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Monday, September 13, 2010

When Attitude Meets Verisimilitude

On August 29, I publicly challenged Janet Smith specifically, and Westians in general, to put up or shut up.

Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein led Westians everywhere in the public attack on Dr. Schindler of the JP II Institute for daring to question Chris West publicly. These two so-called "scholars" said West had ample evidence in the Fathers and Doctors of the Church to call the Paschal candle a phallic symbol and to sexualize the liturgy.

On August 29, 2010, I called their bluff.
Produce the quotes or quit pretending to be scholars.
I gave them until September 11, 2010, roughly the day of Chris' "coming out" of sabbatical (No pun intended. Really).

This was the best any of the Westians could produce:
"Acknowledging the Paschal candle’s phallic imagery does not require a quote from a particular Father of the Church."

Cough. Chortle. Snort.

We now can see why Dr. Smith and Dr. Waldstein wanted this argument taken to the journals.

After all, Dr. Schindler already took Westian TOB apart, and made Waldstein look like a fool to boot, in a journal article published well before the ABC Nightline interview ever aired. But, since none of the ticket buyers ever read journal articles (or if they did, they didn't understand how thoroughly Westian theology had been debunked), Schindler had already demonstrated that a discussion in the journals would never hurt the income stream these two got from piggy-backing on West.

So, if they took the discussion of the phallic symbol to the journals, they could admit there that they were flat-busted, didn't have a shred of evidence, etc., and it wouldn't hurt anyone's income because no one would ever know they had admitted it.

They'd look like fools to their peers, of course, but that's easily remedied in journals. Journals are always so nice and refined that there's no sting. You simply don't publish a reply, without explaining WHY you aren't publishing a reply, and you can still hold your head up at the theologian's tea, you see. When asked about it, use big words, joust at side issues, and watch your listener nod sagely. Everyone's gaudy image remains intact.

But, being called out in public, that's a different story.
That can be kind of.... well, humiliating.
People actually see you are bankrupt.
Can't have that.

No, our two Westian professors got NOTHIN' and they are too proud to admit West suckered them.
So, they'd rather lie like rugs, pull the rags of their pride about them and pretend they are rich, lest they lose face.

Heck, Fr. Loya (see how restrained I am?) even doubled down (I doubt Fr. Z would approve):
"Don’t stop with the Paschal candle. Every aspect of the Church’s theology and its expression in liturgy plays out of the spousal ('sexual') mystery."
And, to add insult to injury, the good priest seems to have entirely fabricated a quote he now pretends is from John Paul II (you want us to believe the late great Pope used the phrase "conjugal relations"??? Please.).

Even Michael Waldstein, our famous non-Polish speaking translator of JP II's Polish TOB addresses, didn't try to slip that phrase under the Pope's TOB rug (now, since I don't wear a rug, you certainly can't read a double meaning into that turn of phrase).

Oh, and how about this one (I simply love this one):

The womb is a vacant space, with an opening to its emptiness. The theology, the “language” of the womb, says that it is ordered to being filled with life, to being inseminated. To see the womb-like character of the baptismal font but not a complementary phallic element in the Church’s liturgical action is to see the womb (font) in a disintegrated, contraceptive, sterile, and useless way. This is not a Catholic (sacramental-mystical) view.
Wow, a womb without a phallic element.
That's just CRAZY talk, I tell ya'!
It would be, like, disintegrated, contraceptive, sterile and useless!
'Course us old prudes used to call a womb without a phallic element VIRGINAL, but what the heck do we know? Everything has changed since Vatican II! The Church used to teach all kinds of crazy stuff, but thanks to Westians, we know better now!

So, thank you, Blessed Virgin Mary, but according to Father Loya, it turns out we don't need you after all, you contraceptive, sterile, useless woman you! Turns out you don't make any sense without a phallic symbol, Mary! And that whole "virginal font" stuff? That went out with Augustine. Aquinas. Vatican II.

You know, St. Louis de Montfort once gave a talk in a public square on the Blessed Virgin while three men made cat-calls and derisive comments about her from the corner cafe. And after de Montfort finished his talk, he walked over to the corner cafe, and beat the livin' snot out of the three gentlemen.

I don't know why I mention that just now.
I just go off on bunny trails sometimes.
Anyway, to get back on topic....

It would be absolutely rude for anyone to point out that Fr. Loya, the author of the piece, could arguably be referred to as Fr. Liar, or that Janet Smith has now descended to being the Lady Gaga of Catholic theology, to complement Chris West's slavish imitation of Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Michael Waldstein's "little monster" riff.

As I am never rude, I refuse to make make any of those comparisons.
I would certainly not encourage any of you to do so either.
Unless you were like, well, really pure and stuff.
And wanted to, of course.
In which case, I'm sure there is precedent in the Doctors and Fathers of the Church.

Yep, you gotta love The Big Lie.

Repeat a falsehood often enough, and your opponents will be swamped trying to refute something that doesn't even exist.

