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I did not have luck posting to Catholic Exchange so am leaving comment here...I probably lean more to the Christopher West camp but have only the highest opinion of and respect for Dr. Alice H, so I am keeping an open mind and meditating on her valuable commentary, which I believe the first 2 guest commentaries well reflect...
The 3rd however was far-overreaching and throws out an unnecessary (and logically flawed) slam against Dr. Popchak and co-sleeping families...this woman would probably view my nursing of my baby at mass as providing an occasion of temptation to the men in the pews...she is just as unavoidably culturallly entrenched as West, albeit in the other extreme...her essay really missed the mark and insulted my family and husband (who values my nurturing our babies at night in our bed!) and made me feel for what West is going through.


Dear Carla -
As the author of the third article you found problematic and a mother of six, I can assure you that I have nursed babies in bed, in Mass, in cars, in department stores, in restaurants and pretty much anywhere else they became hungry! To assume that I would consider nursing an occasion of temptation is incorrect. I hope you understand that.
Alice von Hildebrand brought up Greg Popcak in her critique, so I wanted to address her concerns, but with an example that was not overly graphic, which is actually quite difficult to do. I used an example that I thought I could write about with discretion. To clarify - I used the quote from Greg Popcak to make a point. The point was not about co-sleeping. The point was about using Catholic terminology to dress up things that are, in reality, unpleasant - and how there is a danger that such things can stem from concupiscence. It was really a deeper point about what I think misapplications of the TOB can do and how we need to be careful. For example - if I call a kitchen counter a "sacred space", does that make it - truly - a pleasant place for marital intercourse? The first thing I think of in that scenario is pain... but Popcak calls it "creativity". Remember: the Popcaks wrote this as a guide for Catholic couples. They are telling people - this is what you should do. Because of that fact, it opens them to critique in a way that those who are not positioning themselves as experts should not be critiqued.
I am sorry if the concept I was getting at was not clear. My goal was to provoke some thought beyond exciting words like "overflowing love" and think critically - hey - is this something I really think is loving? We all just need a lot of grace in order to discern the good, and our concupiscence messes with that on a daily basis. God bless.


Marie - as a fellow mother-of-six, I would like to thank you for your reply. I will go back and re-read your commentary with this further explanation in mind when I have finished nursing my littlest to bed ;-)
I am also a lawyer as well as a nursing and co- sleeping mommy, and upon my first reading last night, the "slippery slope" argument we used in law school came to mind with your example positing the woman who could no longer view the Easter candle after hearing Christopher West...
What then is to protect the nursing mom in Mass from the argument that a man would be distracted (through no fault of his own) and that nursing mothers therefore should be banished to bathrooms so that no prurient thoughts assail him during the Eucharist?
I find it a great gift of our Catholic faith that there is so much room for interpretation and discussion amongst people who are rock-solid orthodox believers ( as I think you would agree West is and I believe you and I are as well!) but sometimes I feel we should stop so much debate on minutae "amongst the choir" and spend our energy preaching the truth to those who do not know or believe! God Bless you and your family as well!


Dear Carla -
Yes, I trust that all involved in this discussion are devout believers and trying to work out our salvation in fear and trembling! You, as a lawyer, will have certain professional standards. For those of us in the catechetical field, debates "amongst the choir" are actually a vital way of learning the best approaches to preaching the truth to those who do not believe. Also - as catechists, we are entrusted with passing on the deposit of faith. Like a doctor's hippocratic oath, we carry out the "first, do no harm" pledge through our fidelity to the deposit of faith. Part of the case which is being put forward on Catholic Exchange this week is that some of the ways TOB is being presented may depart from the Church's tradition - more of a rupture with tradition than continuity with tradition, even if unintentional, as these things often are - so amongst catechists, this would not be considered minutiae. It is important to address at this time because Mr. West is in the process of taking 6 months to reflect on his methodology - so it is a good time for what Christi Derr referred to in her article as "necessary fraternal correction". We're all in this together.
As for the slippery slope question: in the talk I heard Christopher West give, he was intentionally eroticizing the Paschal candle - making it something explicitly sexual - the blessing of the waters, with the dunking of the candle, was a simulation of intercourse - the font being feminine and receptive. I'm not sure a slope could take someone from there to nursing a baby. That would be more like a drop off a cliff, I think, because nursing is nurturing, not sexual: an exercise of woman as mother rather than woman as wife. That's my opinion, anyway. :)


