Friday, February 25, 2011

Zmirak Unravels the Lilapalooza



Sanity in a world that is increasingly losing it's grip on reality.

Furthermore, I don't believe this discussion should even be taking place; there was no prudent reason for Catholics to publicly question Live Action's tactics, and doing so was at best an act of sinful detraction worse than any "lies" Live Action told. Objections to the use of investigative journalism tactics should have been raised with the members of Live Action privately, and then with their local bishop. Then, and only then, if Live Action had continued in such tactics despite the warnings of appropriate Church authorities, it would have been worth raising the question of their tactics -- but in a charitable manner, without publicly calling these pro-life heroes "liars."

23 comments:

non-faithfulcatholicschools said...

Dear Carol,
The only reason there is any question about Lila's actions is they caught PP flatfooted...again. When you kill babies for a living, it's kind of hard to justify your existence. Thursday evening Raymond Arroyo had Abby Johnson on his program...worth the watch if you can get to his website. One of the interesting things she brought up was the fact that PP does NOT do mammograms as Komen For The Cure says. PP does NOT have the equipment at any of their facilities, according to Johnson, to be able to do anything more than a physical inspection for lumps. More details on Raymond's show, so Komen is LYING about their funds being used for only Breast Cancer Screenings. Lila should just "Go get 'em" and to H--l with the critics. Those folks probably use PP's services themselves and are afraid they will be found out...so much for our "catholic" brethren.
Jesus Is Lord!
Tim M

berenike said...

I had no idea there was a smash-up row going on about this until I came across something written by a commenter on our blog. I went to have a look at his blog, and found an entire post devoted to "proving" that "It's Okay To Lie Sometimes". (I put the inverted commas there because this particular chap couldn't argue his way out of a paper bag, poor lad.)

Anyway, I found someone who'd posted a round-up of posts in the debate, and written several commentaries. He said what I was thinking after reading some of the confident assertions of It's OK To Lie Sometimes: "How many saints do you have to contradict flat out before you at least raise for yourself the question of whether you are making the right moral judgment?"

Here is his comment on Zmirak's earlier piece, and this is on the one you link to here. Do have a read - they're not long.

I'm not a moral theologian, but moral theologians (of whom there have been many holy examples with plenty of experience of difficult situations) really have considered every Terribly Cunning Counterargument that I've seen cited in favour of a position that might be summed up as "Lying is OK Sometimes". And they still say "no it's not".

There will be well-meaning supporters of Planned Parenthood who think that Live Action's subterfuge was dishonest and wrong: surely it's a good thing they see that there is a discussion of this matter among pro-lifers? Either they'll see that it wasn't dishonest, because done in what Live Action thought was a good cause and the end justifies the means (!), or they'll see that there are pro-lifers who are glad that wickedness was exposed, but are nonetheless unhappy about the dishonesty used to expose it.

Carol McKinley said...

Berenike,

Love the word "row" - LOL.


Thank you for the links - I'll read them in a bit.

I think the focus of the debate might have been missed by you. It isn't about whether it is sinful to lie or whether it isn't.

It is about the definition of a 'lie'.

It is either sinful lie for police and our military to save protect our country and lives by using undercover agents and stings or it is not.

It is either a sinful lie to tell our children Santa Claus is coming to town or it is not.

It is either a sinful lie to tell the Nazis you don't have Jews in the attic or the confederates you don't have slaves in the cellar - or it is not.

There are some folks around town who are painting our God as a lunatic - One would avenge these things with denying people who do it their salvation.

That is NUTS any way you look at it!

Peace - and thanks for stopping by!

Jeff Culbreath said...

"There are some folks around town who are painting our God as a lunatic - One would avenge these things with denying people who do it their salvation."

Name one, just one please. Absolutely every commenter and writer I have come across who holds them to be lies - dozens - consider such lies to be venial sins with little moral culpability.

Which is absolutely not the point.

The point is how much damage you do to Catholic doctrine and authority by insisting, over and against the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, that lies are not lies. That creates a mountain of confusion problems far more serious than the lies themselves.

Pope Innocent XI condemned strict mental reservation for any reason in the same document he condemned abortion for any reason. Was he also "NUTS"?

Carol McKinley said...

