Archive for the ‘CCL Student Guide’ Category

Natural Family Planning: More on CCL’s Extreme Makeover

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

In the EXTREME MAKEOVER kit sent in December to the media and the CCL cadre, there was a comparison between the traditional course and the new course.  Needless to say, it made the new course look much better and the old course look bad by comparison.    In January, however, CCL sent a message with a different tone to its cadre.  “Since the old program served us faithfully and well for more than 30 years,” CCL teachers should be “thoughtful” when they discuss “the relative merits of the old course versus the new.”  In last week’s blog and in this one, I offer my efforts to be thoughtful about the relative merits, or at least the relative content of each.  I will use “Kippley-Prem” to designate what we founded and “The New CCL” to designate the program developed under the new CCL management.  Last week’s blog focused on the content of the Triple Strand that Sheila and I brought to the League.  This week’s blog is on other matters.

Theology of the Body
Kippley-Prem.  Has taught a version of a theology of the body in the covenant theology of sexuality since 1971, eight years before Pope John Paul II began his lectures that constitute the papal “Theology of the Body.”  The covenant theology was a forerunner of the papal TOB and completely compatible with it although nowhere as comprehensive.  As mentioned last week, John Paul II incorporated the key concept of the covenant theology into his 1994 work, Letter to Families
The New CCL.  Claims to teach the “Theology of the Body” of Pope John Paul II, but the reality is that the papal TOB is so huge and so difficult to understand that most people get to know it only through an interpreter, not the original.  I never know what somebody is talking about when he says he teaches the TOB, so I have to ask.     
     In early 2003 when Linda Kracht asked me to put more of the TOB into the next edition of The Art of Natural Family Planning, I was uncertain what I should write so I wrote three different authors asking for a definition or description of the papal TOB in 50 words or less.  I received responses from all three.  They were all different.  They were all correct.  Here are two of the three; I cannot find the third.
     “JP II’s Theology of the Body is an attempt to recover the eternal dignity of the human person–body and soul–as one made for communion with ‘the other’.”
     “The Theology of the Body addresses (129) of Pope John Paul II are a study of the human person in his/her body/soul unity.  The study is carried out by a phenomenological analysis of the original bodily experiences of humanity as seen in light of Christ’s teachings and then the conclusions are applied to virginity and celibacy, marriage, and the teaching against contraception.  The Theology of he Body addresses are part of the larger project of Pope John Paul II to give us a new presentation of the entire body of Revelation by viewing the content of Revelation through the ‘lens’ of phenomenology.”
     The latter came from Fr. Hogan.  I am not disputing it or criticizing it in any way, but what I got out of it is that this is tough stuff to communicate. 

User costs
Kippley-Prem.  Currently $65, $70, or $75, depending on where the NFPI classes are taken.  Our class includes Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book; Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood; Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition; and Marriage Is for Keeps; a digital thermometer, charts, and free counseling as needed by phone, in person, fax, and email.  No newsletter yet, but students are encouraged to explore the highly informative NFP International website.  Couples who learn on their own can download the online manual for free.  They will need to purchase their own thermometer and whatever books they want.
The New CCL.  Currently $135.  Includes The Art of Natural Family Planning: Student Guide, chart book, digital thermometer, Virtual Library CD with instructional brochures, a 1-Year CCL membership which includes a subscription to Family Foundations magazine and a free course refresher as needed.                              

Kippley-Prem.  Sheila and I have always felt privileged to help people in other countries take advantage of what we had done in English.  When good people in European countries wanted to translate the CCL materials, all we required was someone who was bilingual for communication purposes, and we let them run with it.  We never thought that these operations would contribute financially to CCL’s headquarters operation; our hope was that some day they would be financially self-sufficient.  We were happy to fund positions in four countries as part of international development.  To this day we continue to work with these people, and we still fund the full-time position in Slovakia.  In fact, that’s our major expense.  
The New CCL.  In August, 2004, the new management of CCL decided not to support international operations that were not in English or Spanish.  That decision was a big factor that prompted us to found NFP International with the hope of continuing to support the European efforts. 

Other comparisons
The Extreme Makeover kit included a “Course Comparison” that provided 10 to 12 points of comparison between the Traditional Course and the New Course.  It is not worth the time and space to detail them.    In NFP International, we have a wide variety of materials available at our website.  We are striving to make it the “go to” website for learning NFP and related information.  Our teaching program is flexible and can be done either in PowerPoint or directly from the manual.  We do not yet have a formal teacher training program, but we are exploring various options.  Individuals can download individual NFP charts from our home page, and we will soon have a chart booklet. 

