Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another critique of Eden's thesis

This critique is very good; it appears here. It's by Sean Murphy, a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He brings a unique perspective to it!

69 comments:

Wade St. Onge said...

Yes, as I have said before, Ms. Eden was very careless at times with her formulations and language.

On my own blog, I pointed out her use of the phrase "one should actively seek out opportunities" which is a straw man.

However, I believe that my countryman, Sean Murphy, although he demonstrated the thesis has many flaws, I do not believe he proved that the substance of her critiques are invalid.

Murphy concludes by saying:
"According to Miss Eden, Mr. West's presentation of the theology of the body
[1] is "damaging"
[2] "theologically compromised"
[3] fails to understand continence as it is defined by the traditional teachings of the Church"
[4] appears "to validate the culture's preoccupation with sex"
[5] teaches that the deposit of faith is incomplete and that Church doctrine keeps pace with changing times.
[6] encourages people to actively seek out occasions of sin, and find in them a source of further purification

The implication is that none of these are true. However, as Murphy says, Eden simply failed to "prove" these.

But on "Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex", I believe #3 has been proven. I believe I made a strong case for #4 on my blog, and I believe Fr. Angelo has as well on his blog.

Wade St. Onge said...

Another important point: the substance of Dr. Schindler's arguments have still not been responded to. To critique Eden might convince people that there are no problems in West's presentations and lead them to forget about or ignore the fact that Schindler's critiques have still not been responded to. For the sake of truth, his four points must be brought up and a response given. To continue to focus on Eden's errors without acknowledging Schindler's still-unanswered points might sway people, but it is not about swaying people, but about an honest pursuit of the truth, wherever that may lead.

Kevin said...

Of course, one could just leave all the editorial comments out, and put Miss Eden's thesis up, allowing the reader to decide.

Just sayin....

That one of the directors of CERC is a direct participant in the debate, that sorta includes a conflict of interest. Perhaps Fraser should have directly noted the fact that Dr. Smith serves on the board that mandated Mr. West's works be put back up.

In journalism school, we call that full disclosure.

Now, on the actual response:

I guess with the "amount of sources" used, what would be a sufficient number? How does one arrive at that conclusion, except by arbitrary numbers. You cite a particularly glaring example of what someone says, and then it's up to the opponent to prove you've either taken it out of context (as Sister has attempted to do) or cite alternative sources which say something different (which nobody has done.)

While correct about the difference between the Consillium and a Concilliar document, he seems to forget:

1.) Decisions of the Consillium were not mere "suggestions.' They were the ones who drew up the 1969 Missal afterall. They were also charged with the Pope with implementing concilliar decrees. In short, while Miss Eden might have used language a bit too strong, he himself uses language a bit misleading. Physician, heal thyself :)

The rest of it is just "she is wrong" without really a demonstration of why.

Are West's critics trying to match allegged poor scholarship with equally poor responses?

Anonymous said...

Hi Wade! I hope sometime to look more closely at your critique of my critique of Eden. But in respect to West, he is guilty until proven innocent. Schindler makes charges but fails to substantiate them. He gives no evidence or sources. His "charges" would be thrown out of any court. For the sake of decency he needs to substantiate his charges. Of course, he might be right but no one has an obligation to defend himself from unsubstantiated charges. In fact, it is quite impossible to do so. Those of us who responded to Eden were trying to respond to substantiated charges, not to deflect attention away from Schindler's unsubstantiated charges but her charges are based on distorted readings of texts.
God bless,
Prof Smith

Sean said...

Mr. St. Onge has correctly identified the limitation of my review of Dawn Eden's thesis. It was not intended to address the substance of the debate about the work of Christopher West, but to consider whether or not the thesis could be accepted as a sound contribution to it. Commentary by others, like Dr. Schindler, was outside the scope of the review.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Alice von Hildebrand is also on the board of CERC. So it's not as if all of them are West's supporters.

Kevin said...

It's been several months, don't you think its about time to get to the actual evidence made? :)

And Dr. Smith, I don't think it is "West is guilty until proven innocent." It is that one side has presented charges, and they should be answered, preferably by the man they are made against. That would end the discussion right then and there.

So you guys are all friends of Mr. West, get him to get those articles out. If the work is as sophomoric as is believed, shouldn't be that hard to demonstrate where the evidence itself is flawed, without insinuations of hidden motives and agendas of course.

Janet Smith said...

Kevin,Sean Murphy shows that the whole plan of Eden's thesis is flawed and thus was unlikely to be able to deliver the goods. He shows a few instances where she doesn't use her "evidence" well, enough to undermine confidence in the substance of the thesis. Several academics I know who have read Murphy's assessment agree that there would be no reason to pay much attention to the substance of such a work. They themselves had taken up her thesis to read it and found it too flawed to continue.
Sister Lorraine and I have answered many of Eden's "charges" against West and shown that they don't stick. I will soon have a piece out on Alice von Hildebrand's critique. It fares no better.
It hasn't been hard to show that Eden's use of evidence is flawed. Once one has demonstrated a pattern of distorting evidence, there is no need to continue to go point by point.
In my remarks to Wade, I was responding to the plea to answer Schindler's charges. That is impossible since he gave no evidence of what led him to make those charges.
Janet E. Smith

Wade St. Onge said...

Hi Professor Smith!

Long time, no hear. I know how busy you have been with teaching AND with various responses to others regarding the ongoing discussion about Mr. West and his apostolate.

You are correct - Dr. Schindler did not substantiate his charges. He never did quote West. However, I do know that many of us who agreed with some or all of his critiques have, since that time, "substantiated" at least some of what Dr. Schindler had written and "have" quoted West. I guess you can say that Schindler's critique has since been "buttressed". I think a good example is the recent discussion on Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex, where I believe evidence was provided and a strong case made for the first of Schindler's four points.

It must be borne in mind that after Schindler published his critique, a number of people spoke out and expressed that they too had concerns about West's work. Some of these were prominent theologians, while others were well-formed laypeople. (Of course, some who joined in the criticism, on the other hand, probably did not know what they were talking about, for lack of a better phrase). Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire.

You are correct that no one has the obligation to defend himself against unsubstantiated charges. However, what looks bad is that when Dr. Waldstein issued his first response to Dr. Schindler, he attempted to defend West against the first of his charges rather than state from the outset that these are unsubstantiated charges which do not deserve a reply until substantiated. For those who were following this debate, they would have been more likely to agree with Waldstein's response (and would be more likely today to agree with it) had he stated this in the beginning rather than attempt to respond.

