Thursday, August 12, 2010

Theology of the Body: Indifference is OK!

At least, according to Mark Shea!

I enjoyed his article, and I have to admit, I'm relieved to find a "Big-Name-Catholic," whose position on Theology of the Body is pretty close to mine. 

I'm completely indifferent.  I would like to read Love and Responsibility some day.  But, it's pretty dense, and I'm not very good with phenomenology, so I need to do some groundwork first.  I find Christopher West incredibly annoying, and so his personality tends to overshadow any good I might get from his writings.  But in the mean time, do I really need TOB?

From the bits I have read, it doesn't really seem to be anything new-- just what the Church has always taught, but presented differently.  I love the 1950's marriage manuals by Fr. Leo Kinsella that EWTN has in their library.   Three to Get Married  by Fulton Sheen is one of my favorite books on Marriage and the Trinity. 

So do I really need  Theology of the Body?  Should I have to endure listening to and wincing at Christopher West when I'm really more interested in Church History at the moment?

I'm going with "no."  I'm married. I have small children. Everywhere. All the time.  My husband and I like each other.  We like our vocation.  We don't really need someone to persuade us that this is what God is calling us to - we're here already.

I think a lot of the biggest TOB fans are genuinely happy that West's writing changed their view of marriage and sexuality.  I'd argue, however, that if it was really a huge change for them, they probably didn't understand the teachings before they met West.  TOB is not a revolution in Catholic thought.  It's the same tune the church has always sung -- it's just a slightly different setting.

Anyway, for the time being, I'll remain firmly in the 'indifferent to TOB' camp - there are other things I'd rather study.  But the next time people accuse me of being a bad Catholic because I don't care, I'll point them to Shea's piece.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure what to make of TOB either until I listened to Fr. Thomas Loya's "The Gift of Sexuality," a CD produced by Lighthouse Catholic Media and Saint Joseph Communications. In this CD, Fr. Loya very beautifully shares his ideas about TOB based on what he learned while a seminarian studying in Rome and regularly attending Pope John Paul II's Wednesday audiences on the topic. The CD would make a great gift to yourself or anyone else who wants to know about TOB. I'd wager that even Mark Shea would be impressed!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Maybe I'll check that one out! I went to a Church History talk by Fr. Loya a few years ago-- he's a really good speaker! And definitely NOT annoying or obnoxious!

nat said...

Good on ya. Thank God for the virtue of Holy Indifference. It's Indifference's wayward sister Enthusiasm ya gotta watch out for.

Theologians would rather not interrupt the good work of popularizers UNTIL popularizers claim to reboot theology:

Dawn Eden: "Christopher West does not present himself as a mere apologist, seeding the ground for faith via rational arguments. Nor does he present himself as merely engaging in catechesis, which, as the Holy See has stated, consists of "transmitting the Gospel, as the Christian community has received it, understands it, celebrates it, lives it and communicates it in many ways." Rather, Christopher West presents himself as the definitive interpreter of teachings of John Paul II—teachings which, as I will explain shortly, he claims "will lead to a dramatic development of thinking about the Creed." He is essaying apologetics and catechesis and theology itself. As such, his approach merits serious critical analysis by theologians—especially in light of its overwhelming popularity."

Fr. [Thomas] Loya: TOB is not a big idea. It is THE big idea. #TOBCongress Fri Jul 30 12:04:35 2010

Fr. Loya: For the last 500 yrs, we've been looking through a veil of unreality. #TOBCongress 1:05 PM Jul 30th

Sr. Helena [Burns]: TOB is a locomotive: Lead, Follow or Get out of the way! #TOBCongress 1:12 PM Jul 30th

http://dawneden.blogspot.com/

Alice Von Hildebrand:

"As gifted as he is—and as much as I appreciate all the good he has done for the Church—West’s work continues to fall short in many respects. He has sometimes misunderstood the authentic Catholic tradition; overlooked or disregarded essential aspects of it; and promoted a new form of religious “enthusiasm” which can best be described as wayward. Monsignor Ronald Knox, who critiqued this attitude so well in his book Enthusiasm, was a prophet, recognizing such outbursts as recurring phenomena in the history of the Church, characteristic of easily misguided movements for which we should always be on the watch".

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=999

nat said...

Good on ya. Thank God for the virtue of Holy Indifference. It's Indifference's wayward sister Enthusiasm ya gotta watch out for.

Theologians would rather not interrupt the good work of popularizers UNTIL popularizers claim to reboot theology:

Dawn Eden: "Christopher West does not present himself as a mere apologist... Nor does he present himself as merely engaging in catechesis..Rather, Christopher West presents himself as the definitive interpreter of teachings of John Paul II—teachings which, as I will explain shortly, he claims "will lead to a dramatic development of thinking about the Creed." He is essaying apologetics and catechesis and theology itself. As such, his approach merits serious critical analysis by theologians—especially in light of its overwhelming popularity."

Fr. [Thomas] Loya: TOB is not a big idea. It is THE big idea. #TOBCongress Fri Jul 30 12:04:35 2010

Fr. Loya: For the last 500 yrs, we've been looking through a veil of unreality. #TOBCongress 1:05 PM Jul 30th

Sr. Helena [Burns]: TOB is a locomotive: Lead, Follow or Get out of the way! #TOBCongress 1:12 PM Jul 30th

http://dawneden.blogspot.com/

Alice Von Hildebrand: "As gifted as he is—and as much as I appreciate all the good he has done for the Church—West’s work continues to fall short in many respects. He has sometimes misunderstood the authentic Catholic tradition; overlooked or disregarded essential aspects of it; and promoted a new form of religious “enthusiasm” which can best be described as wayward. Monsignor Ronald Knox, who critiqued this attitude so well in his book Enthusiasm, was a prophet, recognizing such outbursts as recurring phenomena in the history of the Church, characteristic of easily misguided movements for which we should always be on the watch".

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=999

nat said...

sorry for the double post. shortened it after an error. feel free to delete one of them.

Lauretta said...

I have been deeply saddened by the public controversy that has erupted over this beautiful teaching. It has the potential to do so much good and make the faith accessible and more easily understood by secular people, if we have people trained to teach it.

I have to think that TOB has some importance since there have been institutes established at strategic places throughout the world to study and teach it. I believe the only other institutes established by the Church are to study the Bible.

Hopefully this controversy will be settled soon so that people can once again feel comfortable studying it and sharing it with others.

Jeannette said...

TOB seems like it's surrounded by so much...Gnosticism. No, I don't get it, and I don't have the super-duper decoder ring that explains it, and I'm not going to hire this Christopher West guy to explain it to me.