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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'.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

They Rose Up To Play

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.

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 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."

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.
Literally 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.
Not anymore.
He's mute.
He's dead.
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.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Emperor's New Clothes

"I have rewritten my critique and will publish the revised version soon."
~ Dr. Janet Smith, October 4, 2010
Dr. Janet Smith has made known her august intention to re-write her response to Dawn Eden, as Smith's first response was apparently so fatally flawed and absolutely lacking in content that Dr. Smith looked to many like a raving Westian loon. It certainly generated a lot of negative press in the blogosphere.

So, as the imposing doctor of classical languages re-writes her theology undergrad paper, we would pose a dubium or two...

Perhaps she could incorporate her thoughts on these matters into her most serene response?

A) Why is a woman with a Ph.D. and an international reputation so deeply concerned about commentary from a freshly-minted MA about somebody ELSE, a third party who ALSO has both an international reputation AND the backing of a Cardinal? What's up with that?

Why does a nobody with an MA frighten the living beelzebub out of two internationally acclaimed "theologians"? What kind of soft targets ARE you two that one person with a less than buttery word on her lips for your antics makes you bring out enormous canons to shoot down the obstreperous fly?

It's kind of like Barack Obama getting all het up about what a local radio show has to say about the operations of the Presidency... could you explain your weirdly disproportionate response/concern...????

But, passing on from this extremely interesting first question, we have a technically unimportant second question:

B) Why does a woman with a Ph.D. who has written literally dozens of articles, hundreds of speeches, etc., get the opportunity to re-write HER first public response, and the person she's defending, who has written several multi-million selling books gets to re-write HIS public responses... and these re-writes are considered laudable.

But, why is it that the poor little nobody they are both attacking is taken to task because HER initial response allegedly wasn't spot on? At least, her initial work wasn't spot on according to the judgement of the people with international reputations and the backing of a cardinal. Who are both apparently scared spitless of the little nobody.

Everyone else seems to have thought the little nobody did a rather good job.

It puts me in mind of something, although I can't quite remember the whole story, but there was this little kid - a nobody - who yelled something at the emperor about his wardrobe.... nope, can't remember the story. All I remember is that the tailors made out like bandits through the back door with their pay before the king got back to the palace.

I always wanted to be the tailors in that story.
They were the only ones who came out ahead.

Apparently, Janet, you and Chris remember the story.
So do your publishers, Pauline Books and Ascension Press and Catholic Exchange.

Now, I mean, I know we are supposed to judge you and Chris by a different standard - you are both pure, the rest of us are scum, you are holy, we are not, you deserve a pass, none of us do, etc.

I know the people who criticize West, that we're jest second-class trailer trash n' all, but I jest thought that this bein' America n' sech, n' maybe we could try them same rules out for everybody jest this once, h'it bein' the way Americans generally act, y'know?


Now, I'm sorry for having been so mean, divisive, ill-spirited, cantankerous and rude as to point any of this out, and I realize my sorrow counts for dirt, that I should simply silence myself and bow, weeping before you both, to kiss your feet in order to show true contrition while I humbly write an article for the silent journals, which is where this debate should really take place, but I thought I'd ask the questions before I did any of that.

Not that I expect an answer, Janet.
Someone so august and pure as yourself shouldn't be expected to have to answer questions from the likes of me, a wastrel laying at the gates, full of scabs and filth.

I have no right to enter into your august banquet to request even this crust from you.
And I dare not even lift my eyes to the all-hallowed, all -silent purity of THE CHRIS! But.....

I can't help it!
My concupiscence gets the best of me!

So, whatcha' got, Janet?
Or am I talking to a great, big empty here?

In the spirit of Westianism, Janet re-wrote her old essay so that it's now a new essay but she managed to say nothing new in it.

That takes rare skill.

Unless you're a Westian, in which case it appears to be an in-born genetic trait.

And, to show she didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, she had it put up where none of those pesky blog commentators can comment on it directly.

It's so annoying to have to listen to critics tear your thesis apart, isn't it, Janet?
So un-scholarly of them.

That was the problem with Catholic Exchange - you write this BRILLIANT piece, then picayune logicians wade in via the comments section and demonstrate line-by-line failures that make a Ph.D. look like a Post-Hole Digger.


CERC is much safer.

For one, Janet is on the advisory board, so she can force CERC to carry her stuff.
For two, CERC has no comments section, so nobody can critique her on the same page as her embarrassing work appears.

I don't think Janet gets this whole "Internet" thing...