My only concern is that, as Kevin had stated on his blog, we do not continue to move back the goalposts "ad infinitum". For instance, regarding what I and others have written on Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex, we should not be required to provide a quote from TOB Explained and attend a course in Pennsylvania before there is a response. As I have stated before, sometimes the problem is not so much in West's more "technical" works (which few read) but in his "presentations" (which for most people is their only exposure to him). I believe that on Delaney's website, many of the points there are not only well-made but also substantiated - at least to enough of a degree that "the courts" must allow them to be entered and the case to proceed.

Janet Smith said...

Wade,
I can't quite understand your critique of Waldstein. Previously you stated that Schindler's critiques needed to be answered. I said they did not because they were unsubstantiated. Now you criticize Waldstein for having responded to unsubstantiated charges without having said that he had no obligation to respond to such charges. That is a curious criticism. There is no obligation to answer unsubstantiated charges; there is nothing wrong with answering unsubstantiated charges, and there is nothing wrong or even unwise in answering unsubstantiated charges and not noting that one does not have an obligation to respond. Whew!
At any rate, I didn't and don't find that Delaney's charges against West hold, but I certainly am grateful for the tone he takes and even for the opportunity to see what kind of evidence can be offered for the charge about not understanding continence.
At the end of the day, West is not answerable to his critics; he is answerable to the bishops. He has had his worked judged in the proper forums -- the Internet has sadly shown itself to be a very improper place for an assessment. There are blogs all over the place that make attacks against West -- must he or his defenders respond to all of them? Sister Lorraine and I and now Sean Murphy have responded to Eden; we have also responded to Delaney; I am responding to Von Hildebrand. Before long it will be the case that the same charges keep getting recycled and no more responses need be made. Either people will find that those who find problems in West have sufficiently defended those charges or that those of us who have defended West against the charges have shown them to be wrong about his work. Again, I don't doubt that his work can be improved but that it is seriously vitiated, I don't see. I will offer what constructive criticism I can to him but what I see needed is a matter of tweaking this or that and most everyone's work can profit from such attention.
Yes, sometimes where there is smoke there is fire, and sometimes smoke is generated fires started by arson.
I am impressed with the general care you take to evaluate so many of the defenses and critiques. I think, however, you misportray (and I am not at all saying deliberately) some of my critiques of Eden. It is a small offer but if you want to pick out the two most serious criticisms you believe you have made against my critique of Eden I will respond to them.
God bless,
Janet E. Smith

Janet Smith said...

I should also add that sometimes confusion can look a lot like smoke. It is also true to say that sometimes where there is smoke/criticism there is confusion and even ignorance. I believe some of the criticism of West is based on familiarity with his work, is good willed and meant in a constructive fashion (as I believe Wade's criticism is offered) but I believe a lot of the criticism is simply irresponsible and not based on a close reading (if any) of West's work. That's arson.

Lauretta said...

I googled Christopher West's name the other day. The first three or four items were links to his websites but all of the rest on the first page link to criticisms about him. I have deep concerns that this will seriously affect the good that he is doing.

My husband and I have begun doing one on one mentoring of engaged couples using Christopher's videos. It appears as though all of the couples have been cohabiting but over 50% have looked into NFP after listening to his talks. I would hate to have that positive step undermined if they happened to Google his name and see all of the criticisms leveled against him. Of the couples that we have prepared, we have seen several makes steps toward orienting their lives more in conformity with the Church's teaching and not seen any move further away.

Kevin said...

Dr. Smith,

I would only ask in all fairness (and I'm sure you are expecting this kind of question):

If it was so easy to refute the thesis, why did you need to undergo a revision, not just of tone, but also of arguments as well (i.e. for example in regards to the use of Latin.) I'd say doing so was a little tougher than you initially expected, otherwise, no such revision would be needed, and you wouldn't have had to rely on such polemics, especially at the very start of your essay.

I for one have read Mr. Murphy's work, and I have a few questions about it, clarifications, etc. Since I don't have any contact info, am hoping the "contact us" feature will work at CERC. I really don't think he's answered any evidence at all. He has simply waved his hand and stated "Miss Eden fails to do this" without demonstrating HOW she fails to do it. (given his self-professed limited exposure to West's work, I also wonder how he can state, with confidence, that she "misunderstands West.")

Kevin said...

I would also like to note to the good doctor this is not really an issue for the Magesterium. As noted before, nobody is stating West is a heretic. (Or, at least, very few people are, and I would disagree with them.) The Bishops, even the Magesterium itself, do not rule in a binding manner on prudential issues. While they could legitimately order people to not speak on something, they certainly have not.

Both sides uphold the important and pre-eminence of purity for example. Yet is the best way to obtain purity "amongst the waters", which can very easily be interpreted as a foolhardy approach towards occasions of sin?

Such questions are of an extremely limited value to the Magesterium, which really just rules on what is and isn't true doctrinally. Prudential issues are seldom if ever ruled upon. If you feel they should be, perhaps indeed you should write to Rome.

As far as West being, in the end, answerable only to the Bishops (and by extension Rome), you are certainly correct. Yet I think Mr. West knows what is at stake, especially in his public statements. He feels he is indeed accountable and has to give an answer for his views, hence the upcoming articles he says are in the works. Or has that changed?

Sincerely,
Kevin

Diane at Te Deum said...

Dr. Smith,

You said: Several academics I know who have read Murphy's assessment agree that there would be no reason to pay much attention to the substance of such a work. They themselves had taken up her thesis to read it and found it too flawed to continue.

If a teenager comes running out of a burning house and starts yelling obscenities and claims that the world is coming to an end, does it change the objective reality that the house is burning?

There are several areas where I believe that deeper, theological discussion is needed. I see too much of what I will call deflection, for lack of a better expression.

You say that several "charges" were addressed. I regret if I missed it, but I am still waiting to hear your thoughts on the specific, substantive quote Dawn offered by Fr. Hugo Rahner on page 30 of her thesis - a sound theological reason - why we ought not consider the Paschal Candle an phallic symbol.

Hugo Rahner’s words, although written several years before the revision of the liturgy, neatly summarize the theology behind the Consilium’s revision: “What we witness here [in the candle immersion] is a symbol of Christ crucified giving to the water the illuminating power of the Spirit[,] and those who insist on seeing a phallic symbol in the candle appear to be completely oblivious to what not only the Roman, but all other liturgies have to declare on this particular point, of what, in point of fact, they declare with considerable emphasis. It is that the baptismal font is immaculatus uterus, and that, like Mary, the Church bears her children solely by the power of the Spirit."

In your response to Dr. Schindler, you defended the this notion. Does Dr. Rahner not offer something worth reflecting? That one quote by Rahner, is certainly more
substantive than this response you offered in your
response to Schindler:

Imagine my surprise to learn that liturgists and theologians from the early days of the Church have understood the Easter Candle just as West does. Recently a priest – one who is a great public apologist for orthodoxy – told me that he thinks many priests are acutely aware of the sexual symbolism of the Easter candle/holy water font imagery during the Easter liturgy. I was humbled when I realized my judgment had been based upon ignorance and prudery. I think giving a list of phrases that will shock without context invites people to make judgments based on ignorance and prudery. I don’t in fact know why Schindler objects to West’s claim about the tradition of the Easter candle.