So, the Westians are going to pretend they have already supplied all the evidence they always said they had, but never actually produced, and now admit they don't actually have because... wait for it... it isn't necessary!

With West, it always come down to a very simple question:
Who do you believe?
Chris West?
Or your lyin' eyes?
For men and women who insist that you stare at nudity, it's amazing how little they want you to trust your eyes, isn't it?


Kevin said...

Am really surprised CE was even willing to run such an article.

Just like Matthew Pinto, it will end up doing more harm than good to "their cause."

I also liked how the statement Christ "leaves the tomb to fill the women with joy" is to be taken in a sexual manner.

As I told someone:

"Or maybe

Just maybe

They were overjoyed to discover the one dead was now alive! just sayin."

Note to Catholic Exchange, actually give what you publish a read before posting it next time.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I wrote for Catholic Exchange for nine months, at Tom Allen's specific invitation.

Tom, Matt, Chris - they're all part of the same clique. Tom is covering Matt's backside as best he can.

Too bad Tom is not very conversant in Catholic theology, or this might have worked better. Wonder how long before they pull the Loya article???

Kevin said...

I give it a few days, just like they did with what Christina King was gonna write.

There can be some decent defenses put up for some of what West says, even if I disagree with it. Wade managed to do precisely that, even when I took him to task, I could still say that he put forth a plausible case.

This is not a plausible case.

Kevin said...

Maybe not as polemical as you, but my take on the manner:

dcs said...

A Google search reveals that the late Pope did make a connection between the conjugal life and the liturgical. However, he does not say that we see the liturgy become "spousal," or "sexual," but rather that the conjugal life becomes "in a sense liturgical." So the sacred liturgy does not mirror the conjugal life but the other way around and this is precisely because Our Lord has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.

I believe Fr. Loya is actually paraphrasing West in his Theology of the Body Explained:

"Hence, not only is conjugal life liturgical. When we read the spousal analogy in the other direction, we realize that the Church's liturgical life is in some sense conjugal." (p. 410)

dcs said...

It also helps to put Abp. Sheen's citation of St. Augustine (cited, in turn, by Fr. Loya) in context:

"The heavenly bridegroom left the heavenly chambers, with the presage of the nuptials before him. He came to the marriage bed of the cross, a bed not of pleasure, but of pain, united himself with the woman, and consummated the union forever. As it were, the blood and water that came from the side of Christ was the spiritual seminal fluid."

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Excellent points, DCS.

What do they teach priests in seminary these days?

Kevin said...

The irony has not escaped me that the people protecting JPII's legacy from those who have him say things he would've never even dreamed.....

Are mainly those who attend the Extraordinary Form, those evil traditionalists who supposedly despise everything after 1956/1962/1969/pickyourdate.

What a sense of humor God has. Those who opposed (from a prudential standpoint of course) a lot of what that Pope did in life, are the ones fighting like hell to protect his good name in death, and it is his greatest defenders who are making a caricature of JPII as a sex obsessed blasphemer.

As I said, the irony is not lost on me. :)

dcs said...

What concerns me is the possibility that Fr. Loya has quoted Chris West when his intention was to quote Pope John Paul II. If this is in fact the case (and I do believe it to be) than West's interpretation of TOB has become so entwined with the late Pope's teaching that (some) adherents of the former can't separate them. And that is disturbing.

dcs said...

What a sense of humor God has. Those who opposed (from a prudential standpoint of course) a lot of what that Pope did in life, are the ones fighting like hell to protect his good name in death, and it is his greatest defenders who are making a caricature of JPII as a sex obsessed blasphemer.

I'm reminded of how, when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, some of those who had been very critical of the Pope (like The Remnant, Catholic Family News, and SSPX Bp. Williamson(!)) supported the Pope's stance but found themselves at odds with most of the "conservative" Catholic media (with the notable exception of The Wanderer) and punditry, including the Pope's biographer George Weigel.

Irony indeed.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I think you are dead on accurate.
And the problem is worse than you show. Fr. Loya is the spiritual advisor to Anastasia Northrop's TOBIA and to My Father's Will Communications, both of which push TOB.

So, the spiritual advisor to a MAJOR TOB promoter can't tell the difference between a papal audience and some yokel with an MA in theology.

West showed the same disturbing inability to distinguish spiritual writings when he promoted "Mother" Tessa, the New Age anti-Catholic spiritualist from Colorado.

These guys are NUTS.
And Catholics are following them.

Brendan said...

Even in context, I find the Archbishop Sheen quote unfortunate.

Mark P. Shea said...

Just FYI: Tom Allen hasn't been with CE for the better part of a year. Not sure what he's doing these days. Such is the nature of loosely connected cyber-organizations.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Ah, thanks for the news.

I see Harold Fickett has the post now, but Tom is still on the board of directors.

So, the apple hasn't rolled too far away from the tree, has it?

dcs said...