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Disturbing Indicator

[Dr. Janet Smith] argued that it was “unjust” for someone of Schindler’s influence to raise “very serious objections” in a public forum. “I believe here that he is stepping outside of the arena where the kinds of concerns he raises are best and appropriately addressed – the academic arena where issues can receive patient reflection and prolonged and careful assessment; not the arena of the Internet blog which invites hasty and unreflective judgment,” she wrote... (June 17, 2009, CNA)
I have commented at length on the errors in Dr. Janet Smith's critique of Dawn Eden, but one small detail of her essay deserves greater scrutiny: the idea that the Latin language is somehow a sign of "repression."

As I noted earlier, this is an absolutely odd view for a woman with a Ph.D. in classical languages to take. Why would anyone denigrate their own profession like that?

Eden repeatedly rejects West’s characterization of preconciliar Catholics as “often repressive” and finds that here too West has “set up a hermeneutic of discontinuity” (ET, 64). She does not argue that it is false that there was at one time and may be even now in some places, a tendency to teach the Church’s teaching about sexuality in a repressive fashion. I believe it would be difficult to contest that claim and in fact Eden notes West’s characterization “no doubt resonates with certain members of his audience” (ET, 63).

Let me note that when some ancient texts and moral theology textbooks were translated into English the portions on sexual morality were left in Latin. (e.g., Chapter 10 of Book II of The Instructor by: Clement of Alexander: and Part VI, Chapt III of A Manual of Moral Theology by Rev. Thomas Slater, S.J.: That suggests some “repression” to me.

In the comments section at Catholic Exchange, DCS questioned her on this point:
Why does this suggest repression? Would not a priest-confessor (for whom, after all, these books were written) be expected to know Latin? And other moral theology manuals, contemporaneous with Fr. Slater’s (such as Prummer or Jone), *were* fully translated into English. In fact the section in Jone on sexual morality is quite frank without a hint of “repression” about it.
But Dr. Smith doubled-down, refusing to admit error:
Yes, priests were “expected” to know Latin and thus they could have kept all of the manuals in Latin and not translated them at all. Why did they keep only the portions about sex in Latin? There may have been many reasons for keeping the sections about sex in Latin, but a reticence about speaking of sex openly was not an unlikely reason. I have heard from priests trained by those manuals that they had the impression that sex is something you just don’t talk about or read about.
Now, notice.

She admits there may be "many reasons for keeping the sections about sex in Latin" but she does not list what any of them might be. Instead, she continues to emphasize the decidedly dim view - one might even say the decidedly antagonistic view - of the authors'/Church's reasons for maintaining the Latin in those sections.

She isn't giving the authors or the Church in general the Christian charity of the doubt on this.
Let us endeavor to remedy that lack.

Why might the original Latin have been kept for some manuals?
And, notice, not all manuals treated sex this way, only some of them.

Reason One: It's Our Language
Let us assume English is the national language of the US (I do not say it is or it should be, I merely use this for example).

If you are a native speaker of Spanish, and I write an article that may be of interest to the Spanish-American community, but the article I write is written in a mixture of Spanish and English, is the presence of the English passages a sign that I want to repress the truth of those passages from the Spanish speakers in the nation?

Well, no, it isn't. In fact, this is a decidedly unusual view of foreign languages - treating language as if it were a secret code known only to certain intelligentsia who have been enlightened to its mysteries. Children who are first discovering that there may be other languages often view foreign languages this way, but it is rare for the educated adult to take this view.

Worse, such a view would make no sense in this situation. As an American, it is natural for me to reply in English. Insofar as I wrote in Spanish, it would be out of condescension to Spanish speakers, to make certain that they at least got the gist of the conversation. It would be the odd reader who would accuse me of trying to "hide" or "repress" portions of the article by writing those portions in my native tongue and not their own.

The official language of the Church is Latin.
This is not new.
It has been true for essentially the entire history of the Church.
Even during the Second Vatican Council, some bishops made their entire address to the council in Latin.

So, following Dr. Smith's thoughts here, were these fathers of the Second Vatican Council trying to repress the truth contained within their addresses from their fellow bishops or from the public at large? Or were they merely emphasizing the connection this council had with all the 20 previous ecumenical councils which preceded it? The very fact that one chooses to use one language instead of another is a way to emphasize a connection with a particular population, in this case, the vast democracy of the dead, the saints in heaven and the souls in purgatory, a great many of whom spoke, wrote or read Latin.

