Monday, February 06, 2012

What happened to Christopher West?

I thought he may have retired with Rigali or something, since I haven't seen much discussion of him online.  I wondered, perhaps like Corapi, he just faded away.  I was wrong.  In fact, Mr. West has a new book out - how did I miss that?  - Larry asks.  I didn't really - but I became so bored with the TOB debates and those institutionalized sexologists who seem to want to make it dogma - albeit according to the gospel of Hugh Hefner, that I was going to wait for those who know more about it than I do to write something.  And they did.  Larry pointed me to Kevin O'Brien's blog, Theater of the Word.  Mr. O'Brien takes the West doctrine to task - and does it well.  I will let him speak rather than contribute my thoughts here - although I want to reprint a few quotes from O'Brien which happen to be gems.

Beware, my friends. Beware.

This is all touchy-feely 1970's nonsense that seeks to "normalize and even justify" "lustful libido" - precisely the things West accuses his critics - in this case, an ordained priest - of doing. I had my fill of it in the 70's. It begins with mutual back-rubs in acting class, with accusations that you're a prude if you're not comfortable with nudity, with the implication, eventually made explicit, that through promiscuous and even perverse sex we "grow" as "persons". - Read it all here 

Here's why West is dangerous. We must certainly suffer evil in our union with Christ, this evil being the bad things that happen to us and our concupiscence, which the sacraments do not remove. We can never in this life be without the evil around us and the evil within us, and in that sense we must "offer it up" or "suffer" it.

But West is using this truth to go one step further. He's saying it is Puritanical to avoid near occasions of sin, that it is instead a mark of an illuminated Christian to embrace occasions of sin and to seek the good in them.

His argument is Jungian. It is really nothing but "there's good at the heart of everything bad". True enough. And there's even a kind of "good" in pornography, so far as sex itself is good. Even Satan still retains things that are "good" - his intelligence, his will. These he uses for evil, but they are in themselves good.

West is practicing a kind of "grooming behavior". He is trying to dull our sensibilities by speaking theological half-truths that are used to rationalize sin. 
Here's a test for you. Use West's argument with your wife if you're married. Tell her, according to West, that looking at another woman naked is a good thing because you're looking at her through the eyes of a redeemed Christian and you're seeking the good that lies at the heart of lust. Tell her you're going to the strip club for just this high minded theological reason.

See if she buys it. - Read it all here.
It reminds me of the priest who told me years ago (1970's!) to stay in a sinful relationship and try to see Christ in my lover's limbs, embrace, and kiss.  Like the verse in the Song of Songs, 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth'.  West's theories are so easily adaptable to any sexual orientation - and therein lies another danger.

H/T Acts of the Apostasy


  1. It reminds me of the priest who told me years ago (1970's!) to stay in a sinful relationship and try to see Christ in my lover's limbs, embrace, and kiss.

    WOW...I remember advice like this in the (1980's)! I remember being told to "keep abreast" with what the Church was saying regarding SSA and then being left hanging on a limb over the cliff... I was in correspondence and conversation about a year ago with a community and they were really Hip on West as was their bishop and that everyone in the community were going to hear him speak at a booksigning. That was kind of a red flag for me......

  2. Gee, I thought my SD was cruisy for not expecting me to attend daily mass. Your 1970's mate was bananas!

    Haven't caught up with West's latest, but this critique seems harsh. I've found some of his stuff dubious, but couldn't put a finger on it. I think O'Brien is onto something, but goes a bit OTT.

  3. To be honest - I'm not totally against what West teaches - I'm just not always comfortable with how he states it. I don't want to go into any detail right now however. I believe the controversy is good, although I side with the more conservative critics, who seem to me to be necessary to ensure boundaries are maintained.

  4. I heard he ran off with Janet Smith.

  5. is he married?

  6. I heard he ran off with Janet Smith.

    *snort!* funny!

  7. I heart Mr. Obrien.
    Thank you Mr. Terry for taking the time to share his gems. (Although I'd love to read more of yours!)

    I am now off to watch some Stanford Nutting on youtube...


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