Monday, October 04, 2010

Part 2 of my critique of Dawn Eden's thesis

The first part of my critique of Eden’s thesis went only as far as the ten themes. While I don’t have time to go through the whole thing point by point, I would still like to look at a major point of Eden’s criticism of West, which concerns the virtue of continence in relation to marriage.

Part One: Eden’s Argument

Her purpose

Eden’s purpose is to present a correct understanding of the virtue of chastity and the possibility to grow in the virtue of continence as a result of the grace of the sacrament of marriage.

The conclusion she presents, which she wants her readers to accept, is that West gives a false account of continence, because
1. he thinks that engaged couples should not marry until they attain a complete victory over lust, saying that perfect marital chastity is a prerequisite for marriage;
2. he forgets that only the sacrament of matrimony can enable a couple to move from the imperfect virtue of continence into the perfect virtue of marital chastity’ and
3. as a result, he unwittingly promotes “a semi-Pelagian ideal of human-powered self-control.” Eden believes West is saying that engaged couples have to progress from unvirtuous continence to virtue before marriage.

That’s my brief summary of her argument. I believe this summary is accurate based on Eden’s speech at the defense of her thesis:

“What is wrong with this picture? As I explain in my thesis, what is wrong is, (A) the implication that continence is an insufficient preparation for marriage, and (B) the claim that the sacrament of marriage in no way affects the development of virtue. In fact, the Church does not expect perfect chastity of couples before marriage, precisely because she recognizes that the grace of marriage is what enables couples to transform their imperfect virtue of continence to the perfect virtue of chastity. All that is required of an engaged couple is that they control themselves "in holiness and honor," as St. Paul writes in First Thessalonians.

By raising the bar so high, to the point where any feeling of lust is proof that one is not ready for marriage, West is effectively promoting the very angelism that he decries.”

More evidence that this is a central argument of Eden’s thesis

Two of the CNA articles about Eden’s thesis also presented this as a major point. While these are not Eden’s own words, Eden seems to accept the CNA summary of her work as accurate; at least she has never objected to it as far as I know:

From the article of August 10:
“Eden’s thesis also noted that West, in telling engaged couples that they should not marry until they attain a complete victory over lust, forgets that only the sacrament of matrimony can enable a couple to move from the imperfect virtue of continence into the perfect virtue of marital chastity. As a result, Eden claimed, he unwittingly promotes ‘a semi-Pelagian ideal of human-powered self-control’.”

From the article of Sept. 8:
“Eden said in a September 8 e-mail to CNA that one of her main criticisms is West's account of the development of the virtue of chastity. The danger of West's approach, she explained, is that it denies the power of the Sacrament of Marriage to turn the imperfect virtue of continence into the perfect virtue of marital chastity. Instead, West claims that perfect marital chastity is a prerequisite for marriage, which, says Eden, is not what the Church believes.”

Part Two: Analysis of Her Argument

In a previous post I reviewed what St. Thomas teaches about continence and temperance. Now we can now proceed to examine Eden’s argument. She claims that West gives a false account of continence, because she thinks he is saying 1) it is moral to seek out occasions of sin 2] that engaged couples should not marry until they attain a complete victory over lust, and 3) that perfect marital chastity is a prerequisite for marriage.

The example of the engaged couple

Eden focuses on this passage where West states:

Since the freedom to which Christ calls us is so rarely proclaimed, we may think it impossible. Take a sincere engaged couple who honestly wants to save sexual intimacy for marriage. They will often think that in order to stay “chaste,” they should never spend any extended time alone together. They fear, of course, that if they were alone, they could not refrain from sex. This may be the case, but this is not a mature experience of the freedom for which Christ has set us free. Attaining Christian freedom is obviously a process. A couple who choose not to be alone together in order to avoid sexual temptation should be commended. They should also be aware that they are called by Christ to a much deeper freedom.
Think about it: if the only thing that kept a couple from having sex before marriage was the lack of opportunity, what does that say about the desire of their hearts? [a footnote here refers to CCC 1768, 1770, 1968, 1972] Are they free to choose the good? Are they free to love? To use an image, if a man and woman need to chain themselves to two different trees in order to avoid sin, they are not free; they are in chains. As stated previously, if we chain our freedom to sin, with the same stroke we chain the freedom necessary to love. All the more dangerous in such an approach is the implicit attitude that marriage will somehow “justify” the couple’s lack of freedom. The wedding night then becomes the moment when the couple are supposedly “allowed” to cut the chains loose, disregarding their previous need for constraints. Yet if this couple were not free to choose the good the day before they got married, standing at the altar will not suddenly make them free.
As John Paul has already made abundantly clear, marriage does not justify lust, and we lust precisely in the measure that we lack the freedom of the gift. (pg. 274-275)

Eden says: “The logic behind West’s insistence that such a couple is chaining its freedom to love is difficult to comprehend. After all, the restriction he describes was not imposed from outside; the hypothetical pair freely chose to avoid what they believed might be occasions of sin. Moreover, if freedom to love is dependent upon one’s refusing to chain one’s freedom to sin, what then of religious who choose the cloister, practicing the evangelical counsels behind monastery walls? Is their practice of charity impeded by such self-imposed ‘chains’? Last, what of the saints in heaven, who, by their free choice, no longer are capable of sin? Are they not free to love?”

West speaks of a engaged couple who find that the only thing that can keep them from having sex before marriage is to chain themselves to separate trees. He claims that this couple is not free to love because they are too much enslaved to their passions and need a set of chains to prevent them from giving in to their passions. West’s point is that the chains not only prevent them from sinning; they prevent them from loving. What does that mean? He is counseling them to realize that chaining themselves to trees to avoid sin is ultimately not the best solution to avoiding sin; they have a great disorder in their heart that prevents them from having the self-mastery needed for love. They need to educate themselves about the spousal meaning of the body and learn to treat each other as gifts rather than objects--and also to seek the graces that would enable them to do so. If they feel such lust for each other that they need to chain themselves to trees they are surely treating each other as objects. By depending upon chains to prevent them from sinning, they are not learning to love. If they cannot avoid serious sin by being together they are in deep trouble. Marriage in itself will not give them self control. In fact, they would have some reason to fear whether they are capable of fidelity within marriage since they have not learned to control their desires when in the presence of powerful sexual attraction – and there is no guarantee that they will not feel equally powerful attractions for others..

