Towards a Climate of Chastity E-Book

Dawn Eden has just published an e-book version of her master’s thesis through Bridegroom Press:

In this downloadable e-book, Dawn Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste, explores the strengths and weaknesses of Christopher West’s presentation of the theology of the body. She examines West’s theological background, his lectures and published works, and points of contention which surround his work.

This work is a must-read for every Catholic interested in how the Church approaches human sexuality. Whether you are new to the Church’s teachings or not, this comparison and contrast of West’s work with the traditional teachings of the Magisterium will inform your understanding of the debate that currently surrounds this subject.

Requests have poured in for an officially published version of this work ever since the author mentioned it on her Dawn Patrol blog. It was originally written to fulfill the thesis requirement for a master’s degree in theology from Dominican House of Studies.

If you work for parish or diocese, you may obtain this work free of charge. Contact Dawn Eden directly by using her contact form.

An excellent, balanced, charitable and necessary work for anyone who wants to place the Theology of the Body in the context of the Church’s perennial teaching.  A great deal of work has gone into the production of this thesis and is a tremendous contribution that clarifies the issues under debate, and offers sound alternatives to the pop-catechesis of Christopher West.

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To Chris West: Enough Already. How about a Response?

I am just following up on the latest developments of the West controversy in which I have been lately involved (pretty severe content warning).

Christopher West, in the last couple of days has been in the Catholic press–not responding to his critics, mind you.  All he says is public relations as far as I can tell.

In Our Sunday Visitor he is quoted as saying:

“Many good people seem unaware of what the great saints have taught about the mystical dimensions of our sexuality. This is where John Paul II’s theology of the body leads us — into the mystical depths of our creation as male and female, and the call of the two to become ‘one flesh.’

In my latest piece, linked to above, I show how West misconstrues St. Louis de Montfort as supporting some kind of holy fascination with the body of the Blessed Mother.  I do this not by quoting West out of context, but by actually showing from the text of the saint that he says nothing like what West suggests.

Then the National Catholic Register, reports the following:

West’s struggle to stem the confusion reflected a desire to both defend his reputation and to prevent a backlash against the late Pope’s teachings, which have begun to enter the mainstream of Catholic catechetics with the encouragement of Pope Benedict XVI.

It is not clear how accurately this statement reflects the actual views of Christopher West; however, there is no question that West and his supporters claim that he is the authority on TOB and that his assertions are compatible with the views of John Paul II.  The above statement goes so far as to suggest that disagreement with West is tantamount to disagreement with John Paul II.   But from the point of the critics the objections have nothing to do with the Holy Father’s teachings, but with the extrapolations of West.

And this is precisely the point of this post.  West and his supporter are avoiding to deal with the substantive issues raised in the critiques.  They say “The critics should have done it privately.”  “They should quote sources.”  When we quote sources they say  we  “are taking everything out of context.”   They tell us “West has good instincts; trust him.”

Unfortunately, they are making this worse for themselves.  I will do everything in my power to see to it that this remains a gentleman’s disagreement.  But I will not be told I am a prude for disagreeing with Christopher West or that I disagree with him because I have a personal animus.  I find this methodology and “strategic management” tiresome, to put it mildly.

Dawn Eden records some of the wearying methodology employed by West to deal with objections to his presentation in her latest post.  I refer to the incident transcribed by her in my latest contribution on her blog.


On Peace Patrol

My latest contribution to the peace process.

In the context of the Holy Father’s remarks it appears to me that this “real and deep victory” concerns the refusal to consent to lust of thought, recognizing its intrinsic evil, but without the transference of the evil of that act onto its object, namely the body of a woman. And the danger of not winning that victory, in Manichaean terms, would be to excuse the sin of lust on the basis that one is overcome by the evil of a woman’s body. At least in this context, there does not seem to me to be a mandate to have a “fascination at the human sexual-body,” just an urging not to allow our rejection of lust to become a rejection of the goodness of the human body.

Thanks Dawn.