Christopher West’s Defenders

Friday, May 29, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Christopher West came in for some criticism recently, much of it deserved, for his appearance on Nightline. In one sense, I sympathize with the critics. I have heard West speak, and found the simplification (bordering on sensationalization) of certain aspects of Theology of the Body somewhat off-putting. In a perfect world, people would read the writings of John Paull II and others to acquire a sophisticated, nuanced grasp of the subject matter. Nevertheless, that is not the world in which we live. That being the case I think, on balance, West’s work is valuable, difficult, and necessary.

And so I was somewhat surprised to see Dr. Schindler take the recent brouhaha as an opportunity to rather harshly criticize all of West’s work. The tension between academics and popularizers is nothing new (even writers as brilliant as C.S. Lewis and Chesterton had and have their academic detractors); but one would hope for a more restrained and sympathetic treatment given the difficulty of presenting the Catholic understanding of sexuality in the modern United States. I think the following defenses by Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein help provide a better context for understanding West and his work:

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The Narrow Atlantic

Friday, May 29, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

UCLA professor Peter Baldwin pens an interesting priece for the UK’s Prospect in which he argues that the differences between the US and Europe are not as great as is often claimed. Baldwin’s point of view strikes me as left of center, but his argument (mainly a comparison of statistics to see how the US really measures up to various EU countries on questions like poverty, education, environmentalism, etc.) is fairly non-ideological and the overall result is interesting.

Left open ended (though he provides a few thoughts on the matter) is the question of why both Americans and Europeans like to perceive such strong differences between themselves, and what exactly that means about the two cultures.


Miguel Diaz Claims to be Pro-Life. Is He?

Friday, May 29, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

diaz

Miguel Diaz, Obama’s nominee as ambassador to the Vatican, claims to be pro-life.  What evidence exists to support this contention?   I find it hard to take this claim seriously, because of his activities in helping to elect the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, including serving on his Catholic Advisory Council during the campaign.  This from his faculty listing at Saint John’s School of Theology:  

“Member of Barack Obama’s Catholic advisory group during the 2008 presidential campaign. In recognition of his participation in the advisory council, Dr. Díaz and his wife Marian received an invitation to the inaugural events. Dr. Díaz’s involvement in the campaign and participation in the inaugural events were both covered extensively in a variety of media.”   

I can find no listings for any pro-life activities.  I have attempted to research any pro-life activities by him and thus far I have come up with zilch.  I would appreciate it if any of our readers could provide me with answers to the following questions.

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“Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues?” — A discussion with Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec, moderated by Mary Ann Glendon

Friday, May 29, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec engaged in a discussion of the topic, “The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues? What is the Right Response by ‘Pro-Life” Citizens?” at Washington, D.C.’s National Press Club, Thursday, May 28, 2009. The discussion was moderated by Mary Ann Glendon.

You can watch the video on CUA’s website here; or on C-Span here.

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Nat Hentoff takes President Obama to task

Friday, May 29, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

Nat Hentoff’s characteristically blunt and ‘no b.s.’ columns used to be one of chief attractions of the Village Voice, before they made the foolish mistake of letting him go. Politically he’s not one you can apply a label to — in 2003 he supported the removal of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship on humanitarian grounds, but as a supporter of the First Amendment and civil liberties, harshly criticized the more excessive measures taken by the Bush administration.

Unapologetically pro-life, he is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and abortion (the latter apparently causing some tension with his liberal colleagues at the Voice) and vigorously opposed the court-ordered murder of Terry Schiavo.

Not surprisingly, he established a rapport with the feisty John Cardinal O’Connor, about whom he wrote an appreciative biography.

A self-described “member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists,” he is also one who might merit the attribution: “on the side of the angels.”

Now, he takes aim at President Obama’s faux-support for “dialogue” at Notre Dame:

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