Monday, March 5, 2012

Look up, not West

In respect to lust and concupiscence the best priests will invariably tell you a most excellent litany along these lines: "These thoughts will always come up; the important thing is to not dwell on those thoughts; distract yourself and try to think of other things; think of something else; occupy yourself; take note of the occasions that lead you to such things and avoid those occasions; slow down; keep yourself busy: busy bee, happy bee; you must shut the door to these things when they come up; we must learn to see other people as children of God made in His image; if possible, think about the destructive consequences that would result from you going down this path."

And so forth. There is a theme behind it, and that is of a notable reluctance to place too much importance on the strength of the desire. It is not a denial, but simple reluctance. This reluctance is important. Christopher West in his trampling manner, says it is denial, after which he goes on to not only place too much importance on the call of the lower appetites, but turns them into the one and only desire for communion with God.

The main point of the above-mentioned litany of reluctance-that-is-actually-strength is this: while one's sexuality is a precious gift from God the Creator (realized as such when one is not preoccupied and fascinated with it), its desires and its appetites do not ever have precedence over you. It remains a precious gift without the watch of your fascination, and it is to be kept as such. Protected. Your true embracing of it and affirmation of it is not a focusing on it. Your true embracing of it happens within the Father's embrace, which is gratuitously given in our filiality.

The good priest who proffers the above advice will not entrench you with all this stupid exasperating Gnostic bullcrap from Christopher West about entering deeply into your sexuality so that it will be deeply transformed so that you get to live --sorry, so that you must live in the La-La Land of "sexual redemption" where every single sexual urge becomes akin to a divine call. Oh yeah, while taking Revelation and squashing it down the same crap hole along with it, thus encasing yourself in the impervious walls of spiritual pride. Wow, not only do you commit sexual sin and keep its near occasion always at hand but you manage to bind it with the other extremity called spiritual pride! Well done good and faithful servant!

Thank God for good and humble priests, with their rustic Italian advice, who keep this world going in which 7-digit earners (or is West a 6-digit earner?) promulgate their deadly errors on the backs of the fatherless and motherless generations.

One of the greatest narcissistic fantasies imaginable to man just so happens to be one which Christopher West teaches as a justification of the "pure gaze of love" in "mature purity": that a man by his "pure gaze of love" at a woman's body might cause that woman, who happens to notice the gaze, to be awakened to the deep beauty within her - in her sexuality of course. Hey baby, look at my wonderful gaze! Be healed! Now share it with me! Let's celebrate each other!

(Dangerous stuff that. Really, I would rather have looked at a woman too long or in the wrong way and come to know shame afterward, than this garbage.)

Like I wonder if Katy Perry watched West's soul-reading video and experienced the ethos of redemption being unveiled in her own body.





Sheesh, the way he goes on about her music video too...






Uhm, dude, it's a music video. And anyways, what exactly is he doing describing this inappropriate music video with such voyeurism to people - people whom, we would assume, he would like to have healed of their disordered sexual tendencies? Anyhow, it reminds me of that documentary footage of that mentally disturbed man who came to John Lennon's house quite convinced that Lennon was writing all his songs personally to him.

There is nothing in his teaching (and it is West's teaching, not John Paul II's) but slavery of the worst order. Better to have ogled a woman and come to know deep shame afterwards, and thus come to know her personhood, than to attain the heights of West's "mature purity". And yes, I say - though this is by no means a suggestion whatsoever - better to have fallen into the baseness of fornication and come to know its shame than to fall into the same by the glory of God.

Getting back to sanity, the Litany of Distraction or The Litany of Occupation is so good because putting it into effect, one finds that one is, in fact, not distracting oneself at all, but rather realigning the encompassing lens of one's life to the order of things as they are and should be, and this is what you enter into - being. No sooner do you do this than you find you have barely scratched the surface of the goodness of being; you can go further and further with it, by a leaving-off of yourself, by looking outward with a true, upright, outward gaze.

In what is I think the earliest critique of West's work, Mark Lowery, having mostly praise for West's work, writes the following in his NCR article, Christian Sex or Sexy Christianity?:


It is well and good to aim at infusing our sexuality with the fullness of Christian grace. But, this side of the eschaton, many people's damaged raw material—psychological as well as physical—sadly stays put.

The foundation of the faith—the Trinitarian life, grace infused ever more into our being—is something they can have fully, and is in fact something that can grow ever more strong right in the midst of the struggle with our damaged raw materials.



That's sort of what I am getting at. Our life in Christ, the foundation of our faith, is not subject to the crap that West is giving you; it transcends all that, right here and right now. And thank God it does.

The "purification" that West teaches is not the purification that Christ calls us to. Our purification is not ours to call down. Our purification happens in the greater middle-earth of habitual being.