This is a substantive issue. Tone, worthiness of other arguments in the thesis, have no bearing on the substance of this issue. And, this is only one of many such substantive issues which are being avoided in lieu of talking about things which don't have substance.

How about a response to Hugo Rahner's quote? Dies it not stand on it's own theologically?

dcs said...

Dr. Smith,

Are these not examples of evidence with sources? I am quoting directly from Dr. Schindler's first article criticizing Mr. West.

"criticizing “flat-chested” images of Mary in art while encouraging Catholics to “rediscover Mary’s ... abundant breasts” (Crisis, March 2002); referring to the “bloodied membrane” of the placenta as a "tabernacle" (Colorado Catholic Herald, 12/22/06); stating that, while “there are some important health and aesthetic considerations that can’t be overlooked,” “there's nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse," (Good News About Sex and Marriage, 1st ed., emphasis in original), though qualifying this in the revised edition and stressing the subjective dangers of lust in such activity; and, on Nightline, praising Hugh Hefner for helping rescue sex from prudish Victorian attitudes, saying that there are “very profound historical connections between Hefner and John Paul II,” while emphasizing that John Paul II took the sexual revolution further and in the right direction."

I see four examples given here, each of which is sourced. I am sure Dr. Schindler could easily find sources for the other examples he gives of West's approach. Indeed, in your response to Dr. Schindler you accept at least three of the examples he gives (couples blessing each other's generative organs, the phallic symbolism of the Easter Candle, and the morality of incomplete sodomy as foreplay). Since all agree that West teaches these things, what is the need for sources? Indeed, I have not heard anyone deny that West teaches these things.

Furthermore, in your second response to Dr. Schindler, you claim that he cites West out of context, but then you note that it is difficult to respond to him because he does not give the context of his quotes. However, if you do not know the context of the quotes, you cannot say that they are out of context. "Out of context" does not mean that the statement is taken out of its surrounding context, it means that the statement is taken out of its surrounding context in order to distort its meaning. If one does not know the context, one certainly can't assert that the statement is taken out of context.

Wade St. Onge said...

Lauretta,

I would not be too quick to blame those who are issuing critiques for this.

I think when one has been blessed with great gifts and a passion to spread the good news, such a person must make certain and be very careful that he does not mix in serious errors with the truth.

We cannot allow things to continue just as they are simply because "good fruit" is coming from it. The same could be said regarding Medjugorje and the Legionaries of Christ. Cardinal Schonborn said his seminaries would be empty if not for Medjugorje. But if it is a false apparition, does the Vatican not have an obligation to put an end to it?

Members and associates of the Legionaries of Christ do not want anything to change in their order because, they say, "look at all the vocations to the priesthood we have fostered, look at all the lives we have transformed. It would be a shame if the Vatican's investigation of us that pops up when you do a google search on us kept people away from our order and all the good we are doing".

In reality, what they should say is, "it would have been much better for us to have attacked and sifted out the errors from the get-go".

How many children were molested because bishops and perhaps even popes said, "but Fr. Maciel has borne so much good fruit. Therefore, let's leave him alone to continue just as he is."

I am not saying West is another Fr. Maciel or a "false apparition". What I am saying is that the Church must not allow the fact there are good fruits get in the way of attacking the errors that are mixed in with the truths being taught.

Diane at Te Deum said...

Dr. Smith,

From an observation standpoint, for lack of a better way to explain this: I am seeing "Team Criticus" on West talk about "gears" and "Team Fervens" on West respond to points about "produce".

Here is one of the substantive "gears" i would really like to get your thoughts on, but for whatever reason seems to go unanswered. On page 30 of Dawn's thesis she quotes Fr. Hugo Rahner...

: “What we witness here [in the candle immersion] is a symbol of Christ crucified giving to the water the illuminating power of the Spirit[,] and those who insist on seeing a phallic symbol in the candle appear to be completely oblivious to what not only the Roman, but all other liturgies have to declare on this particular point, of what, in point of fact, they declare with considerable emphasis. It is that the baptismal font is immaculatus uterus, and that, like Mary, the Church bears her children solely by the power of the Spirit."

That is a substantive theological argument against looking upon the Paschal Candle as a phallic symbol.

When you responded to Dr. Schindler on this point last year, you indicated you were surprised at how many liturgists and others supported this notion.

While I too know respectable priests who were taught this in seminary back in the sixties, I don't consider this to be a substantive response. Until Dawn's thesis, I think many just passed on this "phallacy" of the Paschal candle without deeper thought.

When will "Team Fervens" for West discuss this? I continue to be perplexed by continued discussion of things like tone, and whether Dawn made some sort of procedural errors, if you will. Truly, I see such "errors" being made on both sides.

Further, I don't think we should treat this like a courtroom. There is a genuine desire for dialogue over specific topics about which Catholics disagree. Suppressing that dialogue by pulling a "procedural error" card is just not helping.

Is it possible.... Just possible... That C. West needs to reconsider what he teaches about the Paschal candle?

Can we move on to substance?

Wade St. Onge said...

Professor Smith,

Thank you for your kind offer.

I would like to choose #2: "The Hermeneutic of Continuity" (minus Paragraph #3 if you so choose), and #16: "The Range of a Thesis". The former is long, but the latter is short.

Wade St. Onge said...

I. You say: “Sister Lorraine and I have answered many of Eden's "charges" against West and shown that they don't stick. I will soon have a piece out on Alice von Hildebrand's critique. It fares no better.”

I believe this is a matter of opinion. The mere fact that you “have” responded does not mean you have “proven” your opponents wrong. Regarding some of the “charges”, I believe you are correct. On some of the “charges”, I do not believe a good case was made to “dismiss” them.

II. You say: “In my remarks to Wade, I was responding to the plea to answer Schindler's charges. That is impossible since he gave no evidence of what led him to make those charges.”

You yourself said that theologians often disagree with one another. What happened between Schindler and West was a theological disagreement. When one theologian disagrees with another, the response is usually one of two things: (1) The theologian comes out and says the other theologian misrepresented his position and clarified his “real” views or position; (2) The theologian acknowledges the other represented him correctly, and then goes on to defend his position.

What you seem to say is that until Schindler quotes enough of West to “substantiate” his charges West should not respond.

Wade St. Onge said...

