Christopher West?

Anyone else tired of seeing the constant references to the books of Christopher West in response to most any question on Catholic teachings and sexuality?

I have tried to read two of his books and must say that I didn’t think they were very good in any way. So, the constant references to them on this board really irritate me.

Sorry I’m so irritating…:o

As with any author, I think it has to do with personal preference. He really hit a chord with me and with others… I’m sorry that he didn’t leave a great impression on you.

Same for priests, I suspect… I know some that folks just adore… and, unfortunately, I snore.

Have you an alternative TOB suggestion that you liked? The CCC is pretty dry on it.

Yes, I agree with you completely. But it is a very unpopular stance in Catholic circles these days to say you don’t like him.

I’m not irritated, but I understand your point. The Church teachings on human sexuality are found in Sacred Scripture, the Catechism, papal encyclicals such as Humanae Vitae and Casti Connubbi, plus the writings, talks and encyclicals of John Paul II, etc. I recommend people read those.

Original sources from actual Church documents are so much richer than someone else’s interpretation. I didn’t read a Christopher West book until I had already read many of the other sources. While he writes in line with the Church teachings, not all Catholic authors do which is why I prefer original sources. Amoung the Catholic authors that do teach in line with Church teachings, there are some other books that I like better. If someone wants to read something written on human sexuality by a lay Catholic, Kimberly Hahn’s book Life Giving Love is probably my favorite.

Perhaps you might find this book more interesting:

Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving (Paperback)

by Gregory K. Popcak

I don’t know if it’s completely him, or TOB in general. In someways, CW IS TOB… He is the most recognized. That’s for sure. Maybe JP II should be, but I hear his books are a bit dry. And yes, even I think CW goes over the top sometimes.:blush:

I don’t care for some of the various other popular priests or radio personalities. I just nod and smile…:yup:

Love some of his other books. Sounds great… but I think I need to read this one first…
God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts (Paperback)

**oops… off topic…:blush: **

From the comments I have seen in many threads about him, your opinion seems to be in a very tiny minority.

I guess you’ll have to get over it or provide some additional resources. We don’t have a slew of moral theology sources at our fingertips and CW is one of a handful of modern writers who have taken on this topic and worked to make it presentable to the masses. He uses basic language and sometimes a sense of humor.

CW is not the be all and the end all Catholic teaching. He is a laymen and he is not infallible and this should be understood. Catholics should be looking at a variety of sources to get the complete teaching which is not in the CCC which was never meant to be an complete source for the faith.

For example a paragraph in his book conflicts directly with the advice I have been given by the National Catholics Bioethics Center and another moral theology book I’ve read. I’ve seen the same position( the one CW wrote) expressed by a website run by a famous priest .So I guess more work needs to be done in this area and the individual person still needs to work hard at it until we have more easily accessable guidelines.

People are thirsty for the answers to these moral issues revolving around sexuality and the Church herself needs to step up and provide it or the vacuum willl be filled by anyone who takes it on.

I have heard Mr. West speak, and thought he was good but…It seems to me that he has “disneyfied” the Theology of the Body. You know, it became Walt Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins, Walt Disney’s Peter Pan. Well, it was not Disney’s Pooh, Poppins and Pan, and it is not West’s Theology of the Body. My suggestion: Read JPII. Very deep, very difficult and very rewarding.

[quote=newbetx]In someways, CW IS TOB…

This line of thinking makes me a bit uneasy. Actually, even the title of his book (The Good News about Sex and Marriage) makes me a bit uneasy. The way people on this sight talk about his book it almost sounds as if it is the gospel. :shrug:

Having said that, I have read it and did gain good insight from it. But in all honesty, I’d rather go directly to the man God appointed to lead His flock: John Paul II - dry reading or not. Christopher West’s thoughts on theology of the body are his views regarding John Paul II’s writings. I say allow the Holy Spirit guide us while reading the writings of John Paul II and use Christopher West’s writings as a guide to our reading of JPII instead of Christopher West being almost taughted as the source document of how to understand TOB.

I think you have to remember that JPII and others writing on this wrote more broad/generalized messages on catholi sexual morality so that it could face the test of time and still be applicable to new dilemmas we face in the future that we are unaware of now. People like West (who seems to have universal support by Bishops and Nihls Obst-so its says it is free from error) simply take those teachings and help to simplify it for us and also apply it for us. The bible is similar in that obviously Christ did not mention internet pirating or cpyright infringement, but we can take the command to do not steal and apply it.

I think for many, the problem may stem from hearing a more rigid type of teaching when younger that we hold very close to, so when we see West write something that may shock us, we can get very defensive and feel as if this person is out of touch with Catholic teachings. Well we have to remember that unfortunately some more prudish thoughts prevaded at times although not official teaching. Also, you will notice in his talks, West has refined them over time. (Note: When JPII came out with Love and Responsibility, that was very shocking- but right on).