Eden reads West’s story to mean that couples should “[embrace] potential occasions of sin as opportunities to grow in grace.” (ET, 41) Those words cannot be found in the text of West. Rather he regularly states that occasions of sin should be avoided, but that avoiding the occasions of sin is not sufficient to acquiring virtue. Moreover, there are different kinds of occasions of sin; for the unmarried to sleep in the same bed is a powerful and foolish occasion of sin – that is an occasion of sin for even the most virtuous. For the unmarried to be alone together should not be such a powerful occasion for those who have respect for each other. They should not need to resort to chaining themselves to trees. Nowhere does he say that only those who have achieved virtue can marry. He is saying that they cannot count on marriage to automatically bestow virtue upon them and that not having achieved virtue, either outside of marriage or inside of marriage, limits their ability to love.

West is certainly not saying that once the engaged couple free themselves from the chains that they are safe in being alone together. What he is saying is that they need to grow in virtue so that they can be alone together without fear of committing serious sin. It is not enough just to avoid sin; they must grow in virtue. A few pages before this discussion, he speaks about having personally undergone a “purgation” of five years before he was able to experience freedom from lust (and even then it was a not a permanent fix).

West is speaking not only to those who are sexually out of control but also to those who are afraid of their own sexual responses. Later, following the above passage, he speaks about the need to “step out of the boat” and trust Christ in order to be in relationship. Consider the example of someone who refuses to date because he or she is afraid of succumbing to sexual temptation. This person is avoiding the occasion of sin but also the occasion of building a loving relationship. This person needs to receive the sacraments, pray, form his or her conscience about the true meaning of sexuality and have confidence that God will protect him or her from serious sin.

Now I would like to look at the wider context in which West presents this argument.

Purity and freedom

The story of the couple in chains appears in a section on purity of heart, which is presented in relation to freedom, especially the freedom of the gift. Beginning on pg. 261 of TOB Exp., West discusses “The freedom for which Christ has set us free.” His key point concerns the relation between freedom and purity. Quoting Gal 5:13 where Paul says we are called to freedom but must not use it as an excuse to indulge the flesh, West says “we often seek to eradicate sin by eradicating our freedom to commit it. We must not remove the freedom we have to sin. For in the same stroke we eradicate the freedom necessary to love. To squelch freedom in order to avoid sin is not living the Gospel ethos of freedom at all. This approach knows not the freedom for which Christ has set us free. If we must chain ourselves in order not to commit sin, then we are just that—in chains. A person in this state remains bound in some way to his desire to sin and has yet to tap into the mature ethos of redemption. He has yet to experience in a sustained way life according to the Holy Spirit. For ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor 3:17).”

This is the first point that West is trying to make with the example of the engaged couple. He’s presenting an ideal, knowing full well that many couples are not living up to that ideal. But he wants to encourage them to do so. If they are so bound by their desire to sin that the only way they could avoid it is by some sort of physical separation or obstacle (like chains), then they’re not truly free.

He’s making a point about freedom, not trying to determine criteria for admitting couples to the sacrament of marriage. West has a good bit of experience in preparing couples for marriage. He surely knows that many couples who ask for the sacrament of marriage are living together already, and so are not living a mature purity. He would undoubtedly be very happy if those couples made a commitment to stop living together before marriage, even if they’re not fully free in so doing. Eden suggests that with this example West is saying that engaged couples should not marry until they attain a complete victory over lust. In her speech at the defense of her thesis, she criticized what she said is West’s “implication that continence is an insufficient preparation for marriage.” Or as it was put in the CNA article of Sept. 8: “West claims that perfect marital chastity is a prerequisite for marriage, which, says Eden, is not what the Church believes.” But that is to misread his point. He’s presenting the ideal. He’s not saying that these couples should be barred from the sacrament until they reach a perfect level of chastity. He lives in the real world and knows that would be unrealistic. Eden is not distinguishing between the ideal of holiness the Church presents, and the actual requirements for marriage according to canon law. They’re two very different things.

As to the point about chains and freedom, it is true as Eden notes that in the example, the couple are chaining themselves by their own decision, so they have some good will and a certain amount of freedom. But the fact that they have to chain themselves at all shows they have not reached a mature level of freedom. Eden’s comparison to religious in a cloister might seem to have some surface similarity to West’s engaged couple, but it’s really quite different. Being in religious life myself and having heard many sisters tell their vocation stories, I have yet to hear someone say she chose religious life because she thought it was the only way she could avoid sin. The motives given are usually a desire to love and serve God more deeply, and to work more fully in the Church’s mission. Religious consecration is a consecration precisely for mission, whether in the contemplative or active form. It’s true in years past there was sometimes the thought of “flight from the world,” but at its core, religious life is choosing something positive. That’s actually brought out in the quote Eden uses from Aquinas in a footnote: “Even as one’s liberty is not lessened by being unable to sin, so, too, the necessity resulting from a will firmly fixed to good does not lessen the liberty, as instanced in God and the blessed” (II-II, 88.4., ad 1). In religious life, the will is (or should be) firmly fixed to good. In the story of the engaged couple, instead, their will was bound to the desire to sin, and they were seeking an external means to prevent them from doing so. And of course, the blessed in heaven are in a completely different situation than the engaged couple. The blessed have already firmly chosen the good and are confirmed in it.

Marriage does not justify lust
The other point West intends to make with the example of the engaged couple is that “marriage does not justify lust.” That is exactly the point that Pope John Paul had made in saying that “A man can commit such adultery ‘in the heart’ even with his own wife, if he treats her only as an object for the satisfaction of instinct.” (TOB 43:3)
West treats this point in more detail on pg. 225 of TOB Exp., concerning marriage as a “remedy for concupiscence.” He points out this does not mean that marriage is a legitimate outlet for indulging concupiscent desire. He says the term “remedy” is to be preferred to “relief” in translating the Latin term remedium concupiscentiae, because “‘remedy’ implies that the grace of marriage offers a healing of concupiscent desire.” This healing of concupiscent desire means growth in virtue, a growth that West obviously understands is taking place in marriage His discussion here shows that West does not hold the position Eden attributes to him, namely, “that the sacrament of marriage in no way affects the development of virtue.”

