(image courtesy of Shutterstock.com)
George Weigel keeps his eye on the prize here. This is a good model of communicating in uncertain times, subtly and clearly communicating Gospel truth with fraternal love.
Television interviews are deathtraps to the presentment of sophisticated ideas; they’re places unfriendly to nuance or depth, because every story, every thought, must be condensed — truncated to fit the spaces between the profit-making ads. This is precisely why most televised news or analysis — particularly cable news, unless it’s all breaking stuff — is as penetrating as a prop knife. The fast, shallow coverage almost renders the medium pointless, and gives great assist to forces interested in perpetuating a state of general distraction and disorientation.
Still, this clip Kathryn gives us particularly frustrated me. Since Monday, when the news of Benedict’s resignation broke, Weigel has tried to rebut, in a succinct and clear manner, the utter nonsense coming from the mouths of his NBC/MSNBC questioners, but when an anchor sprays ignorant talking points about like rounds from an AK-47 before one is even introduced, it’s difficult to locate the wounds to truth and heal them in 90 seconds. In this case, the anchor prefaces his exchange with Weigel by reiterating the tired complaints about bad old “conservative theologian” Benedict who — apparently — is the only thing standing in the way of the church embracing gay marriage, female ordination and even stem cell research.
Seriously, it’s like every single sentence the anchor offers is a fast bullet meant to shred the truth, distort reality and sway perceptions. Pew! Pew! Pew! And one fact after another falls before the fast-action delivery of media distortion and ignorance; truth lies broken and bloodied on the floor.
You don’t like that image, I know; nor do I. But it is quite apt. Unfortunately, there are no visuals of the grievous carnage done to truth, and so people do not realize an assault has occurred. They don’t sense the threat to the whole nation, when facts and understanding can be casually flayed at before our eyes.
Weigel does a good job of gently informing his host that no one is forced to be a Catholic, that the Catholic church is not a democratic republic whereby the Pope/President can issue an “executive action” decreeing that “yeah, everything we’ve thought through and taught for 2,000 years is nonsense in the face our enlightened progressive age…”. Time constraints, however, preclude his addressing the (to me) most obnoxious lie — because it’s one that utterly betrays MSNBC’s incuriosity and their unwillingness to do the barest research — the “pope hates stem cell research” lie.Yes, the old “church hates science” narrative, promulgated by people who do not know, or care to know, that the scientific method originated with her, as did the idea of a university. It takes precisely a minute to google “Pope Benedict Stem Cell Research” do you know the first news story one finds?
At a recent conference on stem cells endorsed by and held at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI announced the Catholic Church’s support for adult stem cell research.
The next headline found: Vatican to Fund Adult Stem Cell Research.
Yeah. Because the Catholic church supports scientific research, and always has, but because she in all issues she strives for balance and reason, she is not indiscriminate. Scientific research that assaults the dignity of humanity, and exploits human embryonic cells, crosses all kinds of lines and raises the possibility for myriad bioethical problems and presumptions, and so a line is made; a boundary is defined. To a world that rejects barriers, except to “incorrect” speech and, increasingly, a too-defined religious conscience, this is unacceptable, of course.
I wish Weigel had had the time to ask his anchor-host why he even brought up the stem cell issue, since he clearly had no understanding at all of what the church teaches on the subject. I’d have loved him to point out that not only does the church support and fund adult stem cell research (the press hates qualifiers; it limits their control), and I would have loved it even more if Weigel had pointed out how suspect the introduction of that particular talking point was, since adult stem cell research has consistently yielded effective therapies while embryonic stem cell research has brought nothing good, and has very quietly been pushed aside, with no more screams for public funding and little interest shown by venture capitalists.
Sadly, television barely allows the placement of a tourniquet to a bleeding-out vein of truth; very little bandaging can happen before gasbags stop talking to go to commercial. The only thing people remember are the accusations, not the abbreviated, barely-allowed corrections.
Which is just how some like it, I guess.
A taste of the distortive hate and ignorance that will shape our future trials.