Friday, February 10, 2012


It has lately been troubling to be blogging here.

My wife is becoming more and more set against it, as my time spent doing this can become consuming, and the controversy this blog engenders is beyond belief - and from a certain perspective, utterly unnecessary.

For example, during the Lying Debate, I received more than one phone call from people doing their best to dissuade me from either criticizing James O'Keefe or from daring to say that the Catechism of the Catholic Church actually teaches Catholic Doctrine, and for daring to suggest that we ignore this doctrine at our peril. Indeed, I lost a few friends along the way over that debate (one of whom I'm grateful to have recently reconciled with).

During the Corapi Scandal, I was told in several emails by complete strangers that I was an anti-Catholic bigot doing the devil's work because I dared to suggest there was something wrong with a priest renouncing his priesthood and openly disobeying his superior and his bishop. Not to mention his proclivity for drugs and hookers.

My criticism of Bishop Finn of Kansas City elicited at least one threat of physical violence, as a reader from KC vowed physically to assault me, "even at Mass", for my criticism of a bishop who failed to protect children and who facilitated the destruction of evidence in a criminal investigation. I am often in Kansas City, but I will not go to Mass at churches I used to frequent there just in case this person is serious. St. Thomas a Becket is a role I need not play.

And most recently, my critique of Christopher West ended with someone threatening to destroy my reputation and my livelihood unless I took down this blog.

So ... why on earth would I do this??? Why not simply take down the blog? Why put up with abuse from friends and total strangers?

Well, an odd little confirmation came from friend and commenter Tom Leith today. Tom writes ...

If West is advising people to seek out near occasions of sin, or if he's telling people that near occasions of sin are not near occasions of sin, he should be stripped of his EWTN Rock Star status as Fr. Corapi was and denounced as a heretic; then every bit of media he ever produced should be consigned to the Memory Hole. If he's saying that unavoidable near occasions of sin present an opportunity to practice virtue, he's right. If he's saying this does not at least begin with keeping custody of the eyes, he wrong. Very wrong. Stupidly wrong. Deserving of a rebuke from Mrs. von Hildebrand and implicitly at least from Archbishop Chaput.

I call this a confirmation because it shows that these issues are really quite simple. I should add that West teaches that the traditional Catholic practise of keeping "custody of the eyes" applies only to the spiritually immature. Meaning, it seems, certainly not to him. So West would say he teaches what the Church teaches ... but he doesn't. It's convoluted, but really quite simple.

Indeed, very simple. We should heed the teachings of the Church outlined in the Catechism. We should be wary of priests who openly disobey superiors and who "quit" the priesthood. We should speak out against criminal negligence, especially when it involves a bishop. And we should call a spade a spade, refusing to brook heterodoxy, even if such is proclaimed by a Catholic media celebrity.

The first line of critics will say I'm being "judgmental", but I say, I am not judging these men but their behavior; we should pray for them, for we are all sinners as great or greater than they.

The second line of critics will say I'm just a dumb actor and what do I know? I say, exactly. There's no reason for anyone to pay any attention to what I write.

The third line of critics will get ugly and nasty.

And I say, I will (by God's grace) wait on the LORD.


Anonymous said...

The pillar shows a scene from the life of St. Benedict wherein he is tempted by the devil in the guise of a beautiful woman. St. Benedict throws himself naked into a thorn bush. Would Christopher West have St. Benedict stare down this temptation? For, I'm sure that St. Benedict is more spiritually mature that Mr. West.

No, the saints show us that we cannot endure some near occasions of sin- some are just too tempting. For Mr. West to suggest otherwise, I think he's leading people into sin.

The lives of the Saints are replete with stories of the devil tempting people with the very images that Mr. West suggests the spiritually mature can view with no problem.

Dr. Eric

Scott W. said...

I didn't realize you were taking such heat for the blog. You have my prayers.

Call the po-po for any threats you receive. I agree that Fr. Pavone made a hash of the Church's clear teaching on lying, but I also recall "OperationCounterStrike" making death threats against him and others. Well, he's still sitting in jail as far as I know, so it's good to know Caesar still gets one right occasionally.

Wade St. Onge said...

Awesome post followed by an excellent comment by Dr. Eric.

Thanks, Kevin, for having the courage to take a stand and speak up for the truth regardless of the cost. You are a man after my own heart.

Anonymous said...

Is West an "EWTN Rock Star?" Has he ever had a program on EWTN? Has he ever been a frequent and regular guest? I don't associate him with EWTN at all.


Wade St. Onge said...

West is not an "EWTN rock star".


He is a "rock star" and he has been on "EWTN", though not together.

Regarding the latter, you will not see evidence of it because everything produced by Christopher West is sold at a price and not offered for free on the web archives.

Regarding the former, see this link:

ck said...

Keep talking Kevin. You're one of the few voices of reason on the internet.

LJ said...

Wow, I unfortunatley stumbled across your sad little blog. Sad because I have rarely encountered such outlandish, outright character assassination. I am very familiar with Christopher Wests works and he does not teach that custody of the eyes is only for the spiritually immature or that you are ever fully free of the tendancy toward sin. In fact he points out repeatedly that gaining custody is vital and he does not ever encourage people to put themselves in near occasions of sin. This blog author, and several of the terribly obsessed critics are just plain pathetic. You really believe that the extraordinary number of endorsers of his books, including the editor of the Catechism would get behind a person who encourages the behavior you people accuse this man of? Jealously, envy, vastly overinflated self importance, and outright slander is what I see throught this entire thread in your treatment of Mr West.