And, ultimately, how secret and "repressive" can this language be, given that it was commonly taught in Catholic grade schools and high schools up through the 1960's, and that between one-quarter and one-half of all Catholic children in the nation attended these schools, so were trained in the use of this language?

Reason Two: It's Expected
If you read books, fiction or non-fiction, written prior to World War II, you will frequently find passages written in Latin, Greek, and French without translation in either the text or the footnotes. Were those authors trying to hide portions of their texts from their readers?

Quite the reverse, in fact.

The authors simply assumed their readers were well-educated enough to read the original Greek, Latin, or French on their own. Their assumption was not unfounded. Roughly 1-2% of the population were college-educated in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but college classes were not infrequently conducted in Latin and/or Greek. These tongues were taught in high school and grade school. You were not considered educated at the turn of the century unless you could read these languages.

To quote something in the original Latin, Greek or French was a trick used by the author to evoke the entire work from which the quote was taken. Not infrequently, these quotes were taken from common works which most students translated during the course of their studies - Cicero's orations, the Iliad and Odyssey, etc. So, such quotes were actually a way to pack in more information through evocation than would be convenient or stylistically wise to include verbatim.

So, to say that a pre-Vatican II manual for confessors retains some Latin is to say that it retains some connection to the ancient traditions of the Church and that it assumed a moderately well-educated reader. It could well be that using the Latin would allow evocation of certain concepts and connotations that would simply be unavailable in a foreign tongue.

Now, a classical languages scholar would certainly know all this history. It is the history of her own discipline, after all. But most modern readers don't know any of this and Dr. Janet Smith refused to enlighten anyone, even though she had ample opportunity in her follow-up comments.

Why did she not mention this?

But, before we wave it away as a simple case of thoughtlessness, let us continue to contemplate the problem.

Reason Three: Accuracy and Precision

Which is better?
To read a passage in translation or to read a passage in the original language?

As even the lowliest undergrad knows, reading the original is superior - it contains nuances of meaning that no translation or summary, no matter how good, can carry. Every language has its own nuances, connotations and flavors which are often simply untranslatable. Many a novel, play and movie has been based on these well-known translation problems.

Now, when a confessor is considering giving pastoral advice to someone involved in sexual activity and possibly sexual sin, it is extremely important that exact understanding be his. He can't afford to miss necessary nuance or shades of meaning.

This is the basis for Vatican II's insistence that all priests be very well-versed in Latin. This is the official language of the Church, in which all documents are either produced are into which they are translated.

The insistence on retaining the Latin phrasing for an extremely delicate and nuanced subject is an insistence on rigorous accuracy on the part of the both the author and the reader.

Far from repressing the meaning, to leave a passage in the original Latin accentuates the meaning and adds to the emphasis that it is extremely important to fully understand this section.

Sections which are not as critically reliant on nuance and exact meaning might be permitted to be translated into a foreign language, but obviously certain authors were so concerned about the translation problem, the sections involved were so crucial or dealt with so pastorally stressful a problem in the confessional, that the authors felt these did not permit the luxury of translation.

Again, anyone trained in a foreign language (or several, as is the case with Dr. Smith) would know this.

Reason Four: Subduing Prurience
As Kevin Tierney points out, the particular passages left in Latin in the works cited by Dr. Smith concern how the priest is to deal with hearing a confession involving sins against nature, such as bestiality. Does Dr. Smith feel that this discussion - a technical work intended for the technical audience of the priest-confessor - would be rewarding to the average Catholic? Are lay Catholics being repressed when they are not offered a discussion of how to hear the confession of someone who has had unnatural relations with livestock?

If this is repression, then exactly what kind of discussion does this seminary professor and educator of future priests, think lay Catholics should be having on this and similar topics? Certainly Luther supported a more open discussion and acceptance of both bigamy and polygamy, but we now see he was a prudish piker compared to Dr. Janet Smith and the Westians.

Questions and Concerns
Dr. Janet Smith has her Ph.D. in classical languages.
As such, we can expect that she is fully aware of the history of her field, the problems with translations, the reasons for which translations might not be made, and - as someone who has for so long laid claim to being a theologian - she is certainly aware that the Latin language is the official language of the Church.

So, several questions arise.
1) If she knows all this, if she knows that many manuals did, indeed, translate everything into English, while others retained the Latin for certain sections, why does she only mention the manuals which did not translate everything? It certainly makes it easier for her to claim, both explicitly and implicitly, that this was done for repressive reasons. But this leads to a bigger problem.

