Appetites & Appetizers

Michael Metzger

Stay away…
If you want your teenage daughter to avoid pregnancy (or your son to not get a girl pregnant), turn off the racy TV shows. If you want your teenager to abstain from sex until marriage, stay away from church. If the first suggestion makes sense and the second doesn’t, read on.

In 2001, Rand Corporation scientist Anita Chandra surveyed 2,003 teenaged boys and girls, asking how often they watched the raciest TV shows, including “Sex and the City” and “Friends.” She found that teens watching the raciest shows are twice as likely to become pregnant than those who watched few such programs.1 The reason is obvious – “That 70s Show” portrays sex outside of marriage as beautiful or attractive.

But why would you stay away from church? For seven years, researchers at Columbia and Yale University studied 12,000 churchgoing teens who took a pledge to wait until marriage before engaging in sex (a total of 2,400,000 teens took the pledge). In March 2004, they reported 88 percent of them had sexual intercourse before marriage – only 12% kept the pledge.2 “Evangelical teenagers don’t display just average sexual activity patterns, but rather above-average ones,” concluded Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin.3 He says religion is a good indicator of beliefs about sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and that this gap is especially wide among teens who identify themselves as evangelical. Regnerus reports that evangelical teens are more sexually active than other faiths and, on average, make their “sexual début” – to use the festive term of social-science researchers – shortly after turning sixteen.4 Why?

Modern media understands that sex is an appetite, which is half-right. Elizabeth D. Capaldi, a professor of psychology who studies the origins and development of appetites says humans are genetically programmed with a taste for sweetness.5 If parents can get the palate to associate vegetables with “tastes good,” the sweetness can be removed gradually and a vegetable will be appreciated on its own merits. But if parents say, “Eat your broccoli, it’s good for you,” teens will bag the broccoli for a bag of french fries the moment they get their license and can drive to McDonald’s. Appetites are won initially by beauty and gradually by truth. Many faith communities have this backwards.

These faith communities pound the pulpit for Truth with a capital T. But truth only engages our reason, and reason only shows how things are logical. Beauty engages our imagination, and imagination makes things plausible. Teens may say they believe what the Bible teaches; but if it doesn’t sync with the ideas, images, and institutions around them, truth becomes implausible – severing sexual behaviors from sexual beliefs.

Modern faith communities emphasize truth over beauty because they’ve drunk the Enlightenment Kool-Aid: “Education is the Answer.” If kids would only learn more Truth, Bible, “worldview,” and be more committed to Jesus, they’d fare better. C.S. Lewis would’ve said this is backwards. Before the Enlightenment, the church believed beauty and imagination preceded truth and reason. “It must not be supposed that I am in any sense putting forward the imagination as the organ of truth. We are not talking of truth, but of meaning.6 For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” Lewis believed “Thus Saith the Lord” was true but wasn’t necessarily plausible. Emphasizing truth over beauty means that teens “find historical religious traditions outdated, open to spontaneous alteration, or simply too challenging to adopt,” Regnerus writes.7 In fact, the single most important contributor to abstinence, he argues, is how “embedded” a teenager is in a network of friends, family, and institutions that offer a plausible alternative to America’s sexed-up culture.

Faith communities could offer a plausible alternative – we can tell a four-chapter story about sex as an appetite and an appetizer. In chapter one, our appetites were created by God to be governed by beauty and delight. “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever pleases him” (Ps. 115:3). We’re made in his image, so we do what we delight in. In chapter two, beauty and truth got banged up. Media portrays sex as beauty without truth – what’s known as license – so teens watching racy shows will be more sexually active than those who don’t. Many faith communities teach truth without beauty – what’s known as legalism – so churchgoing teens are more sexually active, since legalism increases the likelihood of sin (Rom. 5:20). We can tell a better story by starting with sex as an appetite and going through to chapter four – sex as an appetizer.

In the ancient “four chapter” gospel, the last chapter is eternity, or what is often called the consummation. This final state is absolutely mind-blowing yet beyond absolute description. So God created an absolutely mind-blowing sensation similar to the heavenly consummation – what we call an orgasm. Would teens find this to be a plausible explanation for why sex culminates with climax?

A healthy sexual appetite is an acquired taste. So is heaven, wrote C.S. Lewis.8 To acquire a taste for both, we might spend more time on beauty and then gradually bring in truth. A spoonful of sugar always helps the medicine go down.
_______________________
1 PEDIATRICS Vol. 122 No. 5 November 2008, pp. 1047-1054
2 Lawrence K. Altman, “Study Finds That Teenage Virginity Pledges Are Rarely Kept,” The New York Times, March 10, 2004, A20.
3 Mark D. Regnerus, Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 205.
4 Margaret Talbot, “Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teenagers become pregnant?” The New Yorker, November 3, 2008, p. 64.
5 Capaldi, Elizabeth D. (1996) Conditioned food preferences. In Capaldi, E.D. (Ed.) Why We Eat What We Eat: The Psychology of Eating (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association), pp. 53-82.
6 C.S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper, Selected Literary Essays, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 265.
7 Regnerus, Forbidden, p. 14.
8 Letters of C.S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace, 1966), p. 164.

ClaphamInstitutePodcast
PODCAST

The Morning Mike Check

Don't miss out on the latest podcast episode! Be sure to subscribe in your favorite podcast platform to stay up to date on the latest from Clapham Institute.

60 thoughts on “Appetites & Appetizers”

  1. Culture changes when ideas, images, and institutions are aligned. Reason, imagination, and plausibility structures are what collectively move people. Ideas alone, as you point out — worldview alone — will not do the job.

    It is also evident that the images that one watches uncritically and without discernment have a way of orienting the sensibilities of the heart — namely, what we come to love. “Friends” is generally viewed as an innocuous TV show. But “fornication with a laugh track” has perhaps a more profound impact on the viewer than the hardest R-rated film in that it gets by the “watchful dragons.”

    Because we have narrowly focused on ideas and not the imagination, because we have allowed other organizations (primarily the public schools with its fact/value assumption and inevitable marginalization of religious authority) to serve as the primary plausibility structure, we have been engaging culture from a weakened position. Lewis says that the chest (imagination) controls the head (reason). When the belly (passions) confronts the head without the chest, the belly always wins. We are a culture without chests.

    As you rightly observe, sexuality is designed to be the strongest passion, because it is an embodied icon of the spiritual life. And as the evidence suggests, the deeply spiritual are most prone to sexual misbehavior because they long for the embodied transcendence it promises. Disembodied transcendence — as in Gnostic versions of Christianity – never fully satisfy. People will eat out of the dumpster when their hunger for love is awakened, unless a vision for better food is provided. A head trip that only offers legalism and a disembodied hope of eternity are easily abandoned for the promise of an embodied experience in the here and now. One wonders whether teenage sex outside of marriage is a truer affirmation of personhood and spirituality than the typical person-denying legalism offered by the church.

    In this context, merely putting a ring on your finger as an affirmation of a decision that one will wait to have sex until marriage is poor theology and even worse sociology. “Choice” always has a context. (Studies show that such pledges only delay the onset of sexual activity by 18-months.) To maintain a choice demands a vision of the good (imagination) and a supportive social network (institution) that maintains the plausibility of the good.

    This is the reason why after two years of living in the typical dorm brothel on a secular university campus, students lose their faith. It is not the books they read that undermines their beliefs and subsequent behavior, but their social environment. Consequently, a decision to go to church on Sunday morning is the single strongest determining factor in whether a student maintains their faith in college. Church attendance provides an alternative plausibility structure to the college campus bubble.

    Images and institutions reign. The Protestant abandonment of image and over emphasis on word is as much to blame as the Enlightenment. The Catholics make the opposite mistake, abandoning word for institution. One group created a legalistic head trip of do’s and don’ts, the other a legalistic plausibility structure that was effective when embodied in the social networks of immigrant families, but gradually lost connection with people when the familial social structure was fragmented by mobility and urbanization. Images and institutions of the surrounding culture eventually replaced the church.

    We need all three legs of the stool: ideas, images, and institutions. Images are what get you on the boat, ideas are its ballast, and institutions are what keeps the wind in the sails.

  2. Double WHOOSH! Here is the deal though. This takes lots of prayer too. We tried to focus on both truth and beauty. We tried to give them a vision of what they are waiting for in the future. Our kids seem to just hear the facts and “Don’t do this.” It can get pretty frustrating…

  3. It’s not difficult to get teens to imagine that sex is beautiful. That’s the “sweet.” How do you get them to imagine that abstinence is even more beautiful? That’s the “vegetable.” I’m not sure that explaining to them that orgasms are mind-blowing is an inducement to abstinence.

  4. It is not that orgasms are beautiful that is mind-blowing, but that orgasm is an embodied metaphor or icon of the kind of relationship God wants to have with those he loves that is mind-blowing — and rarely discussed openly. The sexual points to the spiritual in every sense. It has boundaries only because it is so deeply personal and precious.

  5. Wow! What a great post and comment by John Seel. I agree completely.

    To put things into a more practical perspective, I think one must have kids integrated into a social network that is sufficiently apart from the warped culture to really buy into the truth on this point. Too often our church youth groups look like any other social network, with similar interests, activities, and behaviors. In some ways, I think the whole concept of separating out youth from the rest of the church is partly to blame.

    I just know that growing up overseas as a missionary kid, there were only occasional opportunities to be a part of larger peer groups. My view of God, the world, sex, and most other things was formed more from interactions with adults and books than they were from peers or modern media. As a result, when I was a part of promiscuous social settings, as I got to boarding school and college, I wouldn’t consider sex outside of marriage. Shows like “Friends” and “Melrose Place” were disgusting to me. That made me a prime target for abuse at times, but also rewarded me respect from those who appreciated me standing up for what was right.

    Not everyone has the privilege of taking their kids to another culture to avoid the highly sexed entertainment industry in the U.S. However, somehow kids must hear the truth, see examples of those who are living happily without all the issues raised by sex before marriage, and have the support of close community to help them along (as they succeed and when they fail). Too much of the culture sabotages efforts to sufficiently give meaning to the truth with imagination.

    Too often today, the promiscuous behaviors are portrayed like the “happily ever after” of old fairy tales. So, the sin looks so sweet with no consequences to be concerned about. There is little interest in exposing all the issues that come along with going against the truth in this area (or any area of sin, for that matter). We don’t want to hurt the hurting further by using them as examples of what not to do. The immorality is portrayed as sweet, when the consequences tend to far outweigh the benefits from my own informal observation.

    To focus on a more positive approach, we must do a better job of illustrating the beauty and sweetness of living according to the truth in this area.

  6. Wow, there are some great ideas in this article and well as in the posts. I am a student of Theology of the Body by JPJII and one of the main points in this beautiful teaching is what Mr. Seel is hinting at. Yes each of us as individuals are made in the image and likeness of God, but it is precisely in the spousal union of husband and wife that we MOST image and likeness the union of the Trinity! The marital embrace does much more than point to a deeper spiritual reality it is an ACTUAL participation in the Life and Love of the Trinitarian God! Christopher West goes into this teaching on a much deeper level and explains it more thoroughly. I whole heartedly agree that we must speak of Beauty, but not merely in the context of the “almighty” orgasm, but in the context of giving yourself completely and fully to your spouse in marriage and most especially in the marital embrace! This is the place where the orgasm takes on an act of HOLINESS!

  7. Lots of great info on this blog, but based on my experience, and traditional christianity, something critical is missing! To spring board off Mr. Steel’s brilliant remarks:

    “We need all three legs of the stool: ideas, images, and institutions. Images are what get you on the boat, ideas are its ballast, and institutions are what keeps the wind in the sails.”

    The institutions must have the life of the Holy Spirit in its “wind” or else the heart will remain untransformed. To use Lewis’s analogy “the head, chest and belly” all need to be transformed by the life of Christ! Without life of God inside ones desires will be left to the fallen concupiscient ridden heart. I spent over 25 years of my adult life trying to inform my chest with good images, and informing my mind with enlightened truth of good “God oriented” sexuality, but until I began having a direct encounter with Jesus Christ as discussed by our Lord himself in John 6 especially verses 40’s & 50’s. Without the life of God in me via the Body and Blood of Christ (the Eucharist) I still wanted the dumpster food (lust) over true love (following Gods plan) from the belly. The belly was my stronghold. Empowered by everything Mr. Steel articulated then adding the body and blood of Christ…now my belly wants the banquet table of God. Its a critical and indespensible part of Christianity that my protestant tradition could never deliver. Christ did not die on the cross so I could “cope” with my belly for the rest of my life. He died to transform it and set it free to desire His ways even from “the belly”. This kind of freedom is what our Lord is calling us to in Romans 8 and many other of Pauls epistles. With out it were destined to live in Romans 7.

  8. I know a thirty-eight year old virgin very well. As a matter of fact, I have been in a courtship with her for a couple of years and we are engaged to marry. She is the purest person I have ever met in my entire life. She is pure in every way. We need to ask people like her what worked for her rather than listen to the “ideals” of those who have failed to remain pure, even if those “ideals” are based on the “primacy of imagination.”

    What is different between her and others is that her parents truly lived the faith everyday. They read lives of the saints together everydat. Her father was always a daily communicant. He taught her about custody of the senses including custody of the eyes. She can “imagine” the beauty of the marital embrace and she can also “imagine” eternal life with the Father. In my opinion she will not need to imagine life with the Father because she already lives it now by going to daily Mass and I believe she will experience even more upon her death.

    She was taught the same things that are being called “legalism” here and they have helped her remain pure. The intellect is not an enemy and the way that the “church” teaches sexual morality is not the enemy.

    We have too many people preaching who have made serious mistakes in the sexual arena and are blaming the “language of the Church.” I believe them when they say that their experience was that they rebelled against “legalistic” teachings. I disagree that the so-called “legalistic” teachings were the primary problem. I believe that their rebellion is the problem. I still believe that sin exists and that many who sin sexually are making evil choices. We need to look at ourselves and stop explaining away our sins rather than continuing to blame our sins on the “language of the Church.” So many evangelists preach a “gospel” of irresponsibility.

    My fiance and her family did not own a T.V. until she was in her teens. At that point the T.V. viewing was closely regulated. After viewing any T.V. show as a family, her father would discuss the morality of what they viewed with them. They watched only the purest shows and only watched perhaps one hour a week except for maybe the daily news at times.

    My finace remained a good person her entire life because her parents taught her to choose her friends wisely. The children, even as teens, were generally supervised by their parents at almost all times. She did not rebel like other teens because her parents seemed more credible than others. Because her conscience was properly formed she generally did not enjoy spending time with peers who were engaging in riske behaviors or using impure language. This falls in line with the doctrine of the custody of the senses.

    I disregard any articles that have been cited here. I know from my extensive studies of families and from my own experience of the beauty of chastity that we need to think of the corruption in out society as the enemy rather than the “language of the Church.” Evangelical church kids do not have sacramental grace. This explains why they did not keep their promises to remain pure. In the New Law of Christ, He gave us the grace through the sacraments. Non-Catholic Christians are objectively ignorant on important matters and only reach Heaven by exception since the normal way is through the grace of Christ received in the Sacraments. It is not surprising that non-Catholic Christian children did not remain pure.

    I would like to see a study of Catholic Christian children/adults who have followed through with a commitment to go to daily Mass based on a desire to reach Heaven. As children, these people would not need to make a chastity pledge in order to remain pure because it is by the power of the Sacraments that we remain pure. It is not by our prideful commitments (to remain chaste or otherwise) that we get to Heaven, it is by our acceptance of God’s grace through frequent reception of the Sacraments. God will keep us pure if we commit to co-operating with Him through frequent reception of the Sacraments.

    If this is legalistic and a poverty of language, then so be it. It is our faith and it has worked for centuries. What is different now is not the “language of the Church” but rather the irresponsibility or ignorance of our parents. We have parents who are too busy traveling around preaching rather than staying home with their children. We also have parents who desire material goods more than they desire to stay home with their children. We buy kids a lot of Christmas presents and lie to them about the “reality” of “Santa Claus.” Once we get honest with ourselves about our own materialism an the materialism of our own parents, we will have true insight into the problem. We need to buy less and spend more time with out children. Just because other kids at church are at church doesn’t mean that our children should be allowed to spend time with them unsupervised.

    Fact: Our brains are not fully developed until around age 21. Because of this our children need supervision. They need parents. This has little to do with the so-called “legalism” or “language of the Church.” We need to stop pointing fingers at good people. We need to stop calling them legalists. We need to realize that we are calling the wise ones legalists. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes and stop blaming others. Amen?

    God bless!

  9. In my post above I wrote that we need to spend time “with out children.” That was a typo. It should’ve said “with our children.”

  10. Dear Person,
    Please don’t speak out on behalf of the Catholic church anymore. Speak out all you want on your own, but please don’t paint the Catholic church into your judgemental and condescending corner.
    You are a Pharasiee and an idiot. If you have actually read the life of the Saints you would know that many many Saints ‘ate from the dumpster before discovering the banquet’. Do all of us poor sinners Catholic and Protastant alike a favor…

  11. …save your finger wagging, arrogance for the annual covention of “Perfect and Good People Only” … that the rest of us poor ignorant sinners will never be invited to.

    A whole lot more people might be attracted to the beauty of Christ’s church/bride if they didn’t encounter ‘pimples’ like you who mistake themselves in their own arrogance for ‘perfect’ beauty marks…

    Sorry for the anger I feel for your post, but you see I am a poor and miserable sinner…easliy offened by blind Pharasiees like you… Peace out “Perfect Person”

  12. Cannot Be Deceived

    I would like to make an important note regarding the person who said he is studying Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and then went on to discuss Christopher West’s commentary on it. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Christopher West’s commentaries on it are two fundamentally different things.

    Pope John Paul II said that Jesus accuses and appeals. He also said that the common interpretation is erroneous because it only accuses the body. The body should be accused and there should be an appeal or calling.

    Christopher West on the other hand seems to only make an appeal to the heart without any accusation. This introduces a new heresy, one in which the lasting effects of Original Sin are denied. In the new heresy it is erroneously believed that lust no longer exists and that women should dress immodestly and men should stare at these women and behold their beauty. This is not the same as what the Pope taught.

    Pope John Paul II speaks of us as being simulatenously fallen and redeemed.

    Christopher West seems to ignore the fallen aspect of humanity with an extreme ephasis on our redemption. This is similar to some Protestant heresies.

    Pope John Paul II speaks of a spontaneity (“freedom of the gift”) as the fruits of discerning what happens in us on a deep level like watching over a deep, hidden stream. He uses the word “maturity” to refer to the fruits that some saints have received after a long life of extremely devout living.

    Christopher West seems to suggest that all we have to do is believe in Christ and pray to Him and we immediately receive spontaneity (“the freedom of the gift”). This leads one to erroneously believe that his/her lustful tendencies are gone when they are not.

    The truth is that, while we experience a certain freedom of the will through prayer, this is different than spontaneity of the emotions. Christopher West does not address the difference between the freedom of the will and emotional spontaneity, thus the erroroneous teaching.

    Pope John Paul II specifically calls certain Old Testament scribes “legalistic,” not members of the Church. This means that the teachers made very particular demands without appealing to the heart. JPII explains that the “heart” means the intllect, will, and emotions. Here, legalism is considered wrong because the grace to follow the Law did not accompany the Law. JPII does not neglect the importance of informing our intllects of the rules and he does note that Christ fulfills the Law rather than abolishes it. Christ makes a more challenging or strict calling, but provides the grace to accomplish it.

    Christopher West and the author of this article seem to call teachers in the Catholic Church “legalistic.” West seems to say that teachers in the Church have not made an appeal to the heart. To West, it seems that the “heart” does not consist of intellect, will, and emotions, but only the emotions. To West, “freedom of the heart” seems to have a heavy emphasis on emotions to the neglect of the intellect.

    The truth is that it is the task of the teachers in the Church to help form the intellect of the pupils. This means that they must explain the Law to them in practical detail concerning ways of dressing and maintaining custody of the eyes. The intellect is part of the “heart” that JPII addresses. The “heart” is accused, but also redeemed. Because we are fallen, we need certain rules. It is the person who follows rules because he/she loves God that will someday experience the fruits called the freedom of the heart. It is the rule-follower who experiences redemption. This person has learned to watch over his/her thoughts, feelings, and choices like deep, hidden spring. JPII is not against rules. He does not advocate staring at the bodies of others. He does not advocate revealing one’s body. JPII speaks of a healthy shame that inspires one to cover his/her body.

    For some reason, West and others seem to preach a “gospel” of revealing one’s body and staring at the beatiful bodies of others. They say that those who preach modesty and custody of the eyes are legalists. These are false conclusions and contrary to the actual text of Pope John Paul II.

    It is sad that this new heresy is being spread throughout the Church, falsely, in the name of Pope John Paul II. We are simultaneously fallen and redeemed. This is dogmatic. We are not only redeemed. Let’s not be foolish here and bad-mouth the Law in the name of Beauty.

    Truth, Beauty, and Goodness have been revered by the Church for a VERY long time. Let’s not scandalize the Church by saying that the language we have used for so long is against Beauty. We can find the same teachings of Pope John Paul II in the writings of the Early Fathers of the Church. The Church is not the problem, it is the Modernist heresy that is the problem.

    There are still Modernists inside the Church and this can be seen in the fact that there are very few orthodox Catholic colleges. Pope Pius X condemned the Modernists, but they are still here and very present in the laity. It is sad that evangelists are condemning Church language rather than the Modernists. It is sad that so few believe in Papal authority and trust in the moral teachings of the Church. It is sad that parents are raising their kids to be Modernists who can only be convinced to do what is right if we speak of orgasms at an age before they are ready to begin looking for a spouse. There is something perverse going on here and the blame does not seem to lie in the teachings of the Church.

    “Law” does not equate to “legalism.” We really have to stop with the accusations of the Church’s language. It should be just fine to say, “Your (body part) is a powerful gift from God that is to be used only in marriage because marriage is sacred. If you love God and hate evil, you will wait until marriage. If you do so, you will be rewarded with the Beatific Vision.” This is the “old” language of the Church. It seems to contain truth, beauty and goodness.

    I don’t see how speaking of orgasms is all that necessary. The problem is that we do not detach from our emotions. We prefer earthly pleasure over intimacy with God. We prefer earthly excitement and novelty over intimacy with God. We don’t go to daily Mass because it is not as “exciting” as Sunday. We want to experience the “ecstacy of an orgasm” before marriage rather than have intimacy with God. The problem is that we listen to our temptation to seek novelty and excitement. We want extremes rather than moderation. Subtle emotions are considered boring these days and often go unnoticed. If we preach a “gospel” of orgasm, we are only joining in with the problem.

    Yes, orgasm in marriage feels good, but the saints throughout history tell us not to hold onto that pleasure too tightly. There is a certain holiness that comes with calm submission rather than excited striving. We need to preach in accordance with the many saints who have told us that we do not need to hold onto the pleasures of this earth so tightly. Life is not about stringing together a continuous stream of pleasures. It is about doing what is right.

    Doing what is right in the name of the Lord is beutiful, good, and true. Teaching about how great marital orgasms feel and how they reflect Heaven seems fine in certain contexts, but does not seem to be what is missing from Church language.

    It is not Church language that is impoverished. The only thing missing these days seems to come from Modernist priests and preachers who will not teach that the Catholic Church is the one, true, apostolic Church founded by Christ. What is missing is not teaching about orgasm, but the courage to call a spade a spade. We are so worried about turning Modernist parishoners away from the Church that we no longer preach the Truth. Contrary opinions to the Truth held by the Church are false. This is what is missing and this is probably the main reason our youth go astray. We have lazy parents and scared clergy. We need brave men that accuse and appeal to our hearts. They need to tell us to stop watching so much T.V., stop buying junk, stop reading trashy magazines, and to start purely loving one another.

