Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.When Moses went up on the mountain to get the Ten Commandments, he was gone for a long time. The people left at the foot of the mountain thought he was dead. So, they had Aaron, Moses' brother, make an idol of gold, and they bowed down and worshipped it, then "rose up to play" - Hebrew idiom for "Let's have an orgy."
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. (1 Cor 10:7-14)
When Chris West went on sabbatical, he was gone for a long time. Indeed, he's been gone since before he left on sabbatical. The people he left behind have only his Sphinx-like silence and the Scriptures he leaves them - his holy writings.
So the academics have risen up to play.
They have started discussing what West would have theoretically said or might once have said or might one day say if he deigns to eventually reveal himself to us.
One academic hypothesizes about what he might have meant.
When a statement is made, one of the nuns who worship the receipts he brings in anxiously ask, "Is that in the Holy Scriptures of the Chris?" No longer does she ask for evidence from tapes or CDs or YouTube video or witnesses at his talks or his be-a-mystic-for-a-grand seminars.
Now she is just concerned if the offending statement can be found in the product she personally sells.
Another academic hypothesizes about what his followers heard, "When he said 'Blessed are the cheese-makers,' did he mean to include the makers of all dairy products? Many of his followers think so. I wonder." What could it mean?
A third waxes eloquent about what Chris would have meant if he had ever bothered to read Aquinas. The fact that he hasn't bothered doesn't bother anyone.
We have risen up to play.
We hypothesize over tea and buttered crumpets, two cubes, no lemon, little finger raised.
We do it gently, primly, properly.
In short, we have a bunch of academics nattering over ... well.... nothing.
Not what West has said, not what West's followers have said, but over what the silent West might once have said if only he had thought of X.
How would the world be different if the sky were green?
No one asks where West is.
No one asks why he can't speak for himself.
No one points out the contradictions when he has, in the past, spoken for himself.
No one mentions the damaged lives of the people who have tried to follow what they believed he said - the failures, mortal and venial, due to concupiscence that proved to be a little trickier to conquer than West's thousand-dollar course led them to believe.
We ignore his crudity, his malice, his inability to defend himself, much less defend himself academically.
Instead, we give him the honor of being considered academically.
As if any claim he has made can be supported in any fashion at all, much less academically.
As if even his academic supporters have brought forward the least trembling shred of evidence, much less the necessary weight of academic evidence.
No, it's so much tidier, so much neater, if we all speculate about what he would say if he were us, and if he were proper, for we are proper, so of course he would be proper.
It is much tidier to ignore his actual words, to ignore his actual ineptness, to ignore the vapid, empty, contentless posturing and assertions of his "academic" supporters and ..... it is so much more proper to play!
We need not deal with his nasty name-calling, his charges of Manicheanism and Pelagianism and Puritanism and prudishness. We won't mention his constant attacks on those who critique him, we will silently leave behind the way he questions the very sexual identity of any audience member who dares to question him publicly after a talk.
Because Chris doesn't talk.
He cannot be questioned, in much the same way JP II is mute, dead.
But he's not only dead, he's risen.
In short, Chris is on national tour with his rock band.
His dream is fulfilled.
He's finally the rock star he always wanted to be.
Why speak, why break the silence?
The Gospels tell us nothing of what Christ taught the apostles after the Resurrection.
Like his new-age muse, Mother Tessa, I channel the Chris and hear his thoughts:
"Let the academics play, let them hypothesize, debate my legacy, as English literatteurs debate the meaning of Ulysses."
"This academic play enhances my mystery, my ego... If I break the silence, I destroy the mystery. If I say nothing, they dangle my mystery before everyone like jewels. Let them play their words while I play my music and the flashing lights and the empty video images."
So nice and neat, so proper.
This follows Biblical precedent.
This prim and proper discussion between parties is exactly the way Moses dealt with the people when he found them at the foot of the mountain:
Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies— then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’” So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today." (Exodus 3:-25-29)Oh, my!
But that can't be!
That Moses thing - that's just Moses acting out!
That wasn't of God!
God is so genteel!
Just like us!
Besides, that's the OLD Testament, which is just the slavish adherence to the Law.
We live in the NEW Testament, which is LOVE.
Yes, of course, we forgot.
God changes as a result of the Incarnation...
After all, in the Old Testament, God allowed His prophets to be beaten, tortured and killed.
This is much different then the New Testament, where God allows His apostles and saints to be beaten, tortured and killed....
And that's the key to understanding, you see.
God doesn't change.
He's not genteel.
Never has been.
God treats us now exactly the same way He treated the Chosen People then.
There is no difference between the two Testaments in how His people are treated.
The only thing that changes is our understanding.
When we view our suffering through the prism of the Cross, we begin to understand that suffering is not purely punishment, that it can also be work, necessary salvific work.
Suffering still remains a natural evil, but it can be transformed so that it is not a moral evil. The Cross is what makes us realize that Love is not genteel, Love is bloody suffering. Love does not lie on a marriage bed of pleasure, but of pain.
When dealing with a man who denies Catholic virtue is a virtue at all - a heretical position - we must at least consider the answer the Scriptures and the Church herself offer us: put your sword on your hip.
Tea and crumpets following are purely optional.