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.

Sidenote:

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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Christopher West the Decontexualizer - part 1, I guess

In the first chapter of his latest book, At the Heart of the Gospel, Christopher West refers to a Lenten homily given by Father Raniero Cantalamessa in March of 2011 to Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia, entitled: The Two Faces of Love: Eros and Agape

In referring to this homily he begins by quoting Father Cantalamessa thus:

He observed that love "suffers from ill-fated separation not only in the mentality of the secularized world, but also in that of the opposite side, among believers...Simplifying the situation to the greatest extent," he said, "we can articulate it thus: In the world we find eros without agape; among believers we often find agape without eros." The former “is a body without a soul” and is well understood “propagated as it is in a hammering way” by the secular media. The latter— agape without eros—“is a soul without a body”; it’s a “cold love” in which “the component linked to affectivity and the heart is systematically denied or repressed.” Either way, by separating eros and agape, we distort the truth of love and rupture our own humanity. For the “human being is not an angel, that is, a pure spirit; he is a soul and body substantially united: everything he does, including loving, must reflect this structure”.


After some paragraphs, West pretty well forgets about Fr. Cantalamessa's cautionary qualifier, "Simplifying the situation to the greatest extent", and leaves the reader with the non-negotiable hostage situation that the reality really is that greatest extent simplification. But not Cantalamessa's simplification - oh no. West reduces Cantalamessa's simplification even further.

But before getting to that, here is what Fr. Cantalamessa had to say about agape without eros in full (with my emphasis on the key words):

This distinction having been made, agape without eros seems to us a "cold love," a loving "with the tip of the hairs" without the participation of the whole being, more by imposition of the will than by an intimate outburst of the heart, a descent into a pre-constituted mold, rather than to create for oneself something unrepeatable, as unrepeatable is every human being before God. The acts of love addressed to God are like those of certain poor lovers who write to the beloved letters copied from a handbook.

If worldly love is a body without a soul, religious love practiced that way is a soul without a body. The human being is not an angel, that is, a pure spirit; he is soul and body substantially united: everything he does, including loving, must reflect this structure. If the component linked to affectivity and the heart is systematically denied or repressed, the result will be double: either one goes on in a tired way, out of a sense of duty, to defend one's image, or more or less licit compensations are sought, to the point of the very painful cases that are afflicting the Church. It cannot be ignored that at the root of many moral deviations of consecrated souls there is a distorted and contorted conception of love.


Cantalamessa states what agape without eros is like. In the second paragraph, in the part that I emphasized, he is saying that if this is persisted in, in a systematic way, which would obviously entail repression and denial in order to continue in such a vein, it will lead to some really bad things.

See how West takes that and turns it into:

...it’s a “cold love” in which “the component linked to affectivity and the heart is systematically denied or repressed.”


In other words, Chris West takes what can be considered a strong caution by Cantalamessa to those prone to agape without eros, removes the actual point of the sentence, and turns it into the very attribute of every instance of agape without eros. Which is unjust. Note the tone in the first paragraph of Cantalamessa's likening of agape without eros. He uses the words, "seems to us" and "more by" and "are like those" and puts certain descriptors in quotations. His audience is made up of consecrated religious, in whom, Cantalamessa says, agape without eros is particularly often found. But West cut that part out at the beginning. Cantalamessa's words run:

Love suffers from ill-fated separation not only in the mentality of the secularized world, but also in that of the opposite side, among believers and in particular among consecrated souls. (italics mine)


Among believers and the consecrated in particular. That just brings in another level that West doesn't need to deal with.

But anyways, a few sentences after the "systematically denied and repressed" sentence-out-of-context, Chris West writes:

The systematic repression of eros [So now it's official.] in the name of “holiness” ultimately stems from a widespread theological vision of man that splits body and soul in order to “free” love from (what many consider) the “unflattering” and “unholy” realities of bodiliness. [What happened to those secularists who were only too happy to remove eros from agape?]


Leap frog anyone?