    There is no reason to date when an adolescent is not ready to marry, yet this is common. Our youth never get a chance to experience pure friendship because they date with no view to marriage rather than spend time innocently with friends. Our priests seem to scared to say anything about this. The problem of sexual impurity is not that there is not enough focus on Beauty, but that we have become afraid to preach Truth. There is a certain Beauty that is inherent in the preaching of Truth. There is a certain Goodness that is inherent in the preaching of Truth. Once we start preaching the Truth again, we will see a re-awakening in our hearts towards Goodness and Beauty.

    For the record, I am not angry at our priests. It would be nice if we could all pray for them and maybe fast for them today. Have a blessed Friday!

  13. To the “person” above who did not post his name:

    You made some great and indispensable points about the church and sacraments and so forth, excellent insight.

    The part about legalism I think you misunderstood the point. We live in an information age and we are being informed as a culture at a rate of grave destruction, as you alluded to. Legalism is following rules with out knowledge. Telling youths “don’t do it!” cause it is “naughty” and God hates it just does not meet the current need of where the culture is; sadly enough even in most christian cultures. Would that all christian homes were as your friends. John Paul’s Theology of the body provides a solid teaching on the “whys of the teachings of the church. This is a necessary response to the jungle of confusion the sexual revolution has brought the church. Legalism as the above are trying to state as a problem is basically asking youths to follow rules with out knowledge as to why.

  14. Kelso,

    I am thankful that you see merit in my fiance’s family.

    In regards to legalism, the author of the article above wrote:

    “Many faith communities teach truth without beauty – what’s known as legalism – so churchgoing teens are more sexually active, since legalism increases the likelihood of sin (Rom. 5:20).”

    He cites Romans 5:20 to suggest that “legalism” causes churchgoing teens to be more sexually active.

    Strangely enough, by the grace of God, my finace and I just got done with a session with the priest who will be marrying us. He went through passages in Romans and explained to us what Paul was saying in it. He was speaking to the Romans, former Pagans, who are now Christians. As Pagans they did not have a moral law. When they converted to Christianity, they had this new moral law called the Law of Christ presented to them. When they were pagans, they could not sin because they did not know the Law. Now that they know the Law as new Christians, their number of sins increased immediately because of this knowledge and they were assumedly not happy nor used to this, thus in Romans 5:20, in regards to the New Law of Christ Paul writes:

    “Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”

    This means that the New Law of Christ came in and made things stricter. The difference between the Old Law (which although difficult was not as challenging as the New Law of Christ) is that the Old Law did not bring in grace with it. Christ brought in the New Law along with the grace of the Sacraments by which we can have such a conversion of heart such that we may be able to obey the New Law.

    In Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II also says that Christ’s denouncement is more difficult to follow than the Old Law because under the Old Law, men were still allowed to internally lust when the Law was formally observed in a nexternal way. In this way Christ’s New “Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Even though the New Law of Christ is more difficult, He gave us the grace to adhere to it.

    So, I think it is true that I do not understand what the author of the article above is speaking of when he speaks of legalism. I do not understand why Romans 5:20 is being quoted as regards legalism unless he is calling Christ a legalist.

    You wrote: “Legalism as the above are trying to state as a problem is basically asking youths to follow rules with out knowledge as to why.”

    The author did not explicitly define “legalism” as you have here. He seems to be saying that there needs to be beauty with the truth, thus we need to talk to our teens about orgasms to add some beauty to it.

    I think the truth suffices and is automatically beautiful since it includes the Beatific Vision. The author seems to equate “truth” without “beauty” to “legalism.” I would say that “truth” without “beauty” is no longer “truth.”

    I went to a Catholic Christian school between ages 1-8. I received an education that taught the basics of the Catholic Christian faith tradition. This includes a moral law. It always has. The moral law is not detached from the rest of Catholicism. There is beauty in following God’s Law. There is beauty in obedience to authority. There is ugliness in rebellion.

    I just don’t know where people get the idea that the moral law is taught devoid of the rest of the faith which includes the Sacraments which are the means for following the moral law. Usually the moral law is taught during a homily within a Mass, thus the context is automatically within the context of mercy and sacramental grace even if it is not mentioned in the homily. I highly doubt the problem is the way the Church is teaching the message. I have not seen a legalistic attitude in any Catholic Church I have ever been to in any state. By virtue of the celebration of the Mass, the moral law is always in a context of redemption, grace, and beauty. It is nearly impossible for a homily to be legalistic because of this. The Eucharist is beautiful!

    By the way, I have intensely studied theology of the body so I fully understand any reference you make to it. I have written a post in this thread about it but it has not been approved yet by the moderator for some reason.

    In my opinion, Pope John Paul II did not come out with much that is new in Theology of the Body. What is new is perhaps his Christian personalistic style of writing. Most people who seem to love theology of the body for its novelty do not seem to have the education to truly understand the intricacies that are unique to how he wrote the message. Most of them seem like they could not correctly interpret what he is writing because it is over their heads and they are relying on a third source to learn it which is somewhat removed from what he really wrote. The Early Fathers of the Church wrote the same message that is found in Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. They also wrote the “why.”

    I mean no disrespect to Pope John Paul II. I greatly appreciate the level of thought he put into what he wrote and I agree with every single word of it. It has helped me understand myself and others better in some ways. It has also helped prepare me for marriage.

    God bless!

  15. To the “Non Person” who is upset with me. I’m sorry that you did not like what I wrote. In the name of calling a spade a spade, I must say that the new type of Pharisee that is common today is to condemn someone by calling them a Pharisee. This is how licentious people who feel guilty try to get priests to stop preaching the Truth.

    I am someone who thinks it is okay to speak of the law and hold a person accountable. I am someone who will call a spade a spade. For this I get characterised as a Pharisee.

    I would assume that someone who does not respect my so-called “judgmental” way of thinking would also not judgmentally condemn me. It seems strange to me for someone who does not like condemnation to condemn me by calling me a Pharisee.

    I am not perfect now nor have I led a perfect life in the past. Following the Law of Christ is very difficult and I stumble daily in different ways. Because of this, I try to frequently go to Confession with a humble and contrite heart and go to daily Mass. I have to go to do daily Mass because I would stray off from the way of Life if I did not. People who go to daily Mass are the biggest sinners, including me. We go because we know that we rely on Christ for all the good that we do. I will not get to Heaven by my own merit but by the sacramental grace of Christ. I have achieved a certain high level of purity, but I owe it all to Christ and the extension of Christ’s own Body that I receive in the Eucharist. I would hope that my testimony brings joy to others rather than hatred. I would hope that there is something beautiful in my story. It saddens me to think that someone sees something ugly in it that they call Pharisee-ical. I think the ugliness is in my past and the beauty is in my present and my future.

    To “Non Person”: Please do not be disheartened. Please do not give up striving for the ideal that is Christ. We are called to perfect Christian charity. You can do it to by the grace of the Sacraments. I know its hard, but you can do it. 🙂

    God bless!

  16. Regarding comment by “Cannot be Deceived”:

    Dear Brother or Sister,
    I write this response in love and respect. I appreciated your post. It is clear to me that you are a scholar, well informed on John Paul II’s teachings, and passionate about truth. I too am passionate about truth; that is why I am compelled to write this. I agree with what you wrote regarding JPII and Church teaching- well done. But I must ardently disagree with your perception, or opinion of what Christopher West teachings. I will try to respond in clarity and love… please be patient with me. Though not as scholarly as you, I have a deep love for JPII and his writings. I am a cradle Catholic. I knew about John Paul’s teachings and had read many of the talks, but it was not until I heard a tape series given by Christopher West that I was truly impacted by JP II’s Theology of the Body. Since then, I have studied JP II’s original text- which is amazing- and heard Christopher speak several times. I did not pick up on any discrepancies between the two separate works. I am not sure with what conviction you acutely attack Christopher West’s reflections… I have not seen nor heard from Christopher West any of the statements you made about him; actually quite the opposite. I am not saying that what you said is false; I’m just saying that I, and the Catholics and Protestants that I know, have seen and heard the opposite from Mr. West. I will take into consideration what you’ve said, examine more closely the Christopher West Material I have, and compare it to the original text of JPII incase I’ve grossly missed something. At first I was going to urge you to do the same, but then I thought, “Why?” You are studying the original text, why fill you head with the “heresy”. Then I started thinking… “Well, assuming you’re right and Christopher is a heretic spreading heretical ways through out Christianity, not just Catholicism; we in Christian virtue have a responsibility to confront him” (Mt 18:18-17; Lk 17:2-4; Gal 6:1-3). Maybe you have, I don’t know? But if you haven’t, might I suggest that you do. My experience of him is that he is willing to dialog and willing to admit his failings. He seems to have a deep, passionate love for Christ and would not want to stray from Christ’s teachings- be it in the Word or Tradition.

    Maybe I am taking the following out of context… forgive me if I am, but if it convicts you, harden not your heart and listen to your sister: I thought your name was interesting, “Cannot be Deceived”. In your post you talked about accusing and appealing to the heart. I completely agree. It is the Holy Spirit in us that does this; I am not telling you anything you don’t know as I am sure you’ve experienced this in preparing for confession. One would assume that in the accusation of the heart, we would see the depths by which we deceive, and are deceived (This is only if we allow the Holy Spirit to accuse us.) Hence my interest in your name “Cannot be Deceived” because we clearly can be, and can deceive others. At least I know this has been my experience… the more I learn about truth and the deeper I go in my relationship with Christ, the more I am convicted that I can be easily offended, and easily deceived. I can easily manipulate the truth for what I want or what I think I deserve, and easily deceive others to come to my same conclusion. At times it is terrifying to see with what ease, and success I can deceive myself and others. Praised be Jesus for His saving grace at work in us! Always drawing us to Himself, purifying, and guiding us through the Holy Spirit. Based on my experience and knowledge of Christopher West and his work, I think prudence and charity is needed in your writing. Talk to Christopher about your concerns in his work. Be careful not to make your opinion fact and inadvertently slander your brother. Be cautious of your heart- when I say heart I do mean in the full sense you referred to; intellect, will, and emotions- and even more allow the Holy Spirit to accuse your heart. Maybe there is an underlying issue at work here. After all, Paul chastised and even killed Christians in his zeal and love of truth. Are we not just as prone to do so in our own way? I am. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let’s pray for each other. Praised be Jesus Christ.

    By the way, I enjoyed your article Mr. Metzger. Very thought provoking.
    With gratitude,
    -marcia

  17. Just one more thought to add about Christopher West. Let us keep in mind that he is human and only able to articulate a small portion of what is behind what he is saying at one time. I have read JPII’s text 3 times and I know Christopher well; he is truly in line. Thank you for your balanced response, Marcia.

  18. Cannot Be Deceived

    Marcia,

    I appreciate your comments. You did a great job and I believe you were able to write with charity and clarity.

    I have heard more than one testimony from people who used to dress modestly and used or maintain custody of the eyes until they have been liberated by Christopher West’s version of theology of the body. I have also listened to his “Naked Without Shame Series” myself. I am open to an opinion that would suggest that these persons I just referred to have incorrectly understood what Christopher West was preaching. I believe that what he preaches is vague enough so that it lends itself to the interpretation that it is okay to stare at members of the opposite sex as long as we dwell on the spousal mysetery. I know of some people who now think that they are justified to stare at the bodies of others now. It is as if lust does not exist.

    If you got something else from West’s presentations, then I think that is wonderful and beautiful!

    You don’t have to worry about any correlation between the name I chose and my openness to listen to someone else’s opinion. I know what I believe, but I am open to changing my mind. Otherwise, I’d be a pretty big fool. Wouldn’t I? 🙂

    I’m definitely open to finding out that West is correct on this issue, but I am not yet convinced that he is not. Either the licentious are taking his words and running with them, or the words actually lend themselves to a licentious understanding. I do not believe it is slander to point out that someone’s public words have missed the point of JPII’s actual text, but I really appreciate the reminder to take possibilities of slander into account when writing. Mr. West is loved and defended by many, surely because he has touched the lives of so many persons with wounded souls. I just think he goes a little bit too far with his “practical applications” of the Pope’s theology.

    I respect your opinion and appreciate your comments. 🙂

  19. Cannot Be Deceived

    Marcia,

    I have tried to contact him in the past and have not been able to. I have a feeling our paths will cross and I’ll get a chance to speak with him eventually. Because of your original email, I went to his website and read his article on legalism and I really liked it. Some of the wording lends itself to misinterpretation, but if someone has no agenda, I think they can get the true essence of what he is saying.

    It is this article that has bothered me originally, a couple of years ago:

    http://www.christopherwest.com/page.asp?ContentID=40

    I re-read it just now trying to see if I could better grasp what he was intending to communicate. Once again, I think his overall message is good, but (perhaps because of his tendency to try to be funny or entertaining) it lends itself to misinterpretation.

    I know people who have heard the message of his that he communicates in this article and have decided to no longer practice custody of the eyes. Two of these persons (both women, if that matters) claim that they are experiencing the freedom of the gift for the first time. One of these persons (a man) says its just normal to look at women and it isn’t lust. This man is constantly noticing and commenting on women, even in front of other women. One of the women who has witnessed this man’s actions agrees with me that he looks like he is lusting or at least seems very distracted by the presence of women.

    One of the problems is that West seems to suggest that staring without lusting is the result of a mature conscience. Do you see this message?

    One of the aformementioned women seems to have gotten this message from West and has communicated that she thinks men need to look at women in order to numb themselves or else they will act like animals on their wedding night. I realize she is taking various parts of CW’s message and mixing them together in her own way, but his message seems to allow for this misinterpretation.

    I don’t think that making fun of Christians who look at the sidewalk is a good way to spread the message of Pope JPII. I also do not see where Pope JPII said that the person with a mature conscience no longer needs to maintain custody of the eyes. This is what I was speaking to when I said that West seems confused regarding the intellect, will, and emotions.

    Pope John Paul II does not say that we no longer have any disordered desires as the result of a mature conscience. He said that we discern between our different desires, identifying the differences between them.

    A normal human being, specifically a male human being, will always have a component in his interior that experiences sexual desire when looking at an immodestly dressed woman. Even if it is just a small, almost significant amount of sexual desire, it is still there. Pope John Paul II did not say that this desire goes away as the result of a mature conscience. The person with a mature conscience chooses a rightful action.

    Since a male human being does experience sexual desire and also quite often some amount of sexual pleasure when looking at an immodestly dressed woman, he really shouldnt’t ever “graduate” from maintaining custody of the eyes.

    The person with a mature conscience experiences a certain spontaneity of action. His emotions (i.e. sexual desires) do not mystically disappear. The spontaneity that the man experiences is that he will be able to choose the right action more quickly than he was previously able to. Therefore, in the beginning of his spiritual journey, he might look at a woman for three seconds before realizing that he is experiencing sexual desire. As his conscience matures and he becomes more aware of himself, including his desires, he might look at a woman less than a second before realizing that he is experiencing sexual desire.

    From what I have witnessed, it is men who maintain custody of the eyes who have pure hearts and it is men who are always looking at every woman in the area who are lustful. As a man, I am able to hear the personal stories of these men and I can verify that these are not just hunches. I do not think it is right to make fun of Christians who stare at the sidewalk.

    To me, Christopher West has missed the meaning of spontaneity. He seems to think that spontaneity means that the “liberated” man can now look for long periods at immodestly dressed women and no longer experiences any sexual desire on any level. To suggest this is to deny that we are simultaneously fallen and redeemed.

    To suggest that if we want to be holy men, we need to look at immodestly dressed women rather than the sidewalk, is to lead men into sin. A man with a mature conscience can identify when he is experiencing sexual desire and he chooses an action that will stop this desire from continuing when it is inappropriate. If he is experiencing pure sexual desire for his spouse, then that is good if they are going to enter into the marital embrace. If he is experiencing any kind of sexual desire and the woman is not his wife, he is called to look away unless looking away would be scandalous in some way (which is a somewhat rare exception).

    I know a lot of people do not understand JPII’s text and West makes it easy for people, but he is a little bit wrong in the way he presented this one. Notice in this quote from JPII that JPII mentions the intellect and the will as regards spontaneity:

    “Since this discovery is enhanced in the CONSCIENCE as conviction, and in the WILL as guidance both of POSSIBLE CHOICES and of MERE DESIRES, the human heart becomes a participant in another spontaneity, of which ‘carnal man’ knows nothing or very little.” (Caps added)

    Pope John refers to the intellect as “conscience” and the will as “will.” Also, notice that Pope John Paul refers to desires as “mere desires.” This because our desires are spontaneous and we do not have direct control over them. What we do have control over is what we intentionally think and what we intentionally do. We can only “control” our emotions such as desire indirectly through our choices.

    Our desires are aimed at getting some object. For example, we may desire to behold the Vision of God upon death. We need to understand what the object of our desires is. If we are feeling sexual desire towards someone whom we are not married to, even if it is a “pure” desire, then the object is that person (who is also a subject, of course). To “guide” our “mere desires,” we must discern the “possible choices” and choose to act in the appropriate way. When experiencing sexual desire towards the object (and also subject) that is immodestly dressed, one of the possible choices is to look away. I believe that looking away is a fine choice, especially for those who have achieved a mature conscience. It is the sure way to keep our mere desires small rather than large.

    Pope John Paul II says: “But it is certain that, if we affirm that Christ’s words according to Matthew 5:27-28 are severe, they are also severe in the sense that they contain within them the DEEP REQUIREMENTS concerning human spontaneity.” (Caps added)

    I do not think “deep requirements” means that we are called to make jokes about men who stare at the sidewalk. If women in the world would stop displaying portions of their body parts in various ways, then it would be a different story. Of course someone with a pure heart could handle looking at a modestly dressed woman, but these women are very rare findings today. We must be on guard constantly, per what Pope John Paul II has written:

    “He should be able to obey correct conscience, and to be the true master of his own deep impulses, like a guardian who watches over a hidden spring. Finally he should draw from ALL THOSE IMPULSES what is fitting for purity of heart, building with conscience and consistency that personal sense of the nuptial meaning of the body, which opens the interior space of the freedom of the gift.” (Caps added)

    Notice that JPII writes that we must draw from “all those impulses.” He does not say that the impulses disappear. He says that from the impulses, we must focus on the pure ones, the ones that lead us to Heaven.

    We must know what is spontaneous and what is chosen or intentional. We must know what is the result of thinking and choosing. We must know what happens in us, our emotions and sensations, when we look at an immodestly dressed woman. JPII writes:

    “These variants and nuances of the internal movements of the heart can, within a certain limit, be confused with one another. However, it must be said that interior man has been called by Christ to acquire a mature and complete evaluation, leading him to discern and judge the VARIOUS MOVEMENTS OF HIS HEART. It should be added that this task can be carried out and is worthy of man.” (Caps added)

    Why would we need to discern and judge the various movements of our heart if they all of the movements were automatically pure? JPII is obviously not going against the doctrine that he had already declared as true earlier in theology of the body, the doctrine that we are simultaneously fallen and redeemed.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t West’s article suggest that the person with the mature conscience no longer has any spontaneous and misdirected desires? It seems to me as if West is saying that these kinds of desires disappear and the “pure man” no longer has to watch over the hidden stream. This removes the accusation of the heart.

    The appeal from Christ according to JPII was for us to watch over our hearts (intellect, will, emotions) and to only enagage in pure intentional acts of thinking and choosing. Christ was not saying “I will make it okay for you to stare at immodestly dressed women without feeling any sexual desires.” For some reason, I see this in the article by West.

    Marcia, if you are truly open-minded, could you please re-read what West has written in light of what I have just explained. I know what I am explaining is complicated, but I thiink it is very important. You seem very kind and like someone who I can trust to give an unbiased opinion.

    I think West’s overall message is good, but that his application in this case reveals a little bit of confusion on his part. I have seen this play out in other things that he has said or written in a few different ways.

    If you see what I see, I will share with you how these misunderstandings have made my job as an evangelist more difficult. Have a great Saturday!

  20. Cannot Be Decieved & Person,

    Calling a ‘spade a spade’, reading your posts, brings to mind that great philosopher of our time Jeff Foxworthy and his landmark work “You might be a Pharasiee” …

    If you accuse and label other people’s work as ‘heresy’ … you might be a Pharasiee!

    When base your charge of heresy on a few instances of people who may have taken a teaching out of context to make the heresy charge…you might be a Pharasiee!

    When you make the heresy charge based on partial reading of a person’s entire body of work and do so out of context …you might be a Pharasiee.

    When you strip the Cross of Christ of it’s power to redeem and transform peoples hearts and substitute the suspicions of your own heart onto others (you might start a whole new religion like Martin Luther or)…you might be a Pharasiee…

    What makes your posts so odious is that you attempt to couch your Heresy charge and your thinly and poorly disguised jealousy in pious language.

    I got news for you pallie, just because you attend daily Mass and recieve daily Eucharist does not exempt you from being a very vicious person dressed up in Pious clothing.

    Do you really think West is advocting that people go out and dress immodestly? Do you think he really be-littles people for practicing ‘custody of their eyes’ because he employees humor to make a point.

    Couldn’t this be more about your supreme smugness arrogance and jealously?

    Does it bug you that people that you believe in your own mind are not your intellectual equal actually write best selling books and who’s work has had dramatic, even miraculous instances -of live saving effects for people?

    Does it bug you that some of us ‘prodigals’ have come home while you… the “Good Sons & Daughters”, never left the Fathers house and yet the Father rejoices upon our return?(despite us being licentious people who feel guilty)…

    He dude, here is some plain speak…I am judging you …I am judging you by your ‘works’ in this blog where your charges of heresy and your desperate need to show your intelellect and piety is as pathetic as the Pharisees of old.

    I do not write this with respect. I will not cloak it in piety. You need some charitible direct talk…

    You are a bonehead and I think if you met St. Peter today he would give you a kick in the arse or put you in a headlock and give you a noogie and say…get off your high horse ….or he might say like Kid Rock …Get in the pit and try to love someone…
    (The Theologically correct version would be to love your neigbor as you love yourself,and no this is not the ‘pit’ of hell but the ‘pit’ of actual human existence, far away from acedemia otherwise known as ‘real-life’… (and it seems Jesus reached out to a lot of people in ‘the pit’… Prostitues and tax collectors and Thieves)…but I am sure he averted his eyes and held his nose while doing it..and after all… we are to aspire and strive to be like him through the power of the cross dispensed through sacramental graces…but then again, I’m sure he really didn’t mean what he said… I am sure we are supposed to avert our eyes and hold our nose from all of the licentious people.)

    Last time I checked we are all poor banished children of eve and your poo smells like anyones else’s.

    Brain dude with the hard heart…ask our Blessed Mother to change your ‘poopy’ diaper and if you can manage to get your overwhelming and superior intellect out of the way and just make just a little room in your heart to try to open it up to true Wisdom in the Eucharist… and perhaps you will see what a Pharasiee and bonehead you have been. yes name calling is bad, judgemental and petty.. But in the true spirit of piety and Christian brotherhood and in calling a spade a spade, I feel it is my prodigal son duty to do so… (I mean it could be worse, I could judge that you are speading heresy based only on the blog entries of yours that I read!)

    But I have hope for your brother, if you can get past your jealousy and get over yourself, I might actually buy you a cheap beer sometime. (Do Pharasiees drink? 🙂

  21. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    I don’t have the taste for alcohol, but I appreciate the conditional offer.

    That’s a good call about checking to see if I’m jealous or something. I ask myself that sometimes just make sure what I say comes from a good heart.

    I don’t have to use big words or fancy language. I was just trying to be precise. What I was trying to communicate was a technicality about JPII’s writings and JPII does not use simple, everyday language.