Oh - and one last important thing, Carla, which relates to what I was saying about the importance of fidelity to the deposit of faith. Mr. West emphasized that the paschal candle as phallic symbol was the interpretation desired by the Church, and that it was there at the highlight of Her most important liturgy, the Easter Vigil. He used this as evidence of the Church's attitude toward sexuality. Dawn Eden shows in her thesis that the opposite is true. The Church does not want this interpretation given to the paschal candle.
Sexualizing the liturgy itself has a lasting, and unfortunate impact.

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    • From Benedict XVI
      “People have realized that the complete removal of the feminine element from the Christian message is a shortcoming from an anthropological viewpoint. It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity."
    • Anger and Patrimony (from Donna)
      This is just another of the unintended consequences of the cultural acceptance of contraception and abortion! Men's sexuality has been robbed of its creative essence. It is now viewed as something that imposes a burden on women (when conception happens to occur), something used to control women or something that is purely recreational. Why would men bother?? In taking away their responsibility, we've also robbed them of their significance! In the big picture of humanity, men have been made into nothing more than a nuisance women have to figure out how to control in order to bring about the next generation. Men don't see it as their task to protect the vulnerable because they see themselves as the vulnerable ones. A few well preserved vials of sperm would make men entirely obsolete in the world's ethos today!!
    • Excellent, Dom! (from Teresa)
      That is astounding Robin, and good for you for standing up. At the heart of that matter, I think, is even worse than a gender mixing message. There is an increased sharper and sharper focus on the "self." Solid Catholic teaching returns our focus away from ourselves to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The original sin, Eve denied her womanhood when she desired to be like "gods." Since the only god she knew was the Father. Where was Adam? He stood impotent... in other words, they were divorced. There's a young girl at Robin's son's high school who was just told that she is the center of the universe and it's a tragic disservice to her.
    • Find the logic (from "me")
      Ditto what Mary said! A lot of high schools have very poor math and science depts, for boys and girls. I also am educated as a chemical engineer, but chose to teach the two years before we had children because its hours were more suited to spending time with children. (I was looking ahead). When it came time and I was pregnant with our first, I realized that I did not want to leave him with someone else, and was able to stay home full time. I am not sure it would have been that easy if we were used to another engineering income and not just a private school teacher income. Also some of my first job offers were out on oil rigs - I had no interest in that at all even though I enjoyed my engineering classes and did well in them. No one discouraged me from an engineering job, on the contrary I got a lot of flack for my decision not to pursue an engineering career.
    • Find the logic (from Mary)
      I've been lurking, but this is one that irritates me. Beats the heck out of me what these "barriers" are. I was educated as a chemical engineer, where 1/3 of our class was women. However, in electrical engineering, only 1 or 2 out of 30 were women. Is it possible that women are Just Not Interested in some areas? Nah, it must be The Man keeping us down so we must legislate (and, I agree -- when they say "legistlate", I hear "quota"). And actually, I have a friend that was also a chemical engineer. When she lost her job, she decided not to go back into engineering and started working from home so she could spend more time with her 3 kids. Also, if nothing else, there are all kinds of incentives for women to enter science and engineering -- scholarships not available to men, guaranteed housing on campuses that do not guarantee housing to the general population, etc. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that schools in general are not preparing students for the hard sciences. It is truly a sad state of affairs, the lack of science education these days.

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