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 irresponsibletheological 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 :
Did Holy Mother Church have it right on human sexuality prior to the Wednesday Audiences of JPII from circa 1979-1984?
Doesn't theology of the body, as popularized by its major spokesmen, focus exclusively or at least predominantly on the sexual act, and fail to situate that act into the greater teaching of the Church on the dignity of man? (i.e., man is not defined solely by his sexuality)
Isn't it unwise to speak so openly/graphically about things better left to the privacy of the married couple?
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.
American Papist has links to a debate yesterday between Profs. Doug Kmiec and Robert George regarding Obama and abortion/embryonic research. Here is a link to a version of George's remarks during the debate. I don't have time to watch the debate at the link offered by American Papist. If you watch it, any comments? Did Kmiec respond directly or squirm out from under the tough questions?
Fr. Alberto Cutie, aka "Fr. Miami Vice," has announced that in the aftermath of being photographed on the beach with his hand down the pants of a woman, that he has decided to retreat into a life of penance and prayer, mortification and renunciation to make up for the scandal and damage he has caused the Church and his family.
So today he has made known his intentions to leave the Catholic Church, the one true Bride of Christ, to become an Episcolpalian where he can have the option of putting his hand down the pants of a woman or man on the beach, in the Church or anywhere (it being an inclusive big-tent kind of Christian family) while still calling himself a priest.
Refering to his vows of celibacy as a "promise," Cutie affirmed his love of the Catholic Church and his new mission to lead his many fans away from Holy Mother Church.
In other news, Cuban men all across Miami have left their wives and families to shack up with the neighbor's wife and family in an act of solidarity with Cutie. One middle-aged Cuban said, "I love my wife and family, but I want to start today with a new wife and family - just like Fr. Cutie."
Sources close to Bishop Gene Robinson report that talks are underway with the Obama Administration to secure a place for Fr. Cutie within the Office of Faithbased and Community Based Initiatives.
Anybody remember Dr. Ruth Westheimer: the tiny German grandmother who went all around the world, on tv, radio as an evangelist preaching the gospel of the goodness of masturbation, anal sex and how to have the most explosive orgasm possible (safely of course), and the wrongs of religiously imposed sexual inhibitions?
She was perhaps the first professional sex-expert personality in the media age. Since then, the professional sex-experts have gotten a whole lot more crude, aggressive and damaging (for example see Sue Johanson, NSFW). Where else in the media do we hear from old ladies, except talking graphically about sexual intercourse in the most base and reductively physiological manner? This is where the pornified culture is at.
Thankfully, Dr. Janet Smith has come to West's defense, focusing on perhaps two of the most potentially damaging charges against West - the blessing of genitals and the issue of anal sex (on which he presents the Church's teaching and invites people to consider the meaning of the act and not to do it). People who criticise West's presentations as "immodest" or too graphic or being pansexualist, do not take into full account where the popular culture is at. They don't fully realize how deep the impact of the sex-experts is along with how pornography is shaping marital interactions. How many "Catholic" couples are taking their cues in the bedroom from pornography? Some body has to be willing to address these souls who are worshiping the idols of American Babylon.
West is one of the few people out there, a David against the Goliath of the sex-experts, pornographers, media culture, who is fighting the good fight and making in-roads. The commercial success of his materials and the numbers going to his talks is evidence of the fruit that his message is having to rescue people from the bondage of a reductive sexuality that effectively says the meaning of life is the pursuit of the mind-blowing-orgasm.
The real on-fire orthodox Catholic young adults around today tend to have one thing in common - they have been transformed through hearing the message of the Theology of the Body. The likes of Schindler and others who find fault with West's presentation should keep this in mind and redouble their own efforts in promoting the life-giving message of the Theology of the Body in their own spheres of influence, rather than attacking West for not being theologically balanced or sophisticated enough.
West is a popularizer of the Theology of the Body in a pornified world. That is his call from God. Is he the last word on the Theology of the Body? No, and he wouldn't make that claim.
People like Kellmeyer (who owns Bridegroom Press and has written Sex in the Sacred City) should realize that they will not sell more books by destroying the professional character of the competition. The fact of the matter is that West is the first wave that is introducing people to the Theology of the Body. We need thousands of people like West, who are more dynamic, educated, charismatic and effective to advance the Theology of the Body into the culture.
