Support This Website! Shop Here!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Janet Smith's Mortal Sin

A fortiori if it is permissible to see the priest as the “fertilizing organ”, why not the candle and why not the candle even in that context?

A month ago, I asked Dr. Janet Smith, among other things, to support her 18-month old contention that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church taught the Easter candle as phallic symbol.

I didn't bother to ask Chris West because Chris may be GREAT at self-promotion but - at least as far as theology goes - he can't think his way through a swinging door in the wall of an empty room.

Remarkably enough, Smith was loathe to reply.

Instead, she got her compatriot, Fr. Loya, to float the balloon that such evidence is not needed because it is self-evident.

If it's self-evident, then evidence would be easy to demonstrate, nicht wahr?
"Nicht wahr" is German - it means "isn't it true"?
I throw in that note because Westians claim foreign languages are repressive. If you don't speak/write in English, you apparently get ingrown toenails and stuff.

Anyway, when Smith finally grew the cojones to write a critique of Dawn Eden's masterful thesis (that's a pun, by the way), Smith caught so much hell on Catholic Exchange for the stupid-level of her reply that she found it necessary to re-write her entire response and move it to CERC (no comment boxes at CERC),.

While there, she got a CERC editor who knows nothing about West or TOB to commission an ex-cop who says, in writing, that he knows even less about TOB to - get this, because I can't believe I'm even writing this - Smith got the CERC editor to commission a self-professed completely ignorant ex-cop to write a critique of an expert on TOB!

I haven't seen anything that inane since the HuffPo crowd used the structural engineering analysis of a professional pastry chef to prove that 9/11 was an inside job.

And, amazingly, Smith's CERC's editor's ex-cop came up with the same crashingly ignorant points Smith made.

I swear I'm not making this up.
Couldn't be.
Fiction has to be believable.

Again, anyway, Smith having triumphed over Dawn Eden (at least, in her world, where the sky is a wonderful mango), has apparently now seen fit to attack Alice von Hildebrand.

And during the course of her comments/critique, she came up with the winner of a quote that heads this essay.

She doesn't quote a Father or Doctor of the Church, as she claimed she could and all of us asked her to do.

She instead quotes ONE priest who produces ZERO references to support his OPINION.

And his OPINION was not about the Paschal candle, it was about the priest, so it's not relevant in any case.

Now, she throws around all the commissions and stuff the priest was on, just like Ed Peters threw around all the commissions Smith was on when I pointed out that Janet Smith is completely unqualified - from a formal theological perspective - to be a seminary professor.

And, given how brilliantly she has demonstrated the accuracy of my critique of her theological ability, I'm amazed she would try to whip up the same argument in support of her pet priest, especially given that his entire line of argument has nothing to do with the original question she was tasked to answer.

The mountain groaned and produced a mouse.
What did Dr. Janet Smith produce?

We have a seminary professor who can't tell the difference between a person (subject) and a candle (object).

Hint: a person has a spirit soul. A priest - who is a person - can spiritually vivify or enliven another person via the sacramental charism irretrievably burned into his very soul, the Christ-branding charism that makes him in persona Christi (which, for you Westians, is a repressive Latin way of saying "in the person of Christ" - remember Christ? Ah.... never mind then.)

A candle, on the other hand, is a lump of wax that comes, as my grandfather used to say in his bucolic way, from bee droppings.

Some people notice the difference between a subject (priest) and an object (bee droppings).

Other persons, like seminary professors who are completely unqualified to comment despite that fact that Rome made the mistake of putting them on some commissions on occasion, don't.

Now, all of that would be bad enough.
I mean, when a seminary professor seems to think the candle has more functionality than the priest holding it, an orthodox man could be forgiven for coughing up his teeth.
But it gets worse.

You see, the seminary professor's comment context is JP II's theology of "personalism."
In fact, if you believe her, she's one of the experts.

That is, she's supposed to be an expert in the difference between:
(a) a candle made of unmelted wax which, although it represents the risen Christ, is intended primarily to become melted wax and
(b) an immortal person made in the image and likeness of God, who is conformed by the charism of his sacrament to be Christ, and who will, with the gift of sanctifying grace, make other human beings gods by means of the sacraments, and himself join them to praise and glorify the living God for all eternity.


Now, to be fair, she did do something I had specifically requested she do: she asked West to stop using the analogy:

In the meantime, I would recommend that West cease to speak of the Easter Candle in this way because it causes such a ruckus.