The key point about continence

This comment of West particularly troubles Eden:

At the 2009 lecture, continuing his example of the hypothetical engaged couple, West went on to explain that the continent pair could not be called virtuous because “[t]here is no magic trick on the wedding day that suddenly makes what you do that night an act of love. If you could not be alone together the day before you got married and not sin, there is no magic trick, there is no waving at the wand at the altar, that suddenly makes your sexual behavior beautiful, true, good, lovely, and pure.

Eden comments on this paragraph and his story of the two bishops to claim that West “takes a grain of truth and places it within a line of thinking that leads to the very opposite of John Paul II’s teachings.” But West actually means exactly what John Paul II means about marriage in itself not transforming lust into legitimate desire.

Eden continues:
“But can it be true that nothing happens at the altar to transform sexual behavior? Is it impossible for an engaged couple’s mere continence—self-control that has not reached the level of perfect chastity—to become graced through the sacrament of matrimony, so that it might henceforth be turned towards the couple’s mutual perfection? West writes elsewhere about the graces of the sacrament of marriage. On this issue, however, in his haste to counter the kind of puritanism under which he suffered in the Mother of God Community, he seems to forget it entirely, taking up—unwittingly, perhaps—a semi-Pelagian ideal of human-powered self-control.”

Again, Eden’s conclusion doesn’t follow because she is taking West out of context. While the quote she used is no longer available online, it is similar to what West says in TOB Exp. about the engaged couple.

His point is not to deny the grace of marriage, which he writes about in other places as Eden notes. His point is that marriage doesn’t justify lust. That’s quite a different point, and one that Eden fails to consider. So she is setting up another straw man.

The point that West makes is a basic one that concerns not just marriage but all the sacraments. The sacraments have their own power and are efficacious due to the grace of Christ. But their effect also depends on our dispositions. As the Catechism puts it: “…the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all….. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.” (no. 1128).

Certainly if people receive the sacrament of marriage with good dispositions, its grace does heal and strengthen them. West knows that and does not deny it. But if someone receives the sacrament without the proper interior dispositions, it doesn’t act as if by magic to change them against their will. That’s really all that West is saying, a point that St. Paul noted in regard to the Eucharist: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11:29).

Further discussion of continence
Then Eden proceeds to discuss continence more. I find her treatment of this matter a bit convoluted, but will do my best to unravel what kind of charge she is making against West and to compare that against what both he and John Paul II really say.

Thomistic sense of continence
Eden refers to West’s understanding of the Thomistic sense of continence—that it is not a virtue in the full sense—and references the Summa (I-II, q. 58, a. 3, ad 2, where Thomas says it falls short of virtue). (ET, 43) Eden adds that West says the engaged couple who are continent out of fear of temptation lack the right desire.(Prof. Janet Smith has shown here how West uses the term in many different ways.

More analysis of continence and virtue

Eden says West begins accurately (ET 44), since St. Thomas does say that continence is an incomplete virtue. John Paul also notes that continence always acts in connection with other virtues. She quotes from the Pope, using a quotation that West also uses on p. 565 of TOB Exp. Eden continues with her key point: “There, however, the accord ends--while West emphasizes that a couple must advance beyond mere continence prior to marriage, John Paul’s language makes it clear that such advancement naturally takes place within marriage.” This is a very important point for Eden. She believes that West proposes a different view of continence than John Paul does.

The problem with Eden’s view here is that West does believe what John Paul says that such advancement in virtues takes place within marriage, as the rest of this evaluation of her argument will show. As noted above, West’s recommendation to engaged couples to seek mature purity doesn’t mean he’s denying they can grow in such purity within marriage. He is simply saying it would be good if they advanced more in purity prior to marriage.

An excursus on continence
In an excursus Eden deals with an objection West might raise to her interpretation of John Paul on continence: West could counter that when John Paul describes continence as a virtue, he is defining it as something other than Thomas’ definition, who said it is “something less than a virtue.” (ET, 58) (This refers to West’s argument in TOB Explained, p. 564f.)

On page 58 Eden says West “‘chastitizes’ [a word Eden coins but doesn't define, so I can't explain what she means by it.] John Paul’s instruction on growth in continence. The Pope, by this account, is no longer speaking to beginners in virtue; rather, he is addressing those who are already pure, advising them to become more pure. Since John Paul’s instruction in this area is addressed to married couples, such an interpretation enables West to claim that engaged couples must progress through ‘unvirtuous’ continence to ‘virtue’—that is, chastity—before marriage.”

I fing this to be a rather strange argument. I think she means that according to West, the Pope’s talks to married people presuppose they are already pure (because they are married) and he is only telling them how to be more pure. This allows West to maintain that since the married are expected to be already pure, the engaged couple should reach this before marriage. (That is, according to Eden’s interpretation. I don’t believe West is really saying that.)

To defend her interpretation Eden refers to West’s argument on pp. 564-565 of TOB Exp. That section of the book deals with continence in relation to the teaching of Humanae Vitae. He’s talking about married couples, since that’s whom the pope is addressing in regard to Humanae Vitae. On pp. 566-567 West begins a section where he talks about how married couples can advance in virtue through self-mastery. West does not say anywhere here that it’s a question of simply telling those who are already pure how to become more pure. West talks about how married couples can grow in self-mastery, and even compares it to strength training. He quotes John Paul: “conjugal chastity (and chastity in general) manifests itself at first as the ability to resist the concupiscence of the flesh.” That’s continence. That entire section shows that West does indeed understand and maintain the very point that Eden says he denies: that continence can develop into a virtue – and not only for those who already are pure -- within a sacramental marriage.

Later Eden says: “There is, then, no ground for claiming John Paul is departing from continuity and inventing a vocabulary on this topic, nor is there ground for West’s inference that the pope expects couples to possess habitual temperance prior to receiving the graces of the sacrament of matrimony.”
But who is claiming that John Paul is inventing a vocabulary? Not West, as Eden is saying he does. Her assertion doesn’t follow at all. It’s a complete non sequitur. Yet Eden uses this assertion as one of the reasons for making her further claim that West is breaking the hermeneutic of continuity.

At this point, my own suggestion would be this: To bring greater clarity to this discussion, I think it would be better for West to contrast the virtue of continence with the virtue of temperance, instead of contrasting continence with virtue. His point would still be made, since Thomas shows that continence is inferior to temperance. West would just have to explain the difference between the two virtues. Hopefully, it would satisfy his critics who see in his language grounds for criticism, unfounded as that may be.

