More pop-culture than academic...
I'm not a scholar or a theologian, but even I see problems in the popular interpretations of John Paul II's Wednesday Audience catechesis on the theology of the body. Since I am not a member of the 'academy' I understand my opinions have little import much less consequence. Not a problem for me - it is simply another one of the benefits of being 'little'...
That said, Fr. Angelo Mary of Mary Vitrix blog has posted an accurate critique based upon statements coming out of the recent Theology of the Body conference ("God is a stalker"), while providing a bit of perspective upon the 'doctrine' as promulgated by Fr. Thomas Loya. Some of my readers will be familiar with his name since I published portions of his handout/address at last weekends Courage Conference. Dr. Janet Smith also spoke at the event, but I have no documentation as to what she said. Both promote TOB and seem to oppose criticisms of Christopher West's enthusiastic interpretations of JPII's work.
I had some minor reservations regarding Fr. Loya's talk - or at least what was published in the handout. My issues stem from what I see as a danger from what can and probably will be extrapolated from his conversation by compassionate spiritual directors as regard same-sex couples/partners in disinterested friendships, a concept seemingly in the process of development by among others, John Heard of Dreadnought. I've alluded to these things in the past.
There is of course no problem with same sex friendship in the case of same sex attracted persons - so long as chastity is observed and the homosexual lifestyle is not promoted. Loya does not appear to be advocating anything beyond those parameters - but seeing how easy it is to adapt popular interpretations of TOB to just about any sexual appetite, so as the end result is 'spousal' - I sense the foundation for a development of a more precious "gay spirituality" in the works. Fr. Loya seems to guarantee that could never happen based upon his premise that a same-sex attracted person really only thinks he is a homosexual. His concept is more involved than that of course, and maybe I'll discuss the point later. For now, suffice it to say - based upon experience - I see the TOB notion for homosexuals evolving very close to the bad advice a Trappist monk, who once taught at Duquesne, gave to a 'student' who was struggling with SSA and in a relationship with another man: "You must see X in the transfiguring light of Christ - see Christ in his limbs, in his... love the Christ in him..." - enough said. Although it seems to me the Trappist Fr. X may have anticipated some of the trends within TOB catechesis long before these people even graduated from high school.
I digress however, and perhaps I'm reading too much into what Fr. Loya said in his handout. Read Fr. Angelo Mary's post however - I find it to be rather informative - not simply for those of us in the blogosphere who have learned to wary, but for the members of the academy at large. Anyway, I especially appreciate Fr. Angelo's concluding remarks in his post:.
The Theology of the Body Institute is engaged in mystagogery disguised as orthodoxy and sentimental enthusiasm disguised as orthopraxy. According to Katherine Blanchard, the Theology of the Body Institute’s director of development, the disagreement between the Institute and its critics.
This is an obfuscation. This radically new approach to chastity formation, which suggests, as it does, that one may and should play fast and loose with the occasion of sin is based on doctrinal sleight of hand. I am not sure which came first: playing fast and loose or the sleight of hand. My guess is that difficulties with concupiscence and conscience has lead some to use the Holy Father’s writings in a rationalistic way, in ways he never intended. Perhaps the “Spirit” of the Theology of the Body needs a good exorcism. - Theology of the Body and the Mystical, Magical Trainis really on a philosophical level, and we’re focusing on the practical application of the theology. We’ll let the academics work out the details and respect their conclusions. This is such an original message that there are always better ways to learn and teach about it. That’s what we’re here to do.
Barbara Nicolosi enters the discussion here. Very good commentary.
Nicolosi also links to Open wide the doors to Christ blog, which occasioned Barbara's excellent response in support of Dawn Eden's thesis.