    I truly think Christopher West has done a lot of good things and helped facilitate the conversions of many people. I also think he has much of theology of the body correct. I would explain myself more, but you seem like you are more interested in playing a blame game or something.

    Jesus did reach out to all Jews, and one Samaritan woman on a particular occasion. As God, He automatically knew their hearts. If they were repentant tax collectors, prostitutes, etc., then he accepted them. There are no stories of Jesus spending much time with anyone who was unrepentant.

    If a town liked his message, he stayed. If they did not, he kicked their dirt off his feet. I don’t remember any story in the Bible in which he went and spent much time with unrepentant sinners because he enjoyed their company.

    My message is simple. Let’s admit that we have sinned, stop blaming the Church, and move on. I have sinned sexually at a fairly young age. I continued to commmit mortal sins in various ways for many, many years. Even though there were certain influences that encouraged me to sin, I accept the responsibility for my actions. I have repented and God has forgiven me. Even though I am quite certain that I will enter Purgatory, the Church teaches that I have a lot of purifying acts to do before I can even dream of going straight to Heaven.

    I know that not everyone is like me. I know that some people have mental illnesses that limit their responsibility. My message is for people who are like me, people who have never had mental illness, people who are responsible for their actions. We need to take responsibility for our actions. We need to repent and turn back to Christ.

    Sin exists. I am living proof of that. I have consciencly made almost every objectively evil choice I have made in my life since I reached the age of reason and there are a lot of them.

    Pope John Paul II explains what he means when he says “heart.” He said “heart” includes intentional “thoughts” and “actions.” He calls our hearts, the “inner man.” He does not accuse us because we have spontaneous desires.

    I have seen Christopher West speak and I have listened to an entire CD set by him. I agree with you that it would be wrong to accuse him of something based only on the response of a few. I was trying to be honest and if you do not think I have a valid case, then I can respect that. I believe that if we mislead even a few people on matters of sexuality, that that matters very much.

    I think that his message would be improved a ton if he would be more careful with his wording. I once heard West say that he once “went through every pornographic image that [he] had, looked at it, and prayed ‘Jesus, untwist this image.'”

    I don’t think that Pope John Paul II wanted people to look at porn or dwell on porno images in the name of theology of the body. To West’s credit, he prefaced what he said with “This might not be for you, but this is what I did. It’s not for everyone.”

    I understand what West was doing. It’s a type of therapy similar to what they use for those who experience excessive anxiety in certain situations that remind them of a past traumatic situation. It is a type of desensitizing re-exposure through guided imagery.

    He also said that when he brings to mind porno images of naked women, he thinks of the Blessed Virgin nursing the Baby Jesus. I simply find this very strange to be saying in public and I don’t think it is what Pope JPII had envisioned for Theology of the Body. I can see the value in it for those who are addicted to porn out of repressing fear of their sexual feelings, but I’m not sure why he says these things to the general public. Is he assuming we are all addicted to porn, and for that reason?

    It is true that it is probably not a sin to imagine the Blessed Virgin nursing the Baby Jesus, but it sure is not for me. I’d rather not desensitize myself like that. It is totally normal to feel sexual feelings when seeing a naked image. It is normal and holy to turn away from porn.

    I guess I’m trying to figure out what West is trying to do. One source that is close to him told me that at one conference they were trying to inoculate the audience by giving them a dose of ???? (I’m not sure what) He said it was like a vaccine in which you give someone a dose so that when they are exposed to the disease, they do not catch it because their immunity is built up.

    I don’t think of my sexual desire as a disease. I do think of the sin called dressing immodestly as a diseasee. I do not think that women’s bodies are sinful or evil, but I do think that dressing immodestly is. Normal men feel sexual desire when looking at half-naked women. Women need to take this into consideration when they get dressed.

    Right now I am unmarried so there is no reason for me to intentionally have sexual desire for anyone. Because I am normal, I will obviously feel unintentional sexual desire for some women at varous times and places, at least on a very small scale. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the spontaneous small amounts of sexual desire that I or anyone else feels. What is wrong is what we intend. If I intentionally look at a half-naked woman, then I have chosen to feel sexual desire about someone other than my spouse (technically, I don’t have spouse as I have explained).

    I’m not jealous of what West has claimed to achieve. I definitely would not want to deaden or innoculate myself from spontaneously feeling sexual desire. My spontaneous sexual desire is good because it is from God and everything that He creates is good. My intentional sexual desire is from me, from my will, rather than from God and His will.

    I think that if West was addicted to porn and he had to undergo the special type of desensitization guided imagery therapy that he speaks of in order to be cured, then that is wonderful. I am not jealous of him, but I do applaud him if that is his story because it sounds like a terrible cross to have born.

    All I know that is when I viewed to choose porn, I chose to engage in mortal sin. I know this is not the situation for everyone, but it was for me. I had the ability to stop viewing porn when I decided to. I suppose that is the difference between a repressing sex addict and a non-addict. For me, West’s message does not apply and I think that there are many more people like me than there are true addicts.

    I believe that addicts exist and are in great numbers, but that they are just not in as great of a number as those who freely choose to view porn and can quite when they choose to. I also think that there are a lot of men and woman who do not view porn. They need a more normal message than what West offers.

    Porn addiction that occurs out of repressing fear usually happens in the children of overly moralistic or legalistic parents. I am definitely not in favor of moralism or legalism. I do think that people tend to call many good, holy, normal parents “legalistic.” This is a problem.

    Anyway, since I’ve been honest with you, how about if you are honest with me. How did you become so sensitive to those who have high standards for themselves and others? Were your parents overly moralistic or legalistic?

    My parents were pretty good parents. Not too out of the ordinary. They went to Mass on Sundays. My parents’ big mistake was letting me be friends with just about anyone. They also let me have a girlfriend as an early teen which was a big mistake. My “buddies” in high schools had piggish tendencies and I picked them up from them. Soon enough I learned to treat women like dirt. It is sad.

    Still, I take responsibility for what I have done. The language of the Church had nothing to do with my choices. The Church did not need more beauty. It was just fine.

    My parents did not give me an example of how to grow in my spirituality. They seem to have been spiritually stagnated for the last 40 years or so. If I had had a model of how to always grow spiritually, I think I would have followed it. I don’t blame them for this because they did the best they could, yet I still hold the belief that the problem is not in the Church but in the family. We need parents who are spiritually on fire with the Holy Spirit.

    The best gift my parents gave me other than to give me that example of going to Mass every Sunday was that they simply loved and accepted me. The flip side of that is that I did so-o-o-o-o many foolish things and I really wish in retrospect that they would have admonished me more. I really needed it. They had more control than they realized and I wish they would have used it. I needed guidance.

    Anyway, because they loved me, I have been able to have a high enough level of self worth to take a good look at myself and my life and make a change. It was my job to start going to daily Mass and to be open to the grace of Christ that I receive there. I encourage everyone to do the same.

    I really hope that if you drink in excess that you stop doing so from now until forever. I also hope that if you listen to Kid Rock and other forms of pop music that you will stop doing so now and forever. If you watch more than the news, learning channels, and EWTN on T.V., I hope that you stop doing so now and forever.

    I say this not because I am legalistic, but because I love you. God loves you and He wants you to turn to Him. I know this because He loves me and He wants me to turn to Him. I am speaking to you from one sinner to another. Everyday God seems to reveal another fault of mine to me. I have so many that I cannot work on them all, but still He loves me and asks me to keep trying by going to Mass, Confession, and to keep being humble and repenting.

    I kow very little about you except that you seem to despise it when I use precise language and that you seemed to enjoy blaming me. I’d like to see you reveal more of the best side of yourself instead of this nasty attacking side that you have been showing. It’s okay to show me the best side of yourself because I believe that its the real you and I’d like to see the real you.

    I do not enjoy blaming West, but I do enjoy trying to explain what I have perhaps falsely termed a heresy. If there is a more precise term that I can use, I’d like to know. Basically, it is evident to me that he has preached against the doctrine of Original Sin on some occasions and for the same on other occasions. It is confusing. To me, it is an inconsistent heresy/truth flip-flop.

    Anyway, I hope you don’t spend much time on the web attacking people in other forums beside this one. I fyou do, I hope you stop doing it for now until forever. I also hope that you will stop doing it in this one for now and forever.

    I see that I attacked West in way. I tried not to attack him, but what he has preached. I called his preaching a heresy but not him a heretic. Since it is in the public domain, I believe it is okay to comment on it. Others have said to be more careful about that and I will listen to their advice.

    My main point in all of this is that the Church’s language does contain goodness, truth, and beauty. Nothing needs to change. The problem is with our parents, whether they be overly moralistic or overly licentious. We all just need more grace through the Eucharist and Confession.

    God bless!

  22. Cannot Be Decieved,

    I don’t have a lot of time to read blogs like this and wish I could reply more in depth on some of your points. You have valid questions and many of them can be spoken to.

    The couple things that I can speak to quickly:

    1) Christopher’s take on custody of the eyes: it is often what needs to happen as we are persons that will always deal with concupiscence, but we should not see it as the end goal. Seeing someone rightly, regardless of how they are dressed, is the ultimate goal of holiness. This doesn’t give permission to dress immodestly or to stare at others (CW has often clarified that), it only tells us how we potentially could respond internally (which will be reflected on our faces when we look at someone) as redeemed persons. Have you heard CW’s story of Sts. Nonnus & Pelagia?

    Also good to ponder: how eros (the ‘ascent’ of human desire toward GOD, sometimes inspired by the beauty of the opposite sex) is supposed to be informed/transformed by agape…

    2) In regards to Christopher’s experience of “untwisting” the pornographic images: He has related this story many times and I would like to tidy up the facts a bit. He was in adoration and the images were coming up in his memory. To deal with them he had 2 choices: he could push them down (repress them) or he could ask the Lord to take them and untwist the lies. One by one, in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, he took the images that had been coming to him and gave them to God to untwist. When each image had been given to the Lord, the image that the Lord gave back to Christopher was the image of Mary nursing Jesus. Christopher understood this as the untwisting of all the pornographic lies he had previously seen.

    Pornography is turning the beauty of woman’s body – the life-sustaining purpose of her breasts, for example – into an object of sexual lust. Since our bodies are signs that point us to God and eternity, Satan has targeted them and filled our eyes and hearts with counterfeits. As the life-sustaining Mother of us all and as the one who opened herself to the conception of God Himself within her, Mary is the one most mocked by pornography. This is why the vision God gave Christopher was so profound, especially in light of the theology of the body. If the idea of this image troubles you, take a moment to ponder that our naked bodies do not ONLY have the purpose of marital intercourse; nursing is one example.

    Duc in altum!
    Jen

  23. Cannot Be Deceived,

    You seem like a well intentioned person. You seem sincere. Keeping in mind that one can be sincere and still be very sincerely wrong.

    I took umbrage with your dismissive and very arrogant language when discussing non-Catholics and Mr. West’s work which even in your last post you still continue to get wrong and mis-characterize.

    (Mr. West was suggesting one way …in shorthand… how to deal with Pornographic images as they pop up in ones’ head…by entrusting them to the healing power of the cross and how he in his own mind dealt with them….not by actually going back and re-viewing Pornographic images)…

    A key element you seem to miss is that much of Mr. West work is done in 1-2 day seminars in which these topics are only dealt with in a very preliminary way, because of the linitations of the format (never-the-less for many people attending these events, this is the only exposure that they have ever had to this “language of the church”.

    I do not blame the “language of the church” it is perfect and blameless and contains nothing but Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

    But as you seem to imply in by stating that JPII has not uncovered anything new, that all of what he brought forth was already contained in the writings of the early church Fathers, “the failing of most people is that they are just not as Holy as I am, I mean come on, I dug in and found all this Truth in these writings, why do we need mental midgets like JPII or “God-Forbid’ even lesser light like Christopher West to try and convey to us “Church Language”..

    Now before you get your tidy whities in an uproar, I will say I know that this is not what you meant to convey, but the arrogance of your posting and the manner in which you tried to convey your thoughts made it come off that way, at least to me…

    Since most of our culture does not sit around and read the early church fathers and due to the fact that the ‘Language of the Church’ that many, many people encounter is dispensed through less than perfect and in many cases very flawed oracles and many times comes through distoreted…

    How else do you account for the fact that a majority of Catholics do not even know what their own Church teaches and believes, let alone practice it?

    does this mean that the what the church teaches is wrong or should be watered down or changed. Absolutely Not!
    But does it mena that perhaps the way in which it is encountered by many people might need to be reconsidered. Was JPII’s call for a ‘new evangalization” just a waste of time. should not all forms of modern means of communication be utilzied? Would EWTN exist if not for this call. Should we simply abandon all of the Arts to the culture of death, of should we seek to occcupy and infuse the “language of Truth, Beauty and Goodness into” all aspects of culture..

    Is this not he genius of St. Paul? Did he not employ the culture around him …not accept it hook line and sinker, but to take it, infuse it with truth…”untwist” it and offr it back to that same culture for their
    consideration.

    Are we to abandon all forms of art which we find twisted or perhaps, try to discover the truth in it that the artist might have been aiming at,and missed (sinned) and help and encourage them to correct their aim, doing so in love and without condemnation.

    See, I do not have a lot of problems with many of the things you state…except the parts where you mis-characterize the author of the blog on which we are all commenting, (he was in no way finding fault with the true and pure ‘language of the church’ or with West who you now have claimed, encourgaes people to dress immodestly, go bac and look at porn as therapy, (yes I know the therapy you speak of …it is not what he was advocating, that he dismissesd and makes sport of Christians who employ custody of the senses as a way to grow in virtue and if I took the time to go back and re-read ll of this I could find a couple more.

    These things are simply absurd and and you know or should know that they are.

    I have no problem with people who hold themselves to a very high standard and discipline themselves to live a life of virtue, especially when they consitently (daily if possible) avail themsleves of Sacarmental Graces to do so.

    But I have got to tell you, I find it very dis-ingenuious to make such outlandish claims, supposedly cloaked in Christian charity and hide behind pious reasons for doing so.

    Criticism is one thing and all wise public figures learn from well-intentioned criticism. I believe that there is a big difference between accusation and conviction.

    The Father of Lies accuses (and decieves).

    ‘Conviction’ (or in this case Christian constructive criticism)… attempts to bring a fault to mind and is couched within the grace of a strong aspirational desire to do better… out of a desire to love more completly…
    This is what I would characterize as healthy form of ‘criticism’.

    This is not at all what I sensed from your posts. I got the sense from your posts that you wnated to let the world know of your vastly superior intellect, that these pretenders to the throne of knowledge and wisdom that you occupy like Metzger, West or even JPII (who really has nothing new to tell any of us) are doing it all wrong.

    In fact this is a great illustration of the point of the orginal post. Not that the object truth beauty and goodness of the “language of the Church” is wrong, but that the way in which it is being transmitted by many of it’s memebers, Bishops, priests, and laity is woe fully lacking preciesly becasue it the true langauge of the church is not authentcally being trasmitted.

    I agree with you that the answer is not to change or do away or blame the language, but the way it is being trasmitted is woe fully lacking…not from any deficiency on th part of Mother Church but becasue of here wayward children.

    I guess it comes down to this with you and I. Even though much of what you say has much merit, (many of your lyrics) it is being drowned out by the wrong melody! (to me and my ears it lacks the love and charity that I do not doubt you believe is there, but which I do not hear)

    Love brother, that is what it comes down too… In eternity I pray you and I will wrestle it all out, in fraternal love and affection.

    I am very guarded bu what I watch and listen too, but I do not hide myself away from music, movies, literature of much of the culture. I am careful with what I expose myself too and I also spend an equal amount of time if not more in prayer and with our Lord (that would be yours and mine! we share him you know even though we disagree a lot) in Eucharistic Adoration and near daily Mass.
    I am in the world but not of the world and I seek to engage the world where it is at. I cannot do that by isolating my self from the day to day reality that many of the people that I routinely engage live in…In fact I see that there is much Truth here also covered in some distortions to be sure… but then that is all about trying to help people recognize and hold fast to that which is true and adjust their aim a bit to untwist the distortions… don’t believe in throwing out the baby with the bathwater like Luther and Calvin and condemming … I believe in the whole redemption thing …redemption song from BoB Marley …was he ALL wrong? Not advocating grwong dreds and smoking dope…but maybe he stumbled across some truth …needed someone to help untwist it a bit… think a lot of people are in same boat…

    One of my favortive films of all time is “Into Great Silence”… wish I had been called to a monastic life…sometimes I envy those that have been…in ways it would be easier and certainly less distracting … but my call have been to engage the culture where I am at…bloom where I have been planted.

    So my ‘boneheaded” brotha, pray for me while I live out my life in the gutter, and I will pray for you while you live out your life in the castle of books where you live…

    (I only call people ‘boneheads’ that are much smarter than I am)

    I wish you well in your upcoming marriage …sure it will be and hope it will be awesome for you both…

    Not stop being a “hater” and jump in the pit and try to love someone!

    By the way, you’re right, Jesus did not spend a lot of time with unrepentant sinners…but before they repented …they had to be invited to do so, had to be shown what they where repenting about and why it would be a really great thing for them to do for their own sakes… it was done in love… He “proverbially’ jumped in the pit and tried to love someone… and when he tried he was only thwarted because they did not respond, then he moved on…

    The woman at the well…you have had 5 husbands! and the man you are with now is not your husband… to which He said “YOU TRAMP” …oh that’s right he didn’t condemn her, he actully loved her and she responded by repenting…

    How can we expect people tp respond if they are never engaged and invited. We can have the most perfect message ever,(the perfect language of the church) (and we do) but if we don’t do our part to reach out to all that we can to come to the banquet and ‘taste and see’ then are we really utilizing the ’10 talents’ that we have been given… perhaps you are the cat entrusted with 10 …me with only a couple…but I’m not going to bury hwat I’ve got…I am going to go try and at least earn a little interest ..

    Never have responded to a blog before… I have been off work with touch of flu…would not normally have this much time to do this…kind of been fun…probably won’t be back for a while …back to work tomorrow…

    So peace out my boneheaded Brotha … Much love to ya … its been fun… bless you …don’t be a hater my brotha debater

  24. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    I don’t know when you will get time to read this since your flu is gone. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

    You seem very intelligent to me so I’m not sure why you say I am smarter than you. It is hard for me to take “Bonehead” as a compliment but I can try.

    I really wasn’t trying to say “Hey, I’m smarter than everyone. Wanna see?!” I really do care about these people who are being misled. I think it is wrong of you to judge me without sincerely asking me to clarify my position. I think that since I am the owner of emotions and intentions that you should ask me what they are rather than blame me. If I am going to spend anytime with someone, I expect that from them.

    I realize I might be doing the same to Christopher West. I would love for him to clarify his position. I realize it is difficult to get things across clearly to a wide range in the audience in a short amount of time.

    It is ironic because some of the same ones who think that West is giving them license to look or dress immodestly think that I am a lustful person. Somehow one of them was convinced by West that a person only needs custody of the eyes until they are 18. So, when I go out and preach that a man naturally has sexual desires and that he should maintain custody of the eyes, they think that I must be a pervert because they have been prepped by West. It is all very strange.

    I’m not saying West is telling people to look lustfully, but that it truly sounds to me like he is saying that there is a level of purity that Pope JPII speaks of in which someone will no longer have any spontaneous sexual desires. You don’t think West is saying that?

    I agree with what you said about engaging the world. It is unavoidable. We meet people through work or through other things. We treat them with respect and they like that and they tend to want to emulate us for some reason. This is all good.

    Regarding my comment about Evangelical Christians, I think I could have worded that better. I didn’t think anyone on this site would take offense and I apologize for offending you.

    I wasn’t trying to say, “We Catholic Christians are so much superior because we believe in the Sacraments and all of those ignorant Evangelicals don’t. ha, ha! Silly evangelicals!”

    I was trying to express the lack of awe that I was feeling by the study. Since all that I do that is good comes from the grace in the Eucharist, I don’t know how anyone without the Eucharist can do any good. It amazes me when they do. When they do something objectively evil such as engage in premarital sexual relations, then I am not surprised. To me, it is “no Eucharist, no grace.” I realize that they get grace from prayer, but that can’t compare to the grace received from the Eucharist. So, it isn’t a matter of superiority but a matter of logic. Why would someone who does not receive the Eucharist be able to do what someone who receives the Eucharist is able to do when it comes to lived morality?

    I don’t mean to insult anyone by these thoughts.

    I am surprised you are able to understand the author of this blog article so well. I had trouble following him. He seemed to piece together things that don’t relate to support his already decided conclusions. I’m sure his conclusions might be right if he does NOT means to say that there is a problem with the language of the Church. If he meant to say what you said, then that makes sense in a way.

    He actually did not say what you said, but it sounds like you filled in the blanks and knew what he was trying to get at. I think it would be best for him to write a lesser number of blogs and to spend a little bit more time on them so that they are of a higher quality.

    I’m not saying this out of arrogance. I’m saying this because if he is going to be saying that bishops need to use more precise and beautiful language, then he really needs to be certain that he is careful about his use of language. We all make mistakes and I have to admit that I think this blog article wasn’t of a high quality. It happens. I just think he needs to make sure it doesn’t happen again or else he should take a little break from public writing until he learns how to write a more cohesive and descriptive article. Even if I didn’t know how to use big words, etc., I still would think this so it is not out of arrogance, but just out of a concern for the Church as a whole.

    I think you were a little more real in that last blog. I typically don’t know what you mean when you switch into a song lyric, but the rest made sense to me. Also, when you use slang I don’t know what you mean. Once upon a time I used to use “cool” language, but that just isn’t me anymore. I actually grew to despise the whole encouragement to be “cool” because I think the same attitude encouraged me to commit a lot of the mortal sins I have committed. I would love to see you to begin despising “cool” slang too, not in others, but in your self. To me “cool” is fake and I really enjoyed the real part of you that you showed in the last entry.

    If I understood you correctly, you are single. Maybe you could do a search on “Catholic Christian Dating and Courtship” or something like that. I’m sure there are places that can help you find a worthy date or some kind of resource on the topic. Are you called to marriage or the priesthood or what?

    About the woman at the well… I agree that Jesus, as God, knew that she had five “husbands.” Rather than say “You tramp!” he called her a dog. It really is not that different than calling her a tramp.

    Of course His reason for calling her a dog wasn’t primarily because she was a tramp. He primarily called her a dog because she was not a Jew, thus she was not Chosen, but I think that this is not much different than acknowledging the difference between denominations for us.

    Jesus thought Jews were predisposed to hear Him and had the attitude that since she wasn’t a Jew, she was a dog (or not ready to hear the Gospel). He was direct and told her this to her face. I’m not advocating that we emulate Jesus by calling people dogs or ignorant by any means; I am only saying that I think your interpretation that Jesus was all soft and cuddly towards her does not reflect the actual meaning of the text. I have heard West give that same interpretation that you are giving. So, I’m not going anywhere with the text. I’m not advocating closed, cultish behaviors with it. I’m just reminding you of the part you left out.

    Once the woman persisted, by saying in modern terms, “I don’t care that you called me a dog. I really, really want to hear your message.” She had at that point already repented. Jesus knew this, thus he no longer called her a dog.

    This is the proper sequence of the Gospel as far as my memory tells me. People with an agenda always change the sequence and leave certain parts out because they want to adhere to the teachings of the “Jesus” i their minds rather than the Jesus of the Bible.

    I’m not saying that you did that. I assume that, as a fan of West, you simply bought into his explanation. I also really can’t say that West leaves out certain parts of that passage because of an agenda. It seems that way quite often to me, but I don’t know his heart.