Gradualness of virtue

Eden then presents some quotations from John Paul where he stresses the gradualness of the development of virtue and a progressive growth in self-control, and that this takes place within marriage. West would completely agree with that point. In a previous post I have already dealt with this concern.

Another excursus

Eden says West “fails to acknowledge the extent to which John Paul II follows the theological categories and terminology of the Paul VI encyclical. As a result, the true depth of John Paul’s catechesis becomes obscured; he becomes a ‘revolutionary’ who thinks as the Church, but not with the Church. This lacuna in West’s presentation is clear, as we have seen, in his assumption that John Paul is using a different definition of continence than that of St. Thomas. We see it also in his failure to recognize that John Paul’s catechesis on continence are meant to add depth and context specifically to Humanae Vitae’s description of ‘self-mastery.’”

Her claim about West misunderstanding Humanae Vitae’s categories and terminology is an odd one. She offers no evidence to support it at all. It’s countered by the in-depth explanation of the encyclical that West offers in TOB Exp.

That claim in turn is the basis for her next one, that West is turning John Paul into a revolutionary. Again, this claim has no support and just doesn’t follow from anything that Eden has said. I’ve already noted how her claim that this follows from the discussion on continence is a non sequitur.

The point of Eden’s excursus, however, seems to be to reinforce that “Humanae Vitae stresses that the virtuous fruits of self-mastery—that is, the virtue that results from habitual temperance—are acquired within marriage.”

Again, as the quotations from West above indicate, he agrees with this assessment, despite Eden’s unfounded claim that this is “the point he seems to miss.” I’ll just add one more quote from West: “John Paul says that if the key element of the spirituality of spouses is love, this love is by its nature linked with the chastity that is manifested as self-mastery. Such self-mastery is also known as continence.” (TOB Exp. p. 564). West continues to deepen this subject in the section entitled “Continence Purifies and Deepens Marital Union “ (pp. 569-571).

Eden then returns to the story of the engaged couple, but I have dealt with that above. She concludes this section with a final quote from John Paul:

By contrast, John Paul—following Humanae Vitae and, through that encyclical, the historical teachings of the Church—affirms that it is precisely the graces received at the altar that render the couple capable of the "spiritual blessings" of marriage (Humanae Vitae 21), through which is "gradually [revealed in them] the singular capacity to perceive, love and practice those meanings of the language of the body which remain altogether unknown to concupiscence itself."

West also uses this quote on page 567 of TOB Exp. (Did Eden perhaps not notice that?) After quoting John Paul, West goes on to unpack that quote and bring out its implications.


It’s taken me almost 10 pages to present and evaluate Eden’s central argument—also presented in about 10 pages-- that West misunderstands the virtue of continence and presents a false understanding of the requirements of marriage. This again underlines how unsustainable is Eden’s claim to have done a “comprehensive overview” of West’s work. To do justice to his work would require a much more intensive analysis than the superficial one that she presents.

I have no doubt that Eden is convinced she is doing some service to the Church in trying to point out and correct what she considers to be West’s errors. But after examining and evaluating the central claim of her thesis that West misunderstands continence, I have to conclude as follows:

1. Eden’s analysis is uninformed because she fails to consider significant parts of West’s work that would affect her claim, as I have shown above (for example, in ignoring his many statements where he affirms the grace of marriage to help people grow in virtue, and ignoring the extended treatment of continence as a virtue found in TOB Explained).

2. Eden’s analysis is misinformed because she asserts what is not the case, basing her claims on a faulty analysis of his writings, as I have also shown above (for example, her claim that West is inventing a vocabulary for John Paul and this means West is breaking the hermeneutic of continuity).

Eden’s analysis is also unfair in that she regularly interprets West’s words in an implausible fashion and she attributes to him positions that are clearly not his.

3. Eden’s analysis is illogical at least in certain points, as I have shown above in her arguments that are actually non sequiturs. At least twice, Eden even uses quotations from Pope John Paul to prove her point, apparently not realizing that West also uses those same quotations in his discussion of the subject, showing he understands exactly what John Paul means. This is certainly not a very convincing way to support her ideas, and suggests that she didn’t read the sources very carefully. Her argument about West’s understanding of continence is essentially a straw man. As Eden has said, this point is one of her main arguments and concerns about West that she considers in her thesis. Yet it doesn’t stand up to examination. As a result, her thesis collapses. At this point I am not going to critique any more of her thesis, for the problems already noted with it show that her conclusions cannot be sustained.

I wish Dawn Eden well as she continues her further studies. As her work on chastity has shown along with her book The Thrill of the Chaste, she has a lot of talent and can be an incredible asset to the Church’s evangelizing mission.


Kevin said...


While I certainly appreciate the vote of confidence, no need to pile on my friend. :)

I think both of us are in agreement: when Dawn's thesis is engaged on the merits and evidence, for the most part, it sticks up. Those areas where it doesn't are in the tangential.

So I say let's focus on the evidence of Miss Eden's work itself, and how this leads to a better understanding of the material at hand, not who refuted who.

I'm irrelevant in the big scheme of things, and I know it. Yet if I can provide one moment of making sure things stay on evidence, to where people see what I believe will be the truth to the unbiased (and I pray even the biased) reader, then i've done my job. Doesn't matter who has refuted who I think. :)

Wade St. Onge said...

Thank you, Sister, for taking the time to continue to critique Ms. Eden's thesis.

As I said on my blog, I have withdrawn from engaging in this debate. I believe that is fine since Kevin is doing such a top-notch job.

I just want to reiterate here what I stated when I announced I was withdrawing: my response to Sr. Lorraine's critique of Eden's Ten Themes still has not been responded to. I could respond to this second critique, but if the response is going to be silence, if there is not going to even be an acknowledgment of the validity of any of those points which they may agree with, and if those who are silent are going to remain grounded in their initial positions and simply move on to another critique, then this validates my decision to withdraw from the debate.

As I said to Kevin, the silence speaks volumes. Until there is a reply to my response to those themes (and not just from Sister Lorraine - I understand she is busy, but from others who agree with her), I will continue to conclude that there really is no response that can be given. And I believe that is a fair and safe assumption. And I also believe I am wise to continue to refrain from this debate.

Sr. Lorraine said...

I have to apologize to everyone who left comments here earlier, as I just now have realized that I deleted them by mistake. It was completely unintentional. I was making some changes in blogger and it was my error.

Kevin said...


