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Friday, October 01, 2010

A Public Letter to the Westians

For years, a theological debate has raged over the relative merits of Chris West's theological teachings. This debate has brought bishops, priests and lay people into public and private opposition to one another as the relative merits of his teachings have been discussed.

In order to bring unity to the Church, I propose that those in the debate formally request their bishops to pose a minimum of the following questions to the appropriate Vatican congregations:

"Can the Easter Candle legitimately be taught to be a phallic symbol?"

"Can the baldachin legitimately be taught to be a symbol of the altar as marriage bed?"

"Is continence to be taught as a virtue?"

"Are the Theology of the Body audiences to be considered the centerpiece of catechetical importance?"

If the CDF or CDW ruled in favor of the Westians, then West's critics would be forced into apology and silence.

Of course, if either congregation ruled against the Westians, we would expect necessary changes to be made in the presentations the Westians make to their audiences.

I am perfectly willing to submit myself to Rome in this fashion.
Are the Westians?

20 comments: said...

I definitely agree that we need the Magisterial Authority to come forward on a number of issues for clarification. I would propose more than what you have contributed.

Language, would be a big one. We need to have a language that we all understand as being the same. For instance, sex as a noun and sex as a verb are always being misunderstood and interchanged in the TOB by it's presenters and this is where critical misinterpretations on many levels and many persons can occur.

Brendan said...

It is doubtful they actually care about the answers to these questions. To them, these are very minor, inconsequential points, relative to the "larger message."

I finally understand now why they sincerely consider you a bully. They know you are right, but the truth in these matters is irrelevant to them. The real problem here is you keep winning the arguments, and then flaunting it. They look bad, and it hurts their feelings, and it's unfair. They should get to score sometimes. Why don't you just back off?

That is why Mark Shea did an end-zone dance when that canonist answered your poser about Smith's qualifications. That Kellmeyer, who always has to be right, now he gets to see how it feels.

The Westians do not argue about these questions because they believe so strongly in them, so they would never ask Rome to rule on them.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


EXACTLY, Brendan!

They really, truly, don't care about what's right or what's true.

It would NEVER occur to any of them to pursue a Magisterial response.

Indeed, quite the reverse - while they happily invoke whatever individual bishops they can get on their side, they certainly would never want to pose the appropriate dubia because they know damned well they would lose on the ruling.

Indeed, even the whiff of such a suggestion to the bishops who support them might give away the game. Those bishops might start asking impertinent questions.

I'm a bully because I won't shut up and stop asking. :)

johnpfmcguire said...

Kind of reaching, aren't we? The author says, "This debate has brought bishops, priests and lay people into public and private opposition to one another AS THE RELATIVE MERITS OF HIS TEACHINGS HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED," but for my money it's really not being DISCUSSED, and we're dealing with a cult and an anticult here, both of which threaten great harm to Catholics. I see no reason to refer this lunacy to Rome. Reason could help us see that, yes, the entire Faith is based on conjugal love, heaven itself being a wedding feast where Jesus weds the Church. For my money both sides are being heroically blind--and only publishing their personal issues--and not DISCUSSING it. Don't look to the Pope to police this bunk. Grow up. What you need to do (sooner or later) is stop worshiping men and degrees. Simplify your faith and build on solid ground for a change. Most of this West stuff should be qualified, but you are screwing the laity out of something (potentially) highly edifying when you turn this into an unhelpful political game.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Let's try to be a little consistent, shall we?

