Dear Dr. Nadal,
I agree that the debate over CW’s work has become too polarized. I am afraid that I may have contributed to that. While I believe my criticisms of Eden’s thesis are justified, I also think they may be overdone. I needn’t have pointed out so many instances of objectionable tone, for instance. By doing so, I committed the very error that I found in her work. I set a tone of unrelenting opposition to Eden and defensiveness about West’s work. That is ironic and humbling!
I was puzzled about how to respond to Eden’s work; I wanted to make my response not too long but nonetheless effective. I generally find it takes on the average 5-10 sentences to correct one erroneous claim! All of us have limited time and critiquing a master’s thesis for which I am not a reader is not an item high on my agenda. But I know people who are using Eden’s thesis and Alice Von Hildebrand’s critique of West to pressure priests and organizations not to use West’s work. That is a real shame in my view and merited my involvement. I have been on the circuit for years and I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone who is as successful as West in converting people away from sexual immorality. Perhaps he has made missteps but they are not of the sort to seriously vitiate his work.
I do hope that those of us who are engaged in the debate about the merits of West’s work can find a more generous and civil way of conducting our arguments. I will soon be posting a critique of Alice von Hildebrand’s critique of West; I hope I get the tone right there.
Yours,For the record, that should be pointed out. She has recognized that she was a bit out of line with some of her remarks. That takes integrity to do so. My small voice would simply request that the entire paper be re-worked. The latter section of her essay contributes something to the debate (even if people might disagree with the conclusions) and deserves a fair hearing. The first portion takes a tone of simply looking to bury Dawn Eden. While you can't "unring the bell", one can stop further damage. In my mind, there is no doubt Dr. Smith's contribution, far from providing an opportunity for spirited yet civil debate, has absolutely poisoned the well. Left as is, I believe it will do far more harm to her "side" than good, though all sides would suffer as a result.
There is more to say about that, but I think everyone should wait and see how this plays out.
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