Bookmark and Share
My Photo


    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.


« Well-known priest leaves the Legion of Christ... | Main | Peters gives canon law a Wuerl »

Thursday, May 07, 2009



I don't know about you, but that was not a good way to teach. It's not the right forum to talk like that, in fact it can harm people. Hugh Hefner led to the spiritual destruction of millions of men, he led the charge to the worst destruction.


"But when West looks at the Bible now, he sees the ultimate sex guide. The "Joy of Sex" as a path to salvation."

Reporters words only, I hope. For this is wrong when Mark Driscoll hypes it, and it is equally wrong even if it can be attributed to JPII. Not to mention embarrassing. "The Theology of the Body" seems hyped in the same manner as a rushed cause for John Paul the Great. Both seem like a lot of hype along with some meritorious substance. IYAM. No I'll run for cover, and try to forget the idea that Hugh Hefner is responsible for anything good about sex.

Daniel G. Fink

I've been to more than one Christopher West seminar, and have a significant amount of written material regarding "The Theology of the Body." I am presenting the principals to my children in an age appropriate, lifelong conversation. The central concept I want them to apprehend is the connection between the manner in which God created us, and His will that we participate in the life of the Trinity through grace. Mr. West seems to be "dumbing down" that reality for a secular audience in the interview. I hope he elaborates on the Church's metaphysical understanding of our sexuality at least as much as the polite desriptions of Hefner's tragic outlook on sexuality.

Laura B

Respectfully, I would point out that this article is written by two reporters for ABC News. Consider the source - there will be a sensational presentation or distortion of the truth.

I have been privileged to hear Christopher West, and while he mentions Hefner, he certainly does not speak of him as a hero. Christopher West is one of the most interesting, engaging and orthodox speakers I have ever heard. I encourage everyone to read "Theology of the Body for Beginners" or to attend a talk by Mr. West.

I am convinced that the Theology of the Body is the "missing link," if you will, the framework on which all of our Catholic teaching regarding men and women, our differences, our complimentarity, our very reason for being created is meant to be built. It addresses and answers the most divisive issues of the current time, including women's ordination, gay marriage, contraception, mongamy,cohabitation.

If one can begin with the Theology of the Body, we see just how much God really loves us, how the things he asks of us are to make us happy and prevent harm to us, and how marriage and marital love are just a tiny taste of what God has waiting for us in heaven.


West increasingly strikes me as having a lot of great stuff, and also some wildly imprudent stuff, to say. A place to start might be: did any of the Fathers of the Church ever begin a homily by saying, "Now, those fertility cults with their temple prostitutes, they're really on to something..."

I get it that Catholicism is not anti-erotic. Quite the contrary. But does the modern-day despoiling of the Egyptians really include Playboy?

Matthew Pinto


I was there for 97% of the interview. Although I was pleased with how it came out, I did cringe a few times--not at Christopher, but at the singular focus of the piece on sex (the verb). And, the context with which he referenced Hugh Hefner was incomplete.

That said, this is a forum the Church must play in--even at the risk of being distorted--because much truth will come out. Think of the parable of the talents

I work closely with Christopher and believe he and his work are greatly misunderstood by some in the Church. We're dealing with touchy issues (sex, gender identity, etc) I only ask that you give his material a FULL read rather than just hone in on some soundbites. Christopher is completely within the pale and echoes both JPII's teaching and that of many great commentators of the past.

P. McCabe

Of course the 'sound bite' jockeys are going to get it wrong. If we attempt to engage the culture its going to be a little messy. A man like Christopher West and the folks at Theology of the Body are definately part of the solution. We should all pray for him and for those articulating the message of the truth about human love.

Generally people who are watching these little 5 minute sensationalized pieces are the kind of people who believe Dan Brown is a top notch historian. There is sooooo much work to do. If someone gets a little confused about Hugh Hefner being talked about in the same sentence with John Paul II, so be it.


How is this different from what G.K. Chesterton said?? "A young man knocking on a brothel door is seeking God." GKC


Touche', Matthew!


