Consider this quote from West's Institute director, Kate Blanchard:
"[A]nyone who has written on the theology was invited [to the TOB congress], including critics such as von Hildebrand. No restrictions were put on what they could discuss.”
Update: NCR now points out that Kate has retracted, extended and revised her original remarks. The article now reads, "Blanchard said that many speakers were invited: “We recognize that there are many talented speakers on the theology of the body. It would have been impossible to extend invitations to every theology of the body speaker in the world, but we certainly discerned inviting a balanced representation of the thought on John Paul II’s theology of the body, and we believe we achieved that.” "
So now that the TOB Institute has altered reality, some of the commentary below is rendered moot. You see? It isn't just Chris who continually revises his message. His whole Institute does it. It's hard to keep up. My apologies to poor Thomas McDonald, the reporter who accurately recorded and reported Kate's remarks, but who was forced to change history to conform with the spinners at TOB Institute. It is not pleasant to see the man being forced to put up with this crap.
I am a well-known detractor of Chris West, and my work on Theology of the Body is listed in Michael Waldstein's bibliography, yet I didn't get an invitation to the Congress. I know of other experts who have written extensively on West and who were also not invited.
Kate Blanchard seems to be telling little fibs.
If the TOB Institute did invite critics, they seemed only to have invited critics they KNEW would not show up.
I would have come!
So sad that Westians have no responses to critiques.
But Chris does have responses - or at least, I'm aware of one way he responds.
You see, Chris West physically assaulted me in the spring of 2005 when I privately questioned some of his public assertions after I attended one of his seminars in the Quad Cities in Illinois.
And yes, Chris knows I have witnesses to that physical assault, so I won't be getting sued anytime soon for saying that publicly, will I, Chris? In fact, one of the witnesses to the assault was the man who sponsored you in, wasn't it Chris? And after he saw you assault me, that man swore he would never give you another dime, didn't he, Chris? Of course, he wasn't the only witness - there were three others. But that should be enough to establish bona fides.
[Refinement: in response to a question, yes, this was technically not assault but battery. According to Illinois law "A "battery" is the act of intentionally causing bodily harm to another person or making some other physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with another person." As one witness told me immediately afterward, "The way he treated you is the way I treat my dog."]
If you ever wondered why I don't accept the idea that Chris West responds well to criticism, that may be one reason.
Now that Dawn Eden has documented a slew of Westian errors in her MA thesis, Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve of Pauline Books and Media has begun to slime Dawn Eden the same way that West's supporters have slimed me over the years.
Tools and techniques include ad hominem attack, straw man, poisoning the well, faint praise, etc., although ad hominem is the favorite. Consider what they said about Schindler, then look at what they said about me, now consider what Dawn Eden has begun to be called.
When I pointed out in the comments on her blog that our favorite Pauline Sister could answer some questions herself, she blackballed my IP address.
So, I got an IP anonymizer and posted more questions.
She removed all my questions and called my comments "vituperative" (perhaps she should look that word up?), citing that model of conversational decorum, Mark Shea, as her justification.
So, in the interests of fairness, I will post here the questions that Pauline Books and Media find so terribly "vituperative" on their own blog. Let the reader judge for himself:
You seem to have left a lot of questions unanswered yourself:
How can you say people are getting West's material "second or third hand" when Dawn Eden's work is based almost entirely on his written work?
Did West have a ghost-writer?
If, as you and Fr. Hogan aver, nobody really knew what JP II was talking about when he gave the talks, what evidence is there that West knows what JP II was talking about now?
In fact, isn't the argument that West is constantly changing his delivery EVIDENCE that he doesn't really know what JP II was talking about?
If the Gospel of Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, why does West's Gospel change so much?
To put it another way, if Mr. West understands TOB so deeply, why is his message constantly changing?
If "no one knew what JP II was talking about" 30 years ago, who tapped us with a "knowledge wand" that makes us understand it so much better today (most TOB promoters are not known as saints or brilliant minds)?
Why is it that West supporters say we cannot rely on West's writings alone, that is, we all must first attend his VERY pricey seminars, yet West supporters attack those of us who critique West without thinking they need to attend OUR seminars?
Are we more consistent than West? Or simply more clear?
Why is critiquing West "divisive" [and now "vituperative"] while attacking those who do the critiques [such as myself] apparently acceptable and "unitive"?
Why is it "ad hominem" to point out Westian theological errors but perfectly acceptable to cast aspersions on the motives of Westian critiquers?
How is West's TOB movement different from the MoG cult that West grew up in?
Why do West supporters think West's self-described "rape" by the MoG cult is irrelevant to the way he approaches discussion of sex?
Why did West's Institute director claim all TOB authors had been invited to the conference when that was manifestly not the case?
Pauline Books is a big supporter of West.
Could you tell us, in round numbers, exactly how many millions of dollars St. Paul's Books and Media has made off the TOB franchise?
Could you break down those numbers so that we can see
a) how many millions you made off the original translation and
b) how many millions you made by selling the same book twice, i.e., having Michael Waldstein "translate" the audiences again from the Polish, even though Waldstein himself admits that he cannot read, speak or write Polish?
c) Could you tell us how Waldstein manages to translate into English from a language he doesn't himself know? It's a neat trick, obviously very profitable, and I'd love to learn it myself.
And, Sister, if you want to "open wide the doors to Christ," why did your website stop accepting requests to comment from my ip address, so that I had to resort to an IP anonymizer to post this note?
Looking forward to some answers!
Oh, I'm sorry, Sister.
I'm afraid you can't delete this post.
And I get a lot more web hits than you do.
You really should have allowed the discussion to take place in the comments section of your blog, where at least the reading audience is smaller.
