Posts Tagged ‘theology of the body’

Classic snippet from my children and from humanity.

Yesterday, at about 7:00 pm, I was a happy man.  I was home with my children, we had just played kickball and nine lives in the backyard, and had come back in the house.  People were happy and nobody was crying.

Nobody was asking for anything.  We were in a momentary state of bliss.

Then the doorbell rang.

Kids hurried down, opened the door and found a huge May Day basket that incredibly generous neighbor had left. Thanks Neighbor!

The large basket contained small gifts for my children. They were wrapped and tagged for each of children.

Pretty awesome right?


My children opened them up to see what they got and then….

….they started comparing what they had.

Four children were happy, two children were miserable….crying, throwing tantrum miserable.

And yet, five minutes before, they were perfectly content…no concerns in the world…had everything they needed to be happy.

And then poof! That contentment was over.

And did it happen because someone came in and robbed them of something?


It happened because someone came in and GAVE them something. That’s right. Pretty unbelievable, right?

What a bunch of dumb children, right? I mean, adults would never be so stupid as to be moved off happiness by something like that….would they?

I mean, that’s ludicrous to imagine. Just for a second, humor me. Can you imagine two people, lets say a husband and wife…and lets say they were really happy. Lets say they lived in a really awesome garden, got to eat really good food, and every night, God would come by at the breezy time of evening in order to take a little walk with them.

Let’s say that before this, that the deepest longing in the human heart was only to be able to love and be loved by another. And let’s say that after God gave humans to each other, male and female he created them, lets say after that, the man and woman were perfectly happy…because God had given them everything they needed to be happy.

And wouldn’t the greatest way to screw that happiness be to come in and take the man away from the woman, right?


Turns out, the perfect way to screw up their happiness was for some slimy little snake to suggest to them that something else, some other piece of fruit, might actually make them more happy.

Turns out that once they began to think about it, they agreed with that snake….they probably thought to themselves, “Why the heck won’t God let us have that other fruit? What’s he holding back from us? Maybe there is something out there that could make me more happy.”

And then the man and the woman looked at each other and decided that the other person (you know that one that each one of them thought was all that they needed to be happy)…well, that other person was no longer enough…turns out that they thought this other piece of fruit might actually be the thing that Really made them happy.

Yeah, something this silly would never happen to a bunch of mature adults right?

Wrong. My immediate thought when I looked at my eight year old crying was to think “What a fool!”

My second thought was to realize what a fool I am so often.

What my children did wasn’t a kid thing…it was an all too human thing.

We all know, at a very, very fundamental level what makes us happy.

God. Family. Friends. Love.

There are other things of course…but even those other important things aren’t the things talked about on death beds.

Its just that so often, we get distracted.

Some piece of fruit…or some bouncy ball that our brother gets catches our eye…and all of a sudden we’ve convince ourselves that there is one more thing that we are lacking for real happiness…and we let it get us down…or, we go looking for that other thing.

Its an addiction, really. The fundamental human addiction.

And God is the only cure.

Oh shoot…I gotta sign off, I don’t want Teresa to get the last piece of chocolate cake.


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The following link takes you to a talk I recently have on the First Creation Story from Genesis Chapter 1.

The First Creation Story – Genesis Chapter 1

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The following link takes you to a talk that I recently gave on the Second Story of Creation from Genesis Chapter 2.

Second Creation Story

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My favorite professor in Graduate school was an old Irishman who had been trained by Karl Rahner.  That’s right, Karl freaking Rahner.  And this old Irishman was at the Second Vatican Council where he served as a translator for the African Bishops.  In other words, my old professor was a very, very smart guy who had some of the greatest theological training in the world.

And yet, when his even older Irish mother had questions about scripture and theology she would tell her son Michael that she needs to go up to church so she could ask Fathern a question about this or that.  To which my old professor, quite incredulously would remind his mother that this is what he does for a living.

And it never made a difference.  She would dismiss the silliness of her son…and still go up to see Father.