Nowhere in that homily does Cantalmessa talk about agape as "holiness".

Some sentences later he continues in the same evermore simplistic vein:

We can and must reclaim the essential link between eros and agape, between sexuality and spirituality, between body and soul. This is the essential cure for what ails the modern world.


Just as agape suddenly became "holiness" (holiness sought at the expense of hating the body - oh wait, the body? What happened to Cantalamessa's "affectivity" and the "heart" and, well, eros?) so now agape becomes "spirituality".

Oh! Memo just in: eros is now sexuality. Hey, slow poke! Now it's the body.

Look, I know the words can be spoken of as being in the same families, so to speak, but to use them so interchangeably and in the span of such little space...well, that's the work of someone using a lot of sleight of hand.

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."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Workable for Westians?

"In all times and places it has been man's delight to think of human love as a type of divine Love and of human marriage as a type of the marriage of the soul with God."


"But how shall I ever forget the strange, inexplicable rapture of my first experience? What marvelous thing was this that suddenly transformed a mere water-tap into a pillar of fire, and water into an elixir of life? I lived henceforth in a strange world of contradiction: something was called filthy which was obviously clean; something was called ridiculous which was obviously solemn and momentous; something was called ugly which was obviously lovely. Strange days and nights of mystery and fear mixed with excitement and wonder - strange days and nights, strange months and years."


"There can be no movement of the flesh or of the imagination which cannot thus be sanctified and turned to sweetness. There is good at the root of all our desiring...Appetites which kindle in us the flames of ungovernable lust or wrath were not perhaps ungovernable in their beginnings, and if, before too late, we give thanks for the good which is their primary nature, we may, I do not think I deceive myself, turn what seemed sultry and threatening, however alluring, into the cool and friendly."


"...sexual activity is aligned to godliness."


"...the sexual organs...are 'redeemed' by Christ and 'made dear.'"


"...everything is religious by which God is praised, and in this sense the Song of Solomon is a religious poem indeed...[H]is praises are sung in the strongest of all symbolic terms. The love of man and woman is made the symbol of God’s love for man, and of Christ’s love for the Church."


"I wish I could get you to see the point about Christianity – e.g. when we ‘Marry’ we don’t say to a girl: Madam you realize that we are the embodiment of an idea (or do you?). We say: darling, we two persons are now one flesh – or words to that effect. It’s a love affair first and last. Joining the Church is not like joining the I.L.P. or the 3rd International. It’s like getting married and, speaking analogically, we are f ****d by Christ, and bear children to him – or we don’t. The Church is the whole body of Christians – the bride."


"I found a thing in my mind and I opened my eyes and found it in front of me. You don't become a Catholic by joining the Church; you join the Church because you are a Catholic."



All the above words were written by Eric Gill, the man who carved the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral and who invented the Gill font and other fonts and who illustrated (controversially) the Song of Songs and who did much "erotic religious" work and who frequently sodomized his daughters and who had incestuous relations with his two sisters, one relationship of which was lifelong, and who had much extramarital sex and who engaged in orgies and who habitually exposed his genitals to people with whom he was conversing (made convenient by a sort of faux habit under which he wore nothing) and who sodomized his dog and who, most disturbing of all, to all appearances (though who knows), died unrepentant.

But why should that information prevent any of you Westians from using the above quotes to promulgate your distorted interpretations of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body? Because "to the pure all things are pure", right?

Yes, West loves using those words of St. Paul out of context doesn't he? Yes, he most certainly does. A very Westian principle to do that. Gill was fond of it too:

"...even pornographic photographs are generally photographs of things very good in themselves. I mean: what's wrong with a naked girl that you shouldn't look at a photograph of one? What's wrong with sexual intercourse that a picture of it should be considered damnable?"


