Monday, February 27, 2012

TOB Debate:

Who's on defense, and who's on offense? Who's on first? First base? What? He's on second! Who's on second?! No, Who's on first. Why you asking me for?! I don't know! He's on third base. Who's on third base?! No, who is on first! I'm asking what's the guy's name on first base?! No, he's on second!

No, really, there seems to be a circular genius embedded in Christopher West's gnosis of "ever deepening sexual redemption" in that any criticisms (or even simple inquiries) leveled against it are somehow assimilated, made to look like the very negative propositions that Christopher West claims to be fighting against: Manichean angelistic spiritist prudishness (rearrange words to your fancy accordingly).

This is helped along by the fact that neither West nor his defenders answer questions from sincere and inquiring minds with specificity, but obfuscate in their answers. Go here and here and here for example. But the obfuscation is subtle; a sense that the one seeking specificity and clarification is one crawling up from the lower depths towards an unfathomable enlightenment and is asking such questions out of confusion - to be patted on the head with a "There, there, little confused one, don't worry; your little sexual hang-ups will all go away one day".

Perhaps that's exaggerating.

But I think the lines are blurred as to who is on offense and who is on defense. Some would say there is no "offense" or "defense" in this...but, well, there is. Make no mistake - it is Christopher West and his genitally-redeemed disciples who are on the offense; and they are not teaching a full theology; they are promulgating a narrow heresy.

West talks in apologetic terms spread a mile wide (and typically to me, an inch deep), but is saying something very specific that is ultimately unspoken. His critics talk in specific and theological terms, but are saying something that implies a much larger hierarchy of thought.

"West often tends to treat resistance to the content of his lectures, for example during the question periods, as matters of resistance to the Holy Spirit (to the Spirit now speaking in and through West's 'charism'), urging questioners to pray to overcome the fear induced in them by their bad theological-spiritual formation. Well-balanced persons have spoken of how West makes them feel a sense of guilt, of resistance to the Holy Spirit, if they experience uneasiness about what he is saying." --Prof. David Schindler, from his article, Christopher West's Theology of the Body

"...the great numbers of people who have experienced some uneasiness in their encounters with West’s work . . . need to know that this uneasiness has an objective foundation in the work of West itself: it is a consequence not only or always of unconscious “Puritanism” on their part, but often simply of their spontaneous and authentic human and Catholic instincts." --Prof. David Schindler, from his article, Response to Profs. Smith Waldstein Regarding Christopher West

Oh, by the way, what did the Westian say when he got to third base?

"I knew who was on first, though there were disordered sexual tendencies; but I stole second and what was on it - sexual redemption! and now that I've attained mature purity and behold the glory of God, I don't even wanna know who's on third!"

I just took five years from your time in Purgatory with that one, so you're most welcome.

Update: just a quote from Alice von Hildebrand from her wonderful article Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast:Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex:

"One of the strange things happening today is that any hint that the intimate sphere should be marked by a caveat, tempts some people to accuse West’s critics of playing Cassandra, and of "being a dualist"....

The human mind, wounded by sin, has the uncanny tendency to go from one error to its (apparent) contradiction, while in fact errors are usually first cousins. A case in point is Nestorius, who claimed that there are two persons in Christ: the divine one, and the purely human one. Mary, therefore, is not “Theotokos” (Mother of God); she is only the mother of Christ, the man. This heresy, condemned by the Church, was soon followed by another one by Eutyches, who claimed that Christ had only one nature: the divine one-- the consequence being that Christ’s human nature had been totally absorbed by the divine one, and that it is only the latter that has suffered for the salvation of the world. “Anathema sit” was the prompt response of the Church."


Deacon Jim Russell said...

"This is helped along by the fact that neither West nor his defenders answer questions from sincere and inquiring minds with specificity, but obfuscate in their answers."

Oh really? Try me....

What sincere question from an inquiring mind would you like me to consider?

I have been cast by others as a "defender" of West despite the fact that I did not end up in that role until faced with highly uncharitable and un-Christian attacks on him along with total misrepresentations of his statements (and mine).

Perhaps we can do better here.

What question do you have that seems "unanswered" by those defending West?

Deacon Jim Russell

Paul Stilwell said...

The obfuscations written about at the three blogs that are linked to in the post.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Are you able to formulate a question from your sources that you would like a response to?

Or, can you at least select something specific from the sources that you would deem worthy of response?


Deacon Jim Russell

Paul Stilwell said...

All of them are worthy of response.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Seriously? You're opting to be coy? Look, I'm taking you at your word: I *want* to answer a question from a "sincere and inquiring mind" regarding the so-called "heretical teaching" of Christopher West.