150th Anniversary of Lourdes:  For the historical significance of this event, read my article on “The Exquisite Timing of Lourdes: Confronting the Skeptics.”

NEXT WEEK:  Unprovable best or most complete?

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius)
Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book

Natural Family Planning: The Relative Merits of Old and New

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

After dinging the former CCL program in its December efforts to promote its new program, CCL issued a more kindly treatment of the traditional program in January.  “Since the old program served us faithfully and well for more than 30 years,” CCL teachers should be “thoughtful” when they discuss “the relative merits of the old course versus the new.”  Should some CCL teachers venture to this blogsite, here is my effort to be thoughtful on this subject.  Since the former course was built on the foundation of the Triple Strand approach, my comparison in this comment will focus on those changes.  Since “old” and “new” have connotations, I will use “Kippley-Prem” to designate what we founded and “The New CCL” to designate the program developed under the new CCL management.

Ecological breastfeeding
Kippley-Prem.  Ecological breastfeeding is an important part of the NFP program.  Ecological breastfeeding IS a form of natural family planning.  With its Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding, it is the only form of breastfeeding that provides breastfeeding’s natural, extended infertility.  Its baby-spacing effect is the only reason it belongs in an NFP course.  The promotion and teaching of ecological breastfeeding distinguishes the Kippley-Prem approach from all the other NFP programs.  It continues to play an important part in the teaching program of NFP International. 
The New CCL.  The term “ecological breastfeeding” has been dropped entirely.  In their program it is NOT a form of natural family planning.  Breastfeeding is taught solely for its health benefits.  Mention is made of “exclusive breastfeeding” for the first six months in the Student Guide, but its description is seriously erroneous because it fails to state that the infertility of exclusive breastfeeding during those first six months can be assumed only as long as the mother is in amenorrhea.  Aside from that mistake, this approach makes CCL basically the same on breastfeeding as the other NFP programs. 

The covenant theology of human sexuality
.  The covenant theology can be stated simply and briefly.  “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the marriage covenant.”  I first put that concept into writing in 1967 and incorporated it into a short book published in 1970.  That publication was a principal reason why I co-founded CCL as a means 1) to provide practical help to live out the Church’s teaching that I had tried to defend and explain in that book and 2) to provide that explanation and support for Humanae Vitae.  Sometime in the early Eighties, the 1981 edition of the 1970 book found its way into the hands of Scott and Kimberly Hahn who credit it for helping them to accept Catholic teaching on birth control while they were still Protestants (and he was a strongly anti-Catholic Presbyterian at the time.) 
     We used that concept in the NFP course to help couples understand Catholic teaching against marital contraception.  The idea that the marriage act ought to be a renewal of the marriage covenant was never in writing before 1967, so I am told by well read people.  It is now common.  The concept is perfectly compatible with the “Theology of the Body” of Pope John Paul II.  In 1994 the Pope incorporated this concept into his Letter to Families (n.12).  In 2006 Tracy Jamison, PhD, in an article published in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, showed how the covenant theology is perfectly compatible with the papal TOB.  (This article is available at our website.)  The covenant theology is readily internalized by people of good will; ordinary people “get it” easily. 
The New CCL.  The covenant theology has been completely dropped.  In 2006 CCL Board member Fr. Richard Hogan publicly dissed and dismissed the covenant theology as deductive, objective, and principled; he did this twice, once on EWTN and once in the National Catholic Register.  He failed to respond to my requests for an explanation of what he means.
     On the other hand, a priest who earned his doctorate in Rome wrote my wife as follows: “Thank God that you are being true to the charisms of your founding which are to bring couples into God’s plan and providence through the use of God-given reason and faith.  May God Bless your endeavors with the Catholic nursing mothers and international natural family planning. I saw an article summarizing John’s marriage covenant theology, and it is about time it received more attention.  As you know, at the time I was a consultor to Bishop Myers in Peoria I recommended every seminarian read the book [Sex and the Marriage Covenant], and Myers gave copies to them to read so that as future parish priests they would appreciate Holy Matrimony. It is signficant that John was ahead or at least in line with two other major theologians of our time — John Paul II on the theology of the body, and Scott Hahn on the theology of the covenant – and that John has synthetically brought these two lines of doctrine together and in his application of them to the sacraments of Holy Matrimony and its relation to the Holy Eucharist.  As I told John, this is one of the major developments of the theology of Matrimony in the history of theology.”