(You know, I really liked just writing that last sentence. If you wish instead to call it "the greater habitual being of middle-earth" I won't object.)

You do see of course the major problem with Christopher West? And by "major problem" I mean deadly error: his focusing upon the sexual only exacerbates the problems therein. And then he says the problem you are exacerbating is owing to prudish puritanism.

But this renders you more and more blind to the fundamental disorder of your very approach, indeed, as said above, encases it in the impervious walls of pride.

Perhaps it is hard to get immodest people to see this. More difficult even those who are proud.

14 comments:

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

"She's been raised on this kind of saccharine, so-called Christian music her whole life, and she gets a taste of this secular Rock and Roll and she says, 'the heavens opened up.' What's going on here?"

Uh, a subversive metaphor from a formerly straight-laced Evangelical girl who knows just what artistic buttons to push?

"This woman, I think, has been so deeply, deeply wounded by men."

Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha! . . . Oh, my word, I'm laughing so hard I can't breathe . . . Bwahahahahahahahaha! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

C**** W*** is so convinced that his "pure" gaze is the cure that he also wants its Puritanical pancake flipside to be the cause!

"She's got blood all over her cleavage . . ."

Wow. He actually said that.

"She's at the mercy of these men!"

She's an intelligent adult, you twisted pervert. Nobody achieves that much success in the modern music industry without knowing what he's doing. I can't stand Katy Perry's music, but I am insulted on her behalf by this assessment of her savvily put together package.

"It hurts us and wounds us when we are raised in this fear of the world . . ."

I know something that hurts us even more, and the sad thing is that MTV trafficks in it. And some people who "fear" the world understand that better than the clown in the video does.

(Confess, Stilwell. This isn't actually W***. It's a talented actor doing a parody and staying in character despite the huge temptation to laugh. Nobody is actually this stupid, right?)

Paul Stilwell said...

Your comment beats my post...seriously, you're astute at this sort of thing.

At first his repetition of the deeply wounded crap just made me sick with the eye rolls, but when posting this, yes, it was so funny.

A talented actor...you know, you may be on to something there.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Paul, I believe that by now you should be asking yourself:

"Are these daily blog posts *really* helping me enter more deeply into the spirit of the Lenten Season?"

"Is this really based upon an imitation of Christ in His 40 days in the desert?"

"Is this helping me grow in holiness in preparation for the celebration of Redemption and Resurrection this year?"

I think these are important questions to consider right now, Paul. You have my prayers.

God bless,

Deacon Jim Russell

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Oh, look, Stilwell! Deacon Jim can't think of a single rebuttal and must resort to smearing your "Lenten spirit" and implying that he can see into your soul! I wonder what similar stunt he pulls during Ordinary Time . . .

Paul Stilwell said...

The problem is that I'm so deeply, deeply wounded.

Wade St. Onge said...

Deacon Jim, now that's the pot calling the kettle black.

Let me ask you, Deacon Jim:

Is all the time you have been spending posting lengthy comments on blogs concerning Theology of the Body helping you be a good husband to your wife and father to your 11 - yes, count 'em, 11 children? Is it helping you be a better deacon to your many parishioners? Is it helping you fulfill your duties at your full-time job?

Or, is all the time you are spending on these debates (and Deacon Jim, sometimes you have been logging on and posting and/or emailing up to 5 times a day) getting in the way of your paternal, spousal, diaconal, and work duties?

Any man who has 11 children to raise (most of whom are still at home) AND is a cleric of the Catholic Church on top of that does NOT have time for all of this. Such a man is only hurting his family and his parishioners by getting as obsessed with this as you have and is failing to do the "one thing necessary" - i.e. fulfill the duties of his state in life, but he's hurting his own spirituality and soul.

Maybe YOU should forget the specks in our eyes and focus on the log in your own and use this Lent to actually re-prioritize your life and start fathering and pastoring instead of neglecting your responsibilities by fighting with us.

And honestly, I've been thinking this for a while, but was not going to say anything - until you opened yourself up to it.

Nice job, Deacon Jim - your strategy backfired.

You see, when Deacon Jim upsets blog commenters with his antics and they begin to ignore him or brush him off instead of engage his mental contortions, he tries to insult them and get under their skin that way (he tried this with me, did you notice?). When the person ignores him, he tries to play "Mr. Nice Guy" to get the person to open up to giving him the time of day again. Another blogger I know took the bait, and once again, it ended badly as Deacon Jim became ignorant again, and said blogger banned him from his blog again and blames himself, because: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me". Of course, I didn't take the bait (and neither did the rest of you) - so then his strategy is to criticize our pharasaism and question our holiness and make himself out to be the guy who takes the "high ground" and calls us all to follow his example of abstention from debate and focus on prayer and penance.

