A Critique of Christopher West's "Theology of the Body"
#1
 
Theology of the Body
 From David Bowie to Superman to Christopher West
  
 

DEAR REMNANT EDITOR: Theology of the Body (TOB) and Christopher West are often on my mind, and not without causing me stress!  Monica Ashour, MTS (a teacher of the Theology of the Body) writes (see www.tobet.org/adultstoteachteens.asp) of the Fourth National Theology of the Body Forum in Dallas, Texas, October 26, 2007: “Think about Mass.  We use our bodies to glorify God and be in a deeper union and communion with Him and the whole Church”;  Pope John Paul II says “marital intercourse, next to the Mass, is the most powerful way to combat the devil”. Huh?

What is all this? What are those of us who are not married to do now that we are forever “unable” to engage in this “most powerful way to combat the devil”?  What happens to us?  What about the perpetual virgins, the brides of Christ, the consecrated souls—by living lives dedicated totally to God, through work and constant prayer, were they really “bringing up the rear” behind married people in the war against the devil?.....MORE>>>

 

http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives...e_body.htm

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#2
1. I have never read anything by this fellow, though I have heard of him and TOB.
2. The quotation by Pope John Paul II shoule be taken as it stands. He clearly says, "Next to Mass." That means that in JP's eyes, the unmarried are not inferior, as we can all go to Mass. I honestly do not see unmarried people as somehow 'put down' in that quotation.
3. HOWEVER. I think that if the Remnant writer's information is accurate, this Mr. West is a off-the-wall. What I found most strinking in the article was then-Cardinal Ratzinger's comment about rock music. Profound. And perhaps just as striking was the similarity between the words of West and those of David Bowie!! Yikes! And what a song by Bowie. They may be singing it in Los Angeles parishes soon, unfortunately. . .

I think that there is room here for serious debate in the Church. The writer quotes an unnamed Jesuit priest who gave what sounds like very wise advice. And St. Teresa of Avila. I really don't know about this, but I think the Church will have to confront 2 ways of seeing human sexuality. And I hope she gets around to it once she cleans up the liturgy. . .

Good post Stevus. Food for thought.
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#3
I've read the book. It's definitely better than the Protestant books I've read on sex and marriage, but the criticism above seems justified.

This is an issue I'd like to know more about. The world makes sex carry so much; I'd like to know how important it really is. Sure, it feels important, like everything else we enjoy doing, but I've never understood why it's supposed to be so important in a marriage that if you're not doing it often enough, your marriage must be in trouble.

In any case, talking about sex as if it were religious is just ridiculous. Even Christians speak as if sex is so much weightier than bringing an immortal soul into the world, which is, after all, the primary purpose of sex.

I'm no Jansenist, I'm just suspicious that people have got their priorities wrong.
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#4
While Chris West makes TOB accessible, having read the actual audiences by John Paul II (or some of them), Chris does take liberties with TOB, and makes it his own. The most irritating thing about the way he portrays TOB is that he makes it out to be some kind of revolution, as if the Church had never known all of this wealth of knowledge before and John Paul "The Great" ushered in, with his Theology of the Body, a new identity for Christian marriage.

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#5
You might want to be careful waving the flag of offense on behalf of single people everywhere. It's the same "I'm left out" argument many feminist nuns use against the male priesthood. Every vocation has a beautiful and specific purpose designed by God Himself. Really, no good can come from comparisons like that.

I believe the essence of TOB is that meaningful relations within marriages (i.e. as God intended for man and woman to relate within marriage) make those marriages stronger; strong marriages establish strong families which produce many and good vocations to the priesthood & religious life, the single state, and marriage. It's really not as scandalous as so many people seem to think it is.  Many people have preconceived hangups that cause them to distort discussions of the sexual sphere into license to behave immorally, or on the other hand, with uptight, Puritanical condemnation. But, who can question a teaching that helps married couples grow in their covental relationship, especially during times when human sexuality has been so bastardized by society? This teaching is needed now more than ever. The teaching itself cannot be blamed if people do not show proper respect and reverence when approaching the topic.


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#6
Satori Wrote:I've read the book. It's definitely better than the Protestant books I've read on sex and marriage, but the criticism above seems justified.

This is an issue I'd like to know more about. The world makes sex carry so much; I'd like to know how important it really is. Sure, it feels important, like everything else we enjoy doing, but I've never understood why it's supposed to be so important in a marriage that if you're not doing it often enough, your marriage must be in trouble.

In any case, talking about sex as if it were religious is just ridiculous. Even Christians speak as if sex is so much weightier than bringing an immortal soul into the world, which is, after all, the primary purpose of sex.

I'm no Jansenist, I'm just suspicious that people have got their priorities wrong.

Haha!  That is why I love Shakespeare.  One of his major themes in many plays and poems is the tension between over-romanticized she-is-a-goddess courtly love, and the bawdy flippancy towards love and sex you find in the likes of Ovid.  The view he endorses is the healthy balance of these two.  Sex is awe-inspiring and hilarious.

However, I don't think it's ridiculous to speak of sex as being religious.  By nature, it is sacramental. (a sacramental?)
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#7
Satori Wrote:This is an issue I'd like to know more about. The world makes sex carry so much; I'd like to know how important it really is. Sure, it feels important, like everything else we enjoy doing, but I've never understood why it's supposed to be so important in a marriage that if you're not doing it often enough, your marriage must be in trouble.

A priest has particular rights, first and foremost being able to say the Mass. A couple have particular rights too, namely the marital act. Both are highly important to the respective goals of both vocations. This is not to push brother-sister married relationships to the side though.
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#8
Satori Wrote:This is an issue I'd like to know more about. The world makes sex carry so much; I'd like to know how important it really is. Sure, it feels important, like everything else we enjoy doing, but I've never understood why it's supposed to be so important in a marriage that if you're not doing it often enough, your marriage must be in trouble.

In any case, talking about sex as if it were religious is just ridiculous. Even Christians speak as if sex is so much weightier than bringing an immortal soul into the world, which is, after all, the primary purpose of sex.

Sex is one of the most mysterious aspects of our existence and the Church has always taught this to be so.  This is why it is so sensationalised by the media.  This is why it is one of the most intense acts that can be done.  There is so muc going on in the act that we can't even grasp. 

TOB actually helps address this.


I'm not a raving NO nor do I call the work a 'revolution.'  It's simply an expounding upon Catholic teaching and tradition which is especially pertinent and enlightening in our time.  I don't understand the negative sentiment around it.
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#9
It is the traditional teaching of the Church that the religious celibate state is more perfect than the married state....

How sex can combat the devil makes no sense whatsoever, as even if the two engage is proper sinless relations, the child conceived is conceived in sin, meaning they have original sin on their soul.

So how this can at all combat the devil is beyond my understanding. If anything it advances the Kingdom of Satan by introducing a new recruit, unless the child is promptly baptized...
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#10
If you are going to read about the Church's teachings on sex, skip West. There are other problems besides those mentioned here. Read von Hildebrand's work re: purity and marriage instead.
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