That was wonderful, and she should be applauded for the bare request. One might take issue with how she phrased the request - she doesn't want him to stop because the claim is impossible to support. She wants it stopped because "it causes such a ruckus."

Think about that.

If this really IS a point of Catholic doctrine, then it can't be dropped simply because "it causes a ruckus." The Resurrection also causes a ruckus (let's not even start on the Eucharist), but it is not Catholic to say bits of doctrine should be thrown overboard because people don't like them or don't tend to agree with them. So, when a catechist says something should be dropped because it "causes a ruckus" that catechist really means "this should be dropped because it isn't the teaching of the Church." After all, if it were the teaching, we couldn't drop it.

Dr. Smith is certainly smart enough to realize that she has publicly admitted what West critics have been saying for some time: West's and her own claims in this regard are absolutely insupportable and have to be repudiated. The bit about letting the "liturgists work this out" is merely a face-saving phrase meant to obscure the fact and save public face.

It only took 18 months of caterwauling before a Westian (although not West himself) admitted a single error. Great. One down, a hundred to go. Now you can see why it takes the Church decades to respond to reform movements. In any case, I do hereby publicly applaud Dr. Janet Smith for admitting, however circumspectly she did it, that Chris West is theologically nuts at least on this point.

But, back to her essay.

I would write more, but I can't - and here we come to the nub of the problem.

Dr. Janet Smith has committed the worst sin a writer can commit.

It's not just that her essay is stupid - although it is that, and in spades. After all, any essay that spends time defending a thesis that is ultimately repudiated by the same author in that same thesis is stupid beyond repair.

It's catastrophically worse than stupid.
It's boring.

She's channeling Jimmy Carter, which is remarkable, given that he claims he's not even dead yet. But, since she claims she can't tell the difference between someone who has a soul (like a priest) and something that doesn't (like a corpse or, perhaps, Jimmy), she is probably not the one to judge Jimmy's vim and/or vigor.

If she keeps it up, however, we may have to ship her to Georgia so she can shuck peanuts.
I'm just sayin'.


Kevin said...

What's funny is that the quote Dr. Smith provides basically says what we have been saying all along.

For what its worth, I would use different language.

Yet the entire rite starts with the blessing, and the priest calls down the Holy Spirit on the waters. The Spirit "fertilizes" the waters, and since the priest called the Paraclete down, one could say he "fertilizes." The candle..... is just a candle.

Unless Dr. Smith wants to claim that there is now a "real presence" of Christ not just in the Eucharist, but a bunch of wax! The plunging of the candle into the waters symbolizes Christ's descent into the waters, and His rising again triumphant over the grave which His sacrifice sent Him to.

This triumph provides life and hope to us all. There's nothing "sexual" about this act (in the verb sense, probably even in the noun sense as well, but that's more sketchy.)

Leave it to our friends across the way to turn the beautiful tale of God's triumph over sin, our sharing in that triumph now incompletely and in eternity completely, and turn it into simulating sex.

Brendan said...

I was impressed when you were able to read as far into Smith's Eden critique as much as you did. I thought maybe the boredom factor was just me.
Cracks me up, the comparison to Carter.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

To be absolutely honest, I deserve no kudos.

I actually couldn't read the whole thing - it was far too inane. One line jumped off the page as I was scrolling down, and someone else commented to me privately on a related aspect.

Now, if anyone wants to lump me in with the pastry chef that went after Eden, they are welcome to do so. I'm just pointing out that two lines, picked almost at random out of an otherwise turgid essay, are ridiculously at odds with one another.

Make of that what you will.

Kevin said...

In the end, that's my biggest problem with a lot of the arguments by our friends across the way.

It is a classic case of cognitive dissonance. Dr. Smith says Dawn Eden should write a scholarly work, instead of letting her bias show. She then accusees Dawn Eden of hatching a brilliant marketing plan to get rich quick riding Dr. Smith's coattails at the TOB Congress.

Dr. Smith calls for civility in this dispute, then goes off on a tangent in the comboxes, and accuses Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand of duplicity (or if we are being blunt, lying), in insinuating that it seems like she didn't actually write this article.

Mr. Murphy writes that he has read "almost nothing" of Christopher West, then later in his essay states that Dawn Eden "misunderstands West." Well how can he have any knowledge on it whatsoever, if he's read "almost nothing" of the material in question.

They need to follow the advice of Treebeard "Don't be Hasty"