Anyways, you can have him and you can keep him, because he was most certainly your prophetic forerunner, indeed.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Turning Away from Sin: Porn Clarification

The unbridgeable gulf between Art and pornography as mentioned in the previous TOB post should go with a certain understanding. It is not to be understood in the sense that when one views pornography he is not bringing to it everything else about himself, as though one could go from viewing, say, a holy icon and be virtuous, and then view pornography and be evil, and never the twain shall meet. There is a sense in which a person brings everything of himself to everything that he does. The false dichotomy that sin creates, especially in one who has seriously fallen, is just that - a false one, though the fragmentation of it in the effects produced in a person would be very much real.

St. Thomas Aquinas says:

"For everything naturally desires good, nor can anyone desire anything for himself, save under the aspect of good..."


The Thomistic principle states that when man sins he is doing what he thinks will make him happy, and in that respect desires good. It is impossible for a man to say, "I will do what will make me unhappy..." even though what he does, because of original sin, makes him unhappy indeed.

Christopher West takes this principle and turns it in upon itself, so that it is this misapprehension of the good that is what essentially makes sin sin, rather than there being a fundamental original root of sin in man, the effects of which cause such misapprehension, and which effects, in being effected, are truly in likeness after the root; they are truly sin.

In Christopher West World, sin is just a "blindness"; it is the inability to see the good that makes sin sin. In other words, his understanding of original sin is deplorable. As a result, he teaches that if one continues doing what inherently causes this "blindness", it is possible through that very practice of what inherently blinds him, to be made to see. Thus he writes:

"Who knows, maybe one day those now caught up in society’s sex obsession [i.e. those who view pornography] may “pore” over John Paul II’s TOB, finding “the same scenery that they had left, but this time illuminated by the sun.”" (From West's article, "Everyday Mysticism")


The implications are all there: the evil of viewing pornography is solely a fumbling after goodness totally focalized within the one viewing pornography. It just needs to be illuminated or "untwisted". In West's teaching, he removes the objective evil which is committed against God and neighbour and even against self, and which attaches to the soul of the sinner.

Though man desires good and his happiness when he sins, it remains that the objective evil he commits in doing so, is a definitive evil, which cannot be obliterated from him except through the mercy of Jesus Christ. And it cannot be removed by Christ unless that person repent, and he cannot repent when he believes that his sins are just blind fumblings which contain his salvation and redemption (in twisted form), and that he just needs it "illuminated" for him, or "untwisted".

Do some people need to understand that there were certain hidden motives and reasons tangled up with having done what they did, lest they take themselves to be totally evil beings? Sure, but that sort of thing is subsumed in the objective repentance of objective evil that one has committed. It cannot come the other way around, never mind solely through that way while negating the other.

West talks a deal about how there is a good behind everything, that evil is not a thing, but a parasite feeding off the thing (though even this is giving him too much credit since he refers to it more as a mere "distortion"). What is interesting is how this is used to make viewing pornography less evil than what it is, having the potential in it, because there is a good behind it (the naked human body), for a person to come to good - if only in retrospect "seeing" that he was just seeking goodness all along.

But the fact that a person brings the good bound up within himself to viewing pornography (and its making) actually makes viewing pornography even more evil, not less so. Because the "good at bottom" that the person brings in viewing pornography is a good only insofar that the good is being corrupted - through viewing pornography. Nothing good can come from viewing pornography - nothing but evil. The good that he brought to viewing pornography, whatever it may have been, has thusly been corrupted. Nothing good can come from viewing pornography. And though the man did not view it saying to himself, "Let's see what ways I can be evil..." but was seeking what in his birth into original sin has been seen as a good, the evil he has committed in doing so is objective, and, well, committed. Nothing good can come from viewing pornography.





