Christopher West: The Only Difference after Nightline is that Catholics are Leary of him all of a sudden


#1

I think this is the best place for this question. I bring this up because it is beginning to get on my nerves.

In the past few months, I have heard something similar to the following comment written many times by many different people on these forums:

"I read the real TOB from JP2, not West's bastardized version", or "West went off the rails when he started comparing JP2 and Hefner on Nightline".

Now, I have six issues with these statements:

  1. West was no different in his presentations before Nightline than he was after. Dr. Schinder's critique says as much. Yet people's attitudes have changed drastically (including people who have in the past listened to or read a lot of West).

  2. Most of the people complaining about him now and saying the above things were the same people who were talking about how great his teachings were as little as a year ago (before the Nightline segment).

  3. Are all the people who say they read the "real TOB" actually reading the real TOB cover to cover, or are they still using secondary sources - albeit sources from people other than Christopher West? I am willing to bet many of these who claim to be going for "the real TOB" are still reading very little of the original.

  4. Why, after the Nightline controversy, do so many Catholics now absolutely refuse to have anything to do with West, ie. no more listening to his CDs or reading his books? Is this not a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Some of what he writes and says is good and can help us understand - at least, he has helped a lot of people here a year or more ago that no longer want anything to do with him.

  5. Why can people on these forums no longer bring up TOB without also cautioning about and disassociating from Christopher West? Can we not talk about TOB without dissing Christopher West and issuing the amber light in the process?

  6. It is almost as though when people like Alice Von Hildebrand began to chime in on the issue, people got a bad taste in their mouths, and decided that they too disliked West without really knowing why. So I must ask: do most people even know why they do not like Christopher West's presentation, and can they **give examples**? I bet many cannot, or have to think hard about it or do an internet search on what Schindler said before they can answer.


#2

The reason why some examples cannot be given about West often enough is the examples themselves are obscene and not possible to write or speak.

I'm not a big fan of TOB period, and the reason why few people have read all of it is because JPII's writings are thick as treacle and ambiguous and fluffy, people can't figure out what in the world they mean, and so they are all things to all people.

But as for West, West's work is simply immoral and not permissible. And if you want to read the obscenity and fill your mind with it, a few targeted internet searches will find it.


#3

‘Purity is the lily among virtues - by it men approach to the Angels. There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. We speak of the chaste as honest, and of the loss of purity as dishonour; purity is an intact thing, its converse is corruption. In a word, its special glory is in the spotless whiteness of soul and body. No unlawful pleasures are compatible with chastity; the pure heart is like the mother of pearl which admits no drop of water save that which comes from Heaven, - it is closed to every attraction save such as are sanctified by holy matrimony. Close your heart to every questionable tenderness or delight, guard against all that is unprofitable though it may be lawful, and strive to avoid unduly fixing your heart even on that which in itself is right and good.’

St. Francis de Sales

‘Nothing is so beautiful as a pure soul. If we understood this, we could not lose our purity. The pure soul is disengaged from matter, from earthly things, and from itself. . . That is why the saints ill-treated their body, that is why they did not grant it what it required, not even to rise five minutes later, to warm themselves, to eat anything that gave them pleasure. . . For what the body loses the soul gains, and what the body gains the soul loses.’

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

‘Heed me well, answered Raphael, and thou shalt hear why the fiend has power to hurt some and not others. The fiend has power over such as go about their marrying with all thought of God shut out of their hearts and minds, wholly intent on their lust, as if they were horse or mule, brutes without reason. Not such be thee. . . For three days deny thyself her favours, and the time you spend together, spend all in prayer. Then, when the third night is past, take the maid to thyself with the fear of the Lord upon thee, moved rather by the hope of begetting children than by any lust of thine. . . thou shalt have joy of thy fatherhood.’

St. Raphael the Archangel, Tobit 6:16-22


#4

Thanks, Shin.

You are one of the few that did not like him either before or after. I think he is okay to some degree, but dangerous - and I have felt that way before and after.

I agree with much of what you say, but it was somewhat of a red herring. You did not really address too many of my points, if any. I know that was not intentional.

I don’t really want a thread bashing Christopher West’s work. I am trying to figure out why so many people have flip-flopped so suddenly and to such an extent with regards to the merits (and deficiencies / problems) concerning his presentations and his work.


#5

Hmm… Your considerate and Christian reply is making me think twice. :slight_smile: You’re welcome, and thanks.

I really can’t answer why people are changing their views…It’ll be interesting to hear…

I have heard even West say he is reconsidering to some degree… which is hopeful… though I doubt he’ll go far enough ever…

It’s few authors who have the courage to directly repudiate what they have done in the past in public, and take a highly unpopular position at the same time, even in ‘Catholic’ circles.

I wouldn’t go near West with a ten foot pole, but not only West, there are other authors who failed miserably far and wide on this subject, before him, and quite popular ones at that. There is not that much out there that’s good on this subject at all recently… People need to trust their instincts and sense of modesty and shame. It’s built in, for a reason.


