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23 hours ago
I know that David Schindler is a careful scholar, but I was surprised and taken aback by his recent blanket negative statement about Christopher West in reaction to West's Nightline interview. He cites a few anecdotes, quotes some snippets of texts, recalls some discussions he had with West in the past, and then makes a number of sweeping, massive accusations against West's work as a whole.His West is not the Christopher West I know from studying West's commentary on the Theology of the Body. - Dr. Michael Waldstein - on InsideCatholic
I think we should be very careful in our evaluation of the work of someone who is on the front lines and who is doing pioneer work. Virtually every pioneering author and presenter has had severe detractors in his own time. Some of them have been disciplined by the Church and eventually exonerated. I would like to give examples and mention names, but I don’t want to ignite a firestorm of “how can you compare Christopher West to X, Y or Z?”!
I want to add my voice to those who are enthusiastic about the West/Theology of the Body phenomenon. I think it is important to keep in mind, as Akin does, who West’s audience is. It is largely the sexually wounded and confused who have been shaped by our promiscuous and licentious culture. People need to think long and hard about the appropriate pedagogy for that group. Yet, as West himself knows, his approach is not for everyone. An analogy that pushes the envelope may be “offensive” to one person and may be just the hook that draws another person in. West has adopted a style that appeals to a large segment of that population — and even to some who are “pure and innocent.” It is not hard to find hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals who will testify that they have come to love Christ and his Church, and better understand and live the Church’s teaching about sex because of the work of Christopher West. Cohabiters separate, contracepters stop contracepting, and men cease looking at pornography — and that is the short list. Countless young people are now taking up the study of the Theology of the Body because of West’s work. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
My point is this: The fact that the dean of the John Paul II Institute in Washington D.C. has issues with West’s approach should not discourage anyone from reading West’s work or attending his lectures. Schindler has serious disagreements with other reputable, orthodox theologians, including professors on staff at the John Paul II Institute. West’s extensive commentary on the Theology of the Body, Theology of the Body Explained, was reviewed for the imprimatur for the Archdiocese of Boston by Prof. May, a longtime colleague of Schindler at the John Paul II Institute, who gave it a glowing endorsement. (I also reviewed and strongly endorsed it.) Several times in his piece Schindler refers to West’s “intention” to be orthodox which could imply that he has not necessarily achieved orthodoxy. We should be clear that West’s works have been given an imprimatur, an ecclesiastical judgment that a work is completely theologically sound.