that this is what is happening in many TOB circles today. I base that on some personal experience.
I’m not trying to drive anyone or anything into the ground. I sense that you have come her to discuss with a sincere heart. You have brought up some excellent points which are essentially some of the same points I have been making about Christopher West’s methods.
As to teaching sexuality in mixed company.. I am asserting that in a society where homosexuality is rampant… it’s even dumb to teach sexuality in a single gender class. Here is my point brother, it’s the PARENTS… THE PARENTS… THE PARENTS. Any end run around the PARENTS is an evil act no matter HOW bad the parents may be.
Your final conclusion: “I think that Chris West’s time would be better spent teaching a course to parents on how to teach their children.” Is my main point. I see we agree on that and this is the most essential thing I am trying to say.
You have every right in this discussion to ask me what I’m doing now. My wife and I have home educated all three of our children from the womb to the present day. My eldest is 19. It has been very difficult at times (especially while simultaneously taking care of two dying parents)… but God has provided. Additionally… I try and spread the good news about these GREAT Friars Immaculate who this blog owner is a priest in (visit airmaria.com for more details).
I am trying to spread devotion to the Old Mass. I believe that the loss of “verticality” for lack of a better word in the new mass has deprived us of the sense that Christ is King and the reality that His Holy and Immaculate Mother is Queen.
That fact (the Kingship & Queen ship) is a “fundamental” which was intentionally discarded shortly after the council by men whose motives I am unsure of. The result has been a devastation of the vineyard.
Make no mistake about it: I believe that the way the Catholic Church goes… so goes the culture around us. So while the Council documents are good… they remain largely unimplemented.
Save the Mass and we save the World! Don’t get me wrong… I’m not a hardened ideologue… I love both the New Mass and the Old Mass. But I KNOW for certain that the new Mass was never implemented in the way that the Council Fathers envisioned. And I believe there is a connection between the law of prayer, the law of belief and the law of action.
So in a sense… my focus on the restoration of the Mass is connected with the same kind of restoration Chris West is working for.
I do not judge him. I judge his methods. Those methods, I maintain, are doing more harm than good.
But who knows… perhaps he will listen to the criticism and change that. Many are praying for that good man… but I’m not sure it will be easy for him. Were he to change direction he would not be as popular as he is now.
Ad Jesum per Mariam
Thank you for the thoughtful response. You are fast becoming a valued friend. I need someone with enough passion in their soul to play devil’s advocate and keep me honest. I would enjoy further discussion with you, but fear boring others to death. If you would visit my website, http://www.onelikeus.com, and find the email link, I would love to hear from you.
By the way, Chesterton is also my favorite writer, so much so that last year I joined the American Chesterton Society and love attending their meetings. Just finished Manalive. Wow! Looking forward to the movie version that Dale Alquist and company have just put together.
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