#6

I think Christopher West is great. Listening to him and reading his books has changed my life. Praise God for JPII and Christopher West.


#7

I have never read any TOB writings by anyone.

That being said, it is my understanding that Mr West started out being ok, and ended up going a distance which a number of people who were reading what he was writing thought was overboard.

In which case, people who used to like him could recommend those works of his they actually read and liked, while cautioning against his later works based on the opinions of reputable people. One does not have to have read those of his works against which one has been cautioned in order to caution others when the source of the caution is a reliable person, and one might also mention that reliable person's name.

The cautions seem especially reliable if Mr West himself has taken them to heart.


#8

Because “people” are stupid lemmings. They follow the “spin” of the latest talking head. Works in politics. Works in life. They love him. They hate him. They celebrate his arrival in Jerusalem with palms. Next thing you know, they are shouting “crucify him.”


#9

I do not subscribe to the “cult of personality” in anything. People are just people.

I have heard Christopher West talk. He’s earthy and sometimes crude. His books have the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, so, according to someone who has the authority to determine, they are sound.

The whole Hefner comment is absolutely true - Hefner had as much impact on the “dark side” as JPII had on the moral side, if you will. If you can’t see that, then you need to look again. That’s not elevating Hefner to JPII - that’s decrying the influence Hefner has had in the last forty years.

His books are interesting to read. I cringe when every single person who asks a sexual question on CAF is told to read his books, as if they are extra-canonical and have chapter and verse numbers on them. But, I’m one of those people who are sick and tired of the same questions being asked a hundred times a month.

People confuse the writer and interpreter. JPII wrote the “Theology of the Body”. CW took it to the masses (as in many people:cool:)


#10

[quote="PaulinVA, post:9, topic:199739"]
I do not subscribe to the "cult of personality" in anything. People are just people.

I have heard Christopher West talk. He's earthy and sometimes crude. His books have the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, so, according to someone who has the authority to determine, they are sound.

The whole Hefner comment is absolutely true - Hefner had as much impact on the "dark side" as JPII had on the moral side, if you will. If you can't see that, then you need to look again. That's not elevating Hefner to JPII - that's decrying the influence Hefner has had in the last forty years.

[/quote]

Exactly right. I get that some people are uncomfortable with what West says, and personally I'm not a big fan but that's because I'm not a really big fan of any lay "minister." Apologists? Ok maybe but that's only because of the intellectual challenge. Otherwise, I'll stick to reading writings directly from JPII, Benedict or greats like Fulton Sheen.

Nevertheless, I agree that West's comparison wasn't wrong, it was just poorly worded. The way you have written it is exactly right. I think perhaps West gets a little carried away and exalts the body too much, but for those who degrade it or at the very least treat it like it is only a temptation for sin, you're wrong as well. These bodies are imperfect, but they will eventually be glorified at the end of times. Sure, we will separate from them at our deaths, but we will be restored in them perfected on the last day, so not go down the path that the gnostics did and start thinking that the physical world is evil or at least is nothing but a near occasion of sin.

His books are interesting to read. I cringe when every single person who asks a sexual question on CAF is told to read his books, as if they are extra-canonical and have chapter and verse numbers on them. But, I'm one of those people who are sick and tired of the same questions being asked a hundred times a month.

Yeah, who else would you suggest besides guys like West or Evert? You can't really tell someone with a simple question to crack open a theological tome like the original TOB. It's way too much for someone looking for a couple of straightforward answers.


#11

This has bothered me as well (but in general – aside from the TOB or Christopher West)

I have noticed that some members of CAF have a strong affinity for a particular book, retreat, devotion, or confraternity, and they will recommend it over and over again…regardless of the OP’s actual circumstances, and without explaining why they think it would help the OP.

This probably has the opposite effect on me, because it makes me feel that the thing in question is overhyped, and it makes me become more suspicious of it in the future.


#12

This thread has continued to degenerate into a critique of the work of Christopher West - which is what I wanted to avoid.

If this continues, I will begin a new thread on his work so that we do not get further away from the original post.

The only ones who have addressed it yet directly are Shin in his latter response, and Paul1961 (although he was a bit harsh in his comments).

Nonetheless, I have found many of the other posts insightful.


#13

Just for clarity: I think the answer of Paul1961 hits pretty close to the truth and to what I have been thinking.

Plus, his answer addresses the question most directly (it is not about West, but about people who have listened to or read West and how their opinions on him have changed so suddenly).

However, I don’t agree with the name-calling.


#14

I’ve been a booster of West both before and after Nightline. Let’s be clear here, he’s not writing theological journal articles. If he were, none of this would have ever been noticed. That’s the problem. Alice von Hildebrand is brilliant but the ONLY people who ever read her or her late husband’s work are people already converted. Find me ANY couple in the typical young adult world (never go to confession and go to mass once a month tops) who read JPIIs “Love & Responsibility” together and were inspired to give their lives and their sexuality over to Christ. I’ll wait a long time. Theologian typically write for God and each other. Their focus is not on translating it to us lay people.