In places in this blog as i have bounced through it, this O'Brien character actually imputes motives, actions, intentions on to West, not from what West actually has written, or taught, but according to O'Brien by his self identified ability to "read between the lines" and conclude what is in West's heart! Wow this is breath-taking in its arrogance!

Fact:West does not teach that self mortification is wrong, immature or to be abandoned. He constantly directs, teaches, admonishes his readers or his students or attendees at his events that the cross is where we earn how to live out the Gospel, and Blessed JPII'S teachings.

Anyone who has actually followed his work knows this, including young men that have been helped in opening their hearts to their call to the vocation to the priesthood, marriages that have been saved, or conversions to Catholic faith, all of which I have personally witnessed.

LJ said...

It is very sad that the small number of people in this blog seem to be so intent on bringing as much harm and hate and slander to a fellow Catholic who has devoted his life to trying to serve the church and has done so much good.

I do not know the work of this O'Brien person or of some of these constant critics who have set themselves up as condescending judges, but is it a fair question to ask if any of your works have ever been reviewed by people like Fr Benedict Groschel, Bishops,et al, ever sought or received an imprimatur?

It seems very shameful to sit on the sideline and bear false witness against a person actually tending to the body of Christ who actually does submitt all of his work for review while no one holds any of these people who make wild out of context slanders to the same standard.

That' s the problem with the blogesphere, any wanna be actor, writer, crackpot can write anything with impunity no matter how outlandish. What is more pathetic, is that I see this same blog banned some deacon who was charitably and patiently getting deep into this tangled web and O'Brien couldn't handle someone actually calling him out on his non-sense.

While droves of real people who have been terribly wounded and broken by the culture are finding Jesus, healing and a call into faith in the church through West's work, O'Brien and his pathetic sad blog buddies will continue to try to count how many academics dance on the head of a pin and all the while, by the humble tone of West's current book I suspect he will be praying for his torturers.

Through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and of Blessed JPII and of St Padre Pio, May the Holy Spirit, through whatever means necessary, wake you up to the reality of the sin of bearing false witness that you are committing Mr O'Brien, Mr Wade Ong, et al, May the Holy Spirit help enlighten your mind to recognize your supreme spiritual arrogance and blindness to the harm and pain you cause. I will be earnestly praying for you, but I will be doing so from afar as reading such uncharitable, unfair, misrepresentations only rob me of peace and cause me bitterness in my heart towards all of you, which I confess, renounce and ask your forgiveness for. I forgive you for your blindness, ( the blind guides Jesus refers to in scripture, although with no sarcasm I say, I have no idea who it is you guide in your life, but in respect to things written within this blog, I would encouge you to recall that Jesus addressed those blind guides by "Woe to you"!!! .... Do not remain so arrogant to presume that you may not be totally off base in what you have been doing here ....

Is it possible that all the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, respected leaders of the church are all wrong...but you in your superior intellect super self importance on your little blog here are the true final arbiters of judging the truth now for church as well as what is in Mr West's heart and motives?

Please renounce your arrogance. Take a humility pill and go to confession for assassinating a persons character and reputation. I will be going to confession for the terrible bitterness that you people in this blog have caused to well up in my heart toward the injustice that I see being done here. I pray you have a good life. I also pray, that I do not face the cross of encountering your blog ever again.

LJ said...

"cross is where we learn how to live out the Gospel..."

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thanks, LJ, for your heart-felt defense of Christopher West and your heart-felt criticism of me and what I've written.

Character assassination is not my intention. Correcting errors that are harming folk (see my post "Shouting from the Rooftops about Sex") is.

And since LJ says he won't be coming back, I can only say a few things for others who might be joining in.

1. The best argument for West is the argument from his association with authority figures and their seeming endorsement of him (though an imprimatur does not endorse everything - in fact it "endorses" nothing - in a book; and Archbishop Chaput withdrawing from West's board is significant). LJ makes this Argument from Association with Authority, and the only possible reply is, "You got me there - but how do you explain the things he's saying and the way he's saying them? And how do you reply to the argument when it's turned around on you? How do you respond to the fact that a number of trained theologians, both lay and clerical, have expressed concerns that I'm echoing?" The association with authority cuts both ways (though admittedly West has the edge). But either way, pointing to the authority figures on either side does not answer the content of the objections raised, nor does it address West's errors in relation with the only authority we as Catholics can legitimately point to - the teaching authority of the magisterium.

2. If LJ is right, that I have utterly misrepresented West's teachings, then I urge my readers to see for themselves. Read West. Listen to his CDs. Watch his videos. Draw your own conclusion.

3. The banned commenter in question has a long history with me and at other blogs, a history of irrational and frankly abusive behavior. However, LJ, if you can continue to maintain a courteous tone while arguing reasonably, you are welcome to comment any time, even to say the sorts of things about me that you have above. Just keep it fair and rational, and you're always welcome.

Wade St. Onge said...

I've already responded to most of LJ's arguments in Section III at this link:

The "jealousy" argument, the "imprimatur" argument, the "endorsement" argument, etc.

Also, West *does* teach custody of the eyes is only for the "spiritually immature". I prove so here:

and here:

Wade St. Onge said...

Two things are clear from LJ's comments:

(1) He has not read and openly considered what we have said.

(2) He is too devoted to West to do the first.

Therefore, we will probably not get very far.