Being serious, I'll just ver briefly re-state what I wrote before.

I think Sister leaves out some very important evidence. She gives insufficient weight to the "hypothetical married couple" and west's "historical" story about the two bishops.

In it, Eden cites West as saying that by avoiding occasions of sin, they were "chaining" themselves, not being free to love, and that while what they are doing might be "safe" it's not virtous. Then he went to the two Bishop's story and portrayed the "good" bishop as not acting "safe" but willing to risk a look, and that led to a saints conversion.

of course, that isn't what happened, as pretty much everyone concedes now. By citing only the evidence Sister did, I believe the impression can very easily be obtained that Dawn Eden basically pulled this view out of West out of thin air. It's a well-established view of his.

Now he might think "I don't really mean it" but that's the point of this entire excercise. His imprudence in statements leads him to make statements that are, well, flat out dangerous. If he would focus more on continuity and the entirety of Catholic teaching, he would avoid this.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thank you, Kevin, for your thoughts.
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, but in this post I was just sketching an outline of the argument, the details of which I hope to look at more completely, and to consider the points that you mention here as well.

bernie said...

Sister Lorraine has again done a marvelous job of showing that Eden's misunderstands and misportrays what West is saying. I don't know why Kevin has decided to announce that Eden's thesis stands up to criticism. He seems to be both defending attorney and judge. I don't think he can assume both positions. In the end the bishops will have to decide if West can be trusted to teach John Paul II's Theology of the Body. No one of any stature or expertise has defended Eden's thesis and I doubt that anyone will. No would want to stake their professional reputation on thesis. Thank you Sister Lorraine for your careful work.

Wade St. Onge said...

Bernie, I would ask you to visit this link: and go to Post #107.

By the way, why, after I made good on your challenge to substantiate a claim I made on Catholic Exchange, did you not respond?

As I have said before, the silence speaks volumes, and tells me more than the substance of any argument that has been made. Post #107 is a good example of this. Perhaps you can respond?

Dawn Eden said...

Sister, you quote me as saying West "“chastises" the Pope. In fact, that is not the word I used--that word in fact does not appear in my entire thesis.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Dawn, see page 58. The word may not appear in a search because it is actually misspelled as "“chastitizes." I corrected the spelling in quoting it.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thank you, Bernie!

dcs said...

Dawn, see page 58. The word may not appear in a search because it is actually misspelled as "“chastitizes." I corrected the spelling in quoting it.

Sister, I believe that Miss Eden is coining a neologism here, not saying that West "chastises" the Pope. West (Miss Eden states) is saying that the Pope's exhortation only applies to those who are already chaste, thus the Pope's words are "chastisized." That is why, I think, the word is in quotes.

I would also point out that this is page 44 of her thesis (it is page 58 of the PDF).

bernie said...

Wade, The silence that speaks volumes is Dawn's. She won't defend her thesis. And her supporters won't insist that she do so. They insist that West, whose works have nihil obstats and imprimaturs defend against her and she will not defend her thesis against very credible challengers and challenges. Here she quibbles about a word that in fact she does use in her thesis. Amazing! Of all the things she could and should respond to but it leads one to think her thesis is simply indefensible.
And Wade, Your response is silly as was your original question. I was going to let it go but since you insist, let me answer. You were implying that the excellent theologians of Steubenville invited Dawn over Christopher because they believe her work has more merit than his. That was a silly suggestion. Now you give an entirely different reason that involves something personal between one professor and Christopher. This says nothing about the quality of Christopher's work or about the quality of Dawn's critique which is the question at hand. Some of your work does raise legitimate points. If you want people to read those and respond to them, don't make and insist on responses to silly ones. Much like with Dawn's thesis, if readers need to wade through pages of irrelevancy, they won't have the patience to discover if any of it is relevant.

Sr. Lorraine said...

A neologism? Oh come on. You can't even admit it when she makes a spelling mistake!

Your comment, DCS, is what I mean by saying this debate is so frustrating. I don't mean Wade, who is always reasonable. But defending even spelling mistakes is really the limit.

How absurd!

bernie said...

I agree, Sr Lorraine. DCS's remark is a howler and exposes just how open he is to admitting any error on Dawn's part. Her supporters get more and more desperate as you expose how weak her case is.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Besides, DCS, if that were the case, why didn't Dawn herself explain her "neologism" in her comment above?

If people really intend to coin words, they need to explain them to the uninitiated who have never heard them before!

bernie said...

Sr Lorraine, Again you are right. Maybe it was a neologism but wow! It takes a minute to get one's head around that, especially, as you say, she didn't explain herself. For Dawn to find that the only item in your critique to be worthy of response is stunning! (I am glad to know she is reading your blog. It is helpful for young scholars to get fairhanded feedback). My apologies to dcs for the remark about his desperation. Still, I do wish he showed the same readiness to read the rest of Dawn's work so carefully. That is, to hold her as accountable for her claims as he holds others. No one can read her thesis without finding many misrepresentations. But we need to thank him for explaining Dawn to us when she won't explain herself.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Yes, upon reflection, I can see that it is possible that Dawn intended to make up a word. So perhaps I was too hasty in dismissing DCS's comment.

Still, these points remain:

Speaking strictly as an editor, if an author wanted to use a neologism, he or she has to explain it. No one can read an author's mind. To leave it unexplained opens oneself to misunderstanding.

Also, in this case, the word appears to be a misspelling of another word.

When Dawn had the chance to explain it, in her comment above, she did not do so. She herself did not say it is a neologism.

So I would still go with the simplest explanation that it is a misspelling. If not, Dawn needs to explain herself what she means by it. She can't assume that readers will know what she meant if indeed she did make up a word.

Dawn Eden said...

For the record, dcs is right, hence the quotation marks.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thank you for clarifying that, Dawn.

So what does your new word actually mean?

bernie said...