Four things:

1. Dr. Schindler, I believe, responded very well to the fallacy of this position in his response to yourself and Dr. Waldstein: http://www.headlinebistro.com/hb/en/news/schindler_response.html. He stated in #2: “Waldstein’s and Smith’s repeated insistence on the need for substantiation on my part in terms specifically of West’s written work is puzzling–because disproportionate. Good Aristotelians that they are, they know that not all evidence comes in the form of written documents. This is certainly true in the present case. West is not primarily an author of books, but a public lecturer, a publisher of tapes and videos ... Massively more people thus have heard West than have read him ... Not surprisingly in this context, much evidence undergirding criticism of West has come via the many people who have encountered West in these different forums, and who have then brought their concerns to me. What one rightly does in such a context is pay attention to the character and number of incidents, to the consistency of what is reported, and to the credibility of those reporting, assessing all of this in terms of its correspondence with one’s own direct knowledge and experience – all sound Aristotelian methodology. Waldstein and Smith seem to assume that a given criticism, insofar as it lacks explicit justification in terms of some recent published text of West, is thereby without warrant. As a result, they tend repeatedly to demand evidence where it would have been more reasonable simply to have addressed the substance of the issues on their own intrinsic terms.”

2. Since that time, much of what Schindler stated has been substantiated (or further substantiated?) by various others who have taken part in this debate since then.

3. Who judges at what point the other theologian has "properly subsstantiated" the charge? A theologian can continue to claim the other theologian has not "properly quoted" or "fully understood" him 'ad infinitum'. That would be convenient for the particular theologian. However, it would rightly cast suspicion on him if he fails to respond until the standard 'he' sets for the other is met. It would seem as though there is a fear of responding. As Dr. Schindler stated at the end of #2: "it would have been more reasonable simply to have addressed the substance of the issues on their own intrinsic terms." It almost appears as though Lincoln's dictum, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt", is being employed.

4. What I am hearing, Dr. Smith, is that all critiques against West and his work (a) is unsubstantiated, or (b) is comprised of evidence which is distorted, or (c) misrepresents West. According to you, it seems, these are the only possibilities.

But I would disagree with that. I think I have made a strong case on “Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex”. I have pointed out that about six of my posts still have not been responded to. However, it can just be claimed that either (a), (b), or (c) apply to it, and therefore, no reply need be given. It just seems as though from your perspective, not one of these critiques will ever “hold”.

Wade St. Onge said...

And I think this brings us to one of your concluding statements: “Either people will find that those who find problems in West have sufficiently defended those charges or that those of us who have defended West against the charges have shown them to be wrong about his work.”

Blessings,

Wade

Wade St. Onge said...

Finally, the pertinent question is: "Did Dr. Schindler accurately portray West's position?"

If the answer is "yes", then there is no need for "substantiation" (at least the kind of substantiation you are looking for) because by acknowledging Schindler properly presented West's actual position, that acknowledgment itself is sufficient "substantiation". In that case you would be substantiating it yourself.

If the answer is "no", then Mr. West or one of his defenders should clarify what his actual position is on the four issues brought up by Schindler. He should do this because many have the same misunderstandings of West that Schindler has (although one wonders how Schindler could have come to misunderstand West so greatly after having taught him, known him for over a decade, followed his work from almost the beginning, and spoke to numerous students and other people who approached him over the years with feedback about West's presentations).

If the answer is "no", another question must be asked: "Is West's actual position properly and clearly conveyed through his presentations?"

Therefore I ask: "Did Dr. Schindler accurately portray West's actual position? If not, what is West's actual position on those four issues? And does he properly and clearly convey those positions so that his readers leave with those understandings?"

Just one other note: I think that the reason the same arguments are getting "re-hashed" is because they are repeatedly not being responded to.

Lauretta said...

Has anyone read the book, "The Catholic Church on Marital Intercourse" by Robert Obach? It is a history of the Church's thinking on this subject from the beginning through John Paul II. The excerpts on Google looked rather interesting. I have no knowledge of the author either. Any knowledge about the book or the author anyone?

Sr. Lorraine said...

Hi Lauretta,
I'm not familiar with that book; perhaps someone else is?
There is a book published by Ignatius Press titled "The Conjugal Act as a Personal Act." I haven't read it but I've seen it recommended.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Diane, I've said from the beginning of this that I thought the part about the Paschal candle was a good part of Eden's thesis.
I personally don't see any real value in emphasizing that symbolism.
Perhaps the liturgists can delve into that question more.
I don't see it as anything central to West's work, and he could easily drop any references to it. Perhaps that is something he will address in his forthcoming articles.

Lauretta said...

Sister Lorraine,
If you have the time, I would like you to look at this book I mentioned earlier. It is on this site:
http://books.google.com/books?id=yP_Sbtq_XZgC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq=marriage+debt+catholic&source=bl&ots=HEaOKFimK2&sig=yV4BRCsN8G7lK3kqwO8d5ci7G3s&hl=en&ei=Nc24TMS-AuWfnweIivTuDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CD4Q6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=marriage%20debt%20catholic&f=false

I would be so interested to know if what this man is stating is true about the Church's history in this area.

dcs said...

I would also like to note to the good doctor this is not really an issue for the Magesterium. As noted before, nobody is stating West is a heretic. (Or, at least, very few people are, and I would disagree with them.) The Bishops, even the Magesterium itself, do not rule in a binding manner on prudential issues.

While this is true now, it was certainly not always the case. Theologians, etc. have been censured in the past for errors that did not amount to heresy. The more serious the error, the more serious the censure. The fact that something doesn't rise up to the level of heresy does not at all imply that it is only a prudential issue.

Kevin said...

Sister,

While I agree he could drop it if he wants to, I do think it's something indicative of many of the things he does.

Many of his critics charge he reads sex (whether noun or verb is for the moment immaterial) into almost everything, including in things that would have surprised the people originally doing that which he sexualizes.

I think his critics can (and should) understand what he is attempting do: just as Rome "baptized" much of paganism, so West thinks much of the neo-pagan sexual culture can be "baptized." A worthy endeavor no doubt. Yet I think he mainly goes over the line when he attempts to "sexualize" the church in addition to baptizing the neo-pagan views in regards to sexuality in the world.

That is really one of his largest "problems" he attempts to make analogies go both ways. He secularizes the Church (drawing worldly meanings into its actions that were never originally intended) while attempting to baptize the world. You can't do both.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Dear Sister Lorraine,

Thank you for responding to my question.

I hope the question will be delved into more by theologians. I'm afraid I don't quite understand the expression "liturgists" when it is used in these discussions. Are liturgists people with advanced degrees in theology, or people who have gone through certificate programs? It is not something that, to my mind, requires lengthy discussions.

If Team Fervens agrees on the theological substance of Fr. Rahner's words, that the Paschal candle ought not be looked upon as a phallic symbol, then I believe more needs to be done than simply ceasing to talk and write about it. People need to be untaught, and it should come from those who taught it.

Now we go from this gear to another gear.

Is it possible that there are other ways which something in the liturgy has been sexualized and these need to be looked at, as well?