Medium: Pencils HB, 6B and F

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When it comes to Porn, Christopher West goes South

"In contrast to this kind of authentic art, pornographic portrayals of the body raise objection, the Pope insists, not because they expose the human body per se. The human body in itself always retains its inalienable dignity. Rather, pornography raises objections because of the way in which the human body is portrayed (see TOB 63:5). Pornographers portray the body with the explicit intention of arousing lust - or, as theologians would say, "concupiscence" - in the viewer."
--Christopher West, in his article Authentic Art vs. Pornography (Bold Italics mine)



First: Articles like the one linked to is one of the reasons I've always held, and still hold, that pitting Art and pornography against each other as an attempt at "reclaiming" the sacred and beautiful for Art is utterly fraught with stupidity. Two very damaging things occur: it gives birth to the idea that Art works as a utilitarian format like pornography does; and it gives birth to the idea that pornography is bad merely because it is a wrong kind of "portrayal", when in fact it is bad because it is a grievous offense and violation of a person's dignity.

Art's worth, to put it shortly, is demoted, while pornography's inherent corrupting effect is all but practically denied. Good going.

Let's get a little more obvious: the figures, for instance, on the Sistine Chapel are entirely renditions in pigment through the artist's mind and physical hand. The human body is portrayed, and the human body itself alone is practically incidental in comparison with all else that is portrayed through those same forms, and in so being, it is glorious. That is, the human body is not just the human body. (In other words, it is the portrayal of the human person in his "totality". Depictions of cadavers such as anatomical studies can be alright because they are depictions of cadavers, and not persons who are reduced to their bodies.) Generally, it can be likewise for other art depicting the naked human form. Pornography though, in the main, as it is known today, is a photograph or film of an exposed person, of an actual person who actually was exposed, or an exposed person engaging in sexual acts.

How can one make such parallels between the two as though they were even remotely equivalent in the sense that they are equally opposite? They are not opposite in that sense. For in the sense of being equally opposite, it would mean they share an equivalence in their "genus", which in fact is not shared remotely.

Are there variables here? Yes. While pornography in the main, in this culture, photographically involves actual people, and we can easily make that generality today when using the term "pornography", there is also "art" that is pornographic. Just because that art fails, and purposely fails, to integrate the totality of the human person in its depiction - indeed, purposely fails at integrating something of the totality of art itself - and seeks to cause erotic arousal to lust, does not mean that photographic and filmic pornography is corrupt for the same failure, or detriment.

Pornography, in the main, as it is known today, which is photographic and filmic, is not only a different "genus" from painted/drawn/sculpted art, but it is a different "genus" from painted/drawn/sculpted "art" that is pornographic. Though photography and film are objective arts, the actuality of a real person's personhood being reduced to his or her body on screen or digital monitor through that medium is enough for one to see that it is entirely different from anything else, never mind pigments on a ceiling.

Second: Pornography is not objectionable, Christopher West, because of the way in which the human body is portrayed; rather it is objectionable because it directly reduces a person to his or her human body so as to arouse lust. And thus consequently teaching the viewer to "go and do likewise". (When it comes to pornography that is not photographic, such as drawn or painted images, the same holds, except that it perhaps involves the symbolical imagination more. Though really, what's the difference; both photographic and other kinds all end up in the same hell hole.)

Note how West constantly uses the term "the human body".

"The human body in itself always retains its inalienable dignity."

Well, yes, but in your context, would it not be better to say the human person has an inalienable dignity? But when the human person is reduced to his or her body (ala pornography) that inalienable dignity is violated. And the term "inalienable" does not mean "incorruptible".

Third: If pornography is objectionable "because of the way in which the human body is portrayed", and if pornography is not "per se" objectionable because the human body is exposed, then pray tell, what is this objectionable way in which the human body is portrayed in pornography?

Could it be, oh, I don't know, that the human body is exposed? But why doesn't West draw that conclusion? Because for him it is "the human body". Because he does not connect that "human body" being "portrayed" in the pornographic image with a human person.

Here's a question: Is it possible to keep talking about "the human body" without having to concede at some point (indeed, at some point very early on) that "the human body" must be this or that human body - in other words, the human body belonging to this or that particular person?

That would have to be the case in talking about pornography (as it is generally known today), wouldn't it?

Medium: 2B Pencil

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christopher West's Aversion

At Theater of the Word Incorporated, Kevin O'Brien puts that "mature purity/fruits of the victory over lust" phrase oft used by Christopher West and his disciples into some context:

"The Holy Father continues in context ...


