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West of Eden | Catholic Life

West of Eden

The whole Dawn Eden vs. Christopher West debate strikes me as so odd. It seems that it is a typical blog-debate which it is not. It should be an intellectual academic tussle given the fact that Eden wrote a master’s thesis. As such, criticism of Eden for uncharitably attacking West is rather off-base. What did these people put in their college papers if they never contradicted anyone?!

But the reality is that this is not pure academic tussle. West (and Eden, from what we have seen so far) is not a theologian. He is a popularizer of John Paul II’s theology. This makes his writing something less than a worthy opponent in an extended academic theological critique (at least I hope this is true at the master’s level). Also, Eden posted her speech from her thesis defense on her blog. While Eden was smart enough to close comments, the fact that she posted part of her critique of West on her blog naturally reduces it to blog-fodder rather than an academic discussion. Suddenly it is not a debate for those familiar with the typical love-hate relationships of dusty theologians, but an all out war between Catholic fan-clubs.

And I sit back absolutely confused.

I am pleased that Eden tackled some of the biggest problems that I have with West, but I am baffled by the attempted merger of academia and blogosphere. I am obviously a fan of blogs for cultivating discussion, but the “rules” of the blogs can never be the same as those of the university. Or can they?

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2 Responses to “West of Eden”

  1. That Married Couple 07. Jul, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    I have to agree with you, that neither of them really seems to be academic theologians. And at the risk of sounding completely snobby, I would say that most people with a Master’s degree aren’t. (Of course there are exceptions, and that probably reflects me being in grad school too long… but it just seems like there’s such a difference between Master’s quality work and PhD quality.) This kind of discussion is interesting, but it doesn’t really seem that news-worthy. Like you said: academia and blogosphere are very different platforms. That said, however, it seems that more and more even mainstream news is fed by blogs and social networking stuff, so who knows where things will go in the future.

    Sidenote: I read the first article, and found that bit about West’s background very interesting. I could see how one could tend to swing to the other extreme.

    • Rae 08. Jul, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

      Well, I think that I have fairly high standards for what it takes for someone to be a theologian as opposed to a scholar of religion, and I think that one can have a PhD in religion/theology without being a theologian. That said, I have 4 years of education, and most MAs have 18ish, so I think that they should be working at a level far beyond my comprehension. :-) I was crushed in college when I learned that Steubenville MA work is no tougher than what I was doing.

      I am really interested to see how the blending of academia/news/social media ends up working out.

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