Lauretta said...

Just found this talk given by a woman who was a personal friend of John Paul II. Please, please read it, she explains his thought so beautifully.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010_docs/Wanda_Poltawska.pdf

Diane at Te Deum said...

Ah, I see that my point was made twice (I had received an error the first time I submitted it and did not think it went anywhere, so I reframed it later).

I hope that explains why it was asked twice, in two, slightly different ways.

My apologies for any confusion

Diane at Te Deum said...

From a data standpoint, I also think Team Fervens for Mr. West are not hearing a point made by Dr. Schindler, Dr. Delaney, and Wade St. Onge:

Just to diffuse it by eliminating any particular point of substance, and I have made this point elsewhere:

If I am teaching about a particular kind of apple, and there are 5 other brands of teachings based on the same variety of apple, and only those coming from my brand are describing oranges, would we not want to go back to the source?

We have testimony from two ToB instructors - Wade St. Onge and Dr. Delaney, describing this phenomenon out Westians in the combox, and Dr. Schindler echoing a similar thing when he talks about feedback he has gotten from various sources who have taken the West brand of ToB.

Says Schindler: Massively more people thus have heard West than have read him (he has sold one million books and three million tapes, for example). Not surprisingly in this context, much evidence undergirding criticism of West has come via the many people who have encountered West in these different forums, and who have then brought their concerns to me. What one rightly does in such a context is pay attention to the character and number of incidents, to the consistency of what is reported, and to the credibility of those reporting, assessing all of this in terms of its correspondence with one’s own direct knowledge and experience – all sound Aristotelian methodology.

Waldstein and Smith seem to assume that a given criticism, insofar as it lacks explicit justification in terms of some recent published text of West, is thereby without warrant. As a result, they tend repeatedly to demand evidence where it would have been more reasonable simply to have addressed the substance of the issues on their own intrinsic terms.
Source

This kind of feedback is considered valid data. When it is all coming from students who were taught one specific brand of ToB, it is difficult not to make the connection to the one who is leading that brand.

Janet Smith said...

Kevin, I did not change my piece on the use of Latin, or any of the arguments, did I? I simply rearranged it and dropped two portions where I thought the tone was inappropriate or too easily misunderstood. It was not hard to find flaws in the thesis; it was hard to get the tone of my critique right. Not to excuse myself (I have taken responsibility and acknowledged my missteps) think very few people in this exchange have managed to keep a proper tone.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Hi Diane,
I think the problem with the kind of feedback Schindler is talking about is that it's a bit nebulous. He doesn't specify how many people he is talking about.
On the other hand, since West has spoken to so many people, there are always going to be some who don't care for his approach.
The people who like what they have heard West say are not likely to go to Schindler and say that. People are more likely to complain about something they don't like than to take the time to send a letter of praise for something they do like.
So if the people who find problems with it are a valid form of feedback, so are those who find it to their liking. But who is taking a poll to know how many there are of each kind?

Lauretta said...

I see that my link did not copy properly. This is what it should say:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010_docs/Wanda_Poltawska.pdf

Also, if I remember correctly, she is on the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Janet Smith said...

West's works have received nihil obstats and imprimaturs from very reliable theologians and bishops. He has received a magnificant endorsement from a bishop and a Cardinal. In the end the bishops will decide whether West is welcome on their dioceses or not. To this point, he is doing very well on that count.

Janet Smith said...

Schindler had two kinds of complaints; against presentation and substance. For his complaints against presentation he gave no context and that amounts to citing out of context. I have answered many of those and in my piece regarding von Hildebrand’s piece I respond to others (such as the Easter candle; there have been strange technical difficulties in getting that critique posted) but why should West or others have to wait for someone other than Schindler to provide sources? We have tried even without context to defend them (and for this too we are criticized!).
For his complaints against substance, Schindler cited no passage or works where West made errors of the kind attributed. Others, such as Eden, have provided passages where they believe West is guilty as Schindler charges. That does not get Schindler off the hook to substantiate his own charges. He could easily say, “That’s not what I had in mind.” What does he have in mind? Schindler charges that West doesn’t understand concupiscence correctly. He has to do more than that to merit a response. Again, Schindler’s charges would be thrown out of court. Suppose someone said, “You don’t pay your bills.” Do you need to show him all your cancelled checks and credit card payments? Don’t you need simply to say, “What bills haven’t I paid?” Sure, you could show him cancelled checks and credit card statements but he could still say “I don’t mean those, I mean other ones.” And you would say “which ones”? The burden of proof is on the accuser. West responded without any evidence on the point of concupiscence and evidently that is not enough. He showed his cancelled checks and his credit card receipts and that is not enough. And Waldstein addressed the substance of the question and that is not enough. And where is Schindler? Why aren’t you insisting that Schindler do the work we have done? In the response you cited, he basically said "I have heard things from reliable people." There is no shortage of published work that could be cited; if the flaws are so pervasive it should be very easy to find evidence. We don’t need hearsay even from reliable people. Aristotlelian methodology? What? It is simply unfair.

Wade, I have repeatedly said that West is not above criticism and I have been carefully looking at the criticisms to see what validity they might have. I have responded to Schindler, Eden, Delaney and soon to von Hildebrand. To this point every critique I have examined does fail for one of the reasons you cite: failure to provide evidence, distorted reading of evidence, and one more, a misunderstanding of John Paul II. You want to know where West is? Where is Schindler? He lobs some bombs and retreats. And then people cite him as a kind of authority.
I will soon need to bow out of this debate. I believe my critiques stand. Defenders are facing a hydra head situation.
And now some, (not you Wade) are suggesting that if West responds that shows he is “accountable” (whatever that means). Wow.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks, Dr Smith, for stating that so well.

Kevin said...

With all due respect Dr. Smith, you did change what you said about the Latin. In the original, you stated:

"Let me note that when some ancient texts and moral theology textbooks were translated into English the portions on sexual morality were left in Latin. (e.g., Chapter 10 of Book II of The Instructor by: Clement of Alexander: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02092.htm and Part VI, Chapt III of A Manual of Moral Theology by Rev. Thomas Slater, S.J.: http://www.archive.org/stream/MN5034ucmf_1/MN5034ucmf_1_djvu.txt). That suggests some “repression” to me."

In the revised version, you state:

"Let me note that when some ancient texts and moral theology textbooks were translated into English the portions on sexual morality were left in Latin. (e.g., Chapter 10 of Book II of The Instructor by: Clement of Alexander and Part VI, Chapt III of A Manual of Moral Theology by Rev. Thomas Slater, S.J.). Undoubtedly there were some good reasons for that practice, but it suggests some "repression" to me."

The addition of the sentence changes the meaning of the argument, in addition to late statements about priests not knowing latin as much, etc.