    I guess we all want Jesus to be soft and cuddly and to speak in a politically correct way or something these days. Perhaps, we are modernizing the “Jesus” of our minds. I don’t know.

    You might be amazed, but non-Catholic Christians are drawn to me for some reason. I can’t understand why because I firmly belive that by nature of not being Catholic Christian that they are ignorant. I don’t want you to get angry at me again for this like before. I just want to be honest and share. I actually know how to make a human relationship and I know when to bring up matters of faith and when not to. I didn’t always and I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better.

    I always hear Catholic Christian lay preachers say that Bible Christians are leading better lives than Catholic Christians, but I have not witnessed this in the last few years. I mean, maybe they lead better lives than those who are self-identified “Catholics,” but they don’t seem to lead any better lives than those who believe in and follow all of the teachings of the Church. I don’t really like comparing people, but that is what I have noticed in my experience. They are generally good people, but there always is like one thing that they don’t have right.

    Like this one lady I know who seemed all embarassed when I found out that she bought People Magazine for her daughter. She was feigning being a serious Christian while she was secretly doing something like that. I didn’t shame her or anything. She shamed herself and corrected herself verbally but not in action. I said nothing to her on the matter.

    Anyway, I’m starting to lose interest in this topic of comparing Catholic Christians to others. I prefer to focus on myself and work on increasing in holiness.

    I think it is too bad that things I wrote came off to you in the way they did. I had an outside person read the blog (who is biased towards my side) and she thought I didn’t write anything bad. I wonder what it is in my words and in you that you had such a powerful reaction to my words. I find it very intriguing. It is a mystery. Hmm-mmm-mm.

    That’s great that you don’t blog too much. This is the only one I have going right now. These kinds of things add too much stress to my life so I try not to do them too much.

    On another note, I ratted out a car thief today and he knows where I live. I am scared that he will retaliate. Please pray that if it is God’s will for me to live, that it will happen. Thank you! God bless!

  25. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    I forgot about one thing. I don’t agree with the popular use of “redemption” that I hear in many theology of the body circles. The Church’s moral beliefs are absolutist. This means that the ends do not justify the means. It means that if one part of an action is evil, then it is evil.

    Here is how to apply the Church’s moral priniciples to the modern culture. If a pop musician releases a CD and on the CD three songs have language that is inappropriate for a Christian and seven songs that are “clean,” should a Catholic Christian purchase the CD? No, because part of the CD is evil. Should a Catholic Christian download mp3’s of only the pure songs from a download site? No, because that would be financially supporting the artist who is called to release totally pure music. If we did this, we would be supporting the release of immoral songs on his next album.

    We can find exceptions in which the absolutist methods do not apply perfectly, but the exceptions are not the rule. I think we need to be careful that we are not preaching the exceptions so much that we belittle the rule. I think this happens a lot in some theology of the body evangelization circles.

    The new evangelization does not mean that we should expose ourselves to things that are not Christian. Being in the world, does not mean “intentionally exposing ourselves to evil” or “financially supporting evil.”

    Did we hear Pope John Paul II referring to the “cool” things in the culture to make sure that he was accepted by the young? Did we hear him throwing pop song lyrics into his theology of the body audiences? Did he even listen to pop music?

    I think it is fine to want to know what is out there to some extent so we can better evangelize. For example, I wanted to know the rest of the lyrics to the Kid Rock song that you keep referring to. This way I can see better what influences you expose yourself to so that I will know with whom I am dealing better. I discovered that the lyrics of that song bring to mind images that are of the night, whereas we are children of the day.

    the first verse is so foul that I do not want to write it here. Here is the second verse:

    “For the time bombs ticking and the heads that hang
    All the gangs getting money and the heads that bang bang
    Wild mustangs the porno flicks
    All my homies in the county in cell block six
    The grits when there ain’t enough eggs to cook
    And for DB Cooper and money he took
    You can look for answers but that ain’t fun
    Now get in the pit and try to love someone”

    It seems to me that he is describing all of the parts of his life. It sounds like he spent some time in jail or prison in cell block six. It sounds like he knows some women in porno films, or at least he imagines that he knows them.

    I know that part of the singer’s culture means “mosh pit” when they say “pit.” I had always thought that “get in the pit and try to love someone” meant “get in the mosh pit and put someone in a head lock.” I could be wrong on this one. Anyway, pushing is not dancing. Shouting is not singing.

    Are we to redeem this song? There is no such thing as redeeming this song. It is what it is. As Christians, if we go around saying “get in the pit and try to love someone,” we are referring to the rest of the song as if it is one of our Psalms.

    Christ did this on the cross: “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). This referred to a Psalm that later says: “For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted;
    and he has not hid his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him” (Psalm 22:24).

    So what kinds of songs does Jesus, Our Model and Redeemer, refer to: the Psalms. What should we refer to in imitation of Christ? The Psalms. If we want to call ourselves Christians we have to realize that to be in the world and not of it, means to have contact with it but not to let it influence us. If we are repeating the words of the songs of the world in our evangelizing, then this is not Christian, as in this is not of Christ.

    I am not saying it is a sin to quote Kid Rock by any means. I am just saying that it misses the essence of Christianity. We should be totally of Christ, not only partially. In order to do so we must renounce the world in which we live at the same time that we are in contact with it. Either we are of Christ, or of the world, but not both. There is no redeeming of the Kid Rock song. It is not Christian, it is Kidian. 🙂

    We already have our totally perfect songs in the Bible. We also have Catholic Christian artists that do a fine job. I used to be a lead singer and guitarist for a rock band. Now I do not listen to pop or rock. It is a radical change for me. There is much less noise. I liked your reference to the movie “Into Great Silence.” Their life is a bit quieter than mine, but mine is very quiet compared to most. Someday I might write some Catholic Christian music because I have not found a band of the like that I enjoy.

    I think it is scandalous for a Christian to refer to the Kid Rock song we are discussing as if it is giving us some good advice. We know that Kid Rock is embedded in a world of disarray. We know that he has gotten into fights with Tommy Lee. Kid Rock is not and should not be our representative as Christians. I think we do a great disservice to our audience when we promote Kid Rock in any way. He is a human person, but he is not a credible witness of Christ. When we quote him, neither are we. Well, that’s my two cents.

    i’m only calling you and others like West who try to “redeem” things to think about the Church’s moral teachings, to think about our moral absolutist position. We are using the word “redemption” to uphold proportionalist and consequentialist positions. In case you are not familiar with these two terms, please see the following…

    In Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II denounces proportionalism and consequentialism. Here’s a snippet from section 75:

    “This “teleologism”, as a method for discovering the moral norm, can thus be called–according to terminology and approaches imported from different currents of thought–“consequentialism” or “proportionalism”. The former claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter, by weighing the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the “greater good” or “lesser evil” actually possible in a particular situation.”

    If you read on, he explains how these ways of thining are evil. We have to make sure that we are not doing the same thing and replacing the words “proportionalism” and “consequentialism” with “redeem.” i know someone who is familiar with West’s theology of the body and he uses the word “redeem” in this way. This guy watches ultimate fighting and says it can be redeemed. I don’t know where he picked up this way of speaking. Am I wrong to assume it was from West? Maybe. Regardless, ultimate fighting is violent, not Christian.

    I hope I’m not irritating you again. I just thought that this is important because a lot of people seem really confused about what it means to be of the world and not in it. They don’t think of scandal much and refer to lines from immoral songs and movies and T.V. shows. If they can’t refrain from repeating what they hear, then I suggest they stop watching and listening to these types of shows and songs. “Hear no evil, speak no evil.”

    I hope this is well-received. God bless!

  26. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    I forgot to mention something. You wrote that you disagree with these claims that I have made: “go bac and look at porn as therapy, (yes I know the therapy you speak of …it is not what he was advocating, that he dismissesd and makes sport of Christians who employ custody of the senses as a way to grow in virtue.”

    I’m not so sure that C. West was not advocating the therapy I speak of. He did not make it clear that he was not intnetionally calling to mind pornographic images. He said he went back and one-by-one looked at the images. I don’t know if he meant the real images or the ones in his mind. Those words did not sound like he was doing something spontaneous. I absolutely do not condemn him if that is what he needed to do to cure himself of sex addiction if that is the case. I don’t condemn him for anything. I just think that since he has a wide and varying audience and he does not have much time to make things totally clear to people, that it is very dangerous to tell these people things like that. A talk on theology is not a therapy session. If people need a therapeutic cure that includes Biblical images, I suggest they go to a Catholic Christian therapist, not a talk on theology. While I think his intent is good, I think he should stop doing therapy in the wrong setting. I think he could benefit from learning more about social context. I’m not interested in condemning him.

    About this one: “that he dismissesd and makes sport of Christians who employ custody of the senses as a way to grow in virtue” ….

    Let me make my point very clear here. To me, his article is overtly saying that the “spontaneity” of which the Pope speaks means that a person who has attained a certain “redemption” no longer needs to avert his eyes.

    I agree that West is not overtly saying that we should look at immodestly dressed women. I am saying that since his audience lives in a world in which about 90% of women dress immodestly in some way, they naturally apply what he is saying to their everyday context.

    I don’t know which sidewalk West is speaking of in his song because he does not describe it. This is true. Maybe his sidewalk is through the campus of a school that has a mandatory uniform code. If that is the sidewalk of which he sings, then I agree. Then, we should not avert our eyes. Then, we can easily see the person because our natural sexual desires will be minimal.

    I know what you are saying about Luther and Calvin. I do not agree with them. I do not believe that when we receive sanctifying grace that we are just snow-covered hills of dung. I believe we are totally purified. Even though we are purified, all of our sinful tendencies are not removed. We do not totally eradicate concupiscence, a tendency. The mistake that Luther made was to call the tendency a sin. I believe that West is inadvertently preaching the Lutheran belief that tendency or concupiscence is sin. Please allow me to explain…

    If (1) West is not clear that he is speaking of a sidewalk at a school with a uniform code, and (2) if his audience members hear “we should not avert our eyes in our society in which 90% of women dress immodestly in some way,” then:

    (1) It is not a sin to look at immodestly dressed women, because…
    (2) I no longer have the tendency to sin.

    Please allow me to explain why this is faulty logic. Here is what I think is proper logic:

    (1) Even though we are purified through the sacraments, we still have concupiscence, a sinful tendency.
    (2) It is normal and natural to feel at least a minimal amount of arousal, as a man, when looking at an immodestly dressed woman
    (3) I know almost nothing about a random woman walking down the sidewalk
    (4) It is naturally difficult to think of her personal values when almost all I know about her is that her body parts which are exposed to me arouse natural feelings of sexual desire.
    (5) It is possible for me to not lust and since I am committed to Christ I will not sin, even if I do look.
    (6) I must still be reasonable and be aware that my tendency to sin still exists in me because I am a human living after the Fall.
    (7) I call to mind that Pope John Paul II in his analysis of the Wisdom literature said that desire that remains unchecked will grow into a wild flame.
    (8) This reminds me that I naturally feel at least a mininal level of sexual desire when looking at an immodestly dressed woman, even if I am attempting to remember her personal values and see her as a person.

    This leads to this line of logic:

    (1) As a normal man, I feel at least a minimal amount of sexual desire when looking at an immodestly dressed woman
    (2) It is not a lustful sin to feel sexual desire in this way because sinful culpability requires intent.
    (3) A certain level of sexual pleasure naturally accompanies the sexual desire.
    (4) If I keep looking my sexual desire will not dissipate but continue.
    (5) Desire tends to burst into a flame if left unchecked (See JPII writings)
    (6) If I keep looking, that is an intentional act and is subject to moral analysis
    (7) If I choose to keep looking at every immodestly dressed woman, my mind will become preoccupied with the images I see, then…
    (8) my sexual desire will increase by at least some small level and sexual pleasure along with it.
    (9) My intentional act to continue looking at immodestly dressed women carries along with it an inherent intentional choice to feel sexual desire since it is in the nature of man to feel desire when viewing a naked woman
    (10) I shall choose a different intentional action, such as….
    (11) Averting my eyes.

    Because we are purified through the sacrament, we are:
    (1) able to choose good actions, because we…
    (2) are able to exercise free will, which is similar to the “freedom of the gift” by JPII

    If we tell ourselves, “I am looking at all of these immodestly dressed women with good intentions,” can that statement really be true? Since we are designed to feel sexual desire naturally, don’t we have to take that into account?

    We are called to not lust after women. This does not mean we are called to no longer feel sexual desire. This means that we are called to make pure choices. Catholic Christian doctrine does not accuse the emotions (sexual desire) or the feelings (sexual pelasure). Catholic Christian doctrine accuses the choice, the intentional act.

    If I intentionally look at an immodestly dressed woman, there had better be a very good reason for it. If I look at her because I want to send her message of pure love with my eyes, is that a good enough reason? My answer is that occasionally it can be. Why? Because if we repeatedly look at immodestly dressed women, our sexual desire increases because of the action that we choose. We have control over our eyes; we have custody of our eyes. We cannot control others, but we can control ourselves.

    Women dress immodestly because they want to get noticed by men. Because of lust, they get more attention than modestly addressed women. This is a crime. If we stop looking at immodestly dressed women and start looking at modestly dressed women, we will be sending a Christian message to the culture. We will be discouraging immodest dress and encouraging modest dress.

    So, yes, I am redeemed. Yes, I am free. I am free to choose to do what is good. I am free to control my eyes. I am not free to repress my natural sexual desires. I am not free to pretend that my naturally occurring desires do not exist so that I can call myself “redeemed” in some errant people’s eyes.

    If my sexual desires occur spontaneously, then I have not sinned. If my sexual desires occur intentionally (through an action), then, as a single man, I have sinned. If I pretend that I no longer have these naturally occurring desires, then I have still sinned in an objective sense. On a subjective sense, I would be ignorant and less culpable. I just don’t want our preaching to reduce people’s culpability by making them more ignorant. I think that West’s one article on custody of the eys inadvertently accomplishes this.

    In the article it seemed like he was just giving lip service to custody of the eyes. I am open to reading it in a new and different way. That is just what I saw. I don’t have anything against West for being famous and successful as you have suggested. I love famous and successful preachers who get it right when they preach. I like the likes of Dr. Scott Hahn and crew.

    Clear as mud? I really wish I knew a simple way to explain this. I also really wish you would see that I am really open to seeing the goodness in what C. West preaches and that you would believe me that I truly care that he seems to be leading people into what is objectively sinful.

    Is this making any sense?

    Peace!

  27. Cannot Be Deceived,

    I received the same message from C. West that Jen did in her post (see post#26).
    Very well stated Jen!

  28. Hi!

    I am from Brazil, so I am sorry about my writting mistakes. Just to let you know I am learning a lot of all your posts. Thank you! “Deceived person” your posts really help me to think depper about TOB and C. West. Hope to have some e-mail from you if you can. Mine is juliemaria33@gmail.com
    I work with a small group to learn and spread TOB in my country. God bless you all, “person”, Jen…

    Julie Maria

  29. Dear “Cannot Be Deceived Person”
    I am genuinely saddened by your last posts. I am moved to sincere compassion for you.
    I do not have a lot of time but I feel compelled to try and respond to you.

    Your lack, or unwillingness to exhibit a capacity to extend a reasonable amount of charity to various works that do not meet your rigorist standards is at best sad and may be due in large part to some misguided notions related to the vital integration of Justice and Mercy, or at worst, the mischaracterizations and seemingly willful penchant for taking teachings out of context by Metzger, West, a few Popes, or even Kid Rock very dangerous.

    Let me explain it this way, It is one thing to do it to these other individuals but doing so to Jesus is really just sad and again is dangerous if you are in a position where you are charged with catechizing people.

    The attribution of your own rigorist, judgmental paradigm of thinking to Jesus, failing to recognize the enormous mercy and tenderness he extended to the woman at the well, evidenced by the citation of the language “dog” … clearly demonstrating how dramatically and in error your understanding is of this entire event. Out of context and misinterpreted is an understatement, offensively in error would be more accurate just as your view of the “Judgmental Jesus” as if Mercy renders Jesus ‘Warm and Fuzzy or cuddly ”… I would say that the horrific agony in the Garden and Crucifixion were anything but!… (have you really spent any substantial time as you claim with the writings of the early church fathers, Doctors of the Church or the myriad of mystics on this encounter) Does the imagery of the Good Shepherd not resonate with you or all of the prophetic writings of the coming of the Merciful Messiah… a loving and long suffering and patient Bridegroom lovingly preparing and waiting for his bride, despite her many infidelities and at times waywardness .. Do you spend all your time in the Ethic of the law devoid of any Ethos?

    …I mean that is beyond just sad, it is dangerous! (Actually dangerous, as opposed to the imagined danger on your part, stemming from teaching techniques utilizing pop culture references of songs and movies when attempting to reach a mass audience with a rather densely packed body of theology, so it can perhaps be more easily approached and perhaps invite and prompt a greater number of people to study it more deeply … people who may otherwise never encounter these (YES REVOLUTIONARY) teachings…

    They (TOB teachings) certainly are revolutionary if in fact you have never before been exposed to this beautiful vein of Church Language before, like discovering a rich vein of gold…it may have always been there but few people may have encountered it or discovered it before … (which accounts for the overwhelming majority of people).
    On the ‘Kid Rock’ subject… Not someone I am deeply familiar with…I simply employed one line from one of his songs…wasn’t even sure which one it was, which as you said accurately, had lodged in my mind because it intrigued me…and why in the world would I refrain from using it… in fact now that you took the time to quote more of the lyrics, I see it is perfect to make several points with and I am thrilled I was lead to utilize it previously.

    Now with the greater context of all of the lyrics (including the ones that you did not want to share), I have a better idea about why that one line had intrigued me).

    My sense of it is that intuitively, the writer of the song, (whatever Kid Rock’s real name) seems to grasp certain realities that you fail to recognize. In fact, my sense of it is that in part, this artist/songwriter “Kid Rock” may very well have had you or people of your thinking in mind when he wrote this. Far from seeing nothing that is redeemable about this song, I see much that is looking for beauty here.

    (from your post)
    1. the first verse is so foul that I do not want to write it here. Here is the second verse:
    For the time bombs ticking and the heads that hang
    All the gangs getting money and the heads that bang bang
    Wild mustangs the porno flicks
    All my homies in the county in cell block six
    The grits when there ain’t enough eggs to cook
    And for DB Cooper and money he took
    You can look for answers but that ain’t fun
    Now get in the pit and try to love someone”

    My sense of what he is writing about is that he is holding out /screaming out in his own way for society and those that have dismissed he and his ‘homies’ as not redeemable, as worth looking at, worth considering. He is defiantly saying, these people that I am ‘giving a shout out to…”This is for all the…” are in his mind and heart, worthy of redemption.

    He is saying to society that he has found worth where a judgmental society has given up and already judged and condemned he and the people he is holding up. He is telling the prisoners, the prostitutes (or ‘dogs’ at the well), the depressed and confused, the enslaved (to hedonism and licentiousness) the poor, (the grits when there ain’t enough to cook eggs) that while the self righteous ‘establishment’ may have discarded the sinners (not just the sins) and have given up on them, he (the writer is shouting out …I have not…I am holding you up! He is giving them encouragement when no one else is willing to.

    The next to last line is heart-breaking… my sense of it is that he has abandoned hope as to ever gaining or receiving understanding, so escape from this despair and loss of hope is found only in Love, (even a misguided version of love which may be the only love that can be understood from the pit of their existence, the reality that they live. He is inviting and even challenging people to love them (he and his homies (and they to each other) unconditionally… try to love someone…try to look beyond the sin and love the sinner…) and perhaps if they ever received some of that, they may respond like the woman at the well and find some unending living water, not the counterfeit version which may be the only version they have ever been exposed to so they think it is all that there is… Beautiful, sad, compelling, worth redemption by all means…Jesus thought so… he came for all…even those enslaved ‘in the pit’ of licentiousness.

    You assert that the Gospel doesn’t have accounts of Jesus hanging out with Licentious, unrepentant sinners. When Licentious, unrepentant sinners encounter true unconditional love, they most often respond.

    Where there is no love, pace love and you will draw love out.

    My sense is that this writer has a compassionate place in his heart. I was intrigued by the one line in a song I did not even know completely, signally that here was someone trying to admonish society to engage people where they are, in the pit of their real life existence and try to love them unconditionally.

    What is interesting about this is the writer may not even fully understand the promptings that lead him to write this. He may be in his own style and way simply trying to give voice to the common ache of all humankind for unconditional love and challenging the people who in his life that have wounded him, perhaps the lack of affirmation from a father or mother or others or a preacher that was very judgmental and condemning without ever exposing him to the true language of the Gospel ‘where justice and mercy kiss’ and are inexorably linked and integrated….

    (and please save your version of a theological explanation of this… I know I am making short hand references and have no desire to mount a tedious full-throated precise language exposition of this point here…you know (or should know) the general point I am trying to make about Justice and Mercy..no papal citations for you to mis-apply here is necessary.

    As G. K. Chesterton put it, (paraphrasing) , “the man knocking on the brothel door is actually looking for God”

    The deep aches and yearning of all humankind, although many times horribly mis-directed, or not properly formed and shaped, still runs through the ‘Churched” and the “unchurched” alike and the churched did not ‘earn’ their special graces but were given them freely, and to whom much is given, much is expected.

    Those of us with the blessing of these graces have even more of a responsibility to ‘get in the pit and try to love someone’ not cast them off and dismiss them from our ‘pious club’ as beneath us (like dogs) and beyond redemption.. .

    That is an easy way off the hook for the ‘pious club’ but my sense of it is that God’s Justice will be particularly in play with those who shrug off their greater responsibility which came along with the greater gifts they were given, than those that did the best they could with the ‘fewer talents they were given’ … just as Israel was given great responsibility to share their chosen race status with ALL the world, not keep it to themselves and not pass it along in charity.

    They were supposed to be the shining city on the hill, but some Pharisees high jacked their religion and attempted to make it an exclusive club, and their hearts were so hardened, they rejected the Gift Giver all together and the GigT giver saw fit to bypass these pious gate keepers and open his gifts up to the whole world (as Israel was supposed to) Just as Adam and Eve were supposed to… etc. etc. …who by the way is exempt from needing Mercy? Who can withstand the Day of Judgment… if it was not for Mercy, none could!

    By the way, try telling the Catholic Tribal culture of Papua New Guinea (for just one of many instances) that shouting is not signing. That (to western sensibilities) wild abandonment in dance is not praise & worship as part of their liturgy, or that BBQ brown Koala bear meat on a stick is not worthy. This in some tribes is a sign of the deepest respect and a great honor and gift brought to the altar as part of the tribes offering, but by some who don’t have eyes to see or understand the context properly could easily be perceived as an evil, even horrific PETA riot inducing action!)

    You ask…… Are we to redeem this song?

    (from your post)
    There is no such thing as redeeming this song. It is what it is. As Christians, if we go around saying “get in the pit and try to love someone,” we are referring to the rest of the song as if it is one of our Psalms.
    (end of your post)

    I say absolutely!!! and yes!!! it can be with love and mercy and understanding. Being in the world but not of the world means not being corrupted by the flesh …as St. Paul and Christ himself teach. .. It means not being corrupted by the world or accepting he corruptions of the world but being in the world means occupying our place in the world with our respective talents and trying to infuse the darkness with the light of our witness…it does not mean to hide our light under a bushel basket and go hide, but to boldly go and proclaim the real and authentic Gospel.

    But never fear! Just as the Iconoclasts, the ‘Arians’, the ‘Manecheists’, the ‘Jainists’,the ‘Calvinists’, ‘Lutheranists’ and the Pharisees were all intent in their own way of bending the objective truth, beauty and goodness of the authentic Gospel to their own misguided notions of their subjective truth, the ‘boneheadists’ can also be redeemed!
    (oops…again I forgot to issue a warning…an interjection of levity …or at least an attempt at it was being made… my goofy brotha…don’t be gitting all up in that sour disposition about ‘dees positions , my master –debater….