If the Westian cult threatens "great harm to Catholics" then how can I be "screwing the faithful" out of something potentially edifying?

a) If you mean that I'm screwing them out of TOB, I don't see how that follows because - by your definition - Westians aren't giving us TOB, they are giving us a cult.

b) If you mean that I am not giving them TOB, fine. Is anyone? And if no one is, then how do we know TOB is highly edifying to anyone?

c) I agree that Rome is not going to get directly involved in this because Westianism hasn't started suborning a lot of bishops yet, apart from Rigali and Rhoades, and if the Church can stand Mahoney and Bernadin without making public pronouncement, it can stand Rigali and Rhoades.

d) How is asking Rome for direction "politics"? Isn't that what Catholics are supposed to do?

e) I didn't know I was so powerful that I could do all the negative nasty things you mention, although I do thank you for thinking that of me. The Westians certainly seem frightened of me. Can't imagine why.

johnpfmcguire said...


Thank you for allowing my challenging comment. Further explanation:

I am being consistent because I am saying that the anticult is just as evil as the cult.

"Asking for direction from Rome" would not be playing politics, that's day and night from what you suggested.

That said, I believe we are one in spirit on this matter; I just believe in subsidiarity is all :)


Steve Kellmeyer said...


Unlike the Westians, I almost NEVER delete comments. I'm a firm believer in a public discussion. If someone can humiliate me with the truth, more power to them. The truth must increase, I must decrease.

As for the anti-cult being as dangerous as the cult. Ok. Let's say that it is. It's still not clear to me that TOB is thereby something edifying to Catholics.

I'm also not clear on the whole "politics" meme.

What part of being willing to submit myself to the judgement of Rome by asking these questions as formal dubia is "playing politics?"

Seems to me I'm trying to get us out of the "playing politics" mode by moving this up into Rome's judgement. At least, that's my intention.

If the Westians are right, then I should shut the hell up. If I'm right, the Westians should shut the hell up. Rome can decide the question in a way that forces everyone in the conversation to recognize who is correct.

And Rome doesn't have to rule on Chris West or me or anyone else - all She has to do is answer some pertinent questions about what is and is not to be presented as part of the Faith.

Again, how is my interest in Rome's judgement on questions of how to teach the Faith "playing politics"? That's all I'm asking for here. If there's something more in this, my letter, please point it out.

johnpfmcguire said...


This may be of interest to bear in mind throughout this (and every) discussion: some people (rare though they be) actually don't set out to humiliate anyone but just to do what's right. (EVEN ONLINE! More about sanity to follow.) Moreover, I don't believe the Truth wants to humiliate anyone, because humility is way Truer a disposition than humiliation. But I do think, given the tenor here, that politics is too intermingled with faith in certain people's thought-patterns, and we may not be able to sort all that out in one sitting.

But for the time being let's look at this another way. For what it's worth I think Christopher West is almost entirely full of crap and knowingly shamelessly appealing to the emotions of a dysfunctional laity that has not the sense to find the romance latent within orthodoxy. What they need to know is that you certainly don't need heterodoxy or even weirdness to find the romance. Christopher West's cult, you'll pardon me, represents the S&M crowd. But that's basically the story of the "developed West" today, as I think we can all agree.

Not only that. I'm not even setting my blue chips on "T.O.B." for that matter. There is a very insidious "Saint John Paul the Great" cult I want no part of especially because I was burned by the Legion of Christ Maciel cult, and only when Benedict came to the chair did these sociopaths have anything to fear from Rome. *Vomits.*

But, Steve, we've got to spend our time trying to reach the sane with a viable substitute, not trying to police the loony bin. Rev. Donald Calloway keeps a pretty low profile (or he has in the past) and gives talks about real masculinity and real femininity to youth. He does so frankly (never mentions T.O.B. by the way) and had the effect, in his simple humble way, of bringing me in so much deeper in a perspective on Mariology (and wider Theology) I never dreamed I'd have. Common sense is definitely the handmaiden of faith!

As to your paradigm "If the Westians are right, then I should shut the hell up. If I'm right, the Westians should shut the hell up," I think there may be a third option you haven't considered that reminds me of the East-West schism. Maybe you're both technically not wrong but you're both too fixed on scoring points to actually sit down and listen to why each other says what he says. That's what you ought to do first as a priority both of faith and of reason. (That's subsidiarity, as Rome herself will tell you, so submit to Rome!)