M.P.: Isn't it precisely the problem that this very medium in which we have to compete doesn't stand still long enough to give West's views a full read and a fair shake? Of course they're going to take the Hefner quote out of context. That's sort of what I was getting at by using "imprudent." "Hugh Hefner is my muse" might make a great deal of sense understood in the entire context of West's work and with a fair examination of his sources, but is doomed to be misinterpreted in a 7-minute TV feature piece. Or, perhaps, even in a 45-minute talk.


""Hugh Hefner is my muse" might make a great deal of sense understood in the entire context of West's work"

Or simply a bad choice of illustrations. The Chesterton quote says the same thing without tripping over itself. I noticed one of West's book "Heaven's Song" features a shot of Heavenly Clouds and a four post bed emerging out of them. All still seems along the same lines as the Evangelical preacher who put a bed up on the platform when he preached about sex. Great shock value, as is pulling erotic tips out of the Song of Songs. But where decorum fits into everything, including an attention-getting maneuver with ABC, is an open question. Rhetorically and aesthetically it seems more out of a Latter-Day Saint or Osteen worldview. And that is a kneejerk intuitive reaction versuys a theological one. Even the phrase "Theology of the Body" sounds anthropomorphic to an oddly exaggerated sense. And while you have to second quess your reservations when a voiceferous conservative like Sungenis defends the JPII legacy against Randy Engel's critique, the 'Joy of Sex' vibe remains. Maybe sex is close to impossible to examine too clinically without failing. And with that rambling series of observations, I guess I will have to actually read some of the stuff!


I think that anyone familiar with the theology of the body and Christopher West's work was not too surprised that ABC "sensationalized" the ToB. Notice above that Mark wrote "sex (the verb)." There's the thing that people who don't know the ToB don't get: it's core issue is not intercourse; the core issue is the "unity in diversity" that is our creation as male and female (the real meaning of "sex").

His point about Hefner is that he recognized that prudish attitudes toward sexuality are not proper. In a talk on West's website (for free download) he takes it a step further, pointing out that Hefner noted the problem, but he didn't try to correct it. Rather, he just stuck in in our faces and made us look at it, as though that were a solution.

Finally, as to the cover of Heaven's Song: check out St. Peter's papal altar. It's a canopy bed. Sexual imagery is pervasive in the Church, from the dipping of the Paschal candle to our becoming "one flesh" with Christ in the Eucharist to the statue of a woman bearing her breasts (from Isa. 66) next to the papal altar. West does a good job in his work, however, of making sure that we see sexuality as a SIGN and not as the reality.

To reiterate: we shouldn't be surprised that the ABC piece sensationalized sex (the verb), if only because people today tend to think that's ALL there is. (Think here of Lewis in The Four Loves: we think of the body as trash, as divine, or as an ass--nothing special, but good for what it does. Today we tend to think "divine," while St. Francis recognized that the body is an ass.) Still, we can pray that some people saw that and thought to themselves, "Huh. Surely not...guess I'll take a look!"


I believe it has been imprudently "expanded" and especially commented upon in public forums where it can be easily misunderstood. The ABC article came off as a huge scandal, the actual interview was not as bad but still had some scandalous stuff in it. By "scandal" I mean that even if the saying is not actually heretical, it can easily mislead, in this case make this "theology" a verbal porn.

THAT SAID, West gave a follow up interview the next day saying how he really DID NOT say some of the scandalous things ABC put (eg that hugh hefner was a role model to West), especially where they read into his comments. The actual interview was about 2 hours, and ABC "condensed" it into 15 min, so there is serious loss of context and "interpreting" to do by the reporters.

So while I imprudently went on a rant on this issue when I only read the ABC transcript, in fairness West was not properly represented on all points, though I firmly maintain it was imprudent at the very least to say some of what he did say.


Janet Smith has some really great things to say about how to interpret this whole controversy. It is so great to see the common sense and charity she brings to this whole topic!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight


Ignatius Press

Catholic World Report


Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad