Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Happened Book

Listening to the "news" coverage of Scott McLellan's new book titled "What Happened" my mind travels to the Baltimore Catechism's lesson on the 8th Commandment. Personally, I think if what they are saying is true about this book then what he did in writing it was shameful. If its filled with all kinds of truths that we didn't know until now then its probably filled with detraction. If its filled with half truths or outright error then its probably libel.

I think a lot of people think its fair game in politics to expose others' faults. Wrong. Politics is the perfect example of detraction, calumny, and slander. Can we think of a better place for this sin to take place? If exposing whatever this book supposedly exposes would serve the public good then a better case could be made for it. But from what it looks like all that will be accomplished is a few people will make a lot of money from it.

A refresher:

379. Q. What are we commanded by the Eighth Commandment?

A. We are commanded by the Eighth Commandment to speak the truth in all things, and to be careful of the honor and reputation of everyone.

"Reputation." If it be a sin to steal a man's money, which we can restore to him, it is certainly a much greater sin to steal his good name, which we can never restore, and especially as we have nothing to gain from injuring his character. It is a sin to tell evil things about another--his sins, vices, etc.--even when they are true. The only thing that will excuse us from telling another's fault is the necessity to do so in which we are placed, or the good we can do to the person himself or others by exposing faults. How shall you know when you have injured the character of another? You have injured another's character if you made others think less of him than they did before. If you have exposed some crime that he really committed, your sin is called detraction; if you accuse him of one he did not commit, your sin is calumny; and if you maliciously circulate these reports to injure his character, your sin is slander. But how shall you make reparation for injuring the character of another? If you have told lies about him, you must acknowledge to those with whom you have talked that you have told what was untrue about him, and you must even compensate him for whatever loss he has suffered by your lies: for example, the loss of his situation by your accusing him of dishonesty. But if what you said of him was true, how are you to act? At every opportunity say whatever good you can of him in the presence of those before whom you have spoken the evil.

1 comment:

lvschant said...

It remains so important that we help form the consciences of our children properly... I must admit that, until adulthood, when I began studying my catechism on my own, I was unaware of the finer points of the 8th commandment... Let us hope that many who go about violating it with such free abandon are doing so in ignorance.

But, at some level, don't you think that all people feel in their hearts that speaking ill of others (without a darn good reason) is a wrong that all can sense (natural law), just as we all can know, without the benefits of the catechism, that selfishness, spite, greed, etc. are unattractive traits in a person... These things are truly 'written on our hearts'.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton