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Fr. Geiger on TOB August 6, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic, Society.

The controversy over the Chris West Theology of the Body presentation continues to grow.  For a view of TOB from what I think is fair to describe as an orthodox position, with respect to the great patrimonic Tradition of the Church, I cannot recommend Fr. Angelo Geiger enough.  I so wish I had been celebrating Mass at St. William when he came there a few years ago!  I should have liked to hear him speak in person.

At the recent TOB congress, one of the most well known TOB proponents, Dr. Janet Smith, said something truly odd, something really that I found quite offensive and difficult to fathom.  I will let Fr. Geiger explain:

Recently, the Theology of the Body Institute conducted its first national congress, during which the triumphal march of the new chastity catechesis pressed forward–in spite of the fact that the movement’s avatar, Christopher West, was absent, presumably to reflect upon his method of presenting the Theology of the Body.  Perhaps I was naïve, but I thought West’s sabbatical meant that his critics had made some headway.  Such progress, unfortunately, did not seem to be reflected at the congress.  Dr. Janet Smith, for example, stated the following:

The 1st thing we need to know is God is chasing us down like a lover. Every lover is a pathological stalker. God is a stalker.

Am I quoting out of context?  I would like to know in what context the comparison of God to a pathological sexual deviant would be appropriate.  Please note that the above statement was published as a tweet by the congress organizers themselves.  So this is what they themselves decided to feed the public.

Another prominent speaker at the TOB congress was Fr. Thomas Loya.  Fr. Geiger links to Fr. Loya’s website, and in spite of his recommendation that faithful Catholics should not view the website, I did.  The warning was well placed.  Fr. Loya, a Catholic priest who is ostensibly dedicated to spreading a new theology of holy sexuality to Catholics, has images that are more than near occasions of sin, they are, in my opinion, sinful to view.  I say this as one who has, unfortunately, been immersed in the pornified lifestyle.  Fr. Loya recommends, as Chris West does, that men stare at beautiful women, taking in all their more lascivious features, but make such viewing holy by giving glory to God for having created such beauty.  Fr. Geiger comments:

Father Loya has also recommended, in more practical terms, how to implement this magical “three part” technique, with particular emphasis on the “see” part:

“Alright Look at her!! That’s right, look at her!! Look at her butt, her breasts, but don’t stop there. Look at every aspect of her magnificent femininity! Take her in completely and say, “How many are your works, O Lord, in wisdom you have made them all!” (Psalm 103).

Okay, ladies, are you now feeling uncomfortable riding the TOB train?  Gentlemen, the chivalrous thing to do is to pull the emergency stop and then escort the ladies and yourselves off this ride to hell.

Both Alice Von Hildebrand and Dawn Eden have shown this approach to the question of concupiscence and modesty is foreign to Catholic tradition.  In particular, Dawn Eden in her thesis shows how Christopher West and Father Loya have cloaked their own imaginative approach to modesty with the authority of John Paul II.

Fr. Geiger writes a very thorough essay, you must go read the whole thing.  It is not too long.  I also highly recommend both the Alice von Hildebrand essay and Dawn Eden’s work.   Fr. Geiger, von Hildebrand, Eden, Kellmeyer, and others have raised what to me are very valid criticisms with much of the popular TOB presentations being made these days.  I think it behooves thoughful Catholics to consider their criticisms.

A couple more comments.  There has been a good deal of pushback from Chris West supporters and those whose careers are tightly associated with the success of his TOB Institute.  There is a great deal of hunger right now for authentic Catholic teaching on sexuality.  If I may make a recommendation, it would be to eschew all TOB materials, for now, at least.  I think there are so many people jumping on the bandwagon that is TOB, seeing it as a path to many things (not all of which may be ideal), that there is reason to be very careful with regard to these materials.  As it stands, TOB materials produced by Chris West and his company now make up virtually all the teenage/young adult formation materials used in the Church today.  I am uncertain that this is a good thing.  A less questionably orthodox patrimony with regard to Catholic doctrine on sex is very available, and it is beyond reproach.  I speak here of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s In Defense of Purity, and St. Francis de Sales An Introduction to the Devout Life.  Josef Seifert is also a good source. 

I’m sure I have readers that highly value Chris West and other TOB authors.  I do not mean to belittle the value these works may have to you.  I am trying to present legitimate concerns and criticisms that have been raised with regard to much of these materials.  I pray that any forthcoming discussions on this material may proceed with Charity in the sincere desire to most fully express Catholic teaching on this very sensitive subject matter.


1. Cori Hyland - August 7, 2010

I don’t feel it’s reasonable to Fr. Loya’s comments at all!! You’ve got to be kidding me! No woman worth her salt wouldn’t slap or RUN from a stranger who started studying all her body parts.

I run on some trails by the lake with my dog so I don’t get killed by some sexual deviant as it is, now am I going to have to take mace to church because of TOB teachers? Good grief.

Things have gotten really stupid these days, but that CNA article of Alice Von Hildebrand’s is refreshment for the soul. I recommend that everyone read it. I know that she annoys some people because of always mentioning her husband, but darn it, she’s completely in-line with the teaching of the Magesterium (and she did actually live all those years with a luminary).

“Let no man put asunder” the importance of a chaste marriage.

2. russ - August 11, 2010

Nonsense. I’ve seen the guy speak and he’s great. Is he perfect? No speaker is. But if we are in the business of hyper-analyzing our own like this, we’re in major trouble as a church in this culture war. Lighten up, everyone. West is one of the many gifts to the Church out there.

tantamergo - August 11, 2010

It’s not hyper-analysis. Insofar as Chris West faithfully repeats and perhaps explains for non-theologians JPII’s TOB, that’s great. It’s when he starts saying that TOB represents a revolutionary view, that everything should be viewed through TOB, that is nonsense. Based on what? One over-hyping biographer, who is neither a theologian nor even a serious Scripture scholar, hyperventilating and saying the TOB talks are some kind of incredible time bomb waiting to go off? Even JPII didn’t go back to TOB and make it official dogma by turning it into an encyclical – they were a series of talks where he gave his opinion, a beautiful and uplifting series, but not Magisterial teaching. I think JPII would be saddened to have his work represented as being so revolutionary, as being cut off from the rigid, anti-sex patrimony of the Church since Trent, as West says.

Sorry, I can’t go there, and since virtually all TOB materials in the USA are colored by or produced directly by Chris West and his TOB Institute, I think it best to try to stay away from deep involvement in TOB right now.

3. So much happening today, so little time « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - August 11, 2010

[…] urgent project dumped in my lap (again!), but there is so much going on I’ve got to post.  I earlier discussed the Chris West/Fr. Loya/Dr. Janet Smith interpretations of Pope John Paul II’s series of […]

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