Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Custody. Mixed Metaphors at Large.

Take the cliched (and flawed) analogy of someone steering a boat. Over time at the helm you become more and more used to the waves and winds and so forth; they can be just as powerful as before, but you have become lithe in steering the helm, assured, having been learned by now in the degrees of turning the helm in proportion to the effects such degrees of turn make in the movement of the boat (Hey, just a little nudge does so much! And sometimes much more violence is required at the helm). Whereas before it felt like any wave might take the boat down, now you are confident in your self-control; you start to breathe some of the air of the freedom that this self-control has brought.

But you have no doubt that you still need to keep steering. And one of the fruits, again, of this victory, is that this steering, this self-control, this custody, no longer seems to feel like you're just making things worse. No more the magical morons telling you that in steering away from a storm you were brewing a storm. In other words, it starts to bear fruit - and the air of perseverance removes the sense that you're both the prisoner and the jailer. You might say there is something enjoyable about it - because it is self-possession. Moreover, wonder of wonders, you focus on yourself less! You can happily "distract" yourself with being. How strange is that? This is a fruit of the victory. The victory, ultimately, is Christ's, which has already been won. We must bear its fruits in this world, and in order to do that, we must be assuredly grafted into the Vine, which is baptism into His death. Yep, you are just a branch. (Has Christopher West taken the image of the branch being grafted into the Vine and made it into an image of coitus? Wouldn't be surprised.)

And now that that special redemptive fruit has begun to be born - in that horrible and wonderful death to your self which Christ initiated and which was beyond your own power to effect (how strange that dying to ourselves is beyond our own power! Thanks be to Christ!) - shall we now cut down the tree? After all, it would mean we would no longer have to go about that negative business of always pruning it.

For in Christopher West Land, gaining self-control means you no longer need to steer the helm at all. Indeed, he says you then unfasten it and throw it into the waters. That's precisely what he is saying when he says that custody of the eyes is just an initial negative step after which some time of "purification" one can look with the "pure gaze of love", and that by not throwing the helm into the waters you are just blaming the lust in your heart on others, and that by not throwing the helm into the waters you are not really a believer in the "already" aspect of redemption in this world. In West World, you've weathered the storms and have been purified by them in that self-perpetuated, impure Fight Club sort of way. So go ahead, let the boat ride right into that other storm over there. You're like Jesus sleeping in the boat while all the disciples overreact in their Manichean prudishness towards sexuality.

And just as the storm is about to take the boat down, you will be able to stand up and say, "Be calm!" and the flesh and the world and the demons will obey.

Good luck with that.


What if you were averting your eyes when you were not lusting or aroused? You were just simply averting your eyes and were quite happy? In the cultish Westian sex-programming, this is a big no-no. In the cultish Westian sex-programming, you are told that in averting the eyes you are doing so because you are experiencing the first pangs of lust (which has no corresponding object in reality but is completely focalized within you) which you are then curtailing by averting the eyes, which has the effect of making the lust (which has no corresponding object in reality) worse, and that whenever you avert the eyes this is always the instance, and thus, if there is no lustful pangs you must look, with the "pure gaze of love", otherwise you are denying the "already" aspect of redemption in this world. This is enslaving people to the hellish eternity of either "looking" or "not looking", and simply being goes completely overboard - yes, overboard with the helm.


christopher said...

Best illustration yet on the topic, Paul. I'm glad you're doing this.

Wade St. Onge said...

Not only that, but practicing custody of the eyes is - get this - an "objectification of women"!

See "Attachment #4" here:

And see West disciple James J. Simons say the same thing here in paragraphs 9 and 11 (and for good measure you can read the last paragraph - #13).

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Oh, yes, and everyone should *also* check out Wade's post titled 'TOB "Smoking Guns" of West's Theology'.

It's really great--it shows you *exactly* how you can manufacture your own evidence in a debate by bearing false witness agsinst someone and then banning that person from your blog site!