What an absolute piece of work this guy is.

I now have one more reason to doubt Cardinal Rigali's judgment (as if I didn't already have enough reasons) - he ordained you. The way you behave (not only how you debate but your misguided priorities as outlined above) is scandalous. Cardinal Rigali, if he would have been "with it", would have seen red flags all over a 31 year old man with many young children at home expressing desire to be a deacon and work full-time in the Church. Thank God the Archdiocese of St. Louis now rejects as a rule most young men who still have school-age children in the house for the permanent diaconate (I think at least Archbishop Burke had the common sense to see it - even if it was lost on Cardinal Rigali, along with a lot of other things [i.e. the problems with West's theology]).

Deacon Jim Russell said...

******Is all the time you have been spending posting lengthy comments on blogs concerning Theology of the Body helping you be a good husband to your wife and father to your 11 - yes, count 'em, 11 children?*****

Yes, definitely.

**** Is it helping you be a better deacon to your many parishioners?****

Yes, definitely.


**** Is it helping you fulfill your duties at your full-time job? ****

Yes, definitely.

****Or, is all the time you are spending on these debates (and Deacon Jim, sometimes you have been logging on and posting and/or emailing up to 5 times a day) getting in the way of your paternal, spousal, diaconal, and work duties? *****

Not in the least. But I do appreciate your concern for me.


****What an absolute piece of work this guy is. *****

A high compliment--thank you for being so affirming.


**** Thank God the Archdiocese of St. Louis now rejects as a rule most young men who still have school-age children in the house for the permanent diaconate*****

Actually I don't think my friends in the Office of the Permanent Diaconate approach discernment that way. Not all men and their wives feel called to cooperate with God to raise a large family and be open to His call to serve the Church as a cleric, especially at a relatively young age. But God makes all things possible, including embracing the grace that flows from both the Sacrament of Matrimony and Holy Orders.

On my own, I can do nothing. But with God, all things are possible.

How about you? What do you think God is calling you to?

Lent is a great time for that kind of discernment--I had many fruitful and discerning Lents during my formation. I'm actually counting this Lent as very fruitful and discerning as well.

In any case, my pastoral suggestion to Paul stands and I think applies to you as well--how does 40 days of criticizing fellow men of faith draw you closer to Christ during Lent?

God bless you--and please know that you are in my prayers.

Deacon Jim Russell

jvc said...

Deacon Jim wants to know what are the fruits of these challenges of West?

Really?

Let me tell you something. The discovery of the problems of West several months ago was a revelation. For the first time in my life, I am finding the Church's authentic teaching on marriage and sexuality, and it is changing everything.

Take West's assault on the Blessed Virgin Mary (http://dawneden.blogspot.com/2009/06/virgo-redacta-christopher-west-and.html).

When I read West's assault on our holy mother, I wept for her. For the first time in my life, I understood what it meant for her heart to be pierced by a sword. I felt deep pain for her. I understood her more as a woman and a mother in that instance than ever before.

The exposure of the the West distortion of Catholic tradition has helped force me to become familiar with that tradition, and for that I thank Dawn Eden, I thank Alice von Hildebrand, I thank people like Wade and Kevin and Paul. Seriously, guys, thanks for helping me to become a more serious Catholic.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

jvc--do you think our Blessed Mother approves of the way Christopher West is being talked about on this blog site and others?

God bless you,

Deacon Jim Russell

Wade St. Onge said...

Okay, Deacon Jim, if that's the game you're going to play ... here, I'll answer your questions.


********"Are these daily blog posts *really* helping me enter more deeply into the spirit of the Lenten Season?"*******

Yep, definitely.


********"Is this really based upon an imitation of Christ in His 40 days in the desert?"********

Yep, definitely.


********"Is this helping me grow in holiness in preparation for the celebration of Redemption and Resurrection this year?"********

Yep, definitely.


My answers are about as sincere (and true) as yours.

Wade St. Onge said...

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm done being manipulated by Deacon Jim Russell.

jvc said...

It's the eel again! Instead of defending West's trashing of the BVM, Deacon Jim pouts. Surprise, surprise.

Do you think Saint Louis de Montfort approves of West's baffling faux use of quotations?

jvc said...

Better yet, Jim, what do you think the Son of God thinks about how West treats his own mother, and what do you think he will tell you about what he thinks at your judgement?

"Oh yes, I'm thrilled that you and West obsessed over her breasts."

Do you suggest that other people obsess over your own wife's breasts? How about your 8 daughters? Where does this insanity end?

jvc said...

What is the over/under that Deacon Jim actually answers that last question of mine? Bonus points for Jim if he actually suggests some possible dialog for the conversation between the Son of Mary and himself.