    Oh …once again…so sorry forgot to give you a heads up about cool language coming at ya…. ( I am trying to behave here on this awesome feast day and all…I really am…just trying to have a bit of fun with one of my Mothers sons… one of my brothers…

    News Flash, justice and mercy Kiss…yes they actually do my Brotha…another attempt to inject some levity into your rather dark view of the world full of ‘dogs’.

    Thinking about it, perhaps West and others who employ ‘cool” language or utilize pop cultural references rather than exclusively quoting from the Psalms in their teachings would be well advised to issue similar warnings to their readers or audiences who may not understand the subtleties of satire, sarcasm, humor, or analogy when attempting to amplify a particular point.

    As a matter of fact, as a fan of Scott Hahn’s work also, I am surprised that you cite him as worthy of following as I notice (and quite enjoy) his utilization of puns when titling some of his chapters.

    I mean after all some of the puns he uses reference some pop culture things. And since some of these pop cultural things have aspects of error in them they are in fact evil as they lack the moral absolutism which I agree is the what all true teaching most conform itself to.

    Since these pun references may conjure up a thought that is less than wholesome in some minds, and lead to evil, his ends (which is to reach as many eyes, ears and hearts in the wider culture as possible in hopes of both educating, informing and all the while attempting to do so in an entertaining and engaging way…. utilizing these references via the puns of pop culture things does not justify the means!

    In fact, since he has deployed these techniques, it renders his whole books evil, and in fact so the company of publisher who promotes them and we should all cease supporting Dr. Hahn and any company that publishes and distributes his books immediately. (Goes for Catholic Charities to as well as other Catholic charitable organizations as some of the monies that have been given out by some of these entities have found their way to Pro-choice linked entities and entities that support embryonic stem-cell research and other objectively evil actions.

    In fact come to think of it, I will no longer being paying my taxes …(I will cite your rigorist logic to the IRS to explain myself.)

    (again your post)
    i’m only calling you and others like West who try to “redeem” things to think about the Church’s moral teachings, to think about our moral absolutist position. We are using the word “redemption” to uphold proportionalist and consequentialist positions. In case you are not familiar with these two terms, please see the following…
    (end of your post)

    You are confusing the action of Ultimate fighting be redeemed, (No) with asking the charitable question “what is motivating the participants in ultimate fighting to want to participate” If one would try and look for this answer, one would find that whatever the motivation was, in its purest sense was looking for something greater, but was twisted up and is in need of loving re-direction, and through Grace it (this motivation/desire/compulsion to participate can and would be redeemed, (perhaps with some loving guidance and understanding from a friend…)

    I agree a lot of people do confuse what it means to be in the world and not of the world.

    Causing scandal?
    To the pure, all things are pure….

    Referencing a line from a popular song or a movie, to illustrate a moral point which one is attempting to make (as long as it is not an immoral reference in and of itself which would cause scandal) in a particular setting, in front of a particular audience is not scandalous and it is not glorifying or edifying sinful behavior.

    If it was there are a lot of Saints in heaven (St. Paul chief among them) that this would be a news flash too. (Augustine’s Confession should be burned!)

    Remember the well-intentioned and sincere (but sincerely wrong and misguided Spiritual director who upon reading St. Teresa’s journals ordered that they should be burned. If not for some of the Sisters, who fortuitously saved these writings from the fires of ‘puritanical wrongheadedness’, over concerns that they were way to sensual, the world would not be blessed into the window through this mystics eyes of the amazing bounds of Mercy and passionately love God has for all of his creatures.

    (Have you spent much time with Sr. Faustina’s diaries? if not please do..if you have -re look at them more closely…

    Consequentialism” or “proportionalism being cited in the way you have is very telling about your world view and how it is clouded by a lack of integration or understanding at how Justice and Mercy operate.

    You are quick on the ‘Justice’ paradigm …which is not bad in and of itself but it is devoid of its true context when excluded from Love …it is then just not fully complete or true when lacking a full understanding of ‘Mercy ‘
    (Mercy …a heart that gives itself to those in misery… I pray for mercy for you.. . I Truly do… it has got to be miserable to have so much head knowledge which is almost completely rendered impotent because of the apparent lack of love & mercy in your heart)

    ..and this may sound like a dig, since I have taken so many of them at you…but this one is not…it may very well stem from a dangerous Spiritual egoism, Spiritual Pride …very deadly to your heart brother…no kidding…if today you hear his voice(even through Kid Rock or a lowly dog as an instrument of His loving kindness), please! …harden not your heart

    You can twist anything …good or bad…up into an extreme rigorist view…does not make it True Good or beautiful …just sad ugly and pathetically …even dangerously wrong!

    So I want to leave you forever and for always with a citation from a work which I hope will truly bless you.

    This because of time constraints will be my last post to you and I leave it with true hope and fraternal concern for you on this Glorious feast day.

    Allow our Blessed and Immaculate Mother to draw you (Spiritually speaking) to her very bosom, and allow her to nourish you there with Her Immaculate Mother’s Milk on Wisdom, Mercy and Peace….

    Allow this imagery not to cause you scandal,(an dif it does take it to the cross for redemption of your mind) but allow it to be for you sustenance, and comfort

    …read the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux or many of the other mystics who found their comfort here.

    She is the Mother of Mercy and calls to you to entrust yourself to her Motherly care.

    She will always take you to her Son, His name is Mercy! … Jesus who does and can redeem all of your wounds.. He wastes nothing, if you entrust it to him…his Mercy assuages Justice…even your time as a rock musician…he does not wish for you to be ashamed of it and throw it away, but he may find a way to use it for Good.

    Do not try and Strip the power from the cross and Christ’s desire to redeem and draw all things to himself as he is raised up … (I know clumsy paraphrasing… I am tired) you get the point (hopefully)..try not to be so rigorist …try to give a charitable meaning to others first before jumping to worst case judgment and casting all things in the most negative light…

    There is no absolute evil,(speaking with Philisophically precise lanaguage)… no darkness , only the absence of good, absence of light… LIGHT UP THE DARKNESS!

    Here is the final thing I plan to leave you with my brother, but I will be praying for you, I honestly will, and I hope you will pray for me, Kid Rock and all the rest of us ‘dogs in the pit’ …

    From Jacques Philippe “Interior Freedom”
    (please read, pray and meditate over)

    “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different Gospel” “ O foolish (Boneheaded) Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?”
    But how are Christians threatened with losing their freedom? In Chapter 5, the Apostle denounces the two ‘Traps’ that can cause this loss: the law and the flesh.

    “Where the Spirit rules, there is freedom” The difference between Freedom and Licentiousness

    The trap of the flesh is discussed in verses 13-25. It is easy to understand. Instead of following the impulses of the Spirit, people give themselves up, under a pretext of freedom, to their passions, to selfishness, and sin in all its forms: “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, anger, selfishness, dissention, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like” . St. Paul reminds us of a classic teaching worth repeating in these confused times: licentiousness is not freedom.

    It is slavery, in which people are trapped by what is most superficial in humanity; selfish desires, fears, weaknesses and so on. We must wage an unceasing fight against the tendencies described by St. Paul and must remain permanently open to the healing graces that come from the Cross of Christ. Then we become truly capable of accomplishing good.

    The basic theme underlying St. Paul’s teaching is rejection of idolatry. Those who want to be faithful to the Lord are invited to guard their freedom and not give themselves up to worshiping idols: in other words, not look to things of this world-pleasures of the senses, power fame, work, or a particular relationship-for the fullness, peace happiness and security that God alone can give. Otherwise we will be prey to bitter disappointment and will harm ourselves and other people seriously.
    For today’s reader, it is necessary to add that there are two things to be aware of if the fight against evil inclinations is to have any chance of success. First, our efforts will never be sufficient on their own.

    Only through the Grace of Christ can win us the victory. Therefore our chief weapons are prayer, patience, and hope. Second, one passion can only be cured by another-a misplaced love by a greater love, wrong behavior by right behavior that makes provisions for the desire underlying the wrongdoing, recognizes the conscious or unconscious needs that seek fulfillment and either offers them legitimate satisfaction or transfers them to something compatible with the person’s calling.

    THE TRAP OF THE LAW
    St Paul wants us to understand that there is another trap for Christian freedom that is more subtle, harder to see and therefore more dangerous: the trap o f the Law.

    This is another manifestation of the ‘flesh’, though not expressed in immoral behavior ( it can appear to be the strictest morality). It replaces the rule of grace with the rule of law. THIS IS A PERVERSION OF THE GOSPEL.

    The historical circumstances that impelled St. Paul to write about this topic are well known. After he had preached the Gospel, others ‘corrected’ his teaching by telling his recent converts they couldn’t be saved without accepting circumcision and obeying the many prescriptions of the law of Moses.

    St. Paul reacted energetically, telling them that in following this counsel they would be ‘severed from Christ…fallen away from grace”. The law itself is good, but the trap is this: if we take obeying the law as a condition for salvation, we are saying salvation comes, not from God’s freely given love, but from our own deeds. The two modes of thought are directly opposed to each other.

    According to grace, we receive salvation and the love of God freely through Christ, quite apart from our merits, and freely respond to that love by the good works the Holy Spirit enables us to accomplish.

    According to the law, we merit salvation and the love of God by our good works. One approach is based on God’s free, unconditional love, and the other on our capacities and ourselves.

    St. Paul is deeply convinced that the salvation received in Christ is free and undeserved. He often underlines this, as in the letter to Titus: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God or Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds dome by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit”.

    He writes the Ephesians: “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”.

    What the law tells us to do is good. But taking the law as the foundation for our relationship to God contradicts the truth that salvation is given freely and ends up killing love.

    IT CAN LEAD TO PRIDE. We may think we can fulfill all that the law prescribes, consider ourselves righteous, and despise other people for not doing the same. THAT WAS THE SIN OF THE— Pharisees, which Jesus denounced so forcefully. NOTHING MORE EFFECTIVELY KILLS AND COMPASSION TOWARDS NEIGHBOR.

    But the law can also lead to despair, to the feeling that if we can’t perfectly fulfill its ordinances, we are irretrievably damned. It is certain that people who start by priding themselves on their spiritual ‘successes’ will fall into despair sooner or later.
    The process has variations. One is the rigid devotion of people who in everything act out of duty, as though they had a debt to pay to God. In reality, Christ has paid all mankind’s debts to god on the Cross; he calls us to give him everything in return out of love and gratitude, not as repayment of a debt.

    There are people motivated by fear, always guilty and unable to do enough to satisfy God. There is the mercenary outlook of those who are always calculating their own merits, measuring their progress, waiting for God to reward them for their efforts and complaining when things don’t go as they think they should.

    There is the superficial attitude of those who think they’ve done it all as soon as they do a little bit of good, and get discouraged or rebel when faced with their limitations.

    OR THE NARROW_MINDEDNES of those who measure everything by strict rules, ‘weak and beggarly elemental spirits’, ‘human precepts and doctrines’, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ AND MAKE LIFE IMPOSSIBLE FOR OTHERS FOR THEIR MERCILESS LEGALISM AND PERFECTIONISM.

    Taking our stand on the law leads to death, because pride, despair, legalism, calculation and the rest kill love.

    Taking our stand on grace leads to life, because it enables love to grow, expand and flourish.

    Grace is given freely, and this free giving is the only law under which love can exist.

    Jesus says; “You received without pay, give without pay”. God’s love is absolutely free: we don’t have to merit it or win it, we only have to receive it and welcome it by faith.

    This is the only path to salvation, according to St. Paul.

    Living according to grace is the remedy for pride.

    We realize that our works are not our own but are what God gives us the grace to do.

    This is also the remedy for despair, because no matter how terrible our failures, we are never doomed to inevitable damnation-we can always return to God’s absolutely free and unconditional love.

    Taking our stand on the law, by contrast, prevents us from tasting the glorious freedom of God’s children, who know that they are loved unconditionally, independently of their merits and their good or bad grades.

    So that’s it… I invite you again and one last time… “get in the pit and try to love someone”

    Pax Domini my Brotha…!

  30. In paragraph above “IT CAN LEAD TO PRIDE” Should read

    …NOTHING MORE EFFECTIVELY KILLS LOVE AND COMPASSION TOWARDS NEIGHBOR.

    Peace

  31. Cannot Be Deceived

    Jim and others,

    Thanks for pointing me to post #26. I had overlooked it. I’d like to thank Jen for filling me in on the beginning of CW’s meditation story. Everything else, I have already heard, but it gives me some content from a TOB master (Jen) to work with.

    If anyone is interested I can speak to what Jen wrote.

    I can’t take the time to read what Non Person wrote above right now, but I am both hesitant to read it and I look forward to reading it when I get time.

    Thanks Julie Maria. I will be contacting you very soon.

    God bless!

  32. Cannot Be Deceived

    To be clear, what I am saying above is that if you anyone is interested in hearing me speak to what Jen wrote in post #26, please make a posting and let me/us know. 🙂

  33. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    Thank you for your concern for my soul and for taking the time that it must have taken to write so much on this issue. I would like to respond to the points you make, but first I would like to address something that is important to me.

    In your last posting, you referred to me as a “bonehead” and as “(your) goofy brotha.” This is not the first time you have directly labeled my person. The other name I used on this post is “Person.” I think that often people forget that they are communicating with a person. As a person, I have feelings and since I do not repress them, but rather am very aware of them, one could say that I “sense” them or am “sensitive.”

    When you call me names, I feel somewhat hurt, sad, angry, and discouraged. I do not believe that sarcasm that is directed at a person is humor. I believe in directly saying what one is thinking and I think that sarcasm is a veiled way of speaking. It allows us to stay out of touch with our emotions.

    Perhaps, a more direct way of speaking would be to share about yourself rather than to attack me. For example, rather than call me a “bonehead,” you might say “When you wrote (quotation), I felt (emotion word).”

    You also called me a “master–debater” and I’m not sure what you meant by this; Is it a play on words of some sort? Please explain.

    As I said, I would like to respond to what you have written, but I would like to first reach some sort of agreement between you and I about attacks on one another’s persons.

    I try to be aware of my emotions as they arise so that I do not do something that I regret if they unnecessarily get too big and out of control. I try to be sensitive to them and to listen to them. I could allow you to continue to direct your sarcasm at me and become extremely hurt, sad, angry, and discouraged, or I can address the issue now before that happens with hopes of finding some resolution between you and I. If I try to ignore my emotions now, then, in my state of ‘big emotions,’ I might lash out at you and call you names in return. I want to be responsible for my actions, thus I think it is important to address the communicational issue first.

    I refuse to laugh at sarcasm that is directed at me. If I were to laugh, it would be a repression of my reall feelings and I am not embarassed of my emotions. I believe that my emotions are telling me something and that I need to really be tuned in to them because what they are telling me is important.

    I respect your freedom to laugh at sarcasm that is directed at you. It appears that you might have a different emotional response to sarcasm that is directed at you than I do regarding sarcasm that is directed at me, and I am not hear to tell you to feel anything different. I respect you and your emotions.

    Now that I have shared my emotional response with you, I was wondering if you and I could agree on a way of communicating in future posts. I would like us to agree to not attack one another in any way. Please allow me to explain as clearly as possible.

    A statement that begins with “you are a” and is followed by a label, is something that I would consider an attack on me as a person. Of course, if you genuinely said something like, “You seem like a very nice person,” I would accept that. If you sarcastically said, “You seem like a very nice person,” then I would not accept that way of speaking.

    I would like us to speak about the text that each of us has written rather than attacking the person. I think most of what you have written did address my text and it was only those few labels that seemed to attack me as a person.

    Lastly, before our communication continues, there was something I brought up in an earlier post that you did not answer. I asked about you and your life and you mostly asnwered. I shared about my parents style of parenting and I asked about yours, but you did not answer. Maybe I was not clear enough and that is why you did not answer. Here is a summary of my requests of you before moving on:

    (1) Can we please agree not to attack one another’s person either directly through characterizations or indirectly through sarcasm?
    (2) Please answer the following question: “Was your mother’s parenting style rigid, licentious, or neglectful? Please explain.”
    (3) Please answer the following: “Was your father’s parenting style rigid, licentious, or neglectful? Please explain.”

    I’m also very interested in what you are feeling as you answer these questions. You shared some feelings in the last posting and I really appreciated that. Thank you. 🙂

    God bless!

  34. Non Person I think you should stand back and take a good long open-minded look at your postings. I think your style of posting (attack the person rather than try to understand them) really gets in the way of anything you are saying. You have done a lot of name calling, (“pimple, bonehead, Pharisee, idiot…..) and a lot of unfounded character judgment (smug, jealous, arrogant…..). You have openly bragged that you are not being respectful, (“I do not write this with respect) then accused another poster of being uncharitable.

    I do not know anything about you. Maybe there are things that make you not fully responsible for your behavior. Maybe you are struggling with some psychological disorders, maybe you are a teenager and very immature, I don’t know what your issues are and I don’t really care what your views are. I do know that when I go to a Catholic site and read postings by self proclaimed Catholics, I expect to see postings that show a ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ outlook. Yours don’t. (Unless you don’t love yourself which seems very possible). If you are going to publicly call yourself a Catholic, please be a good witness so you don’t lead others astray, and give Mother Church the bad reputation of having members who don’t practice what they preach.

    Person, regardless of whether I agree with your views or not, I appreciate the maturity, openness, patience, and ‘love of neighbor’ that is apparent to me in your postings. Thank you for being a good witness of Christ. I have also learned a lot from your posts. I like your thinking that we should look to those who have ‘got it right’ to learn ways that we can grow, rather than looking at those who haven’t and try to figure out why they haven’t. That makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you.

  35. Person,
    You are right! I can not argue with you at all. In fact I owe you an apology! I am sorry that I mixed making digs at you with sarcasm as well as for taking direct digs at you. Please forgive me. I am sorry.

    I am new to blogging, in fact this has been my first comment on a blog, and I did not plan on writing anymore, becasue I need to get back to ‘pre-blog’ ‘pre-flu’ schedule and I am spending too much time on here.

    But, when you are right you are right.

    You put love where there was a lack of love and drew love out!

    St. John of the Cross would be proud of you and I’m afraid a bit ashamed of me!

    I appreciate your correction! I do not want to hurt someone out in the world and I can see that I could have done just that!

    In my circle of friends, I am very used to using sarcasm as a way to show affection but in the blog comments with you, I was definately using sarcasm to make digs as well as trying to be a bit funny with you.

    You are right, I should not have done that with a complete stranger (let alone take outright digs at you)…you are right in pointing out that there is a person behind your posted comments and I should be more aware of that.

    On my personal history, I just forgot you had asked that. I truly believe my parents are saintly people. Very well balanced in their approach to discipline, making sure to instill in all of us a sense of responsibility for ourselves and for our fellow man and modeling a very devout, robust and active faith life, making it clear that an active faith is the most important aspect of living life.

    They were niether too rigid; not at all licentious; nor were they neglectful but constantly supportive and present for all of us. The greatest gift that we all received from them is the awareness that there is absolute truth, and that we are all called to life lives of faith.

    I am very proud of my parents and thankful to God every night for them and how they have helped me in my 27 years of marriage and in raising my 2 children, one boy 10 and one girl 9.

    Hope that helps.

    Don’t knock yourself out with a long answer to my post. Not necessary. The main point I wanted to try to convey is not to judge a book by it’s cover or something to that effect.

    You have made many good points and some I which I found troubling, but I do not doubt at all that you are trying to seek Truth, Beauty and Goodness in the best ways you can while trying to stay true to your faith, and that is great.

    An anology might be that most of the lyrics to your tune I have no problem with, but sometimes the melody that you have chosen to accompany the lyrics I find very off key, which makes it almost impossible to catch the lyrics even if they might be good, true or beautiful…I missed them for lack of being able to get past the discordant melody.

    So God bless you and your upcoming marriage. I wish you well and much fruitfulness in your lives together. May you make beautiful, Heavenly songs (as in the Song of songs) for many years together.

    Pax

  36. Wendy,

    I responded to Person’s last post to me before yours appeared.

    Again, as I said to Person, I am sorry for being so aggressive with Him in my posts and I want to expand this to anyone else, starting with you, that I offended.

    Since I just started posting comments, I do not have a ‘style’, and your last comment and Person’s before it gave me pause to reflect on the way I was approaching it and that is why I had already reponded to him prior to seeing your post. Your post makes me see that I needed to perhaps expand my aplogogy to anyone else that might have taken offense.

    In your posts you used the term people ‘that have it right’ …The very thing that set me off in the first place was an assumption and even accustaions that some of the people referenced “did not have it right”.

    People are entitled to their own subjective views. However certain references to heresy (and ‘not having ‘it’ right were subjective opinion and were objectively wrong. Further this subjective view was based on inaccurate and incomplete information, and lacked full context and in my opinion was uncharitable condesending and judgemental.

    These incorrect, incomplete and subjective views were then were supported by the misapplication of some objective truths again mixed with subjective opinion.

    In my opinion, to misapply objective truths taught by the Catholic Church to support a subjective view, again stated without full and accurate context, especially in the action of calling other people’s works into question… and I believe unfairly, and objectively mis-characterizing it, is I believe wrong and causes harm and is an aspect of ‘bearing false winess against your neighbor’.

    Obviously name calling is also! For that I am sorry to anyone who I offended in addition to Person in responding to him.

    Perhaps the biggest malady that I suffer from is having no patience for ‘boneheads’, (because I realize I am the biggest bonehead!)

    I am used to being around people who are very tight-knit and have the freedom not to be -up-tight- around each other and we affectionaly ‘bust each others chops’ all the time. (I would feel left out if I wasn’t included in some good natured joking around and playful name calling with my buddies) …

    As I indicated to Person, in this case I was not being playful at times, I was directly digging at him and if you do not know someone and have a good sense of their personality, I realize you must be much more careful with that type of thing, because some people are more up-tight and brittle by nature and you might hurt their feelings.

    I have run into my fair share of “Pious Judgemental ‘Church’ people in my life, (hypocrites in church clothing), and this posting experience has revealed to me that I have a very short fuse when I belive that I have encountered it.

    I truly believe some of my dear friends might still have faith, or in sevreal cases still be alive, if not for being terribly wounded by some of the Judgemental, Self-Professed ‘Good-Catholics’, which they encountered, who were quick to point to the ‘Ethic of law’ while totally missing the ‘Ethos of the law’. They needed unconditional love and mercy as persons not condemnation and judgement as worthless and past redemption.

    So if I hurt your feelings also, again, I’m really sorry.

    Thanks to your post I will try harder to behave myself in the future. Hope this helps.

    ‘Now get in the pit and try to love someone!’ (and I will too)

    Pax

  37. Non-Person, Thank you for your sincere and humble apology. I accept and appreciate it very much.

    You wrote: “In my opinion, to misapply objective truths taught by the Catholic Church to support a subjective view, again stated without full and accurate context, especially in the action of calling other people’s works into question… and I believe unfairly, and objectively mis-characterizing it, is I believe wrong and causes harm and is an aspect of ‘bearing false winess against your neighbor’.”

