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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Some Things Should Be Left A Mystery

Rarely do I get into taking to task one of my colleagues here at FUMARE, however, after about 10 seconds of thought I decided I had to. Columcille's spirited defense of Christopher West's gloss on JPII's "theology of the body" devolved into absolutely weird and irresponsible theological reflection.

I'm not sure what theologians or philosophers Columcille is reading, but comments such as the following are better left unsaid:

As a Church, we have to be able to speak about the theological significance of the erect penis and its relation to Christ on the Cross, the hymen and the torn veil of the temple. The interior garden and the blood and water, fountain of life.
It seems that Columcille is presuming how to tell the Church how to speak her theological language and how to communicate the meaning of man's generative powers. I recall the 1995 document published by the Pontifical Council for the Family entitled The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, where the Church's position is one of prudence and delicacy with regard to sexual matters especially in the education of the young. When one starts analogizing between the erect penis and the crucifixion or the hymen and the temple veil being rent, not only is it weird, it smacks of the worst form of faux theological speculation.

To Columcille and the rest who would so analogize or fall on their swords re: the theology of the body industry of popularizers :

If the answer to any of the aforementioned questions is "yes," then it seems to me that the theology of the body doesn't command the same religiosum obsequium that Dei Verbum para. 10 would. As such, the Church absolutely doesn't have to talk about erect penises in the way Columcille thinks she should.

In sum, Chesterton had it right when he observed that in all cultures there was a common practice to cover the sexual organs. It belied an understanding that something sacred takes place there--the mysterious generation of new life--and that it is not to be on display, but rather to be treated with the reverence that it deserves. Making analogies to the most intimate parts and functions of the human body and the mysteries of Our Lord's passion is not akin to a Pauline reflection, rather it vulgarizes that which should remain a mystery.