So, please, just pick a question to get us started...How about, for example, stating succinctly what the "heresy" is, or forming a question pertaining to the "heresy."

Deacon Jim Russell

Chad Withers said...

Deacon Jim, he told you to pick one. So stop being coy and pick one.

jvc said...

Deacon Jim thinks he is so, so smart. Probably has lots of degrees from unknown Catholic colleges. He has a special gnosis, you see. He learned it from West and it allows him and others to appreciate naked women other than a wife in a way that mere mortals cannot.

I am amused that he is concerned with attacks in West when he celebrates the character assassination of Father Angelo. When Deacon Jim gets around to correcting West for his slander, he can be taken seriously.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Wow Chad--this is really funny!

But I have no unanswered questions that I can think of when it comes to West's work.

My "sincere and inquiring" mind actually read his latest book for some answers. That helped.

Meanwhile, if West is really guilty of teaching "heresy", then name the heresy please.

Why don't we start there?

Deacon Jim Russell

Wade St. Onge said...

Prediction: "Spike is Best" will be the fifth blog Deacon Jim will be banned from - and it can't come soon enough for me.

For a taste of Deacon Jim's incredible skill at mental gymnastics, visit Kevin O'Brien's blog or my blog, specifically this link:

Oh, and after you ban him, get ready for an onslaught of private messages - which will continue even when you tell him you are not going to read them and ignore them. He gets obsessed. Been down that road recently. Scandalous that this kind of behaviour is coming from a man of the cloth.

Wade St. Onge said...

Paul, keep your answers to Deacon Jim short and to the point - just like you have been doing. It's a rabbit hole he's leading you down.

Chad Withers said...

Let's follow this so far -

1. Deacon Jim says, "I'll answer any sincere question about West."

2. Paul says, "Pick any unanswered question from the links in the post."

3. Deacon Jim accuses Paul of being coy.

4. Deacon Jim asserts his own question about West, "What is heresy?"

5. So again, a Westian has refused to address any number of sincere questions and is trying to take charge of the debate on his own terms.

Deacon Jim, you offered to answer a sincere question, and you have your choice of several. Your refusal to address them simply proves the point of this post.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Chad writes:

****2. Paul says, "Pick any unanswered question from the links in the post."****

Uh, no, Chad, that's *not* what Paul "said". You seem as good at manufacturing quotes as is Wade.

Btw, Chad, did you *go* to the links? Two of them are from *2009*, and the third is from someone who has opted to bear false witness against me directly, not to mention what he's done to West.

And so I ask once more.

Is there an actual *question* in the house????

Deacon Jim Russell

jvc said...

I have a question!! I have a question!! Why won't you disavow West's accusations that Father Angelo is raging with uncontrolled lust? Do you personally believe this to be the case? Or is Christopher West engaging in character assassination of Father Angelo?

Lord knows what he must have written about Dawn Eden. West does come across as one of the most misogynist personalities I have ever seen, what with his assault on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

jvc wrote:

****I have a question!! I have a question!! Why won't you disavow West's accusations that Father Angelo is raging with uncontrolled lust?****

Wow--of all folks to thank for an actual concrete question with a likewise concrete answer, I get to thank jvc. Thanks, jvc.

The concrete answer is that West has never *accused* Fr. Angelo of raging with uncontrolled lust, and there is nothing at all to disavow. If memory serves, I had a reasoned exchange with Fr. Angelo himself regarding the umbrage he took at having a comment he made referenced in a footnote in West's new book. I explained to Fr. Angelo that his reference to "plain old male libido" (if I recall the quote correctly) was obviously interpreted by West to have decidedly Freudian meaning, given the subject matter and given the fact that "libido" is Freud's term.

I rather doubt that Fr. Angelo is somehow clinging to the idea that West accused him of raging with lust. Though I suppose I could ask him.

jvc had another question:

**** Do you personally believe this to be the case?****

Do I believe Fr. Angelo rages with uncontrolled lust? Nah.


**** Or is Christopher West engaging in character assassination of Father Angelo?****

Well, jvc, it would certainly be an odd form of "character assassination" to make reference *anonymously* to a blog comment, wouldn't it? How does one assassinate the character of someone who is never named?

But at least there are now three questions asked with concrete answers.


Deacon Jim Russell

jvc said...

So you don't have a problem with West accusing Father Angelo with having a problem with lust. West's "anonymous" quoting is the outcome of cowardice. West knows that if he gives any real acknowledgement to his critics, it will cause other people to look at the actual source and not some out of context quote.