Today in Porn, Theology of the Body Edition

So Christopher West, who has built a career out of bringing John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to the masses, made it onto Nightline, and said some things which he says were taken out of context. In particular:

“I actually see very profound historical connections between Hugh Hefner and John Paul II” – in particular, for the way each attempted to rescue sex from Victorian prudishness. “I love Hugh Hefner. I really do. Why? Because I think I understand his ache. I think I understand his longing because I feel it myself. There is this yearning, this ache, this longing we all have for love, for union, for intimacy.”

Dr. Alice Von Hldebrand was not pleased, and spoke out against what she saw as West’s loose-cannon approach. The sanctification of sex, she argued, implies “a humility, a spirit of reverence, and totally avoiding the vulgarity that he uses in his language…I’m shocked and horrified by the words that he uses. His mere mention of Hugh Hefner is to my mind an abomination.”

Now, David L. Schindler, Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family (and, if memory serves, something of a mentor to my sister-in-law Lisa), is weighing in:

“West presents a problem for the Church, not because he lacks orthodox intentions, but because his unquestionably orthodox intentions render his theology, a priori, all the more credible. His work often deflects people from the beauty and depth of what is the authentic meaning of John Paul II’s anthropology of love, and thus of what was wrought in and through the Second Vatican Council. It is scarcely the first time in the history of the Church that abundant good will did not suffice to make one’s theology and vision of reality altogether true.”

Schindler’s response is more nuanced and less shocked than Von Hildebrand’s, and includes bits like this: “In the end, West, in his disproportionate emphasis on sex, promotes a pansexualist tendency that ties all important human and indeed supernatural activity back to sex without the necessary dissimilitudo.”

I think it’s good to see this kind of back-and-forth – why, it’s almost like peer review! – and I look forward to West’s responses.

Comments

  1. Is it the Peter Principle that states a person will be promoted to the level of their incompetence? I think that’s what we’re seeing here. I suspect West is not smart enough for what he’s trying to pull off. The Hefner thing was an over-reach of epic, ghastly proportions. I mean, I’m still laughing over the idea of “very profound historical connections” between Hef and JP2. Dial it back, West. How about “interesting connections,” “surprising connection,” or “slight similarities.” That would be bad enough to the Hildebrands of the world. But profound… come on, I can barely type for laughing. A wise friend of me commented on this situation, “This is what comes of trying to make a living of off chastity.” I agree. West was trying to up the wow in order to keep his thing going, and it backfired horribly.

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