Strong arguments against Christopher West's marriage/sexuality books

Alice von Hildebrand “defending” the work of her husband Dietrich, or, rather, using him as a cudgel against Christopher West.

Not sure why. It comes across to me as a lot of, “You kids get off my lawn”.

Christopher West is no Dietrich Von Hildebrand. Don’t know why she feels threatened.

I think it was extremely well written.

I don’t think it was a response to a perception of a threat to her late husband, but instead something pointing out that Theology of the Body was not, and is not, a “revolution”.

“… I appreciate all the good he has done for the Church …”

“… He has sometimes misunderstood the authentic Catholic tradition; overlooked or disregarded essential aspects of it …”

“… My goal is to alert parents and educators alike to common philosophical errors that have gravely negative consequences in Christopher West’s lectures and publications. …”

These are not the words of someone feeling threatened or defensively bludgeoning another writer. As an expert in the field, older and wiser, she is simply pointing out some serious errors that may mislead many people due to the popularity of West’s work. In her position it may indeed have been a moral responsibility to do so.

Were Christopher West’s books reviewed by clergy and found to be free of doctrinal error?

The revised edition of “The Good News about Sex and Marriage” has an Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, as does “Theology of the Body for Beginners”.

I don’t think they’re strong arguments. I actually think they are pretty petty. The author’s first accusation is that West is irreverant about sex. I read his book and I certainly didn’t get that impression at all. Since the author didn’t provide any examples of this percieved irreverence, I can’t say what she is worked up about.
Her second argument is that West’s statements that the Church has failed to present these teachings accurately to him as a youngster is an attempt to take the blame off of himself. As I read it, it’s an explaination as to why it is important that Catholic parents and educators don’t brush this issue under the rug. (I know I was never given Hildebrand’s work to read.)
Her next argument basically comes to, “People shouldn’t feel joyful about saving themselves for their future spouse and the glory of God. They should be miserable! That’s the way God wants it!”
She then goes on to complain ambigiously about his language not being holy enough. (or high-falootin’ enough.)
Further down she complains that West stated that the Church used to teach that sex was inherently dirty. I believe the author misunderstood that. I suspect that what she read was that many Catholic teachers, priests, and parents treated sex as if it was dirty, thus giving Catholic children that impression and spreading it on. I think this is an obvious reality that most people would attest to. I know I was quite surprised to find out the actual teachings of the Church on the matter of sexuality.

Offhand, I have to agree with the other poster that the arguments are petty, though I won’t go so far as to suggest that they stem from jealousy that West’s work is reaching more people then her husband’s.

Speaking of which, how are Catholics even supposed to function in life if works that have been approved by their bishops are not to be trusted? Who are we supposed to trust if not our bishops???

As well as supported by Waldstein who translated TOB, among many other scholars.

Hildebrand talks to students and scholars (Which is good) West talks to the unchurched and contracepting crowd. (which is also good, and needed).

Agreed. And it is not hard to perceive a greater depth of vision that von Hildebrand explores.

Well, I do remember a little document called the Winnipeg Statement…who were we supposed to trust then?

BWAHAAAHAHAHAHAHA! >puritanical< “Woohoo! We’re saved by Saint Hugh Hefner from puritanicalism!” :smiley: Meanwhile Hannah Montana’s perpetual oral sex pose (mouth open, eyes gazing upward) mutates into jailbait with pigtails and lollipops twerking with teddy bears and an adult male singing “I know you want it but you’re a good girl” in a striped jail outfit. That’s prime time, folks. Will Smith and Jada Pinckett grimaced with dropped jaws and made their kids cover their eyes. This tasty essay addresses Will & Jada’s sensibilities, and may be entitled “Alice on Love VS Chris on Sexxx.” Hellooo? Chris? We don’t have a problem with “puritanical” we have a problem with “pervertanical.”

I have always been in awe that the hammer of heretics, thugs and dupes, Dietrich Von Hildebrand, was so blessed by the Almighty with a wonderful spouse, herself a fine scholar, young and wise, and able to carry on his work after his death. Here we have Alice crushing pop culture under her womanly heel. “TUA CULPA”? That’s untarnished gold.

Gregory Popculture’s book, Holy Sex, and Chris West’s gushy review, with its new rule for marriage that anything goes as long as the conjugal act culminates inside a woman’s body, is demeaning, perverse and pseudo-Catholic. Holy Sex appears to be a grooming aid, “grooming” being a term usually applied to pedophiles using pornography to desensitize children. “See? It’s OK. It has “holy” and “Catholic” in the title.”