Wade, And why do I or anyone else have to defend all of West's alleged statements? Prof Smith has tried to answer quite a few and now you and others criticize her for that. So if she defends him she is wrong, if she doesn't she is somehow admitting the truth of the accusation. You claimed that because she left some points in VH's piece unanswered she was acknowledging the legitimacy of them! Wow! Someday you will learn that silence means many things.
Again, your response about West and Steubenville makes no sense. If they were wanting someone to critique West of course they wouldn't invite West. So what was the point of your original post???
And are you sure that was the original reason for their inviting Dawn? Of did they just tag that talk onto another invitation?
Sometimes even good people do indefensible things. Saint Peter did. But he repented. We have yet to see if von Hildebrand will apologize for her attack on West but even if she doesn't I think she is still a decent human being who made a mistake, a serious mistake and one that could be damaging to many people.
I have no idea about the accuracy of what you say Christopher said to Hahn and Martin. I have no idea if he apologized. But I am thinking you are verging on detraction... You seem to be trying to dig up anything that can discredit Christopher.
Wade, unlike some people I don't have unlimited time to respond to all postings on the internet.
Now I have answered a couple of your questions. Perhaps you might answer more of mine (though if you decide to spend your time more wisely, I won't object; I may not even read your response, because I too have better things to do than engage in these silly conversations and in fact may need to repent of having spent my time this way.) If by your principle, those who remain silent in face of criticism are thereby acknowledging the truth of that criticism wouldn't you say that Dawn's correction about "chastitizes" and her failure to respond to any other point in Sr Lorraine's piece is strange? Is she acknowledging that Sr. Lorraine got everything else right? That is not what I think, though I think it very very odd, but by your principles wouldn't you say that? I haven't been keeping up on all the posts on the various sites, but have you called upon Dawn to defend herself? If not, why not? Why ask Christopher's defenders to respond to every possible accusation against him and not ask Dawn to respond to thoughtful and substantiated critiques of her work, like that of Sr. Lorraine?

Wade St. Onge said...

The problem with this, Sister, is that such a statement would be an admission on West's part that he is guilty of what we were accusing him of in Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex and of contradicting what you stated in response to my 11 points/questions. And if he still believes this, it demonstrates that he lacks the proper understanding of the positive aspects of shame.

bernie said...

Wade, (trying again!) Why should I or anyone else respond to all the accusations against West? Prof Smith has tried to respond to many and she gets criticized for that. And then you claim that by leaving some of the charges unanswered she has thereby acknowledged the truth of them. Someday you may learn that silence means many different things.
You say you don’t really know what happened between West, Hahn and Martin. You don’t know if West apologized if indeed he said something needing an apology. Why repeat that story? I am sorry to say you may be guilty of detraction. It doesn’t seem like you to be trying to dig up any “dirt” you can on West. Stick to the high road.
Good people sometimes do wrong things. We have yet to see if von Hildebrand will apologize for her attack on Christopher. She did something wrong, something seriously wrong that could harm many people, but she is still a decent person.
I have answered your question. Perhaps you should answer mine. If, as you say, silence indicates that one has accepted the charges made, what do you make of Dawn’s refusal to defend her thesis? Here she chimes in to correct Sr. Lorraine about the word “chastitize” and does not correct anything else. Does that mean she accepts all of Sr Lorraine’s criticisms? I haven’t been reading all the posts on all the sites so I don’t know if you have been poking Dawn to defend herself. If not, why not?
But I won’t object if you don’t respond to my questions. You may wisely think you have better things to do. I, too, have better things to do than engage in these endless and often fruitless dialogues (and may have to repent for spending my time this way.)

Wade St. Onge said...

I give up on you, Bernie, but I will answer your question at the end.

1. Dr. Smith played a bit of a sophistic trick when she picked out the errors, failed to respond to valid critiques, and then made the argument that her critics were wrong to point out she did not reply to some points (the valid ones) when in fact she did reply (to the erroneous ones). Her "there is always 'x, y, z'" argument is fallacious - but you accept it.

2. I am not saying she has acknowledged the truth of them by remaining silent. I am saying all of you have acknowledged the truth of them because none of you have answered the charges. Nor will they be, if you have anything to do with it.

3. Silence means many different things. But when the same charges are made for years and they are not responded to while the fallacious arguments are responded to over and over (Dr. Smith and Sr. Lorraine and Christina Smith have all argued against many of the same charges), when there is this selective "picking and choosing" of which charges to respond to which conveniently allows those defending to dodge the tough (unanswerable?) charges and pick on the poorly-made ones, then yes, almost always, the silence says what I have said it says.

4. (a) I didn't say "I don't really know what happened between West, Hahn, and Martin", although you would like to believe that because it would be convenient for you if the incident never happened. (b) Plus, if he is a man of "mature purity", why would he need to apologize - it would be fine for him to look upon their naked wives, no? (c) The problem with what he said is still a problem even if he apologized. Read what I said to Sr. Lorraine immediately before your post.

5. You say: "Stick to the high road". I can't tell you how many times Christina King has called us "jealous", "blind", etc. Tell it to Christina. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with repeating an anecdote. You just think it is the "low road" because it makes Mr. West look bad. That doesn't make it a "low road" - but it does make "you" biased.

6. To answer your question: I have pointed out many times that Dawn made errors and I have been specific about them. You want to know what they are? Go through these threads and you will find a pile of them. My question to you is: are you willing to acknowledge Dr. Smith made errors? I posted a number of them on my blog. Or will you avoid that the way you are avoiding Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex, under the guise that "you have better things to do" and are "too busy"? I don't doubt you're busy, but it just so happens that your business in this case conveniently allows you to avoid dealing with the tough issues.

bernie said...

Wade, We probably should give up on each other. You didn't answer my question about what you think the silence of Dawn means, so I don't seee why I should spend anymore time answering your questions.

I didn't accuse you of not having identified errors in Dawn's thesis. I admire in you that you can see there are real problems there.

You say:
"I am not saying she has acknowledged the truth of them by remaining silent. I am saying all of you have acknowledged the truth of them because none of you have answered the charges. Nor will they be, if you have anything to do with it." [That's a strange little dig added on there!]

I know that is what you are saying and I can't believe it. It is so patently inconsistent.

In your view, when West's defenders don't answer a charge, it means they have acknowledged the truth of Eden's position. When Eden does not answer a charge, why doesn't that also mean that she acknowledges the truth of the charges? She hasn't answered any charges against her; therefore, according to your principle, all of the charges against her are true.

And what does Christina have to do with this conversation? We were talking about your willingness to repeat something derogatory about another person without even knowing whether or not it is true. that is not just "repeating an anecdote." And then you demand that others respond to something that hasn't even been established as true.

bernie said...