This may be too much fun for you to try during Lent, but just *look* at this magnificent effort by Wade. Now, some may need to practice "custody of the eyes" and turn away (this approach is *that* seductive), but for those with the "maturity" to make things up, here's a textbook case of how to do it:

Tell the world that Deacon Jim Russell said *this*:

*** WADE:'But when it was pointed out to Deacon Jim Russell that Pius XII, in his encyclical Sacra Virginitas, stated that it was the teaching of both the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that it was better to “flee” temptations rather than fight them directly, [22] Deacon Jim actually said it was “apparent” that Pius XII just “didn’t quite get” it.'****

While all the time Deacon Jim Russell "actually" said *this*:

***DEACON JIM:‘why focus on what Pius XII said--In Wade's comment on the other post, I've learned that he thinks it's not just "common teaching" to use "custody of the eyes" and *only* custody of the eyes, but it's actually *GOD* who tells us to only use custody of the eyes and only *flight* from temptation. Funny how Wade didn't mention a God-quote till now. And apparently Pius XII didn't quite "get" the huge mountain of Scriptural evidence about how God helps us *fight* temptation.’****

So, the lesson is this--if you cherry-pick a few word from someone's *actual* sentence (like "apparently" and "didn't quite 'get'"), you can do magical things like dropping the quotes around the word "get" and ADDING your own words, like "it" (which now can mean *anything* you want "it" to).

You can even make it sound like a *Deacon* is trying to contradict a *Pope*!

Ah, those nasty "Westians" won't have a chance--we can just make up stuff they "say", ban them from our blogs, and *then* complain how they never respond to our sincere and inquiring questions!

Don't you just love truth-seeking?

Deacon Jim Russell

Wade St. Onge said...

Deacon Jim: "You can even make it sound like a *Deacon* is trying to contradict a *Pope*!"

I guess when you twist the teachings of that Pope beyond anything he would recognize in order to bring it into agreement with West's novelties you can't really call it a "contradiction". Or can you?

Wade St. Onge said...

Deacon Jim: "Don't you just love truth-seeking?"

That's pretty rich coming from the guy who cares nothing about the truth WHATSOEVER, who takes a position, and because he can't admit he's wrong but can't back down either, he ends up with some of the craziest intellectual contortions and as a result gets banned from four different blogs (and possibly more that I just don't know about).

Wade St. Onge said...

By the way, since Deacon Jim conveniently skipped over the substance of my comment, I will post it again:

Not only that, but practicing custody of the eyes is - get this - an "objectification of women"!

See "Attachment #4" here:

And see West disciple James J. Simons say the same thing here in paragraphs 9 and 11 (and for good measure you can read the last paragraph - #13).

Enbrethiliel said...


Stilwell, I haven't read much of C**** W***, but the little I have encountered gives me the sex creeps. It is possible to get at the truth intuitively, and one doesn't always need a hard chapter-and-verse argument to be right.

(On Terry's blog, for instance, I recently mentioned that the first time I saw Beavis and Butthead on MTV, I got the sense that I was watching something evil. Could I explain it back then? No. Was I off the mark because I couldn't explain? Of course not!)

The really nice thing about your boat analogy is that it can also be appreciated on its own, without any reference to W***'s writings.

Your "artistic" approach to W*** reminds me of one of my friends from uni, who grew up Catholic in that bastion of Islam we know as Dubai. As her own parents weren't very devout, she went to catechism class for the first time when she was a teenager. She didn't know much about Catholic teaching on anything. The topic of her first catechism class just happened to be artificial birth control. The teacher was all for it, and her classmates didn't see anything wrong with it. My friend was appalled. She stood up in the middle of class and told them they were all wrong. Using nothing but her own sense of right and wrong, she made everyone admit that what they thought was okay probably was a sin.

I happen to prefer logical argument over loyalty to personal values, but when the values are already right, then debate becomes a formality. Perhaps I'll feel like a formality tomorrow.

Paul Stilwell said...

Wade, thanks for the links to that article, by the way. I read it. Simply unbelievable.

Paul Stilwell said...

Enbrethiliel, thank you for your words. All your points...I agree, and they are well taken. My first encounter with West's writing was very much like what you get at with the Beavis and Butthead analogy. I could only accept what he was saying by de-incarnationalizing my beliefs.

Wade St. Onge said...

You're welcome.

When I first got into this debate, I thought the problem with West was merely a case of an overemphasis on the sexual. However, the more I got into it and the more I dug, the more I came to discover that there were some serious theological errors and I would even say heresies.

The Simons article is where the West-apologetics-team "jumped the shark" - and they knew it. I did not hear much from Sr. Lorraine or Dr. Smith after that, and it opened the eyes of many who had to that point been neutral or who sided with West. Genevieve S. Kineke is the most notable - she posted a couple comments to the Simons article and was clearly flabbergasted - and scandalized.