Well my old professor has forgotten more about scripture and theology than I will ever know yet I do have a Masters Degree in Theology and have taught Scripture and Theology for several years….so I know some things.

And I have to admit, I sometime get incredulous when those who know me well won’t seek out my advice or opinion on a matter related to Scripture and Theology.

Case in point, my wife and Christopher West.

My wife loves Christopher West.  Loves going to see him speak.  Loves his books.  Loves listening to his tapes.  But sometimes, I will protest to my wife.  Listen here I say,  I too have read John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  I have taught it in my classes.  I have a Graduate degree in Theology.  Why doesn’t she just ask me?

And the answer, is of course as obvious as it is painful.

I just don’t teach this stuff like Christopher West does.  When it comes to presenting this material, I’m not…as…. good.   Thud.

There has been much hand wringing by some Catholics sense Christopher West appeared on Nightline.  Out of the criticism has come some useful discussion.  Do we need to excercise some care when we talk about these issues?  Yes we do.  Concupiscience is real, and we can’t pretend that we are back in a state of Original Innocence, can we?  No we can’t.  We Catholics need to be Media savvy and realize they will take some of what we say out of context?  Sure, of course.

But I really think that Christopher West understands all of this.  He also understands that we are in the middle of a war.

To anybody who really understands what is going on in young American culture right now, they will understand that the Genie is fully out of the bottle when it comes to Sex.  Trust me when I tell you this.  Young people, and especially young men, hell most men, are being besieged with temptation at an astonishing rate.  Short of going to school in the Red Light District, it is hard to imagine young men being confronted with more occasions of sin when it comes to sex.

And so, the time for carefully confronting the issues is probably behind us.  Christopher West jumps into the battle and meets people where they are at.  And I believe it is the only viable approach right now.

But the people making these criticisms, many of them brilliant folks, don’t they understand what I see in this culture?  Is there something else going on with their criticism?  Does it have some other source?

I can’t speak for these other folks so I will just speak for myself. 

You see, I have in the past at times been dismissive of West and his work. And my past criticisms do in fact  have another source; my own PRIDE. 

 Because the most irritating thing to me is that I am Not Him!  Arghhh!

You see, West is doing what I want to do.  He speaks to thousands of people.  He writes books.  He makes tapes.  And, at least to the people I hang around with, this guy is famous.  And darn it.  I want to be doing all of those things too….but am not.

In short, instead of my wife listening to a Christopher West tape, I wish that she would ask me to speak for 10 minutes about Theology of the Body while she cleans up the Kitchen at night.

But alas, I am not him. 

There is no more fundamental root of sin then Pride.  Lucipher rejected God because of God’s plan for Humanity whereby Humans would be in some ways, more exalted than the Angels, than even Lucipher.  And so the whole nasty story of sin, from Lucipher’s fall onward has been caught up in Pride.

And that’s my problem with West.  My own Pride. 

You see, even though I do know a lot of stuff, my wife sensed in Christopher West something that she was not getting from her husband, authenticity.

When she looked at me, too often she saw a hypocrite.  Why trust my teaching and preaching if I didn’t even believe myself enough to take my own advice?  Why indeed.

In Christopher West, she saw a guy who seemed to be walking the talk in his own life.  And so she listened.  And it began to change her.  And she became more involved in her prayer life.  And she prayed for me.

And slowly, slowly, slowly.  I began to listen…to Christopher West…with her.

And you know what?  He’s really good.  He’s really faithful.  And, by allowing God to work through him, Christopher West’s work has has a profound effect on my wife, on my marriage, and on me.

Though I know not the day nor the hour that God will take me from this world, I really do pray that God gives me enough time….so that he might take out his mighty hammer and chisel out my Pride. 

And one day, will my wife turn off the CD player and listen to me talk about the Theology of the Body instead of West?  I hope not.  I hope that instead of talking about it…..I hope that I am more interested in Living the Theology of the Body.  Pray for me.


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