Even in context, I find the Archbishop Sheen quote unfortunate.

I am not crazy about it myself and would love to find the source (Abp. Sheen cited St. Augustine).

Kevin said...

I don't really see why the Sheen comment is all that unfortunate. First, Let's consider the audience.

Sheen gave this talk during a retreat for priests. He was not giving this to "the uninformed", such as those who might have turned into "Life is Worth Living." There's a difference in audience, and that's important.

Second, he was simply drawing some understanding between the marital act, and the Cross. The Cross influences every aspect of our lives. He wasn't saying they were identical.

He wished to emphasize the self-sacrificial nature of Christ on the Cross. Spouses are called to do the same in everything they do. Even in the marital embrace, they are called to hold nothing back. In preparation for their marriage, they are called to hold nothing back.

Christ's gift of self was ultimately the more superior one. Why? Husband and wife unite in pleasure. Christ and the Church became ultimately united through the greatest pain humanity has ever experienced, the death of the Savior, and our complicity in killing Him. What should have been a moment of great joy was instead a moment of great sorrow.

Yet through that sorrow, new life was born, a supernatural and spiritual life of all people, that redeems not only the soul, but human flesh as well.

Fr. Loya and company err gravely when they make everything to be sexual. When one understands the quote the great Archbishop Sheen gave, there is nothing sexual about it.

Brendan said...

I appreciate your commentary, Kevin, and your explanation seems spot-on and helpful.

However it seems near impossible to say seminal fluid without some sexual inference. At the very least, it fuels the blurring of spousal and sexual in this particular discussion.

I'm with dcs. It would help to go back to Augustine on this.

dcs said...

I've seen the quote attributed to St. Augustine in a number of places now, but without an actual citation. West cites "On the Good of Marriage" but I don't see anything resembling that quote in that tract (

So for myself, I am going to regard the attribution to St. Augustine as spurious until someone can provide an actual citation.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The great thing about West is, his footnotes tend to bear only the faintest tangential relationships to the sources they claim to draw from.

We've seen this with St. Louis de Montfort, the story of the bishops and the prostitutes, Thomas Aquinas, Pope John Paul II and now quite probably Augustine.

He uses footnotes the same way he uses bishops and the word "Catholic" - it's GREAT marketing, but you really aren't supposed to expect more from them than that.

Kevin said...

The fact that Archbishop Sheen we know made the quote, I'm inclined to believe it is genuine.

What I doubt is that West has actually looked up the quote himself, and I'm guessing there will be contextual issues.

While normally it is incumbent upon people challening to provide context, at the same time, people are free to say "show us an actual reference."

Given the way he has fudged history (The Paschal Candle, Louis De Montfort, the "two bishops") and the Scriptures (his statement that Sirach's statement has no bearing for the regenerate Christian fully trust in the cross), I think this is a completely reasonable demand.

Yet this all goes back to the original posting Steve did, and my blog's article about Fr. Loya. They don't think citing evidence is nececssary. It is true because they say so. Think it's harsh? Prove me wrong.

dcs said...

The fact that Archbishop Sheen we know made the quote, I'm inclined to believe it is genuine.

I did not say that the quote was not genuine, I questioned the attribution to St. Augustine. It could just be one of those things that has been handed down as having been said by St. Augustine (like "in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas" which seems to have originated with a Lutheran theologian, or "he who sings prays twice" which is an abridgment of what he actually wrote). So the mere fact that Abp. Sheen cited St. Augustine here is not, to my mind, sufficient to establish the authenticity of the citation.

But that's just nitpicking. I agree with the substance of your comment.

It does not seem that there are many references to the Paschal Candle at all among the Fathers, let alone to its phallicism (is that even a word?). We know in the early Roman Rite that multiple torches were plunged into the Easter water to bless it; I would hate to see what this would symbolize among those who would analogize the liturgy to the sex act.

Kevin said...

"It does not seem that there are many references to the Paschal Candle at all among the Fathers"

This is part of Fr. Loya's problem. You will see very little of any of this talk for the first half of what is called the "patristic era" (depending on your scholar, from Ignatius of Antioch to John of Damascus) since Christianity was underground.

The liturgy underwent a far more rapid development once Christianity was tolerated and then legalized. Even then, there's precious little information available about the Paschle Candle (though a bit more than pre-nicene fathers).

For example, what we know as the Roman Rite really didn't start taking a concrete form until the 5th century (though we know for a fact various practices existed beforehand).

What one might be able to find is in the encounters with Western Pagans, different symbols were given new meaning in Christianity. I doubt this is the case with the candle, though I'm guessing if he's gonna find something, will be in this aspect. (I'm really going to doubt the strongly Christian East of this time period spoke much about this.)

If anything, this could be a really interesting discussion, with issues well beyond if its a phallic symbol. All the more reason for Fr. Loya to actually provide evidence, which he seems to concede he lacks. said...