Monday, October 11, 2010

Disappointing post-sabbatical comments by Christopher West

The "West Wars", for lack of a better expression, continues to hit the blogosphere.  I still have not had time to make my compendium of ToB essays and blogposts from both sides of the aisle.  It may not be pleasant to hear the word "wars" or "sides", but there is definitely a chasm which is visible to this observer. My personal opinion is that there could not be this much noise, if there were not some things in need of closer attention. 

Many things today ride on a wave of enthusiasm or popularity.  When other Catholics, many in reputable positions, call into question some aspect of the thing at the center of that enthusiasm, the defenders will almost always use the "good fruits" argument while passing on the substantive points raised by those concerned.

In the discernment of spirits there is a hierarchy that is traveled before advancing to analysis of fruits.  The thing itself must be examined. A mushroom found in a field may smell good, have a good taste, and even have nutritious value.  What needs to be discerned is whether it is of a poisonous variety.  Those "good fruits" do not eliminate the fact that a particular mushroom can cause anything from mild sickness to death.  

That analysis needs to include a careful look at both good and bad fruits, as well.  "Bad fruits" are being reported. Unfortunately, enthusiasm for a thing often masks bad fruits.  An example often cited in trying to make this point is that of a glass filled with water (a good thing) and a very tiny amount of arsenic added (a bad thing), is still a poisonous drink.  Some might say spill it out; others would say, just run it through a filter. 

In this battle we have over Theology of the Body here in the US, most critics I have read are saying it needs to be filtered.  I have seen repeatedly, most critics acknowledging the good West has done in some areas.  Filtering his brand of Theology of the Body does not in any way mean an end to young couples taking chastity or Humanae Vitae seriously.

Overnight, another posting has appeared - this time by Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger - a Franciscan of the Immaculate .  He has transcribed an audio recording of Christopher West which follows his sabbatical.  I found what West said, disappointing. As one who feels there are things which warrant a closer look and dialogue, his response - even without reading Father's commentary - does not give me much hope that the time away will yield the fruit necessary for a reduction in noise level on the web.  If anything, I think it is only escalating frustration that, even if he is listening, he isn't necessarily hearing those concerns. 

He claims to be taking seriously the feedback from critics and making changes.  But, are they meaningful changes which comprehend the concerns being raised?  You decide. 

The recording took place on September 18, 2010 at Pikes Peak Place in Colorado Springs: “Interview with Christopher West and Mike Mangione” (Fill These Hearts):  Bishop Sheridan Presents (Diocese of Colorado Springs)

I must admit that when I heard the portion of the audio clip, since isolated by Fr. Angelo Mary in his transcription, I was taken aback by some things said by West.

You can get the audio, the transcription, and Father's commentary in the link below.

Go read:  Christopher West’s Translation of John Paul II’s Body Language by Fr. Angelo at Mary Victrix.

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