“Pudeur” is pronounced “pyoo-durr.” Only people can blush, the best evidence that humans have divinely-granted souls.:blush: I think Our Lady told Fatima seer, Jacinta, that most souls would damn themselves for eternity for sexual sins; and that immodesty is a deadly affront to God. May God deliver us from the world, the flesh and the devil.

Have you even read Holy Sex? Because that’s not what it says, not by a long shot.

It does say that married couples need to pray and think about their sex life. It does say that some acts are not strictly forbidden, but that couples should consider their motivations for them and see if they aren’t actually lustful and/or selfish. It also says that couples shouldn’t automatically dismiss certain things simply because they have a vague sense that they are dirty or wrong (because we can get those ideas wrongly.) It also says that sex can and should bring married couples closer together.

I get people not liking Popcak’s style (I don’t always love it either), but a lot of the criticism I hear about him is stuff he simply does not say, and I think that’s really, seriously unfair.

Honestly, I do not see strong objective arguments rooted in official Church teaching here. If anyone in this thread believes that any of the arguments in the article are actually strong objective articles rooted in Church teaching against Christopher West’s teaching could you expand upon them here in this thread? The article is too long for me to address it piece by piece as to why I think it fails to be a strong objective argument against Christopher West that is rooted in official Church teaching, but if anybody has a particular part of it that they think fits that description I would love to discuss it with them to see whether or not it really is a strong argument rooted in Church teaching.

I think the article itself offered exactly what you’re asking for here, and I’m really not sure how anyone who read the whole article can not see that.

That’s all I need to know. :thankyou: :thumbsup:

Maybe when I have time I will go through some of what was written in the article to show why I do not find them to be convincing arguments solidly rooted in official Church teaching. The problem is the article is so long… in reading through it I noted at least 15 different points being made against West, most of which need a fair amount of discussion from me in order to explain my thoughts on them, and I only picked out some of the main points that were directed specifically at C West (there were many more general points not even directed at C West particularly). It would take me a very long time and quite a few full-length posts to go through with my thoughts on the whole piece. And, seeing as the word limit for each post exists to prevent exactly that kind of pontificating and keep these forums a place for discussion it seems far more fitting to try and get a discussion going one point at a time.

You may find it hard to believe that anyone could read this piece and not immediately see that it is full of solid arguments that are soundly based in official Church teaching against C West and his writings and teachings, but here I am, and, judging from the other responses I am not the only person left unconvinced by this critique. So, for the sake of getting a forum-appropriate discussion going rather than one-sided monologues could you bring forward an argument she makes that you believe is clearly sound and rooted in official church teaching so that we may have a discussion about it?

There’s a lot of anecdotes about how amazing her husband was, a plethora of objections to his writing style, a bunch of flowery language and that’s about all I see.

If evaluated in human terms, we would have to deem the Holy Spirit to be a very lazy entity. It does what it can do preserve Church teaching, sure. But it’s apparently just fine with higher level clergy within the Church leading people astray. It doesn’t have time to deal with that, I guess.

No matter, that’s not the point. The two examples are not comparable. In the one case, you have bishops disagreeing with Rome. In this case, we have theologian A disagreeing with theologian B (whose works carry imprimatur/nihil obstat) through reference to her husband, theologian C.

I have not read C West’s book, however I have read about the below referenced excerpt on an older CAF thread discussing his book, which I found quite disconcerting at the time and put me off ever reading it.

She makes numerous other well structured points, too.

The excerpt from the article:

*The same thing is true of sodomy. He had such a sense for the dignity of human persons that any posture, which sins against this dignity, was repulsive to him. It is in this context, that we should judge Popcak’s shocking suggestion (p. 248) that “as Christopher West has noted in his book, Good News About Sex and Marriage, there is nothing technically forbidding a couple from engaging” in sodomy (provided the husband culminates the normal sex act within his wife); and that, while he discourages the practice of marital sodomy, “nevertheless, following Augustine’s dictum and in the absence of greater clarification from the Church, couples are free to exercise prudential judgment” in this regard.

That a Catholic author would cite “Augustine’s dictum” (presumably the much-misinterpreted “Love, and do what you will”) as a justification for sodomy would have broken my husband’s heart. Furthermore, the fact that an act is not formally condemned does not entitle us to believe that it is right or good. When Cain murdered his brother, he was not disobeying a formal order from God, but he knew he was committing a grave moral evil–against the Natural Law–already written on mankind’s heart. Similarly, petri dish "conception” is an abomination in and by itself, even though it is not in the Ten Commandments. It is against the dignity of a person to be “made” in a laboratory. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mathew 11: 15)*

That single argument should be more than enough to convince any Catholic not to read West’s books.

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