West isn’t addressing theologians. He’s out doing what we all are SUPPOSED to be doing: evangelizing the world. To do that, he uses head - snapping examples and comparisons sometimes. Might some be over the top? Sure! But don’t tell me for a second that none of those rude, crude fishermen Jesus recruited to be his disciples didn’t have the same human frailty from time to time. Baloney. Go spend an hour on the docks some time some place. Some things never change.

It’s all very nice to sit around and have our nice, polite delicate theological tea parties and congratulate ourselves on our decorum. But at least have the decency to refrain from attacking a guy doing yeoman’s work out in the filthy trenches. Frankly, a lot of the criticism of West smacks of the old time prudery that was embarassed by God’s indiscretion in making us sexual beings.

But I don’t have a strong opinion or anything… :blush:

Oh and for those who can’t stand having to learn anything from someone other than a priest, I also recommend Fr. Tom Loya who also preaches extensively on TOB. Google him.


#15

Ok manualman, I agree with much of what you say here. I generally like his work too.

But please refer to my Post #12: we are not here to discuss West and his approach but rather how others have flip-flopped on West since some "heavy hitters" began to criticize him.

I understand that your comments were conditioned by the fact that he has been slammed quite a bit already here, and that you were coming to his defense.

So maybe I will ask this: have you noticed anyone who used to like West but now do not since Alice Von Hildebrand and a few other prominent Catholics expressed their concerns? If so, why do you think such people have changed their opinions so drastically?

Do I perhaps have to give up on ever having my initial post and questions answered? :(


#16

[quote="Michael_Saint, post:1, topic:199739"]
I think this is the best place for this question. I bring this up because it is beginning to get on my nerves.

In the past few months, I have heard something similar to the following comment written many times by many different people on these forums:

"I read the real TOB from JP2, not West's bastardized version", or "West went off the rails when he started comparing JP2 and Hefner on Nightline".

Now, I have six issues with these statements:

  1. West was no different in his presentations before Nightline than he was after. Dr. Schinder's critique says as much. Yet people's attitudes have changed drastically (including people who have in the past listened to or read a lot of West).

[/quote]

I think the change in attitude in some people (trying to not paint with too broad a brush here) toward West might be *because *of the Nightline interview. In a way, his presentations did in fact change after that interview because his presentations --his entire body of work, his recorded talks, articles, etc.-- before Nightline didn't include the Nightline comments. I think that those comments left a real bad taste in some people's mouths.

Perhaps these people, while they had maybe always been a little wary of West's style, they tolerated it because the bulk of his information and his work as a whole outweighed any stylistic quibbles. But the Nightline interview got a LOT of press in Catholic circles and may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Just my $.02.

  1. Most of the people complaining about him now and saying the above things were the same people who were talking about how great his teachings were as little as a year ago (before the Nightline segment).

Again, with the style vs. substance equation. Before Nightline and the publicity that followed it, the substance of West's work (good) outweighed criticisms of his style (crude, "earthy", arguably inappropriate at times, etc.). The Hefner comments, I think, may have finally tipped the scales and changed the equation for some people.

  1. It is almost as though when people like Alice Von Hildebrand began to chime in on the issue, people got a bad taste in their mouths, and decided that they too disliked West without really knowing why. So I must ask: do most people even know why they do not like Christopher West's presentation, and can they **give examples**? I bet many cannot, or have to think hard about it or do an internet search on what Schindler said before they can answer.

Personally, my only quibbles with West have to do with the way he says the things he says. It's an issue of overall style and a modest, graceful way of phrasing things (like Fulton Sheen had), or lack therof....like you said, his style kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't start reading his work until after the Nightline thing, though, so I can't say what effect that one incident had on my view. Substantively, I haven't found any problems with West's presentation of TOTB. However, I do prefer the presentations of Hildebrand and Fr. Tom Loya.


#17

The thing is, what he actually said in the interview before it was edited was what he has been saying. He didn’t say anything new…read " The love that satisfies".

I realize his style isn’t for everyone…and for others, he may grow on you. Honestly, I’ve gotten to know him personally, and the more I know him personally, the more I see how frickin gut wrenching sincere and passionate he is. To many that don’t know him see him on a video and think he’s doing a show or something.

I haven’t heard anyone changing their opinion on him after the interview. I do know of many on the forum that decided to form an opinion of him from the interview only, without knowing anything about him before hand.


#18

Most of this should go on the other thread I started. Please read Post #12 and Post #15.

The only relevant points are these:


#19

Goodness, I am moderating my own thread! :onpatrol:


#20

Michael,

Perhaps those who admired West began to question him when someone else they admired more (e.g. Alice Von Hildebrand) criticized him.

I think that could be a plausible explanation. Akin to someone who, say, enjoyed listening to Wagner until they read Nietzsche's critique?

VC


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