Now that you've called me "vituperative" without justification, is this a good place to mention that Pauline Books and Media blackballed my company several years ago, after it found out that I had a rival product to West's first TOB book (a new book - Sex and the Sacred City, endorsed by Peter Kreeft)?
Not only did Pauline Books and Media refuse to carry ANY of the products my company produced (indeed, one Pauline store was forced to send back an order of Bridegroom Press calendars!), they actually spread a nasty, unsigned samizdat critique of my TOB book to anyone who dared to walk up to a Pauline book counter to inquire about ordering it.
Tell me, Sister, did I ever mention that a friend of mine sent a copy of that slimy critique to me back when you were handing it out under the counter?
That, my friends, is how Catholic retailers deal with one another in the real world.
Needless to say, I was kind of shocked to find out.
I foolishly thought we were all in this together (a la Mark Shea), fighting the good fight, preaching the Gospel, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Yep, under that foolish inspiration, I sent a review copy of my book to Pauline Books and Media so their bookstore chain would carry it, not so that their anonymous reviewer(s?) would trash it, and trash it sotto voce, so that I wasn't even meant to see the response and could not reply to it in any case. What a surprise!
I'm sure Dawn Eden is quite surprised to be the subject of the verbal assaults she is undoubtedly experiencing.
For instance, while you and I now know Pauline Books is publicly trying to destroy her, one can only guess what they are trying to do to her under the counter. Literally.
And nowadays, it won't just be Pauline Books, will it?
After all, nowadays, a whole lot more people are making a whole lot more money off of Chris.
That's why he has so many supporters, don'cha' know?
Will Matt Pinto, of Ascension Press, join in the quiet slime detail?
Or will he go the public route, as he tried to with Dr. Schindler?
How about the inestimable Mark Shea, he of Catholic Exchange fame?
Surely Ignatius Press might join in sliming Dawn Eden?
After all, Ascension Press publishes Chris West and acolytes. What most people don't know is that Ignatius Press uses the same distributor as Ascension Press - Lynn Klika's "Catholic Word" distributing company.
This would not normally be a damning connection, but at one time, not so very long ago, if you dialed Catholic Word's 800 number, they would answer "Ascension Press", wouldn't they, Lynn?
A mistake, surely, since Lynn is, or at least was, the marketing officer and sole distributor for Ignatius Press.
And let's not forget Tom Monaghan's Ave Marie University, which employed Ignatius' founder, Fr. Fessio, as Provost.
Now, Tom has long been advised by Mother of God cultists. Yes, that's the same cult that "raped" Chris West (according to West's own description) and the same cult that infests Sacred Heart Seminary, home of (non) theologian Janet Smith and her advocate, canonist Ed Peters.
Tom, it should be pointed out, is also reputedly the sugar daddy that keeps Joe Pearce's St. Austin Review magazine in business. You might wonder how that magazine stays afloat when so many are tanking - it stays afloat the same way AMU does, by dipping into Tom's pockets.
Now, Joe Pearce is as qualified to be a university prof as Janet Smith is qualified to be a seminary theology prof. Which is to say, neither has any of the degrees normally considered relevant to hold their respective teaching positions. Not even a BA. But Joe and Carl Olson (of Ignatius Press fame) used StAR in a sneak attack on me shortly after Pauline Books and Media began blackballing me.
Why would they do that?
Well, I pointed out theological deficiencies in Ignatius' big money-maker, Olson's Da Vinci Code book. And Fr. Fessio worked at AMU. And I was competition to a Son of MoG, Chris West.
So Pearce (whose wife is, or rather was, a personal friend of mine) lured me into writing an article for him, then secretly gave Olson full access to it so Olson could cream me in the same StAR issue. Pearce published the works together and I found out when the issue hit the stands.
No.... that would be paranoia on my part.
It was just... convenient... for Monaghan's MoG cultists, for West's nascent cult, and for Fessio's Ignatius Press!
Not quite seven at one blow, but certainly convenient for ALL involved!
Everyone was a winner!
And I was meant to learn a lesson - don't go after the Big Boys' Big Money Makers.
So, Pauline Books, Ascension Press, Catholic Word, Ignatius Press, Tom Monaghan, Mother of God cult (don't forget Sacred Heart Seminary festering away in there).... all of them picking up dollars and donuts off the biggest money-maker of them all, the West TOB cult.
An incestuous little group isn't it?
And I've only scratched the surface - there are several more big names on the Catholic circuit today, and more behind-the-scenes players who comprise a money-making clique, or rather, THE money-making clique, designed to keep out all competition which has not at least tacitly agreed to follow the company line.
Of course, they also keep mutually quiet about personal faux pas which might destroy the money makers in the group. Money makers like Chris West. And Chris, you've made rather more than one quiet little faux pas, haven't you?
I foolishly failed to prosecute you in Illinois. It would have sunk your career, it would have saved the Church a lot of heresy and embarrassment and it would have allowed John Paul II to rest easy in his grave.
Others have kept foolishly quiet about other career-sinking mistakes you've made.
They're still keeping quiet.
If any were to come forward.... well....
We could name more names in this money clique: Alan Napleton and his scheme to get in good with the bishops by publishing books he enticed them to write, his Catholic Marketing Network, Tom Allen's Catholic Exchange, Patrick Madrid and his endless financial shenanigans... it's an interesting list. But why go there?
The ones already mentioned are more than enough to sink Ms. Eden with the Catholic public, if they really get together on their message and sink their teeth into her. Chris West's cult memes are generating a LOT of money, and no one wants him killed by an upstart.
So, if you find me less than kind towards Chris West, Pauline Books, or, indeed, many of the Catholic lights, it may be due to the fact that I know them better than you do.
I once actually thought these people were Christians with whom I could deal in an adult, Christian manner.
They dissuaded me from holding that position.
In a sense, I guess you can say they evangelized me.