    This does not make any sense to me. The only way I can make sense of it is if you are using ‘immoral’ and ‘culpable’ interchangeably. I think they are two very different things. As you said there ARE objective truths that are taught by the Church. There are also objectively wrong actions. I am capable of seeing an objectively immoral action, recognizing it as objectively immoral, yet also realizing that I don’t know the degree to which the person is culpable. I realize that maybe the person doesn’t even know that the action IS wrong. Maybe the person DOES know, is sincerely sorry and has resolved to do better…I think that is admirable. There could be hundreds of other scenarios that affect the person’s culpability. I fall down all the time. And when I pick myself up again, it is not by my own merit, but by the grace of God. It is for this very reason that I think it is a good idea to look to people (the saints, the guy next door, the lady in the next cubicle, Person’s fiancé) who are living good lives; people who don’t fall down as much as me. They have something figured out and I think I can learn from them. I have to say that I don’t understand your hostility towards good people. Some people live objectively good lives (although no one is perfect) and some people live objectively immoral lives (though I’m sure they also do good actions). If someone is living a good life, then they love God. Jesus said “If you love me you will keep my commands”. I don’t understand hostility towards people who are giving glory to God with their lives. You are entitled to your opinion but please don’t falsely judge me for my desire to improve myself by emulating those who are as I wish to be. My role models are Jesus, Mary the Mother of God, St. Therese, St. John Vianney, Mother Theresa and hundreds of others. I want to be like them. I want to learn from them. I do not want to be like Kid Rock, Brittany Spears, or Madonna (the pop singer, not the Mother of God). Why? Not because I judge their hearts, not because I judge their degree of culpability, only God can do that. I do not want to be like them because they promote a way of life that has in the past taken me farther away from God. If this is “Bearing false witness against my neighbor” as you stated, then God will be my judge.

  38. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    Thank you for the apology. it sounded earnest and it is easy to forgive you. Thanks for sharing about your parents. They sound great! I understood the analogy you made about discordant music even though the lyrics might be write. I’m going to try to work on that. I still want to address some things, but I don’t kow if they will sound discordant. The first is about the Kid Rock song.

    Here is what I believe regarding our discussion of the Kid Rock song:

    We need to embrace creation because it is good while rebuking the moral evil that it does because it is against its inherent goodness.

    I think before we try to “redeem” the Kid Rock song, we need to understand the essence of the real meaning of the song. Pope John Paul II often spoke about finding the real meaning of a text and even used the word “meaning” about 550 times in his Theology of the Body. In the spirit of Pope JPII, I would like to first attempt to discover the real meaning of the Kid Rock song.

    REAL MEANING OF KID ROCK SONG
    —————————–

    Before attempting to discover the real meaning of the Kid Rock song, we need to understand what “hedonism” is. Hedonism is defined by the Catholic encyclopedia as “The name given to the group of ethical systems that hold, with various modifications, that feelings of pleasure or happiness are the highest and final aim of conduct; that, consequently those actions which increase the sum of pleasure are thereby constituted right, and, conversely, what increases pain is wrong.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07187a.htm)

    Now the lyrics for verse 1 with foul words removed:

    “The midnight glancers and the topless dancers […]
    The Northern Lights and the Southern Comfort
    And it don’t even matter if the veins are punctured
    All the crackheads, the critics, the cynics
    And all my heros in the Methodone Clinic […]
    For the crooked cops and the cluttered desks
    For the shots of jack and the caps of meth
    Half pints of love and the fifths of stress
    For the hookers all tricking out in Hollywood
    And for my hoods of the world misunderstood
    I said it’s all good and it’s all in fun
    Now get in the pit and try to love someone”

    The words “it’s all good” combined with the words “it’s all fun” suggest that the activities mentioned in this verse are “pleasurable” or “happy-making” since “good” and “fun” activities are “pleasurable” and “happy-making.” I believe that the lyricist is revealing an ethical code that: “If you are having fun, then what you are doing is morally good.” Compare this to the definition of hedonism and you will see that the lyrics are hedonistic.

    When the lyricist writes “try to love someone,” we must be certain not to replace his hedonistic interpretation of the word “love” with our own Christian interpretation of “love.” To the hedonist, the word “love” emphasizes emotional and bodily pleasure to the neglect of what the intellect discerns is good moral action.

    The will of the hedonist is one that chooses its activities according to what is most pleasurable, thus “love,” to the hedonist, means “engaging in the action that ‘feels’ better than the rest phsyically and emotionally, with no regard to the spirit.” Hedonism is a materialistic philosophy that denies the exsitence of the human spirit, thus there is little room for discussion of the intellect and will with the hedonist. To them, we are mere animals that act upon our instinct for pleasure.

    When you, “Non Person,” repeat over and over again “Get in the pit and try to love someone,” this calls to mind the lyrics of this hedonistic song, a song that is contrary to solid Christian moral principles. You are calling to mind the belief that “hookers” and “crooked cops” are to generally be applauded for their choices. The excerpt from the song that you have been often quoting are not divorced or separated from the song. They never can be for someone who has hear the song or read its lyrics.

    It is difficult to understand what the words “Get in the pit” mean. “Pit” could refer to a mud or slop pit in which pigs wallow or could refer to the fiery pit of Hell. The album title gives us a hint at which of these two common meanings might be preferred by the lyricist. The album title is “Devil without a Cause.” If the song follows the album theme, then “pit” very well may mean “the fiery pit of Hell.” The lyricist follows the hedonistic credo of “it’s all good and it’s all fun” with an invitation to enter the fiery pit of Hell: “Get in the pit.” It is precisely in this fiery pit, that the lyricist makes an appeal for the listener to “love” someone, which to the lyricist means “to engage in the most physically and emotionally pleasurable act you can imagine with someone.” “Non Person,” when you quote the final words of verse 1, since it would be abnormal for them to be separated from the song in which they originated in the mind of someone who has been exposed to the song, you are not inviting someone to have mercy on our fellow, fallen human brothers and sisters, you are actually inviting them to engage in immoral activities that lead to the pit of Hell. This is regardless of what you intend, since communication always involves a sender and receiver and heavily relies on the receiver. The sender has the responsibility of being careful, precise, and careful in his/her word choices.

    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTELLECT AND IMAGINATION
    ——————————————–

    “Non Person,” with all due respect, when you attempted to “redeem,” the Kid Rock song, a’la Christopher West, you were wonderfully creative. Your message of mercy is beuatiful and moving.

    We must, here, distinguish between what is “the real meaning” of a song, and what is “a new creation of the imagination.” My name is “Cannot Be Deceived” because the Holy Spirit has blessed me with an intellect that is able to penetrate the words of a text in a way that grasps the eseence or real meaning of the words. The real meaning of the sing, as I have said, is one that seeks to inspire listeners to act upon hedonistic priniciples that are contrary to Christianity.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a new subjective interpretation of a song. It can be lots of fun! Still, we need to identify what happened here. In your attempt to “redeem” the song, you actually were no longer speaking about the actual song. You were not speaking about the essence of the song. We must grasp the differences between “things.” Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body is different than the Kid Rock song. It is okay that they are different. The two “things” are incompatible and I think it is improtant for us to first acknoledge this before attempting to do any “redeeming.”

    The danger of “redeeming” the song like you did is that it can easily encourage our listeners to continue listening to hedonistic songs such as this one. The more they listen to these songs, the more they are likely to be influenced by them. I’m sure that Kid Rock listened to a lot of “rock” before he ended up calling himself a “Devil without a Cause.” I’m sure it had more to do with the lifestyle that accompanies most of rock that led Kid Rock to call himself an aimless influencer of evil. Regardless, when someone identifies himself as the devil, it is important that we do not send the message that it is okay to keep listening to his music because “it’s all good and it’s all fun.” Hedonism and Christianity are contrary “philosophical” positions.

    We need to help our brothers and sisters who have weakened their intellect’s ability to find the true meaning of songs like these discover the true meaning. By using our imagination to “redeem” these songs, we are confusing what is real and what is ideal.

    NEED FOR A MERCIFUL ATTITUDE?
    —————————–

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with condemning a hedonistic song. It is actually probably our Christian duty to do so.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out that the information about Kid Rock reveals that he leads a hedonistic lifestyle. In the name of keeping a sharp intellect, it is probably our Christian duty.

    After clearly identifying what is evil through an act of the intellect, we must engage our will which is aided by our emotions. A properly disposed heart loves good and is repulsed by or hates evil. We must be certain not to confuse those whom we evangelize by an excessive use of our “merciful imagination.” It is good and holy to identify and hate evil. What is the proper act of the will when confronted by an evil influence? To avoid it. To run as fast as one can away from the evil. Either that or to fight it. I choose to do both.

    This is not to suggest that we are condemning Kid Rock. We are condemning his lyrics. It is not un-merciful to condemn evil lyrics. It is not unloving to condemn evil lyrics. I cannot and will not be deceived by any attempts to make me feel guilty for condemning the lyrics.

    I do not understand why we need to have a merciful attitude towards the lyrics. This confuses me. I do not understand why we need to embrace evil in this way. I do not know why we need to engage our imaginations and create an interpretation of “redemption.” The song is not a redemption song, it is an evil song. We must be very careful to let our little ones know what is evil and harmful and what is good and useful. “Redeeming” a song only confuses the matter or clouds their intellect.

    When people quote songs and imagine them to be “redeemed” such as you and Christopher West have done, they are leading their listeners into sin. They are essentially approving of their current lifestyle, one in which they regularly and needlessly expose themselves to the devil’s influence. While it is okay to expose oneself to evil in order to refute or fight it (as I have done here), there is usually no good reason to listen to songs written by “devil’s without a cause” or aimless influencers of evil, even if one is imagining that the song is a song of redemption. Doing so, only weakens one’s intellect and decreases one’s senstivity to evil to a harmful degree.

    A PLACE FOR MERCY
    —————–

    I believe that there is a place for your message. After making it clear that the song is evil and that Kid Rock is caught up in an evil lifestyle, we can speak about the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Christian message and how the hedonistic message contradicts this beautiful message.

    We can speak about how Kid Rock was created with much musical talent and how God wills Kid Rock to use his talent for good and not evil. We can talk about the familial and societal influences of Kid Rock that have led him down the path of death. We can talk about how God knows the influences at work on Kid Rock and how God, as a merciful judge, will take that into account at Kid Rock’s day of personal judgment.

    We can talk about how the “hookers” in Kid Rock’s song are called to value themselves and become more aware of their dignity. We can speak of how a hooker has been designed to engage in marital relations with one man, her husband, in a way that purely singifies indissolubility, openness to life, and is unitive. We can do this without condemning the individual hookers while still maintaining the position that what they are doing is evil.

    We can speak of how hookers often find themselves in desparate financial situations and with no job skills. We can speak of mercy and justice in light of the need for those with luxury to donate money towards helping those who are financially destitute.

    “Non Person,” you seem to be the expert on mercy. I think you have a gift in inspiring people to feel merciful tenderness in their hearts. I think you would be great at convincing people not to condemn the person. The only area of disagreement I have with you and Christopher West is that I think that people should denounce the evil in the world rather than try to call evil “good” in the name of redemption.

    I end where I started:

    We need to embrace creation because it is good while rebuking the moral evil that it does because it is against its inherent goodness.

    God bless!

  39. Wow, CNBD… very beautifully and thoughtfully done… you are right to point out that it did take a stretch past a ‘literal interpretation’ of the lyrics to ascribe some merciful treatment to the songwriter which what what I believe I was really attempting to do.

    No dispute with Hedonism as theme of song… that was clear and never in dispute as to the context of the song. I hope it did not appear that I was trying to justify hedonism as I was not. The song is clearly about a hedonsitic lifestyle.

    My focus was that hedonism is a slavery and a trap that many people that I know and try to help are caught up in and many know no better as they have never been shown a differnt way and so that is where Mercy must abound and not condemnation of the person caught up in such a way of life, (in short hand hat the sin, love the sinner)

    But this is not to say that that hedonsim itself should be excused or glorified, it should in fact, I agree be condemned and hated as the evil slavery that it is. I was more ‘person’ focused. I have no disagreement with you on that.

    I never intended to become some sort of defender of Kid Rock.

    One thing I would ask you to do, is not lump whatever I say in with the works of Christopher West.

    I may very well have reached too far when trying to make a point and citing Kid Rock. I was attempting to make a point about about Mercy and the person (not accepting a person’s evil action.

    I have never heard Chrsitopher West ever use a pop culture refercen that wasn’t clearly couched almost precisely in the way you did it…with all the appropriate caveats, being careful to point out the places where (whatever the pop cultural reference being used was) has missed the mark, but could be redeemed with Mercy and Grace which wouuld untwist what was wrong with the reference etc…

    He actually couches his references much more like you have done and as you suggest… and uses them to make a point, not much unlike I have heard Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Tim Staples, Patrick Madrid, and others do in lectures or in thier written or recorded work.

    I have heard around 110 hours of live lectures by Mr. West, read most of his books and listened to most of his CD releases so I consider myself to have a pretty broad context of his work. I have less Live lecture time with Scott Hahn’s works but have read and listend extensively to his wokrs also (and many other Catholic speakers/writers)

    Mr. West does employ this technique frequently, but his citations of a pop culture movie or song are much more carefully chosen and well thought out than the idle reference I threw out there from Kid Rock.

    So I would just ask that out of respect for Mr. West, my clumsly (and in retrospect) perhaps poorly chosen Kid Rock reference not be lumped in with Mr. West’s work. I do not go out and do public speaking. I have never until this blog, ever responded to a blog.

    I was only speaking out as I know people who come from the types of lifestyles that Kid Rock writes about and I know from my own experience with them that many of them respond to understanding and and invitation to learn about Mercy and embarce it and many have had conversions.

    In my experince working with them, I have found that they had never been given any message but condemnation, rules based, ‘Thou shall not’ or ‘thou shall burn in hell’, tyoe treatment and had all but been discarded as disposable human garbage, by family, society and by their churches (both Catholic and non-Catholic church faith communities.

    They had nevr recieved any messages about many of the authentic church teachings and had no idea about the deep and true teachings of the Catholic church and just wrote it off as judgemental, condemning, and scandal ridden.

    The message of Mercy for them as individuals had never been presented to them. This was not becasue of faulty ‘language of the church’ but becasue of the broken vessels and in adequate messengers of the authentic ‘language of the church’ they had encountered.

    In fact many of the messengers they encountered were preaching a false ‘language of the church’ …

    So my heart does go out to people in the slavery of hedonsim because I know that many of them really believe that that is all there is for them in this world and have turned to it after being very wounded in a church community if they had ever been part of one at all.

    In some cases when these huring and wounded people became disillusioned with this false and evil and ultimatley bitterly disappointing lifestyle, they loose hope and loose their life to drugs or suicide.

    Mercy is Hope, and these ‘Kid-Rock’s’ need help. So I do try to understand them, but I do not think it is ok to call evil good or Good evil.

    So anyway , thanks for taking all the time it took to put together a very thoughtful response. I would say that I agree with most of it.

    I do take your point that I need to be much more careful in the way I frame any use of pop-culture references, and do it in the manner that you and Mr. West (and for that matter St. Paul) utilized them.

    I do believe that using such refernces can be very effective, but only if they are carefully chosen and always they must be not accepted as they are, but un-twisted, infused with truth, and then ‘couched’ in proper context, in the manner you described and in the way that I have seen Mr. West utilize them in over 100 hours of live lectures I have personally seen him use them.

    I know how effective and helpful they are, just as I have seen very vaunted and respected bishops and well respected high profile priests use references to movies, songs, etc.

    It would be nice to think that sticking only to all of the psalms when trying to reach out to the people ‘outside of the choir’ , but they can’t sing along if they don’t know the song. Once they are invited in and given hope and encounter Mercy, I know how beautiful the psalms will be to them, and then as part of the choir, we can all sing together with them.

    But until then, I feel moved to go out and meet people where they are at, not accepting their sinful behavior or explaining it away, but lovingly trying to invite them to the join the choir.

    Peace

  40. Hello to everyone:

    I have not fully read all of the posts and notes however I just want to underline that I was deeply touched by the charity with which MArcia responded to a comment by “cannot be deceived” and I think that If we are all trying to follow Christ we must start all of our conversations with charity and respect. It saddened me that in a community of people who I believe are trying to follow Christ and to pursue truth, charity was lacking in some of the posts. I feel some have let their anger speak and that goes exactly agaisnt what we are trying to do, to educate our instincts and to transform them into a road towards sanctity.
    I was not brought up in a Christian home, and it was the charity and the beauty of some very holy CAtholic women that transformed me. Just by their example, deep happines and love for others , I wanted to follow Christ. That, without much preaching conviced me to wait until marriage for sex and to fall in love with Christ and with the church.

    I think that love for neighbour and charity in our words can go a longer way than we imagine…it did with me.

    Gabriela.

  41. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    There is absolutely nothing that I disagree with in the last post that you wrote. I will try to do better not to lump you in with Christopher West as I have been doing and I appreciate it that you pointed out to me that I was doing this and that it is unfair. I apologize for this.

    I totally agree that we need to love the sinner and hate the sin. I think that there is one negative side of the requirement that an adult who wants to enter the Catholic Church needs to go through about an entire year of Catechesis first. The downside is that entry into the Church is not quick and easy, which also means that access to the true mercy found in the reception of the Sacraments is also not quick and easy for them.

    On the positive side, all adults who properly bear the name “Catholic Christian” have explicitly professed allegiance to Catholic Christian ideals through the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. When we say “Amen” after the Eucharistic Minister’s words “The Body of Christ,” we are not only truly receiving the Body of Christ, we are saying “I believe in all of the teachings of the Catholic Church.” For this reason, when we preach to a Catholic Christian crowd, we should be able to preach differently than we do to an inherently hedonistic crowd.

    I totally agree that we need to give hope to those who are trapped in a hedonistic lifestyle by showing them mercy. My comments were intended to be couched in the context of speaking to a Catholic Christian audience, one that inherently obeys the teachings of the Magisterium by virtue of the title “Catholic Christians.”

    You have listened to more speaking engagements of Christopher West than I have and I believe you that he is probably tasteful and selective in his choice of lyrics. He probably never tried to redeem Kid Rock and I totally understand that you were writing as a layperson who was merely communicating through a blog for the first time. I can tell you know a thing or two based on all of your references to the saints, etc., and I agree with you that the misunderstandings between us were probably a matter of imprecise language.

    However, I still disagree with you on your position that Christopher West is more precise than you in his language use. While most of what he writes is true, I believe that he falls into error at times in very important ways that can lead someone towards a life of sin or ignorance rather than the opposite. I, in no way, suggest that he does so intentionally, but only firmly state that he simply does so.

    I believe that he falls into one of two extremes at different times:
    (1) He accuses those who naturally experience at least some small level of sexual desire and pleasure when exposed to immodestly dressed bodies (of persons)
    (2) He appeals to people, asking them to reach a(n) (imaginary) level of purity in which all of their emotions are pure.

    Both of these two extremes are erroneous. We do not accuse the emotions, which simply occur in us; we rather accuse what can be controlled. What can be controlled is our actions, even our interior actions of thinking and choosing. When we maintain custody of the senses, we do not try to control others; we seek to control ourselves, i.e. through self-control or self-mastery.

    Mastery of the self is not only mastery of the mind, it is also mastery of the body. When we continue to view immodestly dressed women while playing tricks of the mind to divert us from experiencing what is truly happening within our bodies, we are neglecting the reality of the body. The quickest and easiest way to control the mind is by controlling our external actions. This is done through custody of the senses.

    Our emotions seem to emanate from the center of our being and, in one sense, “project out” into our actions. Conversely, our senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell “take in” something from the outside world. While we cannot control our emotions, since they happen in us, we can control our senses when we maintain custody of them. Sometimes this means that we will need to place our entire body in a physical location that is pure. Sometimes this means staring at the sidewalk. Other times this means looking into someone’s eyes.

    Christopher West pokes fun at custody of the eyes and then goes on to say it is good, while seeming to suggest that only lustful people need to make use of custody of the senses. These things get very confusing for the reader and this is not because the reader is at fault. It is simply bad writing on the part of Christopher West, soemone who is not blogging in a post for the first time. I hate to say this about his writing, but it is my duty to battle erroneous ideas that are slowly infiltrating the interior of the Church.

    Regarding what you wrote about a carefully placed lyric in a speaking engagement, I tend to agree as long as the audience is not caught up in a hedonistic lifestyle and the lyric is not used to encourage people to listen to these songs. I think it is important for the evangelist to say, “I only know this song from before I experienced a conversion” or “I looked up the lyrics to see to what the common American is being exposed.” Maybe Christopher West does this as you say he does. I don’t know.

    Basically, I don’t think preaching usually helps the “un-converted.” Preaching usually only helps those who already crave the message, those who crave deeper conversion. I think we need to simply love those who are living a hedonistic lifestyle by showing them mercy and inviting them into deeper communion with God when the time is right. I think we accept a person and love them first, then after a certain amount of time, we place a challenge before them. In this way, we are like Pope John Paul II who said that Christ made both an accusation and an appeal with the appeal being more important than the accusation. Rather than focus on one’s errors in the past, we invite them to a experieince a pure and holy future.

    I’m fairly certain that you and I agree on everything contained in this email except what I have stated about the writings of Christopher West. I’m at peace with this. You? God bless, buddy!

    In Christ,
    Thomas

  42. Cannot Be Deceived

    Gabriela,

    You wrote: “It saddened me that in a community of people who I believe are trying to follow Christ and to pursue truth, charity was lacking in some of the posts.” I just want you to know that I care about the sadness that you felt.

    God bless!

    In Christ,
    Thomas

  43. Cannot Be Deceived

    Jen,

    It sounds like you are very familiar with Christopher West and also you have read theology of the body several times. I’d like to comment on this part of what you wrote:

    “2) In regards to Christopher’s experience of “untwisting” the pornographic images: He has related this story many times and I would like to tidy up the facts a bit. He was in adoration and the images were coming up in his memory. To deal with them he had 2 choices: he could push them down (repress them) or he could ask the Lord to take them and untwist the lies. One by one, in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, he took the images that had been coming to him and gave them to God to untwist. When each image had been given to the Lord, the image that the Lord gave back to Christopher was the image of Mary nursing Jesus. Christopher understood this as the untwisting of all the pornographic lies he had previously seen.”

    I thank you for making the clarifications. I think that maybe he does not tell the story the same way every time and I needed the missing parts of the story. Fans of West like you really help me to get my story straight. 🙂

    My concern lies specifically in this part of what you wrote: “To deal with them he had 2 choices: he could push them down (repress them) or he could ask the Lord to take them and untwist the lies.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “push them down.” This language is not specific so there is no way I could know what you truly mean by the words. I am going to speak here as if the words “push them down” mean “choose not to dwell on them.”

    Pope John Paul II, as you know from reading theology of the body three times, used the words “repress,” “repressed,” and “repression” a collective total of zero times in theology of the body. In fact, there were absolutely zero times that he used any synonym or variation of the word “repression.” Herein lies the difference between the thought of Jen and the thought of Pope John Paul II.

    While Christopher West sometimes uses the word “repression,” I have not yet heard him use it when referring to one’s choice not to dwell upon bodily images as you have here. Herein lies the difference between the thought of Christopher West and Jen.

    My intention of pointing out these differences in thought are not to place you on the defensive by accusing you. You are free to use the word “repress” as we all are and you are free to speak of anything under the sun as we all are. Difference does not mean “bad.” I think it is important to recognize differences so that we can discover the beauty of each individual. I’d like to compare the thought of Jen (if my assumption of what “push down” means here is true) and the thought of Pope John Paul II.

    The word “repression,” in the psychological sense, was put into popular use by Freud, who utilized the German equivalent “verdrängen.”