Far from attacking West, Kellmeyer and Schindler should thank him for creating a larger market for their books (and for Mr. von Hildenbrand's work) and the JP II institute and recognize that they have nothing to gain by publicly attacking him. Is there room for debate about the nuances of the TOB - sure, so Schindler, Kellmeyer, et al. go to Ireland this June and debate it at the Theology of the Body International Conference. But don't be an obstacle in the effort at trying to save what's left of American civilization by making perfection the enemy of the good.
You don't see Dr. Ruth out there in the national media attacking Sue Johanson for promoting a skewed understanding of sexual liberation, or for not speaking enough on the benefits of sex toys and astroglide. They are all on the same team, and they know it.
UPDATE: Christopher West does not advocate anal sex (as claimed by Kellmeyer). For the record, in his book Good News about Sex & Marriage, he sums up his discussion of the issue with: What does anal penetration symbolize? Is this an act of beauty? Is it truly loving to subject one's wife to the health risks? Why would a couple wnat anal penetration to be part of their foreplay to normal intercourse on any kind of regular basis? What desire does it purport to satisfy? Since anal penetration is in so many ways a parody of vaginal intercourse, I'd pose the following question to those who are attracted to it as a form of foreplay: Why not just skip that step with all its health risks and uncleanlines and enjoy the real thing with your spouse as God designed it? (carrying nihil obstat and imprimatur from Chaput, 1st edition 2000).
"Texting May Be Taking a Toll on Teenagers," says the New York Times, "leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation." The article reports that American teenagers sent and received on average 2,272 text messages per month, or almost 80 messages a day. The article highlights a girl who texted 14,528 times in month, or (by my calculation) approximately 470 times a day. The girl's thumbs and grades were deteriorating, so her parents have had to impose some limits: she's now only allowed 5,000 texts a month.
Now I text on occasion, but this is mind-boggling to me. How is it even humanly possible to text message as much as these teens?
The Stoning of Soraya M., from the producers of The Passion of the Christ, came to town yesterday for an advanced screening for Catholic leaders, pastors and protestant ministers. The film stars Jim Caviezel and Shohreh Aghdashloo (of the Nativity Story, among other films) in a story about how Shariah Law is abused, in a small rural town in Iran, by a husband and the local Mullah to falsely accuse his wife of adultery, the punishment of which is stoning.
The film has many parallels to The Passion of the Christ because it very graphically depicts the drama that leads up to the execution of an innocent, albeit in this case an innocent Muslim woman. It isn't an easy film to watch, but a film that the Catholic community should get behind and go and see.
It reveals the inherent injustice of Shariah Law, especially how women have the presumption of guilt, whereas men have the presumption of innocence, but does not make religion or belief in God the culprit. It doesn't make Islam or men as a category the bad guy. It is a film like this that reminds us how the Judeo-Christian worldview most fully embodied in the Catholics Faith where the status of women is elevated in society.
The film is about how women are really opressed, not the false opression of "western patriarchy" whined about by marxist feminists, but the kind of oppression that makes public executions of women so easy and still present in our world. I hope that feminists who go and see this film and ask themselves why Catholics, like Benedict XVI, who openly criticize feminism don't order the stoning of feminist lesbians.
In a world where Muslims riot over cartoons, there is courage behind the making of this film. Keep an eye out for it when it comes to your town.
PS: The film is produced by MPower Productions. In this month of May, I wonder what kind of power is Mpower??? I wonder.
I've perused the selection and there are some good secondary sources for Michigan law: various handbooks (business, landlord-tenant, drunk driving, family, real estate, bankruptcy, etc.), going for only a dollar or two. There are also entire sets of state annotated codes (Idaho, Delaware, Kentucky, Montana, etc.) going for only $0.99. They might be nice on a shelf if you're looking to create a "library-feel" for your law office. Or if $0.99 is too much for you, you'll probably be able to find these books for free in the dumpster behind the law school building in 5 days from now.
With all the news about Notre Dame, I almost forgot: another school "in the Catholic tradition" had its commencement this past weekend too. This was the last commencement ceremony to be held in Michigan. Does anyone have anything interesting to report? Was our President and Dean (i.e., Dobranski) in attendance? Or maybe the beloved Chairman of the Board Thomas Monaghan?