And as far as "accountable", authors should be accountable to their audiences, something I think even Mr. West has acknowledged. What's so wrong about that?

Wade St. Onge said...

Sr. Lorraine, you say: "I think the problem with the kind of feedback Schindler is talking about is that it's a bit nebulous. He doesn't specify how many people he is talking about. On the other hand, since West has spoken to so many people, there are always going to be some who don't care for his approach."

Sr. Lorraine, if it was just about people "not caring for his approach", then that is their problem, not West's.

But it is about more than that. James and Lauretta both make the kinds of misunderstandings about "custody of the eyes" and that it should be "done away with" when one reaches "mature purity". Both of them have listened to West over 100 times! This is not about "not caring for West's approach". These are about serious errors that have not been corrected (and perhaps repeatedly reinforced) despite listening to him over 100 times. Can you explain to me why that has happened?

On Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex, I reprinted the notes I copied from his Intro to TOB DVD, and I think I showed how Lauretta and James came away with that misunderstanding - because West at the very least heavily implies that if not outright teaches it.

Lauretta said...

Wade, I get my opinion, which is what it is, about custody of the eyes from my husband and others who have that capability. I think that what Sister Lorraine has posted from St. Thomas about the difference between continence and temperance could be understood to say pretty much the same thing. If you are temperate and your intellect is in control of your passions, you have a greater capacity to deal calmly and virtuously with situations that used to be near occasions of sin when you were merely continent.

Sr. Lorraine said...

To go back to Diane's earlier comment, I was thinking of liturgists who are trained theologians.
You bring up a good point, because the liturgy does have reference to the spousal analogy. Understanding this properly is an important area of study. It's one I need to learn more about too.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Wade, I don't know who James is; I only know what he put in his comments. It seemed to me that he understood that he's not supposed to lust and if something led him to that he would not pursue it.

From what Lauretta has been saying, it seems to me that she does have a good understanding of the need for continence and purity, etc. So I don't think that her views are evidence for any errors on West's part. Lauretta and her husband are both concerned about purity of heart and living it in their marriage. It would be wonderful if all married couples did that!

But thank you for your comments, Wade. I need a break from this for a while so I'll not be commenting tomorrow on Sunday.

dcs said...

For [Dr. Shindler's] complaints against presentation he gave no context and that amounts to citing out of context.

Dr. Smith, I have pointed out above how this is not what it means to cite something out of context. Not supplying the context (and how much context is necessary is a matter of opinion) is not the same thing as citing out of context. Citing out of context is the practice of removing the context of a quote so as to distort the meaning of what is being cited. Since you say that you don't know the context in which Dr. Schindler cites West, you cannot say that his citations are out of context. Now, since Dr. Schindler gives citations for at least four of his examples, it should be easy to check the works cited to see whether or not Dr. Schindler has cited West out of context.

Wade St. Onge said...

Professor Smith,

Thank you for your reply and for continuing to dialogue. I would like to reply to a few things.

I. West’s Position on the Four Points

A. Question #1: My question remains: “Did Dr. Schindler accurately portray West's actual position? If not, what is West's actual position on those four issues? And does he properly and clearly convey those positions so that his readers leave with those understandings?”

B. Commentary:

1. Regarding Schindler “not citing sources” – West knows whether or not Schindler has properly represented his position. If he has properly represented his position, this should be acknowledged and he or one of his supporters should defend his position. If he has not properly represented his position, if he set up any straw men, West or one of his supporters should clarify his position and present his actual position on those four issues. This should have been the first step in this debate, and should have taken place last May or June. But it still has not been done.

2a. I think Mr. West or one of his defenders should do as I have just outlined. Why? Dr. Schindler was his professor, one may even say one of his mentors. He has established a solid reputation as a scholar of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I think the appropriate response when he comes out “publicly” with a critique (after many attempts to do so privately – one wonders why he did not have his “misunderstandings” cleared up in those private meetings) is to respond to him.

2b. Furthermore, with so many “misunderstanding” West, it would be wise for him to clarify those misunderstandings, by saying, “no, Schindler did not properly represent my position, which is actually _____”, or “yes, Schindler properly represented my position, and this is why I believe he is wrong and I am right: _____”.

Wade St. Onge said...

II. To Respond or Not to Respond?

A. Question #2: Why from the beginning was it not simply stated, “until Dr. Schindler substantiates this, none of us will respond”.

B. Commentary:

1. To respond, and then over a year later to stop responding because “West is under no obligation to respond to unsubstantiated criticisms”, seems inconsistent. Something must have prompted responses to begin with (and something must have led to the decision to stop responding until there was proper substantiation). If Schindler told West that he did not pay his bills when in fact he did, why have his defenders been showing Schindler a number of his cancelled cheques (that`s how we spell it in Canada!) and credit card payments? Why wasn’t he told to “prove it” first? Why is this beginning to change?

2. Regarding Schindler “launching bombs” and then “retreating”, I think as far as he is concerned, the ball is still in West’s court. He offered Mr. West the pages of “Communio” as a forum to discuss these issues. Until West (a) agrees to have a discussion there, or (b) explains why he will not discuss it there, Schindler cannot do much. There is no point in continuing to “force the issue”.

Wade St. Onge said...

III. Follow the Clues.

A. Question #3: As Diane asked, “Why are people coming away with ‘oranges’ if the presenter is teaching ‘apples’? Why do blog commenters James and Lauretta believe a man of “mature purity” no longer have to practice “custody of the eyes” after both listening to or watching West over 100 times?”

B. Commentary

1. You say: “if the flaws are so pervasive it should be very easy to find evidence. We don’t need hearsay even from reliable people”. I think that is an important point. There is a great deal of “anecdotal evidence” that I believe is relevant. When the problems are found in the overall presentations rather than specific statements or portions (that are not problematic in and of themselves, when “isolated”), the evidence will often be “anecdotal”. That is why Diane’s point is a good one – that if people are walking away with oranges rather than apples, then something in the presentation must be leading them to that understanding. You say that Dr. Schindler said, “I have heard things from reliable people.” And so have I. What is wrong with that? When I hear the same things being said from reliable people, I begin to form opinions as well. I do not simply leave it at that, but investigate it myself, as Schindler has. Schindler has read some of West’s works and watched some of his presentations, as I have. Schindler has talked to West personally over the years (and found out the feedback he received was correct; if those providing him with feedback and presenting their concerns were wrong, Schindler must have had this confirmed rather than cleared up when speaking to West personally, I would think?). Once again, this can be cleared up if West would just answer as to whether or not Schindler has misunderstood him on any of the four points.