    Pope John Paul II blatantly accused Freud, Marx, and Nietszche of being “masters of suspician.” The following quote from theology of the body speaks for itself:

    “Ricoeur described Freud, Marx and Nietzsche as ‘masters of suspicion'(1) (“maîtres du soupçon”). He had in mind the set of systems that each of them represents, and above all, perhaps, the hidden basis and the orientation of each of them in understanding and interpreting the humanum itself.
    It seems necessary to refer, at least briefly, to this basis and to this orientation. It must be done to discover a significant convergence and also a fundamental divergence, which has its source in the Bible, and which we are trying to express in our analyses. What does the convergence consist of? It consists in the fact that the above-mentioned thinkers, who have and still do exercise a great influence on the way of thinking and evaluating of the men of our time, seem substantially also to judge and accuse man’s heart. Even more, they seem to judge it and accuse it because of what biblical language, especially Johannine, calls lust, the three forms of lust.”

    There is an important reason that Pope John Paul II does not use the word “repression” in theology of the body. It is because Freud’s notion of repression is not consistent with the Christian ethos.

    In the aforementioned quote, Pope John Paul II said that Freud and others like him “seem substantially also to judge and accuse man’s heart.” They do so without giving man a way to achieve good moral action. Jen, when you wrote that “pushing them down” means to “repress” the images, you, perhaps unknowingly, falsely accused man’s heart just like Freud has. This is the common error that I introduced in my first blog entry before you even wrote your response.

    I do not blame you for making this error, especially since Pope John Paul II said that Freud and the others “have and still do exercise a great influence on the way of thinking and evaluating of the men of our time.” I am afraid to say that it seems that perhaps Freud has influenced you in your thinking and evaluation.

    When you introduce yourself as someone who has read theology of the body three times and as someone who is familiar with Christopher West, you receive immediate credibility in the minds of most people in the ever-widening theology of the body circle. Because of this, most people will accept anything you say as true. They will usually look to you for guidance, and properly so.

    My concern is that you seem to have overlooked some important nuances of theology of the body and it is precisely this type of misunderstanding of nuances that I have seen lead some people astray. In this way, you and Christopher West are similar. While both you and West seem to share in the similarity of misunderstanding certain nuances of theology of the body in general, in this specific error, you and West are different in thought much as you and Pope John Paul II are different in thought.

    Please allow me to explain the Freudian notion of repression as it compares to the Cahtolic Christian understanding of the workings of the mind. I do so not to criticize you, but in hopes that you will gain an even deeper understanding of theology of the body and lead those to whom you evangelize into an even deeper communion with Christ than you have already led them.

    I will utilize a relevant excerpt from a definition of repression found in the “Penguin Dictionary of Psychology” here for the sake of brevity. “Repression is considered to be operative at an unconscious level; that is, not only does the mechanism keep certain mental contents from reaching awareness, but its very operations lie outside of conscious awareness.”

    I could write an entire paper on the many errors located simply within the Freudian belief that “repression” is unhealthy. Rather than refute the errors myself, I will let Pope John Paul refute them. In theology of the body, the Pope writes:

    “…on the basis of the ethos of the redemption of the body, we cannot stop only at the accusation of the human heart on the basis of desire and lust of the flesh. Man cannot stop at putting the heart in a state of continual and irreversible suspicion due to the manifestations of the lust of the flesh and libido, which, among other things, a psychoanalyst perceives by analyzing the unconscious.”

    Many, many followers of Christopher West misunderstand this statement by the Pope. I cannot explain how this happens, but I can explain what the Pope is saying here.

    First, of all, we must understand that the Pope is not convinced that there is such a thing as a “subconscious”. I could quote his piece called “Person and Act” here to show you, but I want to save time, thus I hope you will simply accept that he did not necessarily believe that there is an area of the mind called “subconscious.” Secondly, we must be certain not to think that Pope John Paul II, who is refuting the thought of Freud in theology of the body, accepts the Freudian notion of libido. This is proven in the Pope’s own words: “The meaning of the body is, in a sense, the antithesis of Freudian libido.”

    Now consider this part of the definition of repression: “keep certain mental contents from reaching awareness, but its very operations lie outside of conscious awareness.” Jen, you stated that by “pushing them down” a person is repressing them. In order to push something down, it must first have reached awareness, yet embedded in the definition of repression are the words: “its very operations lie outside of conscious awareness.”

    We must understand that the Freduian notion of repression is a very mystical, if not magical, way of thinking. First we must pretend that there is an area of the mind called the subconcious. This area of the mind is an area to which we do not have access, yet it supposedly exists in us somewhere. This mystically hidden area of the mind supposedly has operations in it of which we are also mystically unaware. One of these mystical operations is supposedly called “repression.”

    Jen, I cannot order you to cease believing in the subconscious. Perhaps believing in the subconscious is a matter of “faith.” I don’t know. I want to be clear here though, that your use of the word “repress” suggests that perhaps you believe in the existence of the subconscious. This stands in contrast to the thought of Pope John Paul II and I think that it is best for the members of your audience that you do not imply that you are applying the principles of theology of the body when you speak of repression. I think it would be better for them if you would distinguish your beliefs from the thought of Pope John Paul II on these matters. This way, the audience will be able to choose whether or not to accept your notion of repression based on your own merits as a lay evangelist rather than on the merits of the Pope. This is not to belittle your thoughts in any way, but only to attach them to their rightful owner, you. Okay?

    First let us consider the man who decides to use a conscious act of the intellect to dwell on something other than the unwanted sexual images that spontaneously arise in his mind. This act of the intellect is intentional and is an operation of the fully conscious mind. This act is not an act of some mystical “unconscious” area of the mind, thus it would be a improper to call it “repression.”

    The choice not to dwell on spontaneous images is a perfectly good and holy choice, especially if done in the name of God. This is basic Church teaching and absolutely compatible with the teachings of Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body, but perhaps not Jen’s theology of the body. This distinction is not an accusation, but merely a clarification. It is good for us to grasp these differences of thought since they truly exist.

    If we condemn the man who intentionally chooses not to dwell on unwanted sexual images by saying that he is repressing them, then we are falsely accusing this man’s heart. The “heart” as used by Pope John Paul II includes the collective activity of the intellect, will, and emotions. The man intentionally chose to do something good so it is totally wrong to accuse him. It is totally errant to say that he is at a lower level of spiritual purity than anyone else. Perfect custody of the senses is compatible, and almost synonomous, with perfect moral living. If anything, it is the one who intentionally dwells on these images who is perhaps properly subject to suspicion.

    As Freud accuses “man’s heart” by taking intentional and conscious acts of the intellect and placing them into a mystical area of the mind that is out of the range of intent and consciousness, you, Jen, have, perhaps unknowingly, likewise accused the heart of an innocent man.

    It is so interesting that when I point out discrepancies such as these between the thought of Pope John Paul II and you and Christopher West, that people tend to call me a Pharisee. Isn’t a Pharisee one who accuses man’s heart falsely? How is it then, that I am so often called a Pharisee? How is it that I, who chooses not to dwell on the immodestly dressed bodies of women and reflect on spousal mysteries, is called a man of lust? Christopher West has made it very difficult to preach the age-old truths of the Church. Custody of the senses is a very important doctrine to learn for those who wish to reach moral perfection and perfect charity.

    I am saddened by the twisting of Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. I pray: “Lord, untwist these images of theology of the body that are present in the Church. Lord, Son of David, please redeem these twisted images of Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body.” Can I get a laugh here for my levity? I don’t mean to be blasphemous, especially since we truly should be praying this prayer solemnly along with the one West teaches us.

    Jen, I do not accuse you. I do not think you have evil intent, not even a little. I also do not think Christpher West has evil intent. In a recent article he mentioned his prudish grandmother that he so dearly loves. I am guessing that West has had a family experience that is coloring his ability to preach the basic doctrine of the custody of the senses with zeal. There is no way that I can know this for certain about him; I only want to give him an “out” so that no one tries to accuse him of intentionally preaching errors. The only reason I preach against these errors here is because it is my duty. I do so out of love. I want us all to experience true purity of heart, not some twisted imaginary version of the real deal.

    It is also important for it to be known that I do not accuse West for keeping those images present in his mind in various ways by transforming them into the Virgin Mary, etc. The problem with his preaching is that some men in his audience have never viewed porn. These men have never imagined Jesus being breast-fed by Mary. Breast-feeding is a very private act as are very many sex-specific or “sexual” acts. Consider the Church’s teaching in the Catechism on modesty and respecting privacy:

    “Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. […] It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.”

    I am certain that there was something very private and special that was held between Mary and Jesus when Mary breast-fed Him. There is a reason that mention of this very private act was not mentioned in the Bible. The Biblical authors were modest. They were discreet. They did not risk inciting unhealthy curiosity. Christopher West, by preaching his testimony to a wide public audience, is taking something very private and placing it into the imagination of his listeners who have never before intentionally chosen to dwell on such private things. I try to respect the privacy of others, especially the privacy of Mary and Jesus.

    While Jesus had a public life, he also had a private life. There is a reason we do not read much of his childhood in the Bible. The childhood of Jesus, is for the most part, the private life of Jesus. West is not preaching the theology of the body, nor the Gospel, nor the Catechism when he makes the private life of Jesus public.

    By placing that image of Mary and Jesus into my mind against my will, an image that never before existed in my mind, Christopher West has essentially “raped” me. This is akin to the trillions of women who dress immodestly and walk in front of my face on the public streets against my will daily. It is not surprising that Christopher West who forces his images onto his listeners thinks that mature purity of heart means to look at immodestly dressed women and dwell on them. I say this not to condemn West, but rather to point out his errors for the sake of the Kingdom.

    For the record, I am not tortured by West or the others who have violated my sensibilities. I can only control myself and I do so through custody of the senses. The only reason that I now ever expose myself to West is so that I can accurately refute his errors while I applaud what he has preached correctly. My conclusion from reading West’s writings is that we need to join efforts to save the Church from his errors before they become too widespread. According to West’s last email, there are still many, many people who have never been exposed to West’s version of theology of the body. This means that there is still time to save the Church from serious error due to his theological innovations.

    I used to be a fan of West and I used to follow his advice. When I did so, I reached a point of spiritual stagnation. Then, I decided to take on somewhat of a more ascetic approach and to also practice custody of the senses more closely. The results have been wonderful!

    Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is the way to go. The teachings of the Doctors of the Church, the Church Fathers, the saints, and the popes suffice. Modern innovations of practical theology are unnecessary. The same ancient principles help us to lead a holy life today as well as they did in the “pre-modern” world. Pope John Paul II knew this. That is why he focused on Jesus’ words and Genesis, the beginning. It does not get any more ancient than Genesis. 🙂

    I end here and await your reply. I pray that you are able to seriously consider what I have written here and that nothing I have written has offended you. I am certain that you are a great person with a huge heart. May all who hear you preach be filled with the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit. God bless you, Jen!

  44. Dear Thomas:

    I just read your last two entries. YOu are an obvious scholar and I have been learning much from your gift, so thank you sincerely. Please take these comments from a very non scholarly person who sincerely wants to learn more about the church and about the importance of loving people individually, so please take my questions as my way to try to know you. As I read your comments about Mary and Jesus nursing I must say I was surprised a bit. I am from Mexico,as you know a very catholic country by default. We find in my country’s churches, images of Mary nursing Jesus quite often. If I am not mistaken,there is a a statue of the Virgin Mary nursing the baby Jesus, in the gable of the Church of the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem. The reason I say this is that I got the sense that you feel that Christopher West was using this image improperly, or that it was an improper image to talk about since that was an intimate part of Jesus’ life. For me, as for many of my Fellow Mexicans, these images represent the motherly love of our Mother Mary. The image of Mary nursing Jesus for me is that of comfort, of peace, of Mary’s perfect humanity. It is enlightening for me to hear that this is not so for everyone, and that this image could be disturbing for someone. So when I heard Christopher west talk about the image that he got after he gave the other unholy images to God, the first sense I got was that of the comforting love of Mary, as most likely CW felt as well.

    I have never seen pornographic images my self, but we all know what they are, when he talked about these unholy images coming to his mind, I quite frankly did not try to imagine them, I simply compared them to the thoughts I get when I see someone I do not like at all and who is very difficult for me not to judge, because I feel a deep struggle trying to take my unholy thoughts out of my head and to honestly and fully give them to God. But again, it was important for me to hear that I must be very careful even in mentioning that thought to someone who by nature rarely judges. However, I again ask you, what do you think about Paul when he writes in his letters against all the sins that the finds in the community of Corinth. He openly mentions them with all their letters: “rivalry, jealousy, bad temper, quarrels, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorders, sexual immorality and debauchery”

    If i understand correctly, you disapprove of CW mentioning the sins, because they might cause scandal within someone, and our church condemns anyone who might scandalize a little one. How do you then reconcile Paul and his mention of all the sins quite explicitly and the probability of him disturbing a “little one” within the community?

    I also want to mention that I have a deep trust in our church’s wisdom and I know it carefuly follows anyone who has an influence like CW’s in the church. Don’t you think that if he was as wrong as you feel, our Pope would quickly jump on him?

    On the other hand I do completely agree with you with regards to the custody of our senses. Our lives, I feel, shoul be in constant asceticism not only from our sense of vision, but the totallity of our “humanness” (is there such a word?).

    I get the sense that you have been deeply hurt by someone very close to you having been lead astray from the church because of CW. Has that person truly been completely lead astray or lead farther from where you both were at some point. Since there are many parts to the same body in the church, could it be that he has been “placed in a different part of the body”?

    I am very interested in learning what you think. I am concluding my physician licensure in Mexico this week, so most likely I will not be reading this blog until next week. Just in case you write and I don’t answer.

    We are one in the Eucharist Thomas, and thank you deeply for answering to my previous note. It meant a lot to me
    Gaby

  45. Cannot Be Deceived

    Gaby,

    I was not aware of the images in Mexico. Thank you for sharing. I do imagine that they are portrayed in a tasteful way. I respect that your experience was different than mine.

    I do not believe that the Pope has the time to “jump on” an American scholar like West. Besides, West is doing so much good by bringing into the Church those who need to hear a mercy-only message and who have been hurt too much to be able to handle a message that involves repentance. If excessive prudishness was allowed in the Church in the past, then its opposite will be allowed now.

    Most solid priests and theologians I know who have heard West speak agree that he is somewhat erroneous or unnecessarily sensational in his preaching. Some say that he is too explicit while others say he denies the fact of Original Sin. I am not the only one who believes what I have written about his preaching. Still, I respect your freedom to disagree with me on this note.

    What West does not seem to understand is the importance of the difference between “abstract pondering of the concept of ‘bodies'” and “concrete, physical bodies.” Please allow me to explain.

    Aquinas says that nightime emissions are not sinful, but that they are sometimes caused by previous sin. If someone was not to maintain custody of the eyes during the day, then that would be sinful. If they were to have nightime emissions as a result, then the emissions would be the result of the sin.

    Aquinas points out that there is nothing sinful in pondering sexual things in an abstract sense in order to further one’s education or understanding. He said that sometimes nightime emissions can be the result of such prior acts of abstract thinking and that in these cases, the emissions are not the result of a previous sin.

    Here, we understand that there is a difference between looking at a real, physical body and merely thinking about bodies in the abstract sense. Regarding a real body, one must maintain custody of the senses. Regarding abstract thinking about bodies, one may do as one wishes within reason.

    What Christopher West seems to be suggesting is for someone to look at a real body while performing an act of abstract thinking. The act of abstract thinking does not nullify the fact that a person is also looking at a real body. When a person is looking at a real body of someone who is not one’s spouse, there are tangible consequences for that action. West does not speak of the consequences of this intentional action as he encourages his listeners to partake in such an exercise.

    West seems to often confuse the different ways that the word “see” can be used. When Catholic Christian doctrine uses the word “see” meaning “think” he speaks as if it means to literally see.

    There is no place in Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” in which the Pope tells a person that they should literally look at another person’s body and dwell on the spousal analogy. West resorts to quoting “Veritatis Splendor” to try to prove his point that we should look at real bodies and dwell on spousal mysteries. The only problem is that “Veritatis Splendor” was talking about abstract thinking and not physical looking.

    In the article found at http://www.christopherwest.com/page.asp?ContentID=40, West writes:

    “As John Paul II taught, Christ’s words about lust are “an invitation to a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 15).”

    What is meant here by the word “looking” is “perceiving.” It refers to a way of thinking in the abstract. One could also say, “a pure way of viewing others” which would also refer to a way of thinking in the abstract. Another way of saying it is, “a pure way of perceiving others.”

    To take this quote and use it to suggest that we are free to look at the bodies of persons who are not our spouses is to misapply the quote.

    In fact, maintaining custody of the senses is precisely how we maintain our capability of “respecting the spousal meaning of the body.” Because the person who is dressed immodestly and who is walking down the sidewalk is not my spouse, I must maintain custody of the senses. The person was created by God to become a spouse and I am not the person’s spouse. For this reason, I must remember that this person’s body is God’s possession and not mine. This person’s body is not mine to physically view.

    Any passion you here in the tone of my emails is a passion for truth. Few people love truth as much as I do. It is true that people who I know have been led astray by West’s message. I have been open about that. I am in anguish whenever I hear that someone has been led astray by a preacher of any sort.

    My latest encounter was last week. I was in a bookstore and a lady who knew I studied Theology of the Body asked if I read a lot of West and when I said I didn’t, she grew curious. I said that West was mostly correct in his theology, but that his application is not aligned with what Pope John Paull II had intended. She asked me to explain, so I told her that West does not seem to respect ancient traditions such as maintaining custody of the senses. The lady in the bookstore said, “Oh, you mean from the Victorian era.”

    I deduce that Christopher West has many people believing that maintaining custody of the eyes is a holdover from Victorian Era prudishness. This simply is not true. The Doctors of the Church and other saints have always written about the importance of maintaining custody of the senses.

    It is these all-too-common events that upset me and keep my zeal strong. Mercy-only messages always annoy me, just as sin-only messages do. I believe that we need to preach the true Gospel of sin-repentance-mercy.

    For example, I was at a banquet a few weeks ago and I sat near a woman who told me that she goes to Mass about 4-5 times a week. A little bit later she was talking to some non-Catholics and told them that she was pretty sure that the Catholic Church no longer teaches the doctrine of Purgatory ever since Vatican II. She continued to say that so many things have changed since Vatican II.

    I think it is a shame that our preachers are afraid to preach about the complete doctrine of the Church. They often emphasize mercy to the neglect of the importance to repent. Many people might be going to Purgatory who have the potential to go to Heaven.

    I realize that this last story is not about West, but I wanted to show you that the problem I have is not only with West’s preaching. It is with the preaching of anyone who wants to water down the teachings of the Church to make them easier to swallow. I understand the importance of preaching mercy-only to non-Catholics. I just think that to Catholic Christians we need to preach sin-repentance-mercy.

    When West preaches that custody of the eyes is inferior and only for the “man of lust,” this appeals to those who are at the beginning of their spiritual journey and who are still very prideful. They will want to reach the supposed “level” of spirituality that West has invented in which one no longer needs to maintain custody of the eyes. I know of one lady who claims to be a “born again virgin” and who says she knows exactly what West is talking about because she is experiencing it. This same lady is also excessively focused on finding a “pure” man who will be able to bring her to sexual climax because of something else that West preached.

    These are the things I here. When I go out and preach the truth, those who have been exposed to West “revolt.” He makes it many more times difficult to preach the truth than it should be.

    Stories such as these increase as West’s popularity increases. Those who have read “Theology of the Body” and never read West have a completely different way of applying “Theology of the Body” than West. Those who have never read West share a common thread. They agree on what it means to be decent.

    In no way am I condemning West. I believe that his intentions are probably righteous. I respect the time and effort he has put into spreading the message of Theology of the Body. It is probably because of him that I know about it. He does much good.

    Regarding your Bible quote from Paul, I think you have misunderstood me. I think it is fine to point out sins. My complaint about West is that he accuses the innocent. It is not lustful to maintain custody of the eyes. It is actually a very holy and pure thing to do. It also is not lustful to experience a biologically-induced and natural feeling of pleasure when one’s eyes unintentionally fall upon an immodestly dressed woman. West definitely seems to be implying that it is only the “man of lust” who needs to maintain custody of the eyes.

    West seems to say that there is some kind of “oure man” who no longer has natural, biological reactions. This is an error. Other than Jesus, such a man exists only in the eschaton. In other words, West has confused “Redeemed Man” with “Eschatological Man.”

    Redeemed man, us, behaves in a certain way because he knows that he is called to experience the eschaton. The way he behaves is to maintain custody of the eyes.

    Eschatological man will not need to maintain custody of the eyes because his biology will no longer experience the effects of Orginal Sin.

    Is it any clearer now? I have to be honest, that your questions did not really seem like questions, but rather seemed more like rebuttals to me. I suppose I will know for sure after you respond to my clarifications. I hope this feedback is useful for the next time we communicate.

    God bless!

  46. Cannot Be Deceived

    Gaby,

    I should have mentioned this too.

    The quote you have written by Paul is one in which Paul speaks of sins in the abstract. He does not make them concrete. We need to be certain to be aware of the difference between what is abstract and what is concrete. To dwell on the spousal analogy in an abstract way is fine. What Paul wrote was fine. No little one will be scandalized by the word “licentious.” It is an abstract word.

    What West is doing is leading people into sin by encouraging them not to maintain custody of the eyes. I believe that that is not his intention, but I have heard too many stories to believe that anything different is occurring as the result of his teaching. Paul is not leading people into sin. He is saying “Don’t sin.”

    We must be certain to call a sin a “sin” and good act a “good act.” Once we confuse the two, we are misleading our sheep.

    Also, we should not confuse the image of the Virgin Mary nursing with a sin. It is merely an image and no image is a sin. Only an intentional action is a sin. What I am saying is that we need to be sensitive about these things and that we need to take into consideration that many people are offended by such an image as West describes it.

    I imagine that the images you speak of in Mexico are very tastefully depicted. I believe that you might be able to describe them in a very decent way. West was so vague that the image in my mind became much more revealing than I had preferred. This is probably because the image was spoken of in the same sentence as the words “pornographic images.” Somehow, by the way West described it, I think a pornographic image of Mary became embedded in my mind that had never been there before. I realize that West speaks of the image as if it is beautiful and holy, but those words don’t change the image.

    I take responsibility for the way that my mind took West’s words and spontaneously created an image that I did not like. I believe that I am not the only one whose mind has done this when listening to West. When I relayed West’s suggestion to a member of my study group, he looked as authentically appalled by the notion as I was.

    I hope this helps explain a little bit better.

  47. Cannot Be Deceived

    In Post 51 where it says “oure man” it should say “pure man.” There is also another typo in it in which the word “here” should say “hear.”

  48. DEar Thomas:

    Thank you very much for your replies (sp?) and I apologize if my questions sounded like a rebuttal. I have to work on that, my husband agrees with you. But no, they were honest questions in my search for understanding. So please accept my apologies.

    Before I go on, I must clarify that I am not a CW fan or anything of the sort. I would however never have come across the Theology of the Body had it not been for him and I must say that in our case (mu husband Paul and I) helped much.

    Having said that, I completely agree that our teachings should never be watered down and that it is a serious problem we face today in all the controversial issues. Being a Catholic doctor I find this problem when it comes to contraception, and it really hurts me to hear some priests or “marriage counselors” water down this message, so I can personally relate to what you are saying.
    If we keep custody of the eyes, it is easier to not have disturbing thoughtsd, so it obviously leads to a purer mind. I never got the message that others are getting from him. And so, again, it is eye opening. If people are getting erroneous concepts from him, isn’t it our job to let him know? Aren’t we responsible for our spiritual works of mercy. In this case, I am sure he would appreciate to know that this is happening, of course done in a mercyful way….I would.
    I have another question that I am sure you can clarify. Why is it different to look at a person or to imagine it. It is clear to me why we are not supposed to look in a lustful way to others, but what exactly do you mean by abstract images and can’t they be just as harmful????