In mature purity man enjoys the fruits of the victory won over lust, a victory which St. Paul writes of, exhorting man to "control his own body in holiness and honor" (1 Th 4:4). The efficacy of the gift of the Holy Spirit, whose "temple" the human body is (cf. 1 Cor 6:19), is partly manifested precisely in such mature purity. This gift is above all that of piety (donum pietatis) ...


So even within a very narrow context, we can see that this Victory over Lust of which John Paul speaks is a victory of a man who controls his own body in holiness and honor by way of the grace of piety, or reverence toward God.


This is a far cry from what West and the Westians are trying to make of this phrase."


Here is an example of the game Christopher West plays with Pope John Paul II:

"Yet, as John Paul II insisted, we "cannot stop at casting the 'heart' into a state of continual and irreversible suspicion due to the manifestations of the concupiscence of the flesh... Redemption is a truth, a reality, in the name of which man must feel himself called, and 'called with effectiveness'" (TOB 46:4)"


And where in that passage, oh Christopher West, does John Paul write that at some point one may cease custody of the eyes and self-control? He is saying, to put it very simply, that at some point in our self-control (entailing combat) we must gain confidence in the victory that Christ has won, and cease being disturbed by every movement of concupiscence.

The thing about attaining self-control is that you are still controlling yourself. Among the fruits of "the victory over lust" is precisely this ongoing self-control - indeed, it's actual increase, so that Christ can increase. The fruit-bearing tree is pruned all the more, so to produce all the more fruit (West is rather a blind, contraceptive Puritan in this regard, for he always and ever ends not with one's bearing fruit to others, but with one's own self-interested "purity" gazing at another's sexuality --sorry, gazing at the glory of God through another's sexuality).

In our self-control, in our custody, it is as though we dare Christ to supplant us entirely - which He is only too happy to do. It should almost be like a competition between Christians; to see who can have his self the most supplanted by Christ (I think it would lead to us being much more humourous). You see, this is what happens with increased self-control, like custody of the eyes: we are bringing about order and fruitfulness to more than ourselves.

Christopher West and the Westians would have it that this custody of the eyes is not from the noble, non-lustful, positive part of ourselves, but some negative, sexually hung-up prude always staring at the sidewalk.

Because Christ supplants us, fills us, in proportion to what we take captive for Him, this "self" that we take into custody becomes ever less the tyrant, and that is precisely the reason why our custody over it can increase rather than cease (cease, as West would have it, at some pan-Christian life-moment of pseudo union with God, called down no less by none other than ourselves!), and our pleasure in that control increases. Because our ultimate pleasure is not in our "purity which can behold the glory of God in another's body", but in Jesus Christ living in us, through Whom we most clearly see others.

Averting the eyes falls under the more positive custody of the eyes. And custody of the eyes falls under the yet more positive self-possession. He who is in possession of his self is free (freedom is not merely the ability to say 'no'). He who is free can humble himself; and he who can humble himself can resist the riptide pull of the erotic and its images which overwhelm the imagination (mainly by avoiding the pull in the first place through custody of the eyes, through self-possession), and which consequently overwhelm the physical body, and consequently one's actions.

Averting the eyes is a great timeless Catholic practice never to be disposed of in one's lifetime, for it takes into consideration, even when one is not conscious of it, that we are sparing another person from the burden of our eyesight. What? You ever been in a room with other people nearby, and you know without looking, that someone is looking at you? Well, uh duh, yeah, well, uh, averting the eyes then is about more than our own precious purity. It is about a great deal more and involves thousands of variables according to circumstances - from those who don't want to be looked at, to those who want to be looked at too much, and to everything else that may be interpreted in ways that were never intended in the first place and which wouldn't have been so, had one taken custody of the eyes. It brings about a world of order which is God's original will. And this makes us happy. You might say that one needs to develop the taste for it.