This weekend is the Notre Dame commencement and President Obama's visit. More importantly, Notre Dame Response is organizing a big pro-life demonstration which is open to everyone. If you're able, please attend! It would be great to get a crowd similar to the Washington DC March for Life.
Here is the schedule.
SATURDAY, MAY 16th 9:30 p.m.: Adoration Begins In On-Campus Chapel Location: Alumni Hall Chapel Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will take place throughout the night in an on-campus chapel. Bishop D’Arcy of South Bend will be in attendance at the beginning of this vigil.
SUNDAY, MAY 17th 10:45 a.m.: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament Location: Alumni Hall Chapel Eucharistic Adoration will come to an end with Benediction led by a Holy Cross priest.
11:15 a.m. : Sunday Mass Location: South Quad (near the Rockne Memorial) An outdoor Mass will be celebrated on-campus for all those who have traveled to Notre Dame for this weekend to stand alongside the University’s students. All priests, Bishops, and Cardinals who travel to Notre Dame for this weekend are invited to concelebrate this Mass.
12:30 p.m.: Rally On The Quad Location: South Quad (near the Rockne Memorial) Following Sunday Mass, a rally affirming the uniquely Catholic and pro-life foundation of Notre Dame will take place on South Quad. This rally will feature speakers with strong connections to the University who embrace Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and hold it to a higher standard of conduct that demands defending the fundamental human right to life.
2:00 p.m.: Class Of 2009 Vigil For Life Location: Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes At the conclusion of the Rally, those supporters in attendance will be urged to join seniors who have decided not to attend graduation at a prayer vigil on campus. Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, will be leading a Scriptural Rosary during this prayer vigil.
3:45 pm : Final Blessing And Departure of Travelers
6:00 p.m.: Post-Commencement Honor Ceremony and Party Location: State Theatre in downtown South Bend NDaffirmLife.org will host a post-commencement party at the State Theatre in downtown South Bend from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., to recognize the courageous students who stood for life and give them a send-off of support as they enter a new phase of their lives. Everyone is welcome to attend this family-friendly gathering.
Last Saturday, (front left) Law Dog, Thales (in black), Thursday (all the way in back and in black), Casimir Pulaski (hand over his wallet), and Advocatus Militaris (waving) prepared to march on Notre Dame campus and say the Rosary at the grotto. Columcille can be seen, too, between AM's hand and CP's head.
Phlogizo is in the crowd, and AMSOL Pioneer can be seen in the red tie over Thurday's shoulder. Devil's Advocate appears behind AM's hand.
From: Collins, Nathan Sent: Tue 5/12/2009 3:09 PM To: All Alumni Cc: All Library Subject: Library EBay Auction
The Ave Maria School of Law Library will be holding a special EBay auction of some of its titles. This auction will only be open to AMSOL alumni. Here are some details:
- The auction will begin on May 18 and end on May 25. - Books will be available for pickup June 1 and must be picked up by June 15. Books must be picked up from the Ave Maria library – WE WILL NOT SHIP. Please come to the library's back door off of Green Road.
[For more details about how to bid for the books, see your alumni email account.]
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Good luck with the bidding.
Some of the juicy tidbits: -the developers Tom Monaghan and Barron Collier Co. control Ave Maria Town, and have the power to issue bonds and tax residents like any city or county government; -under pre-existing Florida law, developers controlled similar projects for only 10 years before control turned over to the registered voters living in the district; -Monaghan and Co. got the law rewritten to say that control passed once half of the land in the district was developed; -Monaghan and Co. then created a district in which the planned size of Ave Maria Town was less than half the size of the entire district; -Therefore, Monaghan and Co. can control Ave Maria Town in perpetuity. (Here is the "smoking-gun" internal memo where the size and control of Ave Maria's district is discussed.)
. . . . What all these critics of Glendon share is a sense that Catholic unhappiness with Notre Dame must be about politics. . . . . Still Fr. Himes joins Douglas Kmiec, and America, and Commonweal, and the administration of Notre Dame, and most of the newspaper columnists who've weighed in on the controversy, and a surprising number of conservatives. They all look at the Notre Dame protests and think it must be about politics. Bad politics or good politics, take your pick. But politics all the way down.