2. True, Mr. West clarified some things regarding concupiscence, and this was a step in the right direction. However, there is still the issue with “custody of the eyes”, as Dr. Delaney pointed out, that needs to be resolved as well. Sr. Lorraine said that a man of “mature purity” must continue to practice “custody of the eyes”. However, on “Franciscan University Presents”, Mr. West taught the opposite. He seems to clearly do so elsewhere (such as Segment #4 of his DVD series “Intro to TOB”). Furthermore, two people who have listened to him over 100 times have commented on Sr. Lorraine’s blog and have also demonstrated that this is their position as well. How do we explain these “oranges”?

3. As Diane stated, “This kind of feedback is considered valid data. When it is all coming from students who were taught one specific brand of ToB, it is difficult not to make the connection to the one who is leading that brand.”

Wade St. Onge said...

IV. Weighing the Evidence

A. Question #5: “If there are some validity in the criticisms, should those criticisms be acknowledged and corrections issued? If one’s critique has numerous flaws, is it not true that the critique, if it does have some truth, the truth that it bears must be acknowledged?”

B. Commentary.

1. Once again, every critique does fail to some degree, but every critique also “passes” on many counts, and there are many “good” and “valid” points as well. My concern is that if a criticism fails on certain points, the entire critique should not be thrown out lock, stock, and barrel. Sr. Lorraine, for instance, has been very good about this – she has said more than once that she agrees that Eden made a good case with regards to the “phallic” nature of the Easter candle, even though she believes Eden’s thesis is littered with errors and heavily flawed.

2. As Diane stated: “I believe more needs to be done than simply ceasing to talk and write about it. People need to be untaught, and it should come from those who taught it.” So if you see any valid criticisms, you should acknowledge those, just as Sr. Lorraine has.

Wade St. Onge said...

V. By Whose Authority?

A. Question #4: When bishops and theologians are divided on a certain issue, how do we decide which bishops are correct and which are not? If a theologian’s local bishop supports him, does that mean every bishop should allow him into their dioceses?

B. Commentary: West’s work has received “imprimaturs” from very reliable theologians and bishops. However, there are some “very reliable” bishops who do not want him speaking in their dioceses (the judgment of Cardinal Rigali does not mean that every bishop must agree with him and allow him into their dioceses as well), and there are some “very reliable” theologians (Dr. Schindler, Fr. Granados, Dr. Shivanandan, Dr. von Hildebrand, Dr. Hahn, etc.) who have reservations, some of them serious, regarding his work.

*NB*: There is probably too much here to respond to. However, I would ask the first question (Point I.) be answered, as it was previously asked.

Lauretta said...

Just in case any one is interested, Mary Shivanandon's talk which was reported on at Catholic News Agency was misunderstood by some. Must be something about TOB in general!

Lauretta said...

Now, Wade, I have stated on more than one occasion and in more than one discussion that I believe in custody of the eyes. I just don't think that it necessarily needs to always be a turning away of the eyes but a purification of how one sees, especially under certain circumstances.

Wade St. Onge said...

Lauretta, my understanding is that you believe, for the "man of mature purity", that "custody of the eyes" amounts to continuing to look but "adjusting" his vision so he sees the "person" and not a "sexual object", correct? "Custody of the eyes" means he is "paying attention to his gaze and making sure it is one of love and not lust", correct?

Lauretta, should the man of "mature purity" ever practice "custody of the eyes" by looking away? You have stated more than once that "turning away one's eyes" is actually an act of objectification, and have argued against Dr. Delaney when he said the man of "mature purity" must still "turn away", correct?

Wade St. Onge said...

Lauretta, I tried to find that article on Dr. Shivanandan's talk, but could not.

Could you please provide me with the link? Thank you.

Wade St. Onge said...

Sr. Lorraine,

I believe we will have to agree to disagree on our respective understandings of James and Lauretta and their views on "mature purity" and "custody of the eyes".

We will have to leave it up to each blog reader to decide for himself.

I will probably "take a break" Sunday (I need to rest up and of course watch my "Saskatchewan Roughriders" play their biggest rivals in CFL football!)

I wish you all a Blessed Sunday!

Kevin said...

"Now, Wade, I have stated on more than one occasion and in more than one discussion that I believe in custody of the eyes. I just don't think that it necessarily needs to always be a turning away of the eyes but a purification of how one sees, especially under certain circumstances."

Lauretta, I do not think the two are mutually exclusive. Our look must indeed be purified. As grace is infused within our souls, this effects our bodies as well. (One reason I love the Extraordinary Form, all the beautiful Propers that talk about the effect the sacraments have on not just the spirit, but mind and body as well.)

Yet as we continue down this path, we no longer simply avoid the bad, but choose the good. With that strong "custody of the eyes", one begins to bend the disordered inclinations towards your will and desire to serve God. You "turn your eyes" sometimes literally, because you realize focusing on other things is not pleasing to God, or in the case of a married person, your spouse.

We never do this perfectly. Even the just man falls 7 times a day (as Sirach tells us) and so we are constantly warring at subjecting our disordered passions.

I guess here is a question for my friends across the aisle. What discipline does one undertake to achieve this "mature purity" where our "looks" are purified? By implication of lack of time, JPII seems to state this material was absent to TOB, but vital nonetheless.

Anyone wanna take a stab?

Lauretta said...

Wade, here is the link:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/feminine-beauty-created-for-spousal-love-says-catholic-professor/

I hope this one copies better than the last one I posted here since I tried twice and the complete address wouldn't copy!

Lauretta said...

Kevin, I will talk with my husband and we will tell you the process he went through if you are interested.

Kevin said...

Lauretta,

I think this is honestly the best. It's what I've been telling anyone who listens. If people find fault with West, we must produce alternatives.

I think West intellectualizes things too much, as if the virtues he discusses appear in a vacuum. Me and my colleagues I think agree on one thing: Since West does not present these things within the greater Catholic tradition, he leaves out a lot of important things, including how to advance in the struggle over things such as impurity, subjecting the appetites of the flesh, etc.

Its why when people visit my blog on this stuff, not only do I include criticisms, but I include how to work past them and present it properly. (See the specific works on Sirach and "putting faith to the test" in the TOB section of the blog for example)

Lauretta said...

Kevin, I will give you the bare bones outline right now as to the steps that occurred for my husband in the process. We have no problem with giving the more personal details but I didn't know if that was appropriate in this venue.

The first thing that happened was that Christ made my husband very aware during a retreat (Cursillo) that the pain I was experiencing was pain for Him as well.

Next he needed to recognize that he lacked mastery of self in sexual matters and needed to gain that capacity, no matter what the extenuating circumstances may be.

Then he had to make a VERY FIRM purpose of amendment and commit to righting this disorder, no matter what. This decision alone was enough to make quite a few of the difficulies he was having cease to be a problem.

During this time he was struggling with immodestly dressed women. He would be in agony every time he saw one and so wish that they would not dress in a way to draw his attention. I was walking with him through this and so began to be able to see what he saw. It was overwhelming!