I feel sad for those Westians, that they might never know the pleasure of sitting beside another, and neither looking at the other, and neither feeling obligated to, and both secure in the presence of each other's souls more real even than the physical body; sad that they may never know the pleasure of giving another person over to Christ, into His care and completely out of your own interests and out of your self-interested purport to objectify them as proof of your "pure gaze beholding God's glory"; sad that they may never know the pleasure of complete disposal of one's own faculties, including that of eros, in Christ as He gives Himself over to you.

These kinds of things are very Catholic pleasures, and those Westians, well, I'm afraid that because of their frenzied, self-interested, narcissistic, uncrucified twisting of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, they will never develop the palate for them.

Yesss, we hates that nasty Elven bread, don't we Precious? Yes Precious, we hates it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Still Life with Beechmast



Still Life with Beechmast, Oil on Canvas, 20 inches x 16 inches

Not quite finished, but close. Photo blurred top left portion.

Just Because



Burden

Lent coming up already? What am I going to do for Lent? I don't know. Sheesh.

I know. I'll write a blog post everyday on Christopher West and TOB. It will be hell. Both for me and for you. It will be the worst Lent ever. I mean the best Lent ever. No, wait, I mean...what?

Worse than giving up coffee. Better than affirming ecstatic cosmic interplanetary orgasms as the mystical foreplay--whoops, I mean the mystical foretaste of eternity in Peter Kreeft heaven. Christopher West went into the desert for six months. And came back with his book At the Heart of the Gospel.

It must have been a time of purification. Everybody praise him.

Anyways I was sitting in 3:00 p.m. Confession line thinking about how we can actually be a burden to God (and to others) and how we spend our energy trying to make ourselves believe that we are not burdensome; and I thought that maybe accepting the fact of our burdensomeness in humility (among the many forms of which would be custody of the eyes) would make us a great deal lighter in our bearing, when the words that Jesus spoke came to me out of the blue: "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I endure you?"

And I thought to myself, "Crimminy, that's not a very nice thing to say!"

"No sir-ee-Bob, not a very nice thing to say at all", I thought to myself.

"Couldn't have said something more ecstatically affirming?" sez I to myself.

Something more Westian?






I can haz worst song written in history zinged to me?

So anyways same day I was sitting at 4:30 Anticipated Mass and behold these words in the first reading make me go, hey-ho - hello!: "But you have burdened me with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities."


And we say in one accord, I can haz worst song written in history zinged to me?

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Medium: Pencils 2H and 2B

Friday, February 17, 2012

Avoid Chris West's "deep transformation" and you just might make it to Heaven

"When Christopher West came here to Saskatoon for a Theology of the Body Conference, a meeting was arranged between him and a class of attendees from a local post-secondary institution that runs a one-year program of formation. When introducing himself to the females, West would ask their name. When the young woman would say, “I’m Jane”, West would look her in the eye and say, “Jane, you are a very beautiful woman”. He introduced himself to the next woman, and did the same thing, saying, “you’re a beautiful woman too”. Now, if I was to do that with young Catholic women I just met, I would be labeled as “creepy” and shunned and maybe even slapped out, and rightfully so. But Christopher West is allowed to get away with it because he is Christopher West. Nonetheless, the behaviour is indeed creepy and indicative of deeper problems – with him personally and with his theology and sense of modesty (which would exclude statements such as this)."

Wade St. Onge in his post TOB "Smoking Guns" of West's Theology

Worth the read.

Linkthanks to Dymphna's Road for steering me to his blog From the Ivory Tower.


The Catholic faith is being paganized and pornified.

The term pornography - from Greek pornographos: writing about prostitutes - has developed over time with the development of mediums into a broadened sense. Yet the original definition crystallizes, in that we come to realize the operative part of that definition is the predicate more than the subject. In other words, the pornifying of anything is a grasping after something without any sense of the order of things. Moreover, this grasping after assimilates its subject to the nature of its grasping. (It makes sense that this would originate in a definition whose subject is one who is paid to "assimilate" to one's base gratifications.) In the case of the Catholic Inquisitorial Eroticizers it becomes a whole new level of creepy pornification precisely because they are doing it to that which is most singular and most priceless to our eternal souls. West's "deep transformation" is the rendering of (literally, in gastronomic terms, reducing) and pornifying of and, well, the un-transforming of Christ's conversion of our hearts and minds.

