Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dawn Eden's Critique of Christopher West's Presentation of Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body - Her Master's Thesis Now Available Free

From Dawn Eden:

Following Cardinal Justin Rigali's homily at the Theology of the Body urging that the "rich content" of John Paul II's Wednesday catecheses "be mined and proclaimed," I have decided to make my master's thesis, "Towards a 'Climate of Chastity': Bringing Catechesis on the Theology of the Body into the Hermeneutic of Continuity," available to all, free of charge. The thesis critiques the presentation of John Paul II's theology of the body that has been popularized by Christopher West and the Theology of the Body Institute, which was founded to promote West's presentation.

Catholic News Agency has generously agreed to host the thesis on its Web site so that the paper may be downloaded for free. The link for downloading the thesis may be found at the end of CNA's interview with me. That article also has space for comments, if you would like to add your own thoughts to the discussion.

"The 80-page, heavily footnoted thesis is a critique of Christopher West's presentation that reveals the substance behind recent criticisms of his approach, contains new information (including how the fathers of Vatican II condemned the Jungian phallic interpretation of the Easter Candle ritual), and makes positive suggestions for improving instruction on the TOB." - Dawn Eden
The version of my thesis available from CNA is a brand new revision that includes a new preface in which I answer some criticisms that have arisen since I first made the work available. In addition, since some West fans have claimed I do not give his teachings sufficient context, I have included additional examples from his work.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has encouraged me in my research, as well as everyone who has shown their support by donating to support my doctoral studies. (As I have previously noted, my goal is to become a professor of moral theology at a small Catholic college.) If you have benefited from my thesis and would like to support my studies, you may click here to donate.

Thanks also to those who have written me with any kind of feedback on my thesis, whether supportive or not. Submitting my work for public discussion has been a great learning experience. If you would like to contact me, I invite you to do so via my feedback form. Also, I am grateful for any and all "knee-mail"--that is, prayer. I am sending it heaven-ward daily for everyone who reads my thesis, and for everyone involved in the TOB discussion.

"...Having followed West’s work for some years, I had hoped he might take a more reflective and irenic approach, particularly given the ever-more urgent need to evangelize a culture in which the family and human life itself are under assault. That is why, for my master’s thesis, I decided to assess his presentation and prominent critiques. My goal was to offer positive correctives that would help catechists give a fuller, deeper, and more accurate presentation of Church teachings on marriage and sex.

In an unexpected development, after I submitted my thesis, the TOB Institute announced that West, after consulting with its board, “agreed” to take a six-month sabbatical “to attend to family needs, and to reflect more deeply on fraternal and spiritual guidance he has received in order to continue developing his methodology and praxis as it relates to the promulgation of the Theology of the Body.”3

It now appears that, at the least, he recognizes a need to consider changes to his presentation of the TOB—though whether he will in fact make such changes, and revise his published works accordingly, remains to be seen..."

h/t to Diane


Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

Spectacular news!
I was only able to read the "intro"...I'm looking forward to being able to read the whole thing.
She is giving the Church and the world a great gift in making this available.
God bless and keep her!

Diane Korzeniewski said...

I have read the entire thesis, and I have read the introduction to the 3rd revision.

Hopefully, people will read it with an open mind. Unfortunately, the differences of opinion seem to be much deeper than what is seen at the surface.

The content she found on the Paschal Candle as a "phallic symbol" is well worth the read (not just the intro, but in the body of work).

Also, she goes deeper into the story of the "two bishops".

I would encourage anyone who is involved with teaching ToB to read this thesis and be aware of the specific areas of concern. This is by no means all encompassing, but hits on some major points.

People should consider writing to their bishops, and even the CDF with their concerns.

I truly believe that this matter has risen to such a level of contention, with serious questions which need to be resolved, that anything short of a review by the Holy See will not calm the storm.

There are reputable theologians and professors on both sides of this issue and it just does not seem that it is going anywhere.

Personally, I think authentic and fruitful dialogue has been suppressed by the wave of enthusiasm. This is always dangerous.

I also think objectivity has been lost by the same wave of enthusiasm. It's another example of where something is being protected because of the alleged "good fruits" without regard for potential questions and concerns about alignment with magisterial teaching.

Some, like Dawn, have been charitable in that which she brings to light. Others have descended into a very unhelpful rancor that only feeds the perception that all who have legitimate criticisms are "attacking" West. This is not the case.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

I found Dawn's thesis problematic because she often takes West out of context and misconstrues what he is really saying.

On my own blog I just posted a long critique of the first part of the thesis:

Joseph Mazzara said...

Personally, I have added to my bucket list: "Shaking Dawn Eden's hand and thanking her for her excellent research and insight into the Theology of Christopher West."