Hi Jeff,

I don't see how a comparison to abortion for any reason has anything to do with the definition of calling what we tell our children about Santa Claus to be venial sins. Worse yet -- it is an offensive caricature of God to call what police do or what was done to save Jews and slaves 'sins'.

Sins are offenses against God. Last I knew even venial are offenses against God that poison the soul and cloud the intellect and are things which we will have to answer to on our day of judgment.

Venial sins are offenses that affect our salvation because they are things that we need to be purified from in order to get into heaven. If enough of them build - as an undercover policeman would, judgment is thrown off enough to lead to mortal sin.

Painting God as some kind of a lunatic judge is not my cup of tea.

Carol McKinley said...

p.s.

I really see it as over the top to use the word 'lies' and 'sin' or to say there is some kind of profound damage to the magisterium to have a difference of opinion on this matter.

Nobody has quoted anything from the Holy See that defines the actions of police or the military or people who saved the Jews and slaves as sinful. Until the Holy See responds to it, there is room for discussion.

I can't imagine they ever would which makes calling heros liars moot if not preposterous.

God Bless.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Briefly, Carol, heroes may certainly be liars. Even saints may be liars. The key to understanding this is very simply the difference between committing an objective sin and being morally, subjectively *culpable* for that objective sin. It's Baltimore Catechism stuff.

And if Bl. Innocent XI condemned strict mental reservation *for any reason whatsoever*, then obviously direct false assertions with the intent to deceive are forbidden *for any reason whatsoever*. The pope took that as a given.

"If anyone, by himself, or before others, whether under examination or of his own accord, whether for amusement or for any other purpose, should swear that he has not done something which he has really done, having in mind something else which he has not done, or some way of doing it other than the way he employed, or anything else that is true: he does not lie nor perjure himself." - Proposition condemned by Pope Innocent XI in "Sanctissimus Dominus" (1679)

berenike said...

No, I've not missed the point. :)

Carol McKinley said...

Berenike,

Ok, just making sure!

I've read the links.

The point made that the intention to understand theology is not detraction is a good one but it falls short for me because there is nothing doctrinal to support the opinion that Live Action is "lies" and 'sin'. Just the opposite is true - there are several citations in scripture defines the deception to save as worthy of God's reward.


You ask if discussion about this is a good thing -- I see making Lila or any other Catholic, police, soldiers - etc. - liars and sinners who has saved a life from a killer by deceiving as more of reductio ad absurdum - making a tyrannical caricature out of Our Lord.

God would not make it acceptable to defend lives of the common good from murderers by killing them - as in Just War or self defense -- but make being as wise and cunning as the serpent to prevent or curtail the murders - keep the aggressor from committing the sin -- as the wrongful act.

Peace.

Carol McKinley said...

Jeff, I assure you from personal experience, I'm quite familiar with the concept that people who conduct their affairs with good intentions can be simultaneously flawed and sinful. :)

I was brought up on the Baltimore Catechism - have it in my house.

This quote from Blessed Innocent is referencing committing a harmful deed and then coming up with a doozy to escape personal culpability in that act.

That is not the situation here. For centuries, lay people have saved lives, police and military have protected the common good with the use of deception. The Holy See's silence on the matter should tell you everything you need to know. They would not watch us all do it and not provided an encyclical to correct our actions. They would have long ago told Catholics they can not engage in the referenced police and military stings.

Jeff Culbreath said...

"This quote from Blessed Innocent is referencing committing a harmful deed and then coming up with a doozy to escape personal culpability in that act."

Carol, please, that is not what he says at all. He says "by himself or before others", "of his own accord" and "for amusement or any other purpose". He covers EVERYTHING precisely because he knew people would try to find a loophole. If you doubt, pick up any textbook of Catholic dogma or moral theology and look it up. The Church has received this decree with a certain understanding and that's how we ought to receive it too.

And if you understand the Baltimore Catechism, please stop insinuating that anyone who accepts the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church on the subject of lying is thereby saying that Lila Rose and police investigators are horrible sinners destined to hell and are not otherwise doing good or even heroic work.

Carol McKinley said...

Jeff -

"If anyone, by himself, or before others, whether under examination or of his own accord, whether for amusement or for any other purpose.."

