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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Ed Peters

Ah, thank you, Mark. Okay, now then.

Setting aside the reporter's inaccuracies (I noted several, some quite subtle), and looking only at what West himself said (either in the interview itself, or in the clips from his own lecture), most of what West said is just fine; West's problematic language is, however, defensible only with lots of qualifications, iow, precisely the kinds of nuances that one should not expect the MSM to understand, let alone to insert.

However sound his own presentations are (and I strongly suspect they are sound, if not exactly to my taste) West simply has to expect to change his manner of expression when he is NOT in control of the environment. Every professional has to learn this, and usually we learn it the hard way. Given the virtual inevitability of classes in the School of Hard Knocks, West like every apologist should learn from his tactical errors, and gone on doing good.

David Charkowsky

I really love the Theology of the Body and it saddens me to see it
abused in this way. How difficult it is for the Church to be heard
through any modern media, especially highly-edited tabloid pieces like
this one!


"Conservatives have worked so hard over the past few decades to fight for civilized standards against a short checklist of modern barbarisms - abortion, gay marriage, political correctness, and so forth. What we failed to consider was that we had become barbarians ourselves."



"especially highly-edited *tabloid* pieces"

It is such a sad commentary on the current media environment that even Nightline can fairly be described as tabloid today. I grew up watching this show when it was one of the most intelligent programs on television.

L. Falchero

Just watch this to know what Christopher teaches on the context of Hugh Hefner:

And for all intents and purposes, that piece on Nightline was a "puff piece" for the Catholic Church. Hardly any opposition, all meat, all testimony and above all it points the sort of people who need to hear it to the Theology of the Body. JPII gave these teachings to the whole world. Let us remember that.


This is going to be appealing and shocking to some catholics and non catholics who viewed the church as prude, prude in a bad way that is.
I can see how he was misunderstood and I also see why, Alice Von Hildebrand jumped in and gave her comment about it. He is appealing to the younger, and some older audience.

P. McCabe

I think in all of this, we should care a little less what the MSM says about anything. I mean really. It's important to instruct, but lets work on instructing those who are really listening. Let's pray that people like Christopher West can get another opportunity to address the issue. Certainly the next time someone in the media asks him about the question, he's going to be able give some context. Again maybe a small percentage will care, but..........maybe, just maybe the message will be better articulated by CW than by Carrie Prejean and Donald Trump,et al.


L. Falchero, we spoke of that here:


Christopher West in his book "The Love That Satisfies" also mentions Hugh Hefner and as I remember when reading it his view of Hefner is certainly not what Nighlines edited clips make it out to be. Though he should not be surprised in the least what happened. This is par for the course in modern "journalism."


His intentions were good, but good intentions aren't good enough. It's rather foolish to attempt to speak of such things through the filter of the dominant media, a scorpion which, consistent with its nature, unfailingly distorts and dumbs down anything of substance. Prudence steers clear of scorpions. Hopefully he's learned this once and for all.


We need to complete what the sexual revolution started? Can West not say anything that does not seem purposefully contrived to seem "revolutionary" or shocking to traditional ears? If people think the way to bring the Gospel to the culture is to meet the culture at its point of sex obsession, I will have to respectfully disagree. Pleasure IS a gift, sex IS good, but the key to the Gospel seems to me to be self-denial versus self-fulfillment, the latter being a fruit that crumbles if grasped.


Here is the link people need to check out. AVH, as usual, hit the nail on the head with a graceful thwack!


Joe, I couldn't agree with you more.

Paul Rodden

I'm worried he's becoming more showman than evangelist and is losing the plot...

Chuck Hall

Having studied ToB with Christopher for several weeks worth of instruction over a couple of years, perhaps I had a different context in which to hear his comments via "Nightline". I didn't hear anything I hadn't heard a hundred times before in lecture halls. It didn't scandalize me then, nor did "Nightline" scandalize me last week. Christopher said he "loved" Hugh Hefner and that he thought he understood his ache because it was something he shared. He shared that longing for love because we ALL share that longing for love, and the puritan response of hating all bodily things made that longing unbearable. Christopher found, as many of us have, that the Church proposes something better than either the puritan or the libertine response: it proposes the gospel. If someone else had approached Hugh Hefner that way a few decades ago, our entire culture might be better off. As a student of ToB, I thought the piece might actually increase interest in this teaching, which has had such a profound influence on my life, particularly in my conversion to Catholicism, most especially (though not exclusively) under the presentation of Christopher West.

ABC is responsible for the content of the piece as it was finally presented, not Christopher West. I strongly doubt that the origin of it was Christopher going to ABC and saying, "How about doing a segment about this?" It's far more likely the interest came from the other direction. One must always choose one's words carefully when dealing with the MSM, of course, recalling that the MSM in recent history abdicated any responsibility to tell the truth about anything their government sponsors didn't approve, whether it was the lies about the wars we are now in or the destruction of our civil liberties or even the shady financial practices that made a few very wealthy and left the rest of us with a recession. You wouldn't expect the MSM to get a complex teaching like ToB correct in a seven minute segment. Predictably, there was an element about it that presented Christopher as a "sex guru"; it also tried to portray the teaching as somehow being "about great Christian sex." That's sort of like saying "Romeo and Juliet is about love". But for all that, I suspect that JPII's vision survived the controversy, and in the end, will continue to gain an audience. It is, after all, the truth.


Hannah's Tears

Thank you so much for bringing some clarity to this very sad moment.. we are all under such great attack, but Our Lady will see us through. As it says in scripture, if they do not receive you well, move on and shake the dust off from your feet.

Christopher will remain in my prayers.

God bless you!


"You wouldn't expect the MSM to get a complex teaching like ToB correct in a seven minute segment."

Exactly. Then why do it at all?

Kristen Ciaccia

I watched the whole piece and don't want to nit-pick. Hearing Christopher West compare contraception using contraception to sexual bulmia was awesome and totally worth ther whole piece!

jennifer weber

How tragic for Christopher that he has become the subject of these attacks. Reading through some of the public analysis of his comments seems to confirm for me how protestant some of our theology has become given the descriptions set out about the definition "concupiscence". While I understand that it is about a selfish human desire, this protestant notion that human beings have an innate tendency to do evil. Surely our desire is for good, and so based on the opinions of prominent Catholics on this, one is left with the sense that there is no hope to be redeemed or to be transformed through Christ. Its also unfortunate that prominent Catholics have had to undergo this public attack. It seems more about one up man ship. Why not discuss these matters out of the public arena, determine what has been misrepresented, and then come out more unified. However, I think there are conservative Catholics who are more interested in self promotion than perhaps giving consideration to the need to present a united voice.

Mark Brumley

Hmmm. A Protestant notion that human beings have an innate tendency to do evil? A Protestant notion? Since when are the effects of original sin a Protestant notion?

Christopher West makes his remarks in public. So I don't see why someone who thinks his public statements are seriously defective should not discuss them in public. Of course that does not mean that the criticism is correct, only that it is perfectly appropriate to make it in the public arena.


Janet Smith has some really great things to say about how the whole language of academic debate sounds different when moved to a public setting like this. It is so great to see the common sense and charity she brings to this whole topic!

Mark Brumley

I appreciate Janet's comments. However, academic debates are not per se private. And CW's talks are public seminars, his books are aimed at the general public, and recent media coverage has brought CW's ideas to the wider public. Consequently, it is important that his ideas be discussed in public. If you have an argument to the contrary touching on the points I have just mentioned, I would love to hear it.

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