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Steve Kellmeyer said...


I was trained in formal logic - computer programming - as an undergrad. As a result, I know for a fact that it doesn't matter what Truth wants. When it comes to our emotional reaction to Truth, we will have the emotional reaction we choose to have.

One emotional reaction that people have to Truth, almost without exception (and I mean by that, that I know of no one who has been excepted) is humiliation.

We all deal with the results of Original Sin. One of those results is that we believe things to be true that are not true.

When we are forced to face the truth, we are humiliated. We are shamed. JP II talked about the importance of recognizing and embracing this shame.

So, by the simple fact that the Truth is presented, I can guarantee someone, somewhere will be shamed by it. That's the stumbling block, the shame, of the Cross.

Now, you were taken in by Maciel and you recognize in West another Maciel-like cult. I agree with you.

Many people spoke out against Maciel's cult - they preached to the loony bin. Were they wrong?

Is it possible that you were able to listen to Rev. Calloway in part because you recognized some truth in the words of the people whom you initially and consciously rejected, who spoke out against Maciel?

johnpfmcguire said...


I'm glad I've got you thinking, even if you seem a bit lost with the distinction I made between humility and humiliation. If you're interested in knowing how reason relates to sanity I highly recommend G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. That's all I really have to say about that at this point.

But...I do want to discuss the Legion more. Brother, I spent years denouncing them and don't have a whole lot to show for it. I'd do it all again, oh yes, given the level of sanity I was working with (as well as my hackneyed work with prolife), but I realize meekness and humility wins many more than guns a-blazin'. I've toned it down, and this has had the effect of lending more strength, credibility and just attention span to the words I do speak about them. I speak of orthodoxy all the time, then slip in something about Maciel or West or Hahn right where people least expect it.

Chesterton points out that if you speak the truth too much people will stop believing it. Don't be so "logical" that there's no room to be artistic. Read Orthodoxy.


Steve Kellmeyer said...

I've read Orthodoxy.

I find Chesterton frequently amusing but often tiresome.

I don't consider him the last word on how to preach the Faith.

I'm glad you have a schtick for proclaiming the Gospel that suits your personality. So have I.

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johnpfmcguire said...


Nor do I consider Chesterton to be the last word on anything. BUT I DO CONSIDER HIS KEEN OBSERVATIONS WELL WORTH YOUR HEARING AGAIN...FOR THE FIRST TIME. I'm not asking you to be someone you're not (neither is orthodoxy), just don't fight fire with fire. Subsidiarity. That's Catholic teaching. Be on the side of Truth or it's a waste of everyone's time. That's all. Other than that, keep it up Brother!


Steve Kellmeyer said...


1) Of course you're asking me to be someone I'm not. I'm asking the same of you. We're both asking the same of Chris West. God asks that of all of us.

Stop being ashamed of it.

2) Look up subsidiarity. It doesn't mean what you think it means.

3) If I have said something false, point it out. If you can't identify falsehood in what I've said, then I'm at least presumptively on the side of truth.

johnpfmcguire said...

Subsidiarity means resolving things on the lowest possible level of command. It and natural law are branches of a subject I like to call "common sense." (I don't mean this pejoratively the way some spiteful idiots with no idea of what common sense actually is might.)

Orthodoxy (get ready for a paradox) asks that we be our truer selves (in Christ) which means being sinless. God wants us just as we are...only perfected. Of course Jesus is our Savior and also Model, so in terms of grace we're called to that transfigured life, that Catholic life, that universal life, the life Adam had before the fall (only better in one sense). We are sons in the Son, but we are still eternally unique. Paradox, get it?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Ok, John.
That's lovely.

johnpfmcguire said...

I'll take LOVELY, even though I was going for CLEAR.

It's hard to know what you need to hear. I'll quote you the exact definition of subsidiarity. Ahem. "The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level."

Can I get an amen?