You mean to tell me the entire acting community is committing venial sins when they make a movie or act in a play?


The Holy See has been going in and out of theaters for years watching people sinning and saying nothing about it?

This is a fine how do you do.

You know something, I never was a fan of the USCCB 'movie reviews' but this certainly gives it a new twist. Somebody ought to have the decency to drop a dime and tell them of their sinful omission. All these years that we have been watching the commission of venial sins when we watch actors in plays and movies.

I am frantically dialing Comcast now!

Seriously, here comes context:

"should swear that he has not done something which he has really done"

My reading of your citation is he is referring to the kind of self-serving lies that covering up your own evil. In no way does this apply to any of the examples we have been making - much less the examples in Holy Scripture.


It is preposterous to opine that The Holy See would be silent for over 2000 years about covert operations of our military, CIA, FBI or police stings, Catholic parents telling our children about Santa Claus, or hiding Jews and slaves whilst deceiving their murderers -- and not tell us these are sinful.

Sin is a pretty serious word to those of us who are salvation oriented.

It is truly silly to say teaching has emerged from the cracking some kind of secretive codes from a reading of things when there is no such teaching.

Venial sins affect salvation. They lay a foundation that clouds the intellect and can lead to more serious offenses against God.


Claiming opinions of this secret code are definitive teaching of the Holy See, which other Catholics are not permitted to opine against least they be causing great scandal to said definitive teaching is silly.

If you can get the Holy See to clarify that the examples we have all mentioned are sinful, then your accusations will have merit.

They would have to contradict the Bible to do so, so I won't be holding my breath.

I think in the meantime, it would be fair to stop characterizing people who don't get on board your opinions as being ignorant or worse dissenting from the faith.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Carol, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a lie as a false assertion with the intent to deceive. That is the context of Innocent XI's decree. Acting does not intend to deceive, nor do jokes, pranks, role-playing with children, social pleasantries, pretend games, etc.. As they are not intended to deceive they are not therefore lies.

Police sting operations and false assertions in the course of spying/espionage or other investigations are a different matter. I believe these do fall under the definition of lying and are forbidden. (Possibly there is something about the nature and role of government that makes exceptions here, but I doubt it, and it isn't relevant to the LiveAction sting anyway.)

Just because the Vatican hasn't addressed this application specifically and publicly doesn't mean anything in terms of doctrine. I imagine that is the sort of thing that would normally be handled on the level of the confessional.

Carol McKinley said...

But acting is intentionally deceiving people. Those people are not using their real names or telling real stories. According to your interpretation as to the context, it says right there in the citation that even if the deception is used for entertainment, it is a sin.

I don't see how Hollywood can wriggle out of the 'lies'.

We are closer to the differences in opinion when you exclude using moles from covert operations on the level of grassroots work of political and theological warriors, police and our military - etc. It is most certainly relevant to those of us who use moles to obtain information to protect the common good and individual lives.

This exclusion is really the heart of the matter as far as I can see.

There is nothing I can see other than the definitive use of deception to save life which is rewarded by God in Scripture.

Any other opinion about who is ignorant of their faith, or worse, dissenting, is conjecture based upon no definitive doctrine.

I think the dust up should most definitely be taken to a higher theological level and addressed in a more formal way. Something other than lay people. I've put out some feelers, I suggest you and others do the same using sound sources, naturally!

I think people ought to lay low until it's addressed.

Jeff Culbreath said...

"Venial sins affect salvation. They lay a foundation that clouds the intellect and can lead to more serious offenses against God."

Absolutely. Which is why I am baffled that you seem to dismiss the Catechism so casually on this point. Hesitation, I understand, but outright dismissal is just baffling.

Jeff Culbreath said...

"But acting is intentionally deceiving people."

But no one is ultimately deceived because, by definition, it is only acting if everyone knows it is acting.

However, if one is "acting" and the listeners do not know that the false assertions they hear are part of an act, then yes, those false assertions could be lies if not disclosed promptly.

"According to your interpretation as to the context, it says right there in the citation that even if the deception is used for entertainment, it is a sin."

Not deception, Carol, but strict mental reservation. Many kinds of deceptions are permitted according to Catholic teaching, depending on circumstances, but not lying and not strict mental reservation, which the pope is telling us is another form of lie.