Actually, I visited this site because I so like what Sr Lorraine does, a patient thorough treatment of the topics in Dawn's thesis. It is clear that West does in fact accurately represent John Paul II's views about how couples advance in virtue during marriage. It is also clear that he understands John Paul II's concern that those who do not have control over the passions before marriage are going to have a hard time being true lovers. As he says, "Purity is a requirement of love." (49:7) If it is impossible to achieve purity, then love is impossible.

dcs said...

In your view, when West's defenders don't answer a charge, it means they have acknowledged the truth of Eden's position. When Eden does not answer a charge, why doesn't that also mean that she acknowledges the truth of the charges? She hasn't answered any charges against her; therefore, according to your principle, all of the charges against her are true.

I don't think that is an accurate description of Wade's position. I think his point is there are charges that none of West's defenders have answered, therefore it is their collective silence that shows that they have acknowledged the truth of the charges. Not only has West himself not answered the charges, but neither have Dr. Smith, Dr. Waldstein, Dr. Healy, Christina King, Sr. Lorraine, etc.

On the other hand, if West's critics as a group (not just Dawn Eden herself, who has said she won't respond to anyone but West anyway) have not answered charges, then you can take their collective silence as an acknowledgment of the truth of those charges. Then again, Wade has repeatedly pointed out the charges that West's defenders have not answered, making it very easy for those charges to be answered; I don't think any of West's critics have done the same.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks, Bernie, for your kind comments.
I didn't really intend for the site to become polemical. What I hope to do now is to focus on more positive aspects of TOB in an attempt to break them open a little more in practical applications to daily life.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Yesterday when you referred to page 44 of Dawn's thesis, what version of it is that? I've been using the PDF (third version) so I had a different page number.
Thanks for the info. I want to be sure I have the most up to date one.

dcs said...

Sr. Lorraine,

I'm sorry, I should have been more specific. The word is found on page 58 of the PDF, but this is page 44 of the thesis as the introductory material takes up quite a few pages. I think you are using the correct version. If you go to page 58 of the PDF you will see the number 44 at the top of the page. That's all. :)

Wade St. Onge said...

Bernie, yes - what dcs said.

Dawn's silence means two things: (1) an admission she is wrong about certain things (although she is also right about a lot of things - people like you just want to focus on the parts that are wrong and conveniently use that as an excuse to throw out the whole thing); (2) since West can remain silent in the face of criticism and his supporters think that is fine, Dawn is giving herself the same entitlement West has given himself, and seeing if perhaps people like you will hold her to a different standard than West, which she can see is the case.

You say: "It is clear that West does in fact accurately represent John Paul II's views about how couples advance in virtue during marriage. It is also clear that he understands John Paul II's concern that those who do not have control over the passions before marriage are going to have a hard time being true lovers."

What about West's view that when we have achieved "mature purity", we should look upon voluptuous women with the gaze of love in order to convert her and no longer practice "custody of the eyes" by turning our gaze elsewhere?

1. Where did John Paul II say that? I have read his Wednesday audiences cover to cover and cannot find it.

2. Where did any of the Saints, Doctors, or Fathers say that? I have never found any justification for this in the Catholic Tradition. Please tell me where to find this, Bernie.

x. That is what brought the discussion to an end at Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex and on a previous thread here on this forum. Will it do the same here? West's view on this matter is indefensible. Care to try, Bernie?

Sr. Lorraine said...

Wade, I don't want to intrude into your discussion with Bernie, but I have a couple thoughts.

1. About West's silence: when he ended his sabbatical, he did say he would be coming out with some articles to address concerns of his critics. He didn't give a date. So I suppose it will be sometime in the near future. He's taken up his work again, and so I guess he needs to work it into his schedule.

2. Dawn's position is different from West's. Dawn wrote a paper criticizing his work. West didn't ask her to do it. He has no obligation to respond to her.
Dawn's thesis is highly flawed. (I realize we may disagree about the extent of the flaws.) Yet it is being used by some to oppose West's work. If her criticism doesn't stand up to good analysis, as I believe it doesn't, Dawn in good conscience has to ask herself if she is doing an injustice to West. I've said before this is not just an academic exercise; someone's reputation and life's work is at stake.

3. About the point of looking at people, West is trying to express what John Paul says in the part of TOB concerning adultery in the heart. It's in that whole section on Commandment and Ethos; TOB talk 40 is a key one. The Pope talks of the interior act expressed by looking. He refers to an INTERIOR act. The interior act is EXPRESSED by looking. In other words, something first goes on inside a person's heart that drives the person to look lustfully at someone.

Now maybe the story of the two bishops doesn't get the point across adequately. There are other ways to express it, and maybe West could come up with something better.

My point here is that this whole discussion has focused so much on the external, the body of the person being looked at, and not so much on the interior dispositions of the heart of the one who looks. That's JP's main point.

"Who we are is how we look."

bernie said...

Dear Sr Lorraine, Again, you are so right. As others (and I) have said elsewhere, Christopher’s works have nihil obstats and imprimaturs. He has no obligation to answer the objections of any master’s thesis to his works, especially one that has been shown to be terribly flawed.

Dawn does have an obligation to defend her work, because as you so rightly note, she has attacked both a person and a very important apostolate. To preserve her integrity she needs to defend it against anyone who has shown it has serious flaws.

Christopher will likely respond to Dawn though I don’t know why he should have to repeat the work of others. And he, like them, will have to be selective. The thesis is a mare’s nest. No reasonable person can expect him or anyone to respond to all of it – it would be work too time consuming to show all the errors and distortions. Perhaps Dawn could do him (and us) the favour of pointing out which errors she thinks are most serious and he could concentrate on those. But only if he wants to.

Dawn could save him and everyone else a lot of trouble if she would simply retract her thesis. You and others have done such a good job of showing that her thesis is indefensible, what is needed is a retraction rather than a defence.

With your critique and that of others, the damage her thesis is likely to do has been defused to some considerable extent. No one will ever convince some people that the thesis has not disclosed any serious problems in West’s work (they go round and round and shift their ground constantly) but what has been done is highly likely to be sufficient for the bishops and most conference organizers and that in itself is tremendously important.

And just a little note. I wonder if you should remove Wade’s post about the incident at FUS with Hahn and Martin. It does amount to either vilification or detraction and should not be a matter of public conversation unless Hahn and Martin choose to make it so.

