"Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex"

The full title is “Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast:Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex”

My wife and I have been reading this for the past hour or so, and we’re only half-way through – so if you plan to read this, prepare a few hours for yourself.

That also implies the following disclaimer: I haven’t read the whole thing. But I heartily recommend at least the first half, and I don’t expect my recommendation to be invalidated by the second half.


Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have only done a cursory read and it has certainly got me thinking about how we need to be precise in how we present thing. It has also given me a number of books to add to my reading list. :wink:

I read that perhaps a year ago and became an instant fan of Alice von Hildebrand and Deitrich. Conversely, I’m not a great fan of Christopher Wests treatment of Theology of the Body. I’ve seen some of his lectures on line and didn’t recognise the spirit of Pope St JPII at all in there.

Thanks for posting the link.

I am reading this now, but wanted to pause to thank you for the link. I have read both West’s and Popcak’s popular books on married sexuality, and I am not a fan of either. In fact, I really dislike both books and threw them away when I finished them. I have instead been reading The Way of the Lord Jesus, a theological work by Germaine Grisez and the writings of saints that address married love. The comparison by the author of this article is very timely for me, and I am sure it will help me crystallize my thoughts on this topic.

Why didnt you like them, if i may ask?

I have read von Hildebrand’s critique of Christpher West, and I’m not sure exactly what her problem is other than the fact that she doesn’t like some of the language West uses and that he discusses some subjects that her husband, Dietrich, would never have discussed in his day.

Um…okay. We’re not living in the 30’s, Alice. But what are the errors in West’s theological understanding?

Von Hildebrand herself is taken to task in this defense of West:


I suggest reading both and keeping an open mind.

Sounds like argumentum ad novitatem. Most of the Catholic books I read were written hundreds of years ago.

what 30s The 0030s or the 1530s or the 330s? The point being that the same issues we have now we had then.

Sheesh. C’mon, folks, I was just trying to say that Alice’s beef seems to be that West is speaking about things that would have been hush-hush back in"the day".

Nothing more was intended. :o


That is kind of the problem I have always had with West though. I have seen him give talks live and he was awkward. Granted, these were at teen functions, but he would do well to stick to academic language than to try to be “hip” He has lost a lot of credibility with me.


I’ve seen him give a talk live as well; too bad we can’t compare our experiences as I didn’t find him awkward at all. This was years ago so maybe he’s changed or maybe he changed his approach since the events were geared toward teens. I’m trying to think of one adult who doesn’t come off as a dweeb when speaking to teens. :shrug:

I have often wondered if Mr. West has Mr Evert over for dinner and they sync their approaches.

Same here. Not awkward at all, and I thought he was a great speaker. Made several people cry when he talked about healing after sexual sins.

I agree. Others said it on the other thread and I’ve said it a few times before. Alice is promoting her late husband’s work and I would be shocked if she did otherwise. She doesn’t lack credibility but she does lack a bit of objectivity when it comes to this subject.

I don’t think either are so bad. I would suggest that Mr Evert not use a Hummer (the vehicle) has an example in his talks in the future.

I trust that’s true. But you seem to have missed my point entirely: It’s not better that our language is “looser” these days than they were a hundred years ago. It’s actually a sign of the moral degradation of our culture, along with the widespread acceptance of spiritual and mental diseases that, a century ago, were nigh universally recognized as moral evils.

Have you heard Dawn Eden speak? I haven’t seen her live but I watched her on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and heard about the fallout following her talk she gave in Canada. Now she’s awkward. And I wanted her to be cool as she used to be a rock music journalist and I thought I would be able to relate to her. Nope. She’s been an outspoken critic of West’s, as well, and I wonder if she and Alice are a wee bit jealous that for any awkwardness, he still has a wider audience.

And if there are people who can’t embrace their message or their approach, then what? I’ve heard what I thought was simple straightforward language (other subjects) but people I know didn’t find it accessible. West’s work is. If it’s not your cup of tea, fine. And why are you bringing up a very old article twice in less than a week? It’s been discussed on the forum before, back when it was first published.

I think it’s possible for someone to come on board via West’s approach and supplement it with von Hildebrand’s or even prefer Hildebrand’s. However. Not when the critique feels biased and it feels biased to me. It seems personal on Mrs. von Hildebrand’s part. And even though others have critiqued West’s work (Dawn Eden) that thesis was found wanting by others.

I had an appreciation for the von Hildebrand’s writings years ago but it has been diminished by hearing about this article over and over again. It seems petty and I have to remind myself that others are repeating it and not Mrs. von Hildebrand, herself.

The cult of celebrity should have no bearing on theologians or Catholic speakers. But alas it does.

I couldn’t care less who is jealous or not though I highly doubt Alice is Jealous of West. Highly Doubt.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.