Ultimately, these books have done a great job to help direct and spark the youth of the Church to embrace the moral teachings of the Church and a strong love for her. This will spark holy marriages, and religious vocations.

Yes, you may prefer other material because we all have personal preferences about style, but if it the teachings itself, I would say start with JPII’s TOB and then read West again. Maybe things will click.

I second (or third) the suggestion to read JPII himself. Pure TOB is amazing. Although, if we are reading it in English we are actually reading this:

Michael Waldstein is the original translator. A friend of mine took a semester course on TOB from him at ITI in Austria. (Their daughters are also best friends.) Since I am such a HUGE fan of TOB I was making jokes that I had to touch my friend, who had touched Waldstein, who had touched and conversed with our late Holy Father. So then my friend said he would get me an autographed copy of the book and send it to me. :dancing:

Sorry, back to the topic (sorry that story was just too cool not to tell.) At the TOB “convention” they had at ITI, Christopher West was there too. While he is a popular writer and speaker on the subject, he is not considered THE authority on it, Waldstein is. But Waldstein hasn’t really written a true commentary on it. He teaches on it, and gives his students the outline of the original writings. But Waldstein himself just considers himself one who understands TOB.

West has his place in bringing TOB to the masses. Without his work so many people would have never even heard of TOB. I have seen him speak live. He is very entertaining and he gets to the heart of many chastity topics. With that said, I have struggled to recommend his book on sex and marriage because I disagree with some of his conclusions on specific sexual acts. To me, if they violate the design, they cannot be accepted.

I have heard West on Catholic radio and bought his book The Good News…(the one that is often recommended on CAF). I think he is good and gets the message across well, though I am one of those who thinks contraception can be used in good conscience. I do not oppose nfp, but also accept non-abortifacient methods as well).

So, for the OP and those who side with her, what is your main gripe about West? No one has specifically mentioned what exactly bugs you about him and why you are tired of his work being constantly recommended.

I’d really be interested in knowing to continue developing my own thoughts on the subject. :slight_smile:

What makes me uneasy about West is that he doesn’t come out of the Magisterium, but out of a website world where he seems to be in the business of selling books, CD’s, and booking personal appearences. Yes, I know he has advanced degrees, and yes I know he has catechetical certification, and yes I know at least one of his books has a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur (but then, at one time, these statements could all have been made about Richard McBrian). He seems to have been embraced by dioceses and religious ed programs who are grateful to employ a “hired gun” to say things and use words that others aren’t comfortable using.

This is not to say he is wrong, necessarily. In fact, I hope he isn’t. But I would be much more comfortable if the Magisterium interpreted and applied JP II’s TOB teachings, and not a hired gun like West.

One gripe: when people attribute “theology of the body” to someone–as if it is something new, rather than part of the old and sacred Church teachings. While I understand Pope John Paul II wrote and spoke much on the subject, even then it is not JPII’s theology of the body either.

God created the physical world and said, “It is good.” Genesis also tells us God commanded Adam and repeated to Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Our Church teaches Jesus the Savior is God Incarnate. Quoting from St. John, “The Word was made flesh and made His dwelling amoung us.” At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This is My Body, which is given up for you.” After His death, Jesus’ Body Resurrected. We believe that humans are not merely souls, but souls inside bodies. St. Paul wrote “Husband’s love your wives as Christ loves the Church.”

There is nothing new about Theology of the Body–except perhaps the name. We need to hear the message directed at specific practices of our times, but the message is not new.

Good answer, thanks. But that’s capitalism for you. He is making a living by interpreting, explaining the Church’s teachings for the general Catholic population. I am not sure if there’s anything wrong with that. Isn’t this the same thing as what other Catholic authors like Scott Hahn, Amy Welbourne, etc. do?

To the OP - yes.

I reckon the basic teachings of the Church on sexuality and marriage could fit into a single CAF post (which has a 5000 character limit). Can’t people just state the answers rather than recommending someone a long and boring book? I looked up some TOB up on the internet and got bored after a few paragraphs.

Care to suggest anyone better than CW?

West does not really present any new understanding of morality. He is not acting as a theologian, so much as a teacher or popular presenter of the theological works of others. Much of what he says offers no real theological argument, but more of a summary of what theologians teach.

He incorrectly attributes all that he teaches on sexuality to JP2’s TOB. Much of what he teaches is not found at all in TOB. It is rather the teaching of a number of different theologians.

There are some modernist errors in his teaching on sexuality. He generally gets most of the major points right. However, he does not make a strong theological argument, even when his conclusion is right. And in many places there is no attempt at all to support what he is saying.

The best teacher is not necessarily the most eloquent or most entertaining teacher. I think the main reason that West has become so popular is that he teaches in a very entertaining way. But his writing is rather thin on theology, lacks true theological arguments, and he asserts certain errors without any basis or theological explanation. The closest he comes to a theological argument is to quote JP2 and then give his own interpretation of the quote.

There is a dearth of good texts on the topic of Catholic sexual ethics.

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