And don’t you find it strange that Wade says Christopher says men “should” look upon voluptuous women…"? Of course, he says no such thing. He says if a man finds that a voluptuous woman (and this is a prostitute he was speaking of, right?) crosses his path, he should not look upon her with lust but should look upon her with love and pray for her conversion. A man of mature purity would reliably do so. Why do you think people get this so twisted?

At any rate, I admire your patient interaction with people who require so much patience. And I know I am one of them.

Wade St. Onge said...

You are one of them, Bernie.

So you are saying West says we "should NOT look upon a voluptuous woman WITH LOVE?" That is how I worded it, Bernie. You just look at the word "should", make a knee-jerk reaction and divorce it from the rest of my well-crafted sentence, then accuse me of a straw man.

You did not cite me a single quotation from John Paul II or any of the Church Doctors and Fathers. Why not?

Sr. Lorraine - if the heart is pure, the man will still look away from a voluptuous woman. Once again, we must remember the aspect of "positive shame" here. Also, a man's pure heart depends on him continuing to practice custody of the eyes or his heart will once again become tainted. The virtues require continued exercise.

Bernie, can you please either (a) clarify Christopher West's actual position for me, or (b) admit I have his position right, and then (c) quote some Church Doctors and Fathers to support it? No more beating around the bush and avoiding the issue through red herrings.

Wade St. Onge said...

So if Dawn got a nihil obstat and imprimatur for her thesis (which she easily could), would you agree with everything she says?

You call me out for avoiding your questions. Let's see if you practice what you preach. I have two questions on the floor - this one and the three-part question in the previous post. Are you going to answer them, or should I expect another dodge and red herring?

Wade St. Onge said...

Also, the reason Schindler did not respond to West is because West did not respond to Schindler. West, in his "response" (which was really a "non-response" - it was more like grandstanding and an appeal to emotion) only addressed one of the issues - concupiscence, and did not respond to the substance of what Schindler said directly.

SO I have a third question for you, Bernie: the same one I asked Dr. Smith who responded with silence. "Did Dr. Schindler properly represent Mr. West's actual position? If so, it does not need "further" substantiation because by admitting it is his position, that admission itself substantiates it. If not, what are West's actual positions on the four issues Schindler wrote about? We are obviously confused about what his true positions are, so maybe you could clarify".

There you go, Bernie. Three questions. They have been asked repeatedly since this debate began. The response has repeatedly been "silence". Instead, the defenders pick on the errors, because they know people like Bernie Thomas will think that this means there are no problems with West's work.

But not all of the readers of this blog are like this. Rather, many see in a failure to answer directly a tacit admission that there are no good answers or that the answers are being withheld because they may be incriminating. Keep that in mind as you respond ...

bernie said...

Wade, I said nothing about nihil obstats and imprimaturs meaning works are above criticism or without errors of various kinds. I was saying that authors who have received such have no obligation to respond to a master's thesis. Any master's thesis. I neither said nor meant anything else.

There is no point to revisiting the Schindler question. He cites no texts where Christopher makes the errors he attributes to him. I don't know if the positions Schindler attributes to Christophers are his or not. They don't seem so to me but if they are it shouldn't be difficult for Schindler to direct readers to texts where we could test his claims.

We know what you think of Christopher's response to Schindler but we don't know what Schindler thinks and since he started the dialogue he should continue it. And how do you know why Schindler didn't respond to Christopher?

And I do think all men should look on all women with love. I think have Jesus as an authority for that. I am not quite certain how you and others think men should look at women. Can they look only at those who are not sexually attractive? Sounds challenging indeed.

Wade St. Onge said...

Each individual blog reader can decide for himself whether Bernie sufficiently answered my questions.

Wade St. Onge said...

And the individual blog reader can decide for himself if Bernie contradicted previous statements, especially concerning imprimaturs.

Sr. Lorraine said...

There are three references to certain statements of West, concerning Mary's "abundant breasts," the placenta, and the morality of a certain sexual act.

But Schindler doesn't give references when he discusses the more weighty points of his criticism: concupiscence, the use of analogy, shame, and a certain style of preaching.

I don't see any references there. If you do, please list them. Thanks.

Wade St. Onge said...

Dr. Schindler's response to this was:

"As many people are aware, West was a student of mine some ten years ago; also, we exchanged substantial correspondence regarding his work in its early years; and I’ve listened to some of his tapes, watched some of his videos, and read some of his writings. Over the years, I’ve also had innumerable questions and comments (mostly unsolicited), brought to me by those who have attended his lectures and workshops, and indeed by representatives of diocesan offices, usually by virtue of my position as Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Washington.

(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, and a director of an institute offering study programs. He has also appeared, not against his will, on national television.

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."

Wade St. Onge said...

I think Schindler knew he was properly representing West's position and had accurately identified the problems in his work, and thus was probably surprised that Smith and Waldstein insisted he "substantiate" his critiques and that they would not respond until he did (which they still have not, claiming "we do not have to respond to unsubstantiated charges", which I still believe is a copout).

The reason I say it is a "copout" is because they still refuse to answer the question as to whether or not Schindler properly represented West's position, and if not, what West's position actually is. There is a reluctance to answer this question. If the charges are still dogging him, and if there is a true desire to dialogue, then why not just answer that question? To stubbornly refuse to do so, I believe, is either a tacit admission that there is a fear that answering that question would be incriminating, or at least that there is a certain pride (lack of humility) that holds West's "good fruits" are such that he is "beyond such critique". "You can critique him, but if you overdo it, he will not respond, nor should he have to". This is not how the Church's great Saints and Theologians responded.

The other problem is that although Fr. Angelo, Kevin, Myself, and others "have" substantiated Schindler's charges concerning concupiscence, shame, style, etc. since then, we are told that "we don't have time to respond to all the charges", and "until Schindler, who made the initial charges, substantiates them 'himself' (why can't others substantiate for him, just as others respond to West for him?), we need not reply". This, it seems to me, is another copout.

And Schindler probably knew that if he pointed to a text in TOB Explained, the response would either be (a) you are misinterpreting him (it would turn into a Catholic-Protestant debate where both would be citing Scripture but no consensus on interpretation is arrived at), or (b) you have to take into consideration what he is teaching at the TOB Institute as well (which would turn the tables on Dr. Janet Smith's "x,y,z" argument - "if we point to 'x', you will just say, 'what about y'?" The reason I say this is because that is the two responses I have seen repeatedly, except for you, Sr. Lorraine - you have pointed out areas in which you think Dawn and others have made good points.