More on the Higher and Lower Laws

A day or two ago, I remarked on C.S. Lewis’ observation that those who do not obey the Higher Law find themselves compelled to obey lower ones.

Had a conversation with somebody recently which prompted some more thought in that department, particularly about our episcopate’s relationship with the press. My friend wrote: “Conservative Catholics who get on their high-horse with media-bashing are making fools of themselves.”

My reply: True. And yet remember Watergate. Journalists were, well… not exactly heroes, just morally better than Richard Nixon–for a while. They occupied an important ecological niche for a time–and then that time passed, Nixon was ousted, but they went on pressing their agenda and doing their bit to make the culture of the 70s the wasteland it was and to make life hell for sensible people and believers of any stripe. In short, once their short-term function was past, they went back to being what they often are: enemies of sanity. The press, like the Assyrians during a time of judgment on Israel, have performed an essential and salutary role in exposing the rot in the Church and may God bless them for it. But the press is not thereby interested in the holiness or spiritual prosperity of the Church or the human race, any more than Assyria was interested in Israel’s welfare nor realized they were a chastising rod in the hand of the Almighty. Many of the press, like the nation of Assyria, are profound enemies of God and his people and, in their pride, they should take heed of God’s warning to Assyria.

The bishops have handed the enemies of the Faith the perfect cudgel to do untold damage to the Church in the future. It’s media-bashing to blame the press for exposing the sins of the bishops. It’s not media-bashing to note the obvious fact that many in the journalism community are overjoyed by this Scandal (in the long-faced puritanical way that all such beings rejoice) and see in it a huge opportunity to attack, not corruption, but the Faith itself. And, as we both know, many in the journalism community are carefully sculpting the facts to attack the Faith while ignoring the problem (see Sullivan, Andrew).

The bishops are going to need journalists nipping at their heels for the foreseeable future to keep them honest, much as Israel “needed” (in the divine economy) Assyria and Babylon as instruments of judgment. But it is definitely a Darwinian and temporal, not an ideal and eternal, arrangement. There’s a difference between the Christian mutuality of the Body of Christ in which each member is there for the good of all and the predator/prey “balance of nature” we see in this fallen world. Its the difference between Christ and antichrist, or reality and parody. The relationship between bishops and press is of the latter and lower nature (more of that business of having to obey lower laws if you won’t obey higher ones). And, God willing, it will continue to be until the bishops have embraced the Higher Law, at which point the press will not be necessary as a Darwinian check on corruption. As such, the press is good, but it’s not best. And the press remains just as fallen as the rest of us. So it’s done good work and is to be thanked. But it’s not to be trusted any more than the bishops. The whole world lieth in the power of the evil one.