Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TOB Tuesday: When you just can't get what the documents are saying

I had an interesting conversation on Google Plus a few weeks ago. I had posted a link to one of Father Samuel Medley's "Love and Responsibility" videos, the one on contraception.

"Stephen" replied: "I read Humanae Vitae three times and did not find it persuasive. Pope Paul VI may be right, but he speaks in a language and in concepts that fail to resonate with modern man."

Here's what I posted:
Humanae Vitae was published in 1968; Love and Responsibility in 1960. They may be "true," but the philosophical approach just doesn't resonate, unless you are a philosopher (or very, very dedicated). Try reading some of Christopher West's books for an approach that is more directed to the contemporary situation. Start with "Good News for Love and Marriage."

Pope John Paul spent 5 years presenting his Theology of the Body, which is an extremely rich "worldview" approach that integrates human experience and the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation, with special attention to the Song of Songs and the Letter to the Ephesians). Clearly, it's not a quick read! Still, I highly recommend it as a resource you would be unlikely to exhaust in a lifetime.

Just some topics JP2 covers: "Naked without shame"; Adam's "original solitude"; my favorite--the "law of the Gift"--that no human being can find fulfillment outside of a sincere and complete gift of self.

JP2's most original contribution was, I think, seeing the fact of human sexual differentiation as a sign/sacrament of the Trinitarian life; that the image God is most fully expressed in the created, material world, in the "unity of the two."

He also spent a few months, at the end of it all, in parsing out Humanae Vitae in the light of his own biblical teachings, taking HV to a different level than was possible in 1968.

For more TOB reading, and some great testimonials, visit the Theology of the Body Institute! Then, when you're ready, take one of their courses--it will be a real retreat experience, believe me!

1 comment:

oneeyedsmiley said...

Finally at a real computer to leave a comment ...may I suggest a couple of great books:

Man and Women are from Eden By Mary Healy (Servant Books, 2005) which is a great summary of JPII's Theol of the Body.

Humanae Vitae: A Challenge to Love - a little pamphlet by Janet Smith which has some wonderful commentary on the document and why Paul VI was right.

Women, Sex, and the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching (PBM) which will simply blow the whole war on women argument of out of the water ... a must read for all young women (and their boyfriends!)