Being young and going through marriage prep means just about everyone is telling me to read and celebrate the awesomeness of Christopher West. I have watched one of his recorded presentations and read his book, "Good News about Sex and Marriage". I'm no expert on his body (teehee) of work, but I'd say I'm pretty familiar with it.
I watched the presentation before I ever heard that he was anything other than the man who breathed life into the Theology of the Body and who came as the savior of modern sexuality. I was accompanied by my parents, some of my parents' friends, and my grandma. Sometimes I think I am too modern and casual about sexual matters, but watching his presentation has corrected me of that notion - I was very uncomfortable, because to me, his presentation style and wording was often... well, lurid. I wasn't just a little embarrassed to be watching something so blunt in front of "older folks", I was embarrassed for *me*. I realize that a lot of his point is to realize that sex is an incredible, holy event - but I don't understand why he has to talk about something which he obviously considers sacred in a way that sometimes borders on crass. There are so many other things in the world that rely on shock value to capture and hold people's attention, why do Catholics need to use the same degrading tactic to talk about how sublime something is? He can't possibly think he'll be more shocking about sex than the world is.
Later, I *did* find out that there was some controversy over things he has actually said, not just his love-it-or-hate-it presentation style. After several weeks of interrogating Google for everything it knew, I started leaning more and more towards the people who have problems with West, because that synced with how I felt after my introduction to him. Then I received his book as part of marriage prep, and I sat down to read it just to find out what was in it. Most of it read like his presentations, only a little more calmed down and a little more sober or reflective in tone. I still had a few sticking points, so while I was warming to him a bit, the quest for clarification was not over!
Yesterday (serendipitously!) I found this superb article
written by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand about the controversy. It was the first one I had read that was comprehensive and detailed. Other articles either skimmed or spoke in broad terms about the various issues. It addressed the things that were not totally settled with me, and clarified them. Even if you've read dozens of articles and/or are firmly in the Christopher West camp, I urge you to read it. There are many points brought up to which that I have never heard West apologists give an adequate answer, or even an answer at all.
I think sometimes we can be surrounded by so much filth that anything better than the filth we hail as great, when instead it may be better but it still isn't adequate. I think we should ask for and work toward something better than Christopher West. In the meantime, now I'm curious to read what Deitrich von Hildebrand himself wrote about sex and marriage.
I don't want to be thought of as a "single issue voter", but honestly, the biggest sticking point for me is that West has basically answered the question "Is sodomy between a married man and woman right or wrong?" with the equivalent of a long pause and "it's complicated".