Thursday, May 21, 2009

JPII and Hugh Hefner?

Christopher West, who has been popularizing JPII's Theology of Body, linked the late Pope with Playboy's founder. If that wasn't provocative enough, he also said JPII was "completing the sexual revolution."

Of course, West knows this is not true as his subsequent interview attests:

But why does he set up these analogies in the first place? It is because he wants to be 'dealt into the game.' He believes people who are mired in popular culture will not listen to what he says unless he adopts their vocabulary. This parallels the issue about the use of modern language like freedom which I brought up in an earlier post (Douthat on Freedom language).

This idea seems to be a reflection of Paul's argument to the Corinthians that they be "all things to all people." Augustine seconds this point in The City of God when he says the Christian will "preserve and adopt" the customs of others.

There are countless attempts to put the above principle into practice. In the link below, the author visits a 'seeker' church which has a MTV like worship service and a sermon presented in the manner of a late night TV show. The pastor of the church believes what matters is the message, not how it is presented. It is not so much the wrapping, but the gift inside that counts.

Yet the article's author calls this very assumption into question. How the message is presented will affect what the message is. Or at least it will affect how the message is understood by the listener e.g. West's "sensationalized" interview with ABC. Moreover, if the 'custom' being adopted is incompatible with the message (MTV, Hugh Hefner, or the Sexual Revolution) then it will undermine the very message itself. As the author puts it, "Designing a church service to resemble MTV and Letterman, therefore, is like holding an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a bar."


  1. it was kind of shocking for me to read about West and Hefner in the same sentence. yuck.

  2. Carolyn Moynihan's article on Carrie Prejean, the beauty pagaent participant who spoke up for traditional marriage, mentions the argument that medium can affect the message:

    "Are pastors and Christian professors too obsessed with the idea that “we are mainstream too” to notice what is happening to young women like Carrie -- the dangerous disjuncture between beliefs and behaviour, the message and the medium, that could land them in much private unhappiness if not public disrepute?"