Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand vs. Christopher West

I know that it's a popular thing to throw around Theology of the Body and buy boatloads of Christopher West books in looking to study it. This puts me in yet another minority. I don't like West's treatment of the subject. At all. I think he's taking the ideas of John Paul II and, through personal extrapolation, making them into something they are not.

Don't take my word for it, though. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand says it much better.

“My feeling is that Christopher West has become famous because he started discussing the Theology of the Body, which is extremely appealing topic. The difficulty is that, in the meantime, he became so famous that I do believe he has become much too self-assured and has lost sight of the extreme sensitivity of the topic.”

This is “very troubling” because what she calls the “intimate sphere” is something “very mysterious, very profound, something that has a direct relationship with God.”

“My feeling is that his vocabulary and his way of approaching it totally lacks reverence.”

“Reverence is the key to purity,” she told CNA.” The intimate sphere “is not a topic of public discussion” but is “extremely serious.”

“It seems to me that his presentation, his vocabulary, the vulgarity of things that he uses are things that simply indicate that even though he might have good intentions he has derailed and is doing a lot of harm.”

She then goes into detail about West's decision to ignore the dangers of concupiscence. Basically, if you talk about sex in any manner, there's a danger of leading people's minds into bad territory. We have to acknowledge that. In my opinion, West pays it lip service, then moves on to graphic discussion of stuff. Mentioning Hugh Hefner in the same breath as John Paul II is a minor example.

Anyways, here's my advice. If you want to study theology of the body, stay away from West. Read Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae. Read the Song of Songs. Read Dietrich von Hildebrand, specifically Defense of Purity. Not to knock John Paul II, but he lifts a lot of his stuff from von Hildebrand. Then read JPII's actual audiences on the subject. A lot of this will be dense, and you might not grasp it all (I know I don't), but it's the best that I know of.

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