2) Out of all the reasons given above, why does she pick the least favorable interpretation for why the authors and/or the Church might have refrained from translating from the native tongue of the Church into a foreign language? As noted above, she isn't giving the Church anything close to the benefit of the doubt. Quite the reverse. Why?

3) When questioned on this point, and given the opportunity to explain the alternate reasons, why does she pointedly refrain from doing so? Indeed, she mentions one reason "Yes, priests were “expected” to know Latin and thus they could have kept all of the manuals in Latin and not translated them at all." But she mentions it only to double-down on the idea that the motive was repressive.

Very few people read old books, books that date from the time when these manuals were written, so very few people would know of or think of the points given above. One would think a scholar interested in the truth would have fairly pointed out the other possible reasons, so as to assuage the concerns of a modern audience that knows little of the history of her discipline. Instead, she left most other reasons unmentioned and thereby left her audience in the dark as to what possible reasons the authors and the Church might have had apart from repression.

4) Dr. Smith claims that many priests of her acquaintance had certain impressions of what was appropriate to discuss in reference to sex. Perhaps this is true. But we should recall that when she has defended other points of Westian theology in other contexts, she has made similar claims and has never actually substantiated them.

For instance, in defense of anal sex foreplay, she stated, " few seem to know that there is a tradition of approval of such behavior as foreplay to intercourse." Though she has been asked on numerous occasions to substantiate this claim in both private and public forums, she has always failed to do so.

In a second instance, in defense of the idea that the Easter candle is a phallic symbol, she is reported to have said, "she was surprised to learn that liturgists and theologians “from the early days of the Church” have understood the Easter Candle “just as West does.” And again, though she has been asked on numerous occasions to substantiate this claim in both private and public forums, she has always failed to do so. In fact, one of her supports, a Father Loya, insisted no such proof was necessary.

So, how much should weight should we give Dr. Smith's testimony in this instance? It is not unreasonable to request to see the evidence she claims she has, yet she never actually provides any of the evidence she claims to have. And the man she defends is apparently unable to respond at all.

5) On a related point of refusal, why does Sacred Heart Seminary, the seminary where she is employed, refuse to entertain the Holy Father's plea for generosity towards the Extraordinary Form? Sacred Heart Seminary not only does not offer its seminarians training in the Extraordinary Form, it doesn't even offer that form of the Mass on its campus. Seminarians who want to assist at such a Mass have to travel off campus to do so on their own dime. On the other hand, several of the Sacred Heart seminary employees are associated with the "charismatic" Mother of God cult in which Chris West grew up.

6) Is there any connection between the obvious distaste for Latin shown by Dr. Smith, the obvious distaste for traditional liturgy shown by her employer, the obvious distaste for evidence shown by promoters of the Westian version of TOB, the obvious cult-like character of the charismatic Mother of God community which influences both Chris West and Sacred Heart Seminary, and our current discussion? Or is this all simply (un)happy coincidence?

Ultimately, however, there is a deeper foundational question to raise.

Dr. Janet Smith's charge is resonant of something else, something we've heard before in the history of the Church...

In the past, who was it that said "Latin is repressive"?

If we cast our minds back, there was grumbling about the Scriptures being in Latin vs. the common tongue...

There was once a movement that found the ancient Mass a burden, a travesty...
There was once a movement that ended in discontinuity and rupture instead of continuity and real reform.... Hmmmm.....

In her constant content-less defenses of Westianism, in her railing against the repressive Latin language and the repression of "yesterday's" Church, Dr. Janet Smith is beginning to sound disturbingly like someone... can anyone think who it might be???

Dr. Smith demanded evidence be given to show that Westians support a hermeneutic of rupture with the past, a hermeneutic of discontinuity. In the past, Dr. Smith was a lion in defense of Humanae Vitae and the ancient traditions of the Church regarding contraception and abortion.

Does Dr. Janet Smith's current situation and her public defense of Chris West inspire us to have confidence in her current attitude towards the Church's ancient traditions?

There are only two possibilities here:
A) Dr. Janet Smith really did not consider any of these other possible reasons for why Latin was used in the manuals, that is, she really thinks "yesterday's Church" (her words) is, or was, repressive,
B) She really did consider these other possibilities, but decided to silently suppress them in order to make her defense of West stronger.

In either case, a disinterested observer might remark on the way in which exposure to Westianism has substantially altered the way even a former defender of Catholic Faith now thinks about the Church.

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?