In the words of Michael O'Brien on a different subject which I am nonetheless applying to the Inquisitorial Eroticizers:

"I feel good, therefore I am. By the same token, if a critic makes me feel not-good, makes me question the very thing I love, the thing which has become so pleasurable to me, this critic is assaulting my very being. The connections here occur below the level of the mind's rational processes. It is instinctive loyalty, bond-welded through identification....It is defended by educated people in articulate terms..."


You know, when Christ asked if He would find anyone with faith upon His return, it doesn't necessarily mean a world of faithless people whose faithlessness is a straight expression in an outward mode of apparent faithlessness. This faithless world He seems to speculate about upon His return is likely one that will be proclaiming themselves Christs and speaking the Catholic language.

But it will be all wrong. So wrong that you could not get any more wrong - which is pride.

Of course, what is most wrong is most closely aligned to what is most right, so even as to look the same.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

At the Heart of the Gospel

"Those deceive themselves who believe that union with God consists in ecstasies or raptures, and in the enjoyment of Him. For it consists in nothing except the surrender and subjection of our will with our thoughts, words and actions, to the will of God and it is perfect when the will finds itself so separated from everything, and attached only to that of God, so that every one of its movements is solely and purely the volition of God." -- St. Teresa of Avila

Tarkovsky Tuesday




Roger always had a better approach than Gene (God rest Gene's soul).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

If you choose...

"Besides, everyone has troubles of their own, and lepers are no new thing. People want you to go away and die quickly. Be it slow or quick, above all they want you to go away, and stay away--far, far away so you will not frighten them with how you look and how you smell.

It is terrible, the smell. Imagine living inside the body of a rotting corpse. Think about this. Then add to it the truth that every morning when you wake up, you do not wake up to pains of the flesh but to something worse. You wake up and for the thousandth time realize that the corpse is you. Yes, and then there comes a time when the blackness of it is so deep that you would kill yourself if a knife came to hand. You try to starve yourself, but it is too slow. To kill yourself that way you must persevere in it, with a strong will. And when you are sick and eaten away, you have no will to speak of. You can only shuffle here and there in the hope that someone will throw you a crust from a safe distance. But mostly you lie down in remote places and sleep. You wait to die."


From Michael O' Brien's novel of imaginative speculation, Theophilos - an excerpt in which a man who had leprosy tells the story of his encounters and relationship with Jesus Christ (a character among a range who recount their encounters with Christ as He walked the earth). Something to consider for those whose idea of what leprosy was like comes from Monty Python, or at best, from Ben-Hur.

I mean, what sort of courage was it then, that drove St. Damien of Molokai? Look what great things he accomplished.

Why are we today who don't have to deal with the slow progression of a rotting body, and who do everything in our power to drive away the thought of death, all but fixed up on the pharmacology industry and a mind-numbing entertainment industry just to get along with life?

Medium: Pencils H, HB and 2B

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Milkshake



Medium: one of those pencils with an eraser on the end. Drew this while watching Disney's 1979 movie, The Black Hole on youtube. Hadn't seen it for, well, I don't know. I could only endure it by watching it in parts over some nights. As you can see by the sketch it was rather traumatizing.

Sacraments are not Shadows

In talking about sex (or writing about it), you are not talking (or writing) about sex. People have this notion that in ye olden times the predilection to not talk about sex was shoving the "subject" away - repressing it. Certainly this may have been the case at times, but it's not that simple. While there may have been repression or prudishness, we're missing something.

Maybe they didn't talk about it because for them it was so intimately linked with everything else. Ever think about that? Some Catholics love to talk (and appropriately so) about how contraception has caused false dichotomies between everything so that we separate things and compartmentalize them. So it has - including the very starting point in which people say, "let's talk about sex". Contraceptive mentality? You bet.