    I am exhausted from days of testing and I am clearly not able to think andunderstand most of what you said…and I really want to, so I will have to come back when my mind is clearer, and I ask for your patience. I understand If you are bored and don’t want to spend much time explaining the simplest basis of theology. I am aware that this is not a class, so if you are or get tired of my basic simple questions I completely understand and will not take it wrong.

    God bless you,
    Gaby

  49. Thomas,
    my wounded brother! How I long for the time to respond fully to your posts. You obviously have been very wounded and I feel even worse for having been so harsh with you and enraged by your earlier posts.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth than to claim that Christopher West either teaches or promotes “mercy-only” Gospel, ‘glorifies sinful behaviour’, or demeans the very necessary aspect of “custody of the senses” or encourages people to look upon immodestly dressed people… This is just falt false, misleading and all the pull quotes that you take out of the conetext of an entire body of work will not change that fact. I have read almost all of his works, listened in person to over 120 hours of live lectures and listened to many of his CDs.

    Why…his work in bringing TOB to the world, literally saved my life. So, no I do not like people mischaracterizing his work and leading other people away from what might be life cahnging to them (as this wolr is not a ‘sub-set’ or footnote to the Gospel, but is in fact the very core of the Gospel message, and that is what gives it its power… You don’t seem to have a problem with TOB, but you seem almost “hell-bent” on attacking West. Again, is this intellectual snobbery… as the vast majority or priests, Bishops, and Archbishops, leading theologians and ethicists in the church that I have personally talked to about West’s work see it as the gift that it is to the Church. The only segment of the church that calls West into question for anything other that ‘style points’ (love his work, it is true, good and effective, but just may not like the style of his delivery…but again no quarrels with the truth of his teaching) the only segment I have encountred are the Arch Traditionsalist crowd that believe Vatican II and JPII were the works of the anti-christ… They hate West. Also the very conservative segement of the church (not Orthodox) but conservative in respect that they are afraid of all this talk of “senses’ and ‘urges’ etc… they are more comfortable with sin management techiniques and ‘coping mechanisms’ to avoid being in touch with the God given senses they posses but are afraid of. This type of repression and supression is their idea of “proper” holiness and sometimes borders on Manichesim and certainly is not what the authentic Church teaching is. (come to you senses! St. Teresa of Availa).

    This is not to say that custody of senses is wrong, quite the contary…it is being very much in touch with your senses and knowing were to properly direct them so they serve to draw you to union with God which is what they (our senses) and we are made for..

    These assertions you make are just patently false and are no where near true and are in fact slanderous! You admit you don’t read his work yet you make the assertions which you do on anecdotal instances of people who have misunderstood what they have heard or you have pulled a quotation out of it’s complete context.

    You hold West responsible for misunderstandings of his teachings in ways similar to the way the world press took Pope Benedict to task for teaching the truth about what the marks of “the” Church is as opposed to a like minded set of individuals who come together in community of praise and worship.

    What you are doing is similar to holding Jesus responsible for the way many of his followers left him in John 6:66 after a truthful teaching which they ‘misunderstood’… Was Jesus responsible for the ‘misunderstanding’ of his teaching of Truth or was it actually a case of the listener’s hardness of heart and not being open to recieve the message, so they twisted it up and then slandered Jesus for having proclaimed it.

    I would also urge you brother to not strip the Cross of its’ power to redeem wounded hearts and create a purity of heart.

    (Does this mean ‘pure’ to the degree that custody of the eyes and senses could or should ever be abandoned? No! that is not what West has ever pointed to!

    He is pointing to the same mysticism that St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of The Cross, the Little flower, St Bernard of Clarivaux among counteless other mystics and Doctors of the Church point to… the pure imagery of proverbs 5:18-19, or the various Psalms or the Song of Songs, the ancient beautiful art (not only in Mexico that Gabby describes) but throughout much of the Churches rich art history and even in the imagery in much the churches Architcture, inscribed right into the structures that evoke imagery (pure imagery) of the Immaculate Womb through which we are reborn into the Trinitarian family of God as children.

    Poetic and mystical language utilizing the imagery of the breasts through which we recieve spiritual nourishment (graces as Mother’s Milk) … These are not West ‘inventions’… have you studied much ancient and holy art or Icons?

    To equate evoking this beautiful imagery with “rape” of your senses only reveals your wounds and I truly ache for you… I really do… take these wounds to the cross, don’t strip the cross of it’s healing power…

    get out of your head and let this go to your heart…to the pure all things are pure brother…

    If we do not look at another person’s body, what are we supposed to look at?(can we see a persons soul?) If they are immodestly dressed and it troubles your heart and you can not see the person rightly, one must engage the custody of ones senses. Christian Know thyself… one must be always on guard with the state of their Soul at any given time on thier journey…

    West does not promote looking at immodestly dressed people…he just cites one example (that Jen Cited Post #26 above..Sts. Nonnus & Pelagia) about how it is possible to reach a level of purity, by way of the purification of the cross, to look even upon the prostitute as in the example of the bishop without lust, but only with love.

    Did the other person who looked away sin or do wrong by maintaining custody of his eyes… Of course not!…and that beautiful story is cited by West as aspirational, something to strive for, if we take on the hard and sober journey, via the power of the cross and a life filled with Grace and virtue and discipline, that it can lead utlimately to this level of purity…Does not Jesus direct us to aspire to be Hloy as My father in heaven is Holy? Jesus set before us this unattainable aspiratinal exhortation. Despite the fact that we will never “perfectly” achieve this on this side of heaven, what are we to do, Lowere the standard and Say to Jesus, well I just can’t do that, so I kinda gave up and settled in for a life of just coping mechanisms and sin management? (Better thena not trying at all, to be sure), but did Jesus call us to just settle for a lower standard or to strive for perfection entrusting our efforts to the sheer gift of grace, as we will as we strive constantly recognize our weakness, our failings and our fallings and our utter dependance on His grace to do anything?

    It is not suggested that everyone should go out and begin abandoning custody of their senses and indulge themsleves in looking at other people wrongly… I mean come one, do you honestly really have that much of a harsh and judgemental view of West and his work that you would with such lack of any charity make such ridiculous assertions? Is there something else going on in your heart?…

    As smart as you are, this kind of wild accusation and mischaracterization really damages your crediblity.

    I had not checked back on this blog for a while and I probably won’t again… It is too painful to see how terribly misguided and wounded you are, no matter how you try to dress it up in scholarly language.

    Have you considered that you and your thinly disgused venom for West (Your mission as you see it is to save the church from his errors?)is actually something wounded deep in your heart, a jealously, a scrupulosity which is a form of pride that has a hold on your heart?

    … you admit you don’t really know his work that deeply but yet you make these mischaracterizations… Brother, instead of making your mission to get the speck you think you see in West’s eye, pull the amazing log out of your own…

    How much time have you spend in front of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament praying for west and his family. If you truly believe he is in such error and such a threat to the church, shouldn’t you be praying for him since he is reaching so many people and has such infulence?

    I pray that you would allow for your wounds to be healed and you could experience the healing, nurturing maternal love that the pure imagery of Jesus at Mary’s breast nursing will awaken in you.

    I pray you will gain a visceral mystical awareness that Mary is not just aspirationally and intellectually our Mother, but yearns to be a real Mother to all of us including you, if we would only avail ourselves to her Motherhood through repentance, avail ourselves of her Son’s mercy won for us by His birth, death and rising again…this beautiful mercy, grace is just waiting to flow to us) literally aches, aches! as a Mother who hears her own child’s voice, her Mother’s milk is then ‘let down’ so she can nourish her dear child!
    And when we don’t avail ourselves of this pure and precious gift, just as a Mother’s who has her milk ‘let down’ and then can not nourish her child (as maybe the child turns away because it is sick etc…)if that nursing then does not take place, the Mother literally aches untils she is able to provide that beautiful nourishment to her crying child(to thee do we cry, poor banished children of eve).

    Brother Thomas, do not doubt the power of the cross to help purify those places in you that have been wounded and that may bear scars…

    The problem with this sacred, pure, beautiful, good and true imagery that is found throughout church history and art is not with the imagery, it is pure.

    It being proclaimed is not “rape” of someones senses as you indicate, (that is an indication that your heart is wounded not that the imagery is improper… That is heresy since it has alwasy been proclaimed by the church as True good and beautiful…(despite some periods where some wrongly guided people within the church…not the church herself… tried to cover it up, hide it away …these efforts were found to have been in error and never been the authentic church’s position…

    The problem, with all love intended brother, is in your heart! (if this imagery causes such turmoil in your heart or in others, I suggest it is a sign of just how far we have fallen and how much the world desperately needs the redemptive message of Theology of the Body, which is nothing less than the unfolding of the Triumph of Mary’s Immacualte heart as promised at Fatima.

    To the pure, all things are pure.

    Heard a song recently from a Secular artist…

    “I wanted freedom, so I broke their laws, but freedom don’t come from rejecting them, it is from not being tempted at all”

    … and that can only happen by the way of purification, by the way of the cross, and from repentance and from Grace working in us to strenghten the mastery of our senses (to the point that can be reached this side of heaven which will never be in the strictest sense perfected)
    …to the pure alll things are pure

    Anyone who is hearing West teach that purity comes any other way than through the cross is mischaracterizing him and pulling quotes and teachings out of context.

    Seems some Church “leadership” in Christ’s day did the same thing, twisted us His own words, took them out of context, threw in some slander and crucified him..

    Mercy …a heart that gives itself to those in misery…

    Mercy to you brother Thomas

  50. Cannot Be Deceived

    Non Person,

    I have to admit that I did not read everything you wrote in the last post. I did not see anything much new in the first half of what you wrote. I assure you that I am not wounded and I assure you that I am not an extreme Traditionalist.

    I’ll tell you what… In a couple of posts, I will post a copy by someone who heard Dr. Janet Smith speak and who is very familiar with Christopher West. She is being allowed to put out an audio presentation on the way she is “living theology of the body” on a credible presentation. After hearing Dr. Smith speak, she now seems to think that it is safe and moral to dress immodestly and make eye contact with every man she meets… and she is married. Her writing is very unclear so that is why I use the word “seems.” Who know what she is really saying? Regardless, these things are scary, especially since she will be giving an audio presentation.

    By the way, I went to Confession to confess being uncharitable about Christopher West (without naming West) and the priest said that I did not sin. He said that it is the duty of theologians to enter into public debate when they think something is in error. I have never attacked West as a person in this forum, but only his writings. I do not know his intent. I posted my opinions on an actual article written by West and cited my quote. An article is not part of a larger body of work. It stands alone.

    I believe that a person could actually be less credible for having listened to and read so much CW, especially if they assimilate the message into their being without thinking critically. Pope John Paul II can be trusted. West needs to be read with a critical eye, much in the same way that what I write here needs to be read with a critical eye. A person should not totally assimilate what I am writing into their being without first chewing on it and someone must also do the same with what West writes. I see a difference in West’s actual written and spoken words and the Pope’s words. This is because they are different. I am pointing out differences because they truly exist, much in the same way that we are all different. When one not only differes from the writings of a Pope, but contradicts them, as in West’s actual written and spoken words on some subtle intricacies, then they either the Pope or the other is erroneous. I choose JPII over West.

    A non-discerning eye will not see difference.

    For the record, I publicly promote West. He is speaking in the area and I let everyone in my contact list know and wrote nothing uncharitable about it. Very few people are going to publicly challenge what West is saying except anonomously. I realize that publicly only extreme right-wingers are going to point out West’s errors while giving their names. I only let my name slip out accidentally.

    It is suicide to one’s preaching “career” to openly point out the errors in West’s message. He is way too popular. His popularity is because he has drawn in so many sexually fallen away Catholics.

    West has done nothing for me except introduce me to TOB. He did not change my life. All I needed to change my life was a belief that the Magisterium’s teachings are true regarding chastity. It was very simple. I never thought that the marital embrace was bad or evil. I never thought that my body was bad or evil. I realize that many people must have believed these things and that is why they love West. That is just fine with me. I think it is good.

    Because so many people love what the message of West has done for them, there is a powerful popular force that will subdue anyone who points out his errors. Those who can get you in front of a crowd to evangelize will blacklist you if you publicly point out West’s errors. For this reason, the same priests, bishops, etc. who say great things about West in public, have different opinions in private. Even I, in publis, will say that West has facilitated much healing int he Church. I will also say publicly that he has really spread the news.

    At one talk I asked for a show of hands of those who had heard of the name “Christopher West.” Almost every hand went up. After that I asked who had heard of “theology of the body.” Only a handful of hands went up. I cannot explain this phenomenon, but I will tell you that the Pope’s writings and West’s writings are different and people just don’t know about it.

    The thing I really like about West is that in his book “Theology of the Body for Beginners,” he starts it out by saying that there is much opinion or much “West” in the book. I think that is very honest of him. Now I say the same and people want to shoot me down.

    Another reason that priests and bishops say good things about West is because they never read the Pope’s theology of the body and they really aren’t interested in the subtle nuances and differences between the two writers. They are busy doing other things.

    I can see that you feel the need to make me seem like I am not credible. That is fine. Either someone is open to hearing me or someone is not. You are not. I just hope that no one believes your characterizations of me because I truly do know what I’m talking about.

  51. Cannot Be Deceived

    Gebriela,

    I want to address this question: “Why is it different to look at a person or to imagine it. It is clear to me why we are not supposed to look in a lustful way to others, but what exactly do you mean by abstract images and can’t they be just as harmful????”

    Aristotle spoke of the various levels of abstraction. He said that eros naturally attracts a person first to the beauty of a body. Second, a person will naturally progress to contemplate the beauty of all bodies. Third, a person will progress to contemplate the baeuty of knowledge itself. Third, the person will progress to contemplate the very Idea of beauty itself. This Idea or Ideal of Beauty is infinite Beauty, and this infinite Beauty is called “God.”

    By the movement of the Holy Spirit, the example I used here ties in very nicely with the blog that initiated this thread.

    Now, the “body” that initiates this progression could be the “body” of Mother Theresa or Pope Benedict the XVI as easily as it could be of some “supermodel.” The point is not that we should act on any erotic impulse to look, but that the material leads to the spiritual, i.e. the real leads to the Idea or Ideal.

    Now, in undergoing the exercise I just mentioned, we thought about the “body” in the abstract. If one of the viewers of this blog was to experience nightime emissions as a result of reading what I posted, it would not be the result of something that was not a sin, because the “bodies” were contemplated in the abstract.

    By abstract, I mean concept, more than “imagination.” For example, I might ask myself, “What is bodiness?” as I contemplate the Beauty of all bodies. The notion is that there is something attractive about contemplating what “body” means or else we would not be drawn to undergo such an exercise. If no one had ever contemplated the Beauty of all bodies, then the word “body” would never have existed.

    Once we leave the material and we attain the level of Idea, we are at the highest level of abstraction. Jesus is the Ideal made Real. “To contemplate God” is not “to imagine” so much as it is to undergo a certain level of abstraction. We abstract the essence of what can be seen until we reach the point of pondering the Ultimate Essence, God. God is essential to all existence.

    Since we have already seen enough bodies in our lives, we do not need to go out and look at more bodies in order to contemplate God. Plus, I believe that we are not going to learn anything new about God by looking at immodestly dressed bodies and contemplating beauty. We are best served by acknowledging the beauty of all of creation including every body (which has a soul and should be called a “person”) and realizing that God created it. Because of Original Sin, we still experience the lustful tendency called concupiscence of the flesh, thus we are NOT called to stare at the “beautiful body parts” of every body we see in order to gain a better understanding of God. Because we appreciate the dignity of each person and because we realize that each body has a soul, we avert our eyes from immodestly dressed persons unless doing so would cause scandal or there is grave reason to look (which is very rare).

    I know that you already agree that custody of the eyes is important. I just had to re-iterate it here or else I would be neglectful.

    Regarding your suggestion to contact West, I just attempted to through the TOB Institute email address. I know he is busy and I doubt he will take the time to contact me, but we’ll see.

    God bless!

  52. Cannot Be Deceived

    Correction of typo…

    I wrote “If one of the viewers of this blog was to experience nightime emissions as a result of reading what I posted, it would not be the result of something that was not a sin, because the “bodies” were contemplated in the abstract.”

    I meant to write: “If one of the viewers of this blog was to experience nightime emissions as a result of reading what I posted, it would not be the result of something that was a sin, because the “bodies” were contemplated in the abstract.”

  53. Non Person,
    Have you ever read the actual text of Theology of the Body? It’s obvious to me that ‘Cannot Be Decieved’ has in fact read it, understood it, and knows what he is talking about. This is not apparent in your posts, and makes it hard to take seriously anything you say in a discussion about JPII’s TOB.
    Wendy

  54. Cannot Be Deceived

    Here is a posting from someone who sounds like maybe she no longer believes that she needs to dress modestly and now she no longer has to be concerned with the possibility that her behavior might be seen as flirtatious by men. I think it is possible that I have her wrong here. The reason that it is difficult to know what she is really saying is because she is not a clear writer.

    I showed this posting to six people and four of them saw a problem in what she wrote and two did not. This is an example of how if we are not very clear about things, people can walk away with some odd notions while feeling “healed” and believing that they are “experiencing the theology of the body first hand.”

    Is Janet Smith really promoting such notions as presented by this woman or has this woman misunderstood Janet Smith and come to some odd conclusions somehow? I think her story has some very moving parts and also has some parts that are confusing to me.

    (Other person’s posting below this line)
    —————————————-

    Healing the Hidden Self (conversation on abuse)

    I want to add another reference if I may. “Healing the Hidden Self” by Barbara Leahy Shlemon. I am currently developing a talk that I will be giving at the 4th Annual Lighthouse Catholic Media Conference entitled “True Worth” and I found this book helpful along with Dr. Conrad Baar’s many books.

    After attending Theology of the Body Institute in which Dr. Janet Smith taught the Love and Responsibility course, I realized that my own past of physical, emotional and sexual abuse had tainted and distorted my understanding of self-worth as well as my ability to show and receive love. For this conversation I speak of love in the sense of the platonic sense. Love of neighbor as a subject created by God not an object.

    That day we were discussing how male and female He created them and in our unique creation we compliment on another. We continued to speak of how men find the feminine attractive and women find the masculine attractive and that this attraction is not sinful but is ordered for we were created for love. For love to exist, there needs to be a lover, a beloved and the fire of the love between them. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, then when we are attracted to the opposite sex, we are in fact attracted to love and attracted to God. We dissected attracted and it was said that attraction and lust are not the same. I had believed this to be true. I had felt that once attracted, that pull, that sensation of delight was sinful and must be stopped at it’s first inception or it could lead to a greater sin.

    I raised my hand and asked the question, I have found that I find men very attractive. What I mean to say is, when I look upon men, no matter who they are or what they look like I find myself attracted to some part of them that comes from their masculinity. It may be there broad shoulders or the fact that they are so tall. It might be a timber to their voice, but whatever the thing is, I feel a warm sensation of butterflies in my stomach that feels it will float into my throat. It is almost a feeling like a sigh. I have always believed that this was very wrong of me. That I must have some inordinate desire that stemmed from a childhood of abuse. I have believed that this “delight” in the opposite sex, has most likely been some kind of emotional dysfunction that I must try and “fix” or overcome lest I fall into sin.

    I shared how I had learned to close myself off, that I had trained myself to avoid eye contact with men that I did not know. If they looked at me, I certainly did not smile at them for that would be opening myself up and would make me vulnerable. I also believed that it would be leading them to sin because I would be then sending a message of interest and that would be wrong since I am married.

    Imagine my surprise when I was met with an overwhelming response that my delight was not sinful but rather it was the essence of Pope John Paul’s message. That stamped into our bodies is God revealing the mystery of love and he desperately wants us to understand this!

    I mention this because it seems to me so many of us are hurting from past abuse and we do not realize that we need smiles and eye contact and yes, even touch. Christopher West mentioned the Manichean demon and heresy. He talked about how it is not sinful for a man to look at a beautiful attractive woman and see her, smile at her and say to himself “That is a very attractive, beautiful and feminine woman”. In fact, he mentioned that it affirms a man in his own masculinity to see his feminine counterpart and delight in her being created as feminine. I am not talking about lust, I am talking about recognizing that woman is a site to behold and her creation as woman is a delight!

    I had NEVER thought about this concept. Suddenly, I realized that the very need to be loved that I have been carrying around with me was starving me emotionally. I had bought in to a lie that my body was something that would lead men to sin and could not be trusted. I believed that if I even smiled at a man I would be inviting him into an occasion of lust. I had even begun to fear confession. I worried that if a priest heard me speak about anything to do with sexuality, that I would be scandalizing him for surely he would have lustful thoughts about me. My twisted understanding of the body had begun to distort my image of masculinity. I had begun to believe that all men were easily tempted and would be led to feelings of lust with even the slightest of provocations.

    I do not say this to sound as if my looks would tempt any man but rather to point out a flaw within myself. For one, past abuses that I had encountered had trained me to keep people at arms length, for my own safety and for theirs. Two, the “ubber” Catholic groups I had encountered had presented the same theme. I was told by a priest that I was to pretty to wear jeans and that I should under no circumstances wear shorts. In fact, he had told me that to be truly modest I must only wear dresses and to make sure they were long. I must say that this directive led me to believe that my body was an obstacle to my own holiness as well as others.

    The turning point in this deep seeded belief came during the before mentioned seminar at the Theology of The Body Institute. There was a man and wife at the Seminar. His name was Charlie. They had been married for over 40 years. At one point he stood up and said to the group how beautiful I was and how it gave him joy to see me every day and that he took delight in seeing how beautifully feminine I was.

    I began to cry. Why? Well, first of all it goes back to Dr. Conrad Baars’ theory that to receive affirmation, it must be from someone that you believe is authentic as well as a from someone in authority. If he had been a handsome young man, I would have made sure to sit on the other side of the room from them on. I would have avoided eye contact as well as conversation except for brief polite greetings. I would never have allowed myself to be alone with him, not even in eucharistic adoration for that would have been to distracting to me. But, because he was sitting next to his wife when he said it and at least 30 years my senior, I believed him. I believed him so completely that tears streamed down my face and I could not stop them. I believe that one moment of understanding has opened a floodgate of healing in my life.

    After that night I decided that whenever I saw someone look at me and make eye contact, I would hold that gaze for a moment and smile with all the love in my heart that I could. I would think the words; “God loves you”. When I left the Institute and arrived at a Philadelphia airport I was on a mission. I decided that if I saw a man look at me, I would smile with love. One after another I made eye contact and smiled when I felt someone’s eyes on me. I can not describe the joy in my heart that I experienced with the events that followed. I remember one man even tipped his hat. I did not see lust, I did not see invitation, I saw warmth and an almost thankfulness behind their eyes.

    I came to realize that we all desire to be loved and accepted. It is in our daily activities that we can give and receive love. We can do that by looking upon one another and delighting in their creation and saying you are beauty to my eyes! I delight in your creation!

    We need to overcome the heresy that the body is an impediment to holiness. It is this heresy that I believe to have been my own obstacle in believing in and accepting the key concepts and truths taught in Theology of The Body. The enemy has used this heresy to prevent many from entering into the beautiful message message given to us by Pope John Paul II. Consequently, it has prevented me from entering into true healing that can ONLY come from affirmation. My distorted beliefs had convinced me to close myself off from affirmation, the distorted belief of the body.

    It is one thing to know about Theology of The Body and it is quite another to be able to experience it. I have know and talked about TOB for a number of years. However, it is only recently, that I have begun to experience it first hand. I ask for prayers as I embark on a mission to uncover this lie from the enemy. I pray my new talk will open the eyes of many who have heard but have not been able to believe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *