Nasty job of theological critique, that is, with particular respect paid to certain teachers' views on the theology of the body. This has been one of those "insiders" arguments for about 11 years, pretty much ever since Christopher West graduated from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington DC. Most of the last 10 years these critiques have been behind the scenes, so to speak. However, a few months ago, Christopher West went on ABC's Nightline and suggested that his two heroes which liberated sex from its puritan roots were Hugh Hefner and John Paul II.
Well, anytime someone calls Hugh Hefner a sexual liberator and in league with John Paul II, you should expect men and women of sound body and mind to offer a bit of commentary on this kind of thing themselves. Enter Prof. David Schindler, director of the John Paul II Institute, and Fr. Jose Granados, a professor at JP2, and co-author of a book with Carl Andersen (Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus) which can only be read as an attempt to "rescue" the theology of the body from an over-sexualization that is undoubtedly present in Christopher West's writing. They offered spirited but measured critiques of West's theological "take" on what John Paul II was trying to do with his catechesis of the human body.
Well, open the flood gates of West's defenders. In particular, were the critiques offered by Janet Smith, who teaches at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, and Prof. Michael Waldstein, a former colleague of Schindler's and currently a Professor of New Testament at the International Theolgical Institute in Gaming, Austria.
It's interesting to note that all of these guys running the critiques, with the exception of Granados, were all on the faculty at Notre Dame at around the same time in the Program of Liberal Studies.
Anyway, I could offer my own commentary on this stuff, but it's likely to pale in comparison. Suffice it to say that I think there are serious problems with the arguments laid out by Smith and Waldstein in their defense of Christopher West and I find it odd that they would prefer to impugn the reputation of Prof. David Schindler, a real theologian, in an effort to defend the "good work" that Christopher West is doing talking about sex as if it were the reason God put us on earth.
Having attended Christopher West's talks, having read his books, and having discussed this at length with friends who are both his supporters and critics, I can only say that it seems to me he would be well served to reconsider some of his fundamental premises before he realizes that the good he did, was at the root rotten, and therefore the tree is sick.
You can follow all the hullaballo on Headline Bistro, a Catholic news blog run by the Knights of Columbus.