The systematic method taught
Kippley-Prem.   A choice-oriented system that gives the couple freedom to choose different morally acceptable systems and rules.  Recognizes different situations and uses four different Sympto-Thermal Rules to arrive at both the most conservative rule and also the earliest indication of Phase 3 in accord with the available evidence.  We do not like advising couples to “wait another day” when it is not necessary because waiting another day can mean waiting another week when one of the spouses travels.  Also teaches single-sign systems and rules including one rule for coming off the birth control pill. 
The New CCL.  Claims to be a simplified system that teaches only one rule.  That rule, however, doesn’t cover everything so it becomes in fact three rules, depending on the situation.  Also teaches three different rules for coming off hormonal birth control.  Proponents acknowledge that sometimes their rule delays the start of Phase 3 by at least one day.  Doesn’t it bother them to advise “wait another day” even though experienced teachers know that the traditional rules would give them less abstinence?   In addition, CCL dropped two fertility signs in their regular class teaching.

There are a number of other changes of which some are more important than others and most of which can be called the bath water.  The bottom line is that the EXTREME MAKEOVER has thrown out the baby with the bath water.  The core elements on which we founded CCL and that made CCL what it was for 36 years have been deleted.  The new CCL program is a substantially different program.  That is, the substance has been changed.  This is not the column in which to argue which program is better.  My primary point is simply that interested parties need to recognize that the three core elements of the CCL teaching program are no longer there.  The EXTREME MAKEOVER is truly extreme.   It is radically different from the program that “served us faithfully and well for more than 30 years.”
NEXT WEEK:  More on CCL’s Extreme Makeover. 

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius)
Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book, online at

Natural Family Planning: CCL now says the old was good.

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

On December 12, 2007, CCL sent its “Extreme Makeover” package or press kit around the country.  It is very negative about its former teaching and methodology, using language such as “stale materials” and “complex” and “outdated.”  One of CCL’s volunteers found it too objectionable to retain in their house. In promoting its new program, CCL also implied that the old program was not personal and relied on the teaching authority of the Church.  So what’s impersonal about the covenant theology of sexuality that we brought to the founding of CCL?  One of its great attractions is that couples can quickly grasp and internalize it because it is not complex but very straightforward, simple, and personal.  Secondly, the covenant theology is similar to the theology of the body (TOB) concerning the marriage act.  Several years ago in Cincinnati, Christopher West spoke on the TOB.  At the end of his talk, Chris took questions and several times he answered, “It’s a renewal of your wedding vows.”  In other words, when one of the Church’s foremost American proponents of the papal TOB wants a shorthand expression to apply it to the marriage act, he uses the covenant theology. 
     And what’s wrong with referring to the teaching authority of the Church as the prime reason for being certain that marital contraception is seriously immoral?  The dissenters quickly realized that their arguments for marital contraception didn’t hold water in a Christian context, so they promptly switched their efforts to arguing about authority.  If NFP instruction is only an anatomy course, the authority issue isn’t necessary, but by the same token neither is any reference to the theology of the body.  But if NFP instruction is provided in the context of living a Christian marriage, the authority issue is extremely important and helpful.
On January 9, 2008, CCL sent a message to its teachers that had a tone quite different from its December 12 communication about the former program.  Now the CCL management is reminding its teachers of the value of the teaching program that we designed and helped to direct during our 32 years with the League.  Teachers should remember that the “old program served us well.”  Further, “since the old program served us faithfully and well for more than 30 years” (actually 36 from the fall of 1971 to the end of 2007), CCL teachers are “to be thoughtful” when they are discussing “the relative merits of the old course versus the new.”  So what does that mean?  Was the CCL management “thoughtful” in what it wrote about the old program in its “Extreme Makeover” package?  After all, if teachers believed that the old program was really as bad as the promotion for the “Extreme Makeover” made it appear, who would want to teach it?  The reality is that in matters of substance the old program is far superior to the new. The problem for CCL is that less than four percent of its teachers (30 of their 850 teachers) were prepared to teach the new program the start of this year (E-News, 1/9/08; Extreme Makeover, 12/12/07). 

That might be a financial concern to some organizations, but CCL is well prepared to weather lots of non-teaching. As of the end of their fiscal year, June 30 2007, CCL had over a half million dollars in the bank. Add to that another $479,000 in receivables and inventory. 

NEXT WEEK:  The relative merits of the old versus the new.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius)
Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book, online at