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Monday, May 11, 2009


Mark Brumley

Hefner started Playboy as a response to Puritanism, eh? Well, people make all kinds of claims for why they do very bad things. That does not mean they are telling the truth or that their claims are justified.


Another article from CNA---Alice von Hildebrand comments on the Christopher West interview:

Ed Peters

What did West ACTUALLY SAY?

I can easily get into what he meant, etc, but not until I know what he actually said.

Rich Leonardi

Why in the world would anyone promoting the Catholic vision of sexuality even *mention* Hugh Hefner and Playboy? It is utterly predictable that the press would take that ball and run with it.

Mark Brumley

Good point, EP. It is always helpful to know what someone said before you decide whether or not you agree with it.

I will say that I think the Theology of the Body is helpful, which is why its key insights were being popularized by people like Father Paul Quay, S.J., almost thirty years ago. At the same time, it is an aspect of theology or a theological theme; it is not the summa of theology. Some Theology of the Body enthusiasts seem to lose sight of that fact, in practice if not in principle. Furthermore, because it involves sex and because most human beings have strong impulses to disordered activity in the area of sexuality, prudence needs to be employed when discussing the subject. Some of the Theology of the Body preachers have not always exercised prudence, despite their good intentions and essentially sound message.


Dear Christopher West,

It's show biz my boy. Don't sweat the BS spin they gave it. In this biz "ANY press is GOOD Press"

Haven't you noticed you are suddenly busier?

That's show biz!

When Benedict is pilloried in the press he gets millions focused on issues.

When Miss California spoke up for truth, the issue got unimaginable press. That's good.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Sure, many march zombie-like to the BC spin, but MOST will have their attention drawn to the issue, and then they'll use their own minds and hearts to see what it's all about.


Rich L wrote: "Why in the world would anyone promoting the Catholic vision of sexuality even *mention* Hugh Hefner and Playboy?" I think this is too harsh. Contextually, I've always respected West's ability to take the words of Pope John Paul II and contextualize it in a culture that, in moments, are moral polar opposites. I look at what St Paul did in addressing the Greeks, referencing the statue to the unknown god... and using that to promote Christ. Furthermore, he admitted this came out of six hours of footage, four of which came from his presentations, easily accessible from past footage. As far as I see it, West has done his part in clarifying his comments, and I'm more happy for the opportunity to share the Catholic Gospel, under the pretense of correcting a media misconstruing, than not having any opportunity at all. In the meantime, pray for West; he's getting hammered from friendly fire.

Ed Peters

Thx Mark.

Folks! No one knows what West said yet (do we?). All this commentary is pointless unless we find out what West actually said.

P. McCabe

As far as I can tell, what Christopher West said was: "I see a historical connection between John Paul II and Hugh Hefner." And he goes on to explain it. I see no problem with his statements. I agree with Nick. Let's take it easy on the friendly fire. Christopher West is a great servant in the Church today. We are taking ourselves way too seriously. Who was scandalized by anything that Christopher West said? The youth and young adults of our culture who spend hours looking at images on youtube.......I don't think so. Respectfully Mr. Brumley, I agree TOB is not the summa of theology but if it's the starting point for a whole generation of people who have NO THEOLOGY, please allow them get a little excited about it.

Wooly Cool

We don't know what he said to ABC, but here he is speaking on Heffner -- a much fuller picture than what ABC presented:

Ken Crawford

Everyone, the Nightline interview is available on their website here:

As for West himself, I've seen some of his full videos and think he does an awesome job of sharing JPII's Theology of the Body and it is very respectful and reverent. At the same time, I think he was a bit naive to think that the video editors at ABC wouldn't run with the bits about Heffner and completely take them out of context to make West seem far more "radical" than he is. Although I admit how difficult it is to do, he needed to be very careful with everything he said and be sure to be thinking about how it could be taken out of context.

Sadly far too many people (we're all somewhat susceptible) have fallen for that trick.

Rich Leonardi


Mr. West's intentions may be above reproach but his judgment is not. The same goes for all of us. There's nothing harsh in that.

Rich Leonardi

I look at what St Paul did in addressing the Greeks, referencing the statue to the unknown god... and using that to promote Christ.

Moreover, can you really compare West's use of a pornographer with St. Paul's address to the philosophers of Athens? If so, inculturation has run its course.


I think it all comes down to the parable of the weeds and the wheat, growing together, until the moment when God sifts through it all. I think we should all make a trip over to the page on Christopher West's website where we can read HIS words and HIS unpacking of this gloriously comprehensive teaching of Pope John Paul II:

David M. Wallace

It does seem that TOB à la West is marketed (lamentably) as a complete theological system. Most of the faithful who study TOB may fail to realize that this is simply classical Thomistic psychology carried on the vocabulary of personalism. (Cf. Fr. Mullady, OP, on TOB.)

Also, the TOB is simply a (multi-year) series of the Pope's catechetical instructions for his Wednesday audiences.

Finally, and I think this is the most important point, the TOB is incomplete in its portrayal of human sexuality because it fails to discuss the importance of child-rearing: TOB presents a very limited scope of one important aspect of the human person and man's relationship with woman, but it stops there.

TOB only discusses the unitive aspect of Christian marriage, not the procreative, which is the primary end of marriage. We cannot read TOB in isolation. If we are to understand TOB as any kind of authentic development of doctrine in regards the understanding of the human person in the mystery of God, we must read it in light of previous papal pronouncements. Let us recall, as an example, Pius XII's words in his allocution to midwives in 1951:

"Now, the truth is that matrimony, as an institution of nature, in virtue of the Creator's will, has not as a primary and intimate end the personal perfection of the married couple but the procreation and upbringing of a new life. The other ends, inasmuch as they are intended by nature, are not equally primary, much less superior to the primary end, but are essentially subordinated to it. This is true of every marriage, even if no offspring result, just as of every eye it can be said that it is destined and formed to see, even if, in abnormal cases arising from special internal or external conditions, it will never be possible to achieve visual perception."

Mike Farley

For historical accuracy, we ought to note that Puritanism did not advocate a gnostic view of the body. In fact, the Puritans were the sexual liberals of the Christian world of their day because they taught that marriage was not only for procreation but also for the mutual comfort and companionship of husband and wife. And that meant that sexual relations and the body are good gifts of God. It was a legacy of medieval Catholic piety that opposed such "liberal" Puritan teaching of its day. As C.S. Lewis said, modernity's success at so distorting the word "Puritan" is one of the Enemy's greatest triumphs.


Dr. Janet Smith has some really great things to say about her view of Christopher West's comments. It is so great to see the common sense and charity she brings to this whole topic!

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