Telling a lie for amusement means a false assertion to deceive for amusement. Like telling someone that his dog has died and watching him grieve for hours or days just for fun.

"We are closer to the differences in opinion when you exclude using moles from covert operations ... It is most certainly relevant to those of us who use moles to obtain information to protect the common good and individual lives."

But you cannot lie even to save a life, even to protect the common good - not for any purpose. My hunch (and I could be wrong here) is that not even the government is exempt from this requirement and that some of what we do in espionage and law enforcement is immoral.

Nevertheless the distinction should be made: LiveAction is not the government. You and I cannot just go around willy-nilly trying to entrap lawbreakers by telling them lies. And false assertions with the intent to deceive do not become non-lies just because we use them to catch people breaking the law or perhaps even save lives.

"This exclusion is really the heart of the matter as far as I can see."

I agree.

"There is nothing I can see other than the definitive use of deception to save life which is rewarded by God in Scripture."

Deception is warranted and even praiseworthy in many cases, but not lies. And the praise for certain people who told lies in the old testament is not due to their lies, but for their love of God, as St. Thomas explained. Besides, if we use the behavior of old testament men and women as a standard for what's morally right we're going to make some serious mistakes, such as approving divorce, polygamy, and the destruction of innocent women and children in warfare, for starters.

"I think the dust up should most definitely be taken to a higher theological level and addressed in a more formal way. Something other than lay people. I've put out some feelers, I suggest you and others do the same using sound sources, naturally!"

Again, I agree. Great idea.

"I think people ought to lay low until it's addressed."

In the meantime I don't think we are excused from working with what we have, which is what seems to me to be a pretty clear teaching in LiveAction's case.

By the way, I know a couple of fine young people working for LiveAction and do not think them any less Catholic for it. I've already had this discussion with one of them. I'd like to see a few bishops speak with some clarity on the topic, but I'm afraid in this age of Vatican-II-pastoral-speak we'll get something so nuanced and complicated that we'll all just end up more confused.

Carol McKinley said...

Most movies people are being given a subliminal message and possibly even agenda. Not all of it is sinister. Just as lying about Santa Claus bringing presents is not sinister or sinful.

You seem to agree that the use of deception is permitted, but deception is a lie using action. Again, we have a definition difference without ant doctrine that defines sin in the matter. I would refrain therefore from alleging I am dismissing the Catechism and Catholic teachings.

I think we have many credible sources who may be willing to weigh in. But I do not define people in terms of Vatican 2 implying they are in error. Unless of course they have a reputation and history of doing so that is factual.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Carol, is there some reason why my last comment doesn't show up?

Carol McKinley said...

Jeff, I will check the spam folder

Carol McKinley said...

Jeff, I apologize. It was in the spam folder. I indicated it wasn't spam and published it but I don't see it. Hopefully you can reproduce it?

There were several others from others in the spam folder on other threads that never were published. Sorry a out that!

Jeff Culbreath said...

Thank you, Carol. The comment is there now.

For the most thorough treatment of this subject you will find online from the Catholic natural law tradition, I recommend reading Dr. Ed Feser's lastest article together with the four articles he links to at the end of his first paragraph. (Very important to read each of those links for theological background.)

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/02/live-action-lying-and-natural-law.html

God bless and thanks for the discussion.

Jeanette O'Toole said...

"It is either a sinful lie to tell our children Santa Claus is coming to town or it is not."

One of my favorite posts of Tom's has to do with Santa Claus, Carol.

What I’m wondering is why many devout Christians including some Catholics, conclude that, while it’s absolutely crucial to be truthful to your children, in the case of Santa Claus, it’s perfectly acceptable to LIE.

Yes, I used the word lie deliberately, rather than some double-speak like “story-telling” or even “half-truth" ...


The "Claus" Clause

Carol McKinley said...

Jeanette,

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one!

Do you know that Christ told many parables which were stories that were...um..made up???

God is a lover of righteousness and justice, not a cruel tyrant incapable of knowing what is harmless, playful, parable, a fantasy told to children to teach or give pleasure and a falsehood told to outwit a murderer -- from a lie told to cover up evil or cause harm to somebody else or God.

Peace.