As it happens, they're wrong. Politics has very little to do with the mess. This isn't a fight about who won the last presidential election and how he's going to deal with abortion. It's a fight about culture--the culture of American Catholicism, and how Notre Dame, still living in a 1970s Catholic world, has suddenly awakened to find itself out of date.
The role of culture is what Fr. Jenkins at Notre Dame and many other presidents of Catholic colleges don't quite get, and their lack of culture is what makes them sometimes seem so un-Catholic--though the charge befuddles them whenever it is made. As perhaps it ought. They know very well that they are Catholics: They go to Mass, and they pray, and their faith is real, and their theology is sophisticated, and what right has a bunch of other Catholics to run around accusing them of failing to be Catholic?
But, in fact, they live in a different world from most American Catholics. Opposition to abortion doesn't stand at the center of Catholic theology. It doesn't even stand at the center of Catholic faith. It does stand, however, at the center of Catholic culture in this country. Opposition to abortion is the signpost at the intersection of Catholicism and American public life. And those who--by inclination or politics--fail to grasp this fact will all eventually find themselves in the situation that Fr. Jenkins has now created for himself. Culturally out of touch, they rail that the antagonism must derive from politics. But it doesn't. It derives from the sense of the faithful that abortion is important. It derives from the feeling of many ordinary Catholics that the Church ought to stand for something in public life--and that something is opposition to abortion.
In the aftermath of Christopher West's appearance on Nightline, there has been a bit of discussion in the blogosphere about the authenticity of West's presentation of the Theology of The Body on Nightline and (more critically) of West's interpretation of the TOB generally.
For example, Maggie Gallagher, champion of traditional marriage, had this to say:
You can only remake Catholicism so far. There are only seven deadly sins; lust is one of them, and it's not because it's so wrong to yearn for love, union, and intimacy.
This in response to the CW quote, "I love Hugh Hefner!"
Honestly, this level of criticism is surprising. As Christian's we are called to love the sinner and hate the sin. There is nothing in West's highly edited comments (they recorded 8 hours and pulled out only a couple of minutes) that is inconsistent with this. West is not saying that what Hefner did was good, or that what he does is good, he is saying that he loves him and understands the motive out of which he acts. West certainly isn't advocating pornography.
On the hero issue, what West is doing is very wise.
He is positioning the TOB as COMPLETING the sexual revolution, not tring to be a COUNTER-REVOLUTION that is AGAINST this massive cultural upending (that no educated person could possibly criticize!).
West is being very careful in handling the snake that is the pornofied media to use its poison to make the anti-toxin.
The world thinks that the Church is an enemy of human freedom, especially when taking that freedom to be sexual. West is looking to draw in those people who also think Hefner is their hero and use playboy as a bridge to having a serious look at John Paul II's TOB.
But putting the critcisms of the Nightline feature aside, recognizing the nature of the media beast, what are some of the criticisms of West's presentation of the TOB, and what are some of the criticisms of the TOB itself vis-a-vis the Tradition?
Why is it great? Because it has that dry undercut that compares all the hype Monaghan was shoving down the board members and school community's about his pet project and puts it back where all of us said it would be.
Sort of like all those promises he made in Michigan about the schools, no?
500 is 1/22 or less that 5% of projected sales. If the Ave Maria project was any other Monaghan venture, such as giving rent stipends to incoming law students if they live in an apartment complex where you need votes to get favorable trustees, the question would be "what am I getting for my money?" and Monaghan would cancel it without regard for the consequence, in my opinion.
If Thales source is correct and projections were 20,000, that's even less return than the Tampa source.
Any way you cut it, it's amazing that the entities give Monaghan infinitely more mercy to his crappy yields than he does to anything around him.
So, it looks like Uncle Tom appears unable to produce especially when it comes to cabins. Does that explain his fascination with big things?
Ave Maria's projected population of more than 20,000 stands at about 500. Pulte Homes, the community's builder, has slashed $100,000 from the prices on some models.
Remember, the primary reason the law school decided to move to Florida is for the money that was to be derived from this real estate deal.
If you're not a serious buyer, the Pulte sales staff is standoffish. It's several minutes before anyone responds to a visitor at the front desk, and the reception, once it comes, is cool. "We've got to be careful. You never know if people are who they say they are," said a young male office receptionist in the sales center.
That is a very strange comment by the receptionist. I'm truly curious: why would they have to be careful?