Then we heard about Christopher West and began listening to him. Guess what! He was talking about all of this and the fact that he was able to order his heart rightly and not be tormented by this any more. My husband listened carefully to what he had to say and began to implement what he said. First, he understood that he needed to have his attractions and lusts redeemed rather than repressed. He had to overcome the fear that in looking, he was going to always sin. He began to take all of the attractions he felt to prayer and asked God to untwist the distortions in his mind and help him see purely. He also came to understand through TOB that noticing a woman and that she was attractive was not wrong, that we are designed to see and appreciate beauty especially between the sexes. He came to understand that the disorder was in the subsequent desire to possess. That was hugely freeing for him.

All of this took place over five years ago and he has been able to maintain order in this area consistently. We are now very involved at the local university where he is "exposed" to many, many young immodestly dressed women and is very able to see them, appreciate them in a disinterested fashion, relate to them, but have no disordered desire to possess. He has a constant awareness in his memory of what he is capable of doing and thinking so he doesn't cease to monitor himself mentally but it is done with peace. This happened after forty years of disorder for my husband making us think that no one is beyond redemption!

I hope that this is helpful.

Lauretta said...

One thing I don't think I made clear enough was the necessity of recognizing the dignity of the other, to see in them the image of God. Along with this recognition of the dignity of the person, is recognizing their rights as well, primarily their right to not be treated as an object, an object to satisfy one's own wants or desires.

Wade St. Onge said...

Lauretta, you said: “Just in case any one is interested, Mary Shivanandon's talk which was reported on at Catholic News Agency was misunderstood by some. Must be something about TOB in general!”

I don’t think it has anything to do with TOB in general, but the medium through which those who “misunderstood” were presented with the “talk”.

There is nothing in the article that states that those in the audience for Dr. Shivanandan’s talk had misunderstandings. Rather, Lauretta, 3 of the 6 people who posted in the combox had “misunderstandings”, and I think that is what you were speaking of when you said "people misunderstood her too".

However,

1. Those posting in the combox did not hear Dr. Shivanandan speak, but rather, received a journalist’s brief summary or self-selected “highlight reel” of that talk.

2. Pretty much every article you go to on the internet of this nature (any journalist’s brief summary or “highlighting” of a one-hour speech) will have comboxes with confused responders who have questions or critiques. Why? Because when you read snippets rather than listen to the talk in its entirety, of course there are going to be misunderstandings. The talk could have been about why “2+2=4”, and you will still have people who will have questions and critiques after reading a brief summary of the talk rather than hear the entire thing in its full context.

3. One of the critiques/questions was by an angry feminist, while the other two were by single people who asked, “if a woman’s body reveals ‘fertility’, what about me?” It is typical for single people to react that way to such topics, because most single people desire to be married and bearing children, so they feel "left out" or like they are "missing out".

a. I am guessing Dr. Shivanandan DID speak about how this applies to “single people”. Why? Because the journalist recorded her speaking about how this applied to “celibates” as well. So how does it apply to single people? Well, probably in similar ways to how it applies to celibates, who do not physically bear children.

b. Plus, Dr. Shivanandan is single herself, is she not? I might be wrong about that, but if she is single, the very witness of her life, the fact she is speaking about this as a single woman, would clarify that to her audience (but probably not her readers, who would not have known better).

c. If she did not speak about it in her talk, certainly if there had been a Q&A session following, that question would certainly have been asked. Because it was such a common question from readers of the article, it would no doubt be just as common a question at the talk. Thus, Shivanandan assuredly does speak about it in her talks, if not at the Q&A then in her presentation in response to the fact she is always asked this question so it would be wise to include it.

d. I can see a lot of people walking away from many of West’s presentation or articles with that same question, “if all this stuff you say about sex is true, West, what about us single people?”

4. If people were to actually listen to Dr. Shivanandan (rather than just read an article about her talk), and if they were to actually listen to her entire presentation of TOB (not just one aspect as she delivered here), and if they were to hear it over 100 times, and if after all that they walked away with misunderstandings, then yes, I would fault Dr. Shivanandan, and say that there is something wrong in her presentation(s).

Lauretta, I know that you really appreciate Christopher West and what he has done for your marriage. But be careful that you do not get so eager to defend him that you grasp at straws like this. Three bitter posters in a combox responding to a journalist’s summary of a TOB speaker’s talk on a selected issue is like oranges compared to the apples I have been speaking about.

Wade St. Onge said...

By the way, Lauretta, did I explain your position correctly? In looking back on Post # 35, 61, and 82 of “Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex”, I believe I accurately represented your position in Post # 53 of this current thread. Is that correct?

dcs said...

After reading the article on Dr. Shivanandan's talk and the attached comments, it seems to me that people aren't necessarily confused about what she is saying, it's that they don't like what she's saying.

dcs said...

Is it possible that there are other ways which something in the liturgy has been sexualized and these need to be looked at, as well?

Diane, I agree. Using phallic symbolism for the Easter Candle might seem like a small thing; on the other hand, it could be indicative of trying to force a certain view on the liturgy, a view which does seem to be central to West's thought, even if the Easter Candle itself is not so central.

Wade St. Onge said...

I have another question that speaks to a point which has, I believe, been overlooked:

"Why is it that the Theology faculty at Franciscan University of Steubenville (which includes Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Mark Miravalle, Dr. Alan Schreck, and Dr. Regis Martin - very well-respected and gifted and intelligent and orthodox theologians) invited Dawn Eden to campus to publicly present the content of her Thesis (September 18 of this year) while Mr. West has not been invited to speak on campus for some time now?"

Sr. Lorraine said...

I think you have to find out exactly who makes the decision for inviting speakers, and how it came about.
The way you phrase the question makes it seem like these particular professors make the decision, but it may not be that way at all. I don't know. Dawn Eden may have invited herself for all I know!

Wade St. Onge said...

You are correct, Sr. Lorraine. I should be more careful about how I present these things.

I should not have name-dropped like that, because that can be misleading, but I do know both Dr. Hahn and Dr. Martin had the same disagreement with Mr. West as we have been raising regarding "custody of the eyes" and "mature purity" on Franciscan University Presents, and that Mr. West made an unfortunate (and possibly erroneous) comment that offended Dr. Martin and to a lesser extent the others.

I believe this was Mr. West's last visit to campus.

Therefore, Dr. Hahn and Dr. Martin would, I believe, rightly be called "critics" of West. I am not sure about Dr. Miravalle and Dr. Schreck: they may be indifferent, because it is my understanding that they know little about West and his work.

Kevin said...

Yeah, let's stick to the facts at hand. None of us really have any way of knowing what does or doesn't occur over at Stuebenville. our private speculations are just that, our private speculations. Let them remain such. :)

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