Thursday, March 22, 2012

Christopher West and the Family Tree

"Think how intertwined sex is with the very reality of human existence. You simply would not exist without the sexual union of your parents--and their parents before them, and their parents before them, and their parents before them. Every human being is the end result of thousands upon thousands of indispensable sexual unions. Remove just one sexual union from your family tree, and you would not exist. Nor would anyone else who descended from that union. The world would be a different place.

When we tinker with God's plan for sex, we are tinkering with the cosmic stream of human existence. The human race--its existence, its balance--is literally determined by who is having sex with whom, and, in what manner." (Theology of the Body for beginners, pgs. 12-13, Christopher West)

Fact is, you would not exist were it not for a lot of things. Fact is, every human being is the "end result" of an unfathomable amount of scenarios, with sexual unions being, well, sacredly gratuitous. Remove just one sexual union from your family tree and...But why stop there?

What if George McFly never fell out of the tree with his binoculars? What if he never climbed it in the first place? The world would be a different place. C'mon West, what's the matter with you - haven't you watched Back to the Future before? Good grief man.

Here's a little story. It may be quite possible - in fact, it's safe to say that it is most certain - that I owe some thanks for my existence, in part, to the conniption fit of a child.

My Great Grandmother on my mother's side immigrated (a daughter of the Mackenzies) to Canada. She would later marry a Murray.

The ship which they were boarding was the Titanic - yes, the one presently at the bottom of the Atlantic; the great big hobby horse of the anti-Christian bigot propagandist new-age bullshitter Freemason, James Cameron.

My Great Grandmother is one of the two daughters in this family photograph:

Likely she's the one on the far right (by the way, when I look at the mother of the family - my Great, Great Grandmother - I see pretty much the exact same face as my Grandmother Murray, who, by the way, married a Watt. Her daughter married a Stilwell.).

Her younger brother, Willy, is one of the two young boys at center of the photo (I'm not sure which).

My father (God rest his soul) always maintained in a speculative way that Willy had some form of autism, for as the family was boarding the Titanic, the little fellow suddenly went berserk - the kind of temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums.

It must have been a really bad one - hence my father's speculation - because the crew members refused to give them entrance onto the boat because of it, and the family had to get another ship.

Not making it up. True story.

The only thing that makes the story cause a certain degree of pause, or even awe, is the Titanic: the ship is so mythical and "iconic". But here's the thing and the very point: this sort of story happens every single day in the life of every single person. Replace the Titanic with a scooter, a horse, a plane; take away the scooter, the horse, the plane, and you have the turn of a corner, a sudden decision, a look. It's the same thing: every single person's existence has been brought about through the extravagant circumvention of a million Titanics, and more - all the way back to Adam and Eve.

You are "a unique and unrepeatable creation", but more, you are "a unique and unrepeatable creation" that has been brought about in the unlikeliest manner; through the escape of countless disasters, and in the face of them all, you are a singular miracle who has come to be in existence by a way that was no less miraculous or singular.

In light of all that brings a husband and wife together, to make their sexual union the existential substratum, in a chain, the links of which are all likewise sexual union, is ridiculously superfluous. For in light of those things which bring that particular man and that particular woman together, the conjugal act is a given. Not only that, but to make their sexual union the existential substratum, in said chain, is also desacralizing of the conjugal act. It in fact makes it less special - not more special. For then it has become the redundant touchstone for looking back and looking forward (rather than it being the special touchstone of a singular movement forward that is both final and first, that only the husband and wife "touch", within history and as the ongoing flowering of history).

In West's usage, it does nothing but serve as substrata for future substrata, by which I do not mean procreation; but substrata (sex) being the reason for future substrata (sex). It is no longer veiled. It is no longer a mystery. It's like the family tree being reduced to a sequential orgy.

Besides, I would rather any offspring of any family think about Grandpa and Grandma running into each on the ice rink as the first encounter that ultimately led to their marriage, rather than the offspring thinking about Grandpa and Grandma...uhm, you know. But thanks Christopher West for your sexual obsession (" literally determined by who is having sex with whom, and, in what manner"); I'm sure it's doing people a lot of favours.

Sheesh West...


Oh, and Willy, thanks. I owe you.

And so do a lot of other people.


Enbrethiliel said...


It's like the family tree being reduced to a sequential orgy.


And that's an amazing story about Willy and your family, Stilwell.

jvc said...

Paul, this was simply a brilliant post.

When were you and Wade going to get together to put out a book on this stuff . . . ? ;-)

Wade St. Onge said...

Thanks for the compliment. Actually, I already started one and it wouldn't take a whole lot to finish it, but I gave up as I decided there were bigger fish to fry. Then again, considering how successful I have been getting the rest of my writings published, this just might be the thing that would launch my career. It would sell like hotcakes - and Catholic publishers know it.

To be honest, I think West is fine - as long as he sticks to evangelization and leaves the catechesis and formation to those who have a proper Catholic understanding of these issues. The problem is, he doesn't - he thinks the best person to be teaching and forming Catholics on the Church's teachings on sex and marriage (which he believes is synonymous with Theology of the Body) is him.

Paul Stilwell said...

Thanks jvc. I hope Wade writes that book.

For myself, I'm just going to be glad when Holy Week arrives.