The reception is more gracious at the office of Ave Maria Development, overseer of the entire project. Asked about Monaghan's plans, staffer Kelly Guarascio said, "His museum's downstairs." What unfolds to the visitor is a combination religious shrine and paean to the capitalist spirit. In the back is a row of chairs from Tiger Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers. Monaghan used to own the Major League Baseball franchise. Domino's Pizza memorabilia, including the trademark bag used to keep pizzas hot, hang on the wall. A bust of the late Pope John Paul II smiles on photos of Monaghan shaking hands with the pope and Mother Teresa. A "celebrant's chair," in which the pope said Mass during a visit to Michigan, holds pride of place.
Great, Monaghan has his own museum.
Monaghan's credo stares down from a display: "I believe my mission is to get as many people to heaven as possible."
Then why does Monaghan insist on making so many people upset with him?
Ave Maria School of Law Acting Dean Eugene Milhizer and school attorney Robb Klucik appear before the Florida Commission for Independent Education Jan. 30, 2009. The Commission needed to approve Ave Maria before it could operate in its new North Naples location beginning this summer. The Commission granted Ave Maria a license in March.
It's also rumored that Dean Milhizer has announced that an announcement of a Director of External Affairs will be made soon. Presumably, the current acting director isn't moving to Florida.
So, what does it mean for the Naples News to call Klucik the "school attorney"?
Is it payola time? Did all that brown nosing actually land a spot? Does the school really pay sell out rates? If that's true, what did Fox say wrong to prevent his appointment? Stay tuned, or offer alternative explanations and/or rumor corrections in the comments.
The law school and its founder Tom Monaghan appear to have racked up more than $1 million in legal fees last fiscal year, including the first eight months of defending a wrongful termination and whistleblower lawsuit, the school's audit says.
Wow. And for the time being, there is no stopping the bleeding. The 3 plaintiffs are seeking 7-figure damages each and we've still got the costs of a trial set for late summer. So why should someone donate to an institution wasting so much money?
The Naples News also has an interesting article about Tom Monaghan's financial commitment to Ave Maria School of Law as it moves to Florida. Apparently, Monaghan has promised to cover the operating deficits for the law school until 2017. From the article, last year's deficit was $2.9 million. I'm guessing that there has been more than a million dollar deficit for each year of the school's existence.
Here's another interesting excerpt from the Naples News:
Ave Maria's budget documents show that the school is relying on a substantial boost in donations.
Its 2010 budget calls for $2.5 million in donations, almost four times what it received last year.
Deborah Gordon, a Michigan employment attorney who's representing three former Ave Maria law professors suing the school for wrongful termination, said that projection was overly optimistic.
"Based on testimony in the case thus far, that would be an amazing feat," Gordon said.
Instead, Gordon said, testimony in the case has shown that the school has relied on Monaghan and his foundation for more money than it projects at the beginning of each year.
Finally, what assurance is there that Monaghan will keep his word? After all, he hasn't been so good at keeping it in the past.
AveWatch.com has more analysis on the Naples News articles. Also, for each article, the Naples News is posting links to PDFs of Ave Maria Law School documents obtained by the News through public records requests. The documents are fascinating. I hope the News keeps up the good investigative journalism.
U.S. Circuit Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) has been named by Notre Dame to be the Laetare Medal speaker in place of Mary Ann Glendon. Since Judge Noonan received the Laetare Medal in 1984, the Medal won't be awarded this year. American Papist gives the details.
I don't know much about Judge Noonan. He is a Catholic, is regarded as a conservative jurist, and is apparently against abortion. Judge Noonan, however, appears to hold a position contrary to Catholic teaching when it comes to contraception. A few years ago, he wrote a book called "A Church That Can and Cannot Change," where he argued that the Church's teachings on social issues and moral doctrine can change and has changed. (Though the book was not about contraception, I wonder whether it was written in order to give an intellectual foundation for his disagreement with Church teaching on contraception.) Cardinal Avery Dulles and Patrick O'Neil wrote strong critiques of Judge Noonan's argument. Should I be afraid that Judge Noonan is the type of person who would find Kmiec's Obama-is-pro-life word games persuasive?
And will Judge Noonan use the opportunity at Notre Dame's commencement to directly confront President Obama on the evil of abortion, or will he give a fuzzy speech filled with platitudes?