I have written before about Dan Currys blog, the only one I will formally recommend, called www.reversespin.com. A former top newsman he has more info on the news media than anyone else, with accent on local races. Let me ask him a question which I am sure he can answer on his own blog: Dan, the New York Times is taking the heat, as well it should, for publishing hitherto secret probing of bank accounts by the administration
and you have pelted the paper deservedly. But as I read it the dispatches also say the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times also ran the story. Did they just copy the New York Times or did they receive the same leak? Why do they seem to be exempt from most of the criticism? Im sure you have the explanation and I dont know anyone who understands the media business better. So if you would enlighten me, Id appreciate it. Thanks.
An auxiliary bishop told me not long ago that Francis Cardinal George is indeed not just brilliant but a multi-talented intellectual: gifted writer, superb homilist, stunning original theologian, profound philosopher whose original thought deserves one day to be studied in universities. And then he added something I wondered about: Hes a complicated man, very complicated. Just how complicated, I found out not long ago when I was fielding questions to him at a gathering of Catholic CEOs.
During a short lull while people were thinking of questions before raising their hands, I asked him this one which I hoped would elicit a short, positive answer. I told him I made a speech in Dallas which espoused a return to the Baltimore Catechism for the instruction of the young. Everyone but one dissident hailed the idea since everyone of a certain age has had to memorize the catechism, to speak it by rote under the admonishing glare of our mothers and the nuns.
I said, I daresay you had the same experience when you were a kid at St. Pascals, Eminence.
Thats where I was wrong and where he rained on my parade as intellectuals have done throughout my life. Throw them a line you think theyll snap up to help you and they invariably go on like Hamlet, parsing first this qualification and then that. His answer was in paraphrase:
Actually, no, I didnt learn the Baltimore Catechism because at St. Pascals we had two Catechismsthe Baltimore and a second one that we also committed to memory with the result that the strong definitions in Baltimore somehow did not get across in the way you represent. Perhaps youve heard of a new Compendium that has just been compiled, a distillation of the new Catholic Catechism adopted under John Paul II. It is a Compendium that faithfully puts forth the doctrines of the Church
Is there anything out of date with the old Baltimore?
Not in the sense of being out-of-date, no. Not in that sense but as you know there are always accretions to the Faith which it could be said the new Compendium presents.
Thanks a lot. After seventy-five years of the faithful committing to memory the unfailing verities of theology now weve got a Compendium. Yes, the Auxiliary was right: George is complicated. Moreover, exasperatingly complicated; let me add astoundingly complicated. All he had to say was, Not a bad idea. Go to it!
But thats not how intellectuals think. They step on lines, blur exhortations. You boot the chance to send people home to reconnoiter with the old Catechism by making it far more complicated by bringing up a new volume no one has yet seen. Only an intellectual Ph.D theologian, Ph.D philosopher would think that way. No, bafflingly complicated.