Again, it's a paradox that Westians and Co. are quite stupid about: when you talk about sex you are not talking about sex. To put it another way: if you wish to have understanding about sex, you will not find it by talking about sex.

And people are stupid to talk about sex as a shadow of the bliss of eternity in heaven. For one, when you talk about sex as the shadow of the bliss of eternity in heaven, the inevitable pull will be to reduce sex to orgasm as your starting point - no matter how much you blather about sacramentalizing this and incarnationalizing that, all the day long (oh, what un-incarnational irony).

In the very attempt to justify the ways of sacred sex to men you have missed something, and have done the very opposite of "sacramentalizing" it. And as a little footnote, the thing about orgasms is that they are not eternal (and those who do seek an eternal orgasm are typically locked away in jail), and thus are not a very good starting point to comprehending (in our very limited way) what eternity is. I'm virgin and I know this well enough, and moreover, that the bliss of heaven will have more to do with the words, "right" and "good", in the very source of all that is right and good.

Of course, all analogies of eternity in heaven are just that - analogies, temporal; but it doesn't mean they are all equivocal. It's odd, that marital sex as an analogy of the bliss of eternity in heaven neuters both marital sex and our image of eternity in heaven. Why would you want to do that to the eternity of heaven? Is your regression to this well-worn pagan view a sort of metaphorical viagra for your dwindling mental capacities? Moreover, why would you want to do that to sex? A shadow?

If you want to call anything a shadow, go and call dating (or courting, if you fancy yourself a noble knight) a shadow of the sacramental union of marriage. But the consummation of that sacrament? That would be the least like a shadow of anything. (Mingling of heat; mingling of fluids; blood and flesh; consummation.) Moreover and most importantly, consummation that takes place in total freedom, enclosed on all sides, husband and wife consume and are consumed (the non-destructive, "unconsuming" sense) within the bond of their own sacrament, and from within this total freedom, open to all the consequences, everyone and everything in the world is loved by them, and within this sphere of total freedom, children are brought up and a family made. This is the very participating in God's creation - of eternal souls - in a way that is set aside even from being analogous with incomprehensible heaven, the eternity from which God creates of His own essence, which is His self-subsistent existence. The logic or language of sex does not contain that of the eternity of heaven; rather the logic of the eternity of heaven contains that of marital sex, with its manifest ends.

Marital sex is right and good, when it is not an end in itself. Just as the act of marital sex is not an end in itself, so it falters when it is used as an analogy of our one true end, which is eternity in heaven with God. Both become neutered in cheap pagan equivocation.

Some fool themselves in retrospect by saying their talk (or writing) about sex is needed because people today don't have a sense of the sacredness of sex. You really think people today fornicate simply because they do not have a sense of the sacredness of sex? Are you kidding me?

No indeed, the subject of sex is not something to be unwrapped or opened up or whatever synonym you wish to use for disclosure. It is to be veiled - with a great many and various veils; all the veils of life. And then you will finally and actually be talking about sex. And so likewise, in heaven we will be doubly, triply cloaked, engulfed in garments made by God.

Update: Unless it wasn't obvious, this post has nothing to with family sex education, which should be given according to parents' decisions.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tarkovsky Tuesday



End sequence from Stalker.



How I love your eyes, my friend,
With their radiant play of fire,
When you lift them fleetingly
And like lightning in the skies
Your gaze sweeps swiftly round.

But there is charm more powerful still
In eyes downward cast
For the moment of a passionate kiss,
When through lowered eyelids glows
The sombre, dull flame of desire.


Fyodor Tyuchev, 1803 - 1873
(Translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair)

That is the poem which the girl (the daughter of the title character) recites in the above clip that doesn't have the English subtitles.

Chopin - Nocturne Op 37 No 1 in G minor (Rubinstein)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Medium: Pencils 6B, 2B and some others

Medium: Pencils HB, 2B, 2H and H