Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Eighth Commandment and Pius XII

John Zmirak has some commentary on lying in general and on Pius XII in particular.

You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor.”

This commandment seems innocuous enough. On its face, it only prevents us from telling malicious falsehoods damaging to others. Okay, we’re not really thrilled about that—especially if we’re active in politics—but we can understand it, and grudgingly agree. But like most other elements in Divine Revelation, it has grown over time and extended its reach into all sorts of analogous situations, as rabbis, then bishops and popes, strove to explore all its implications for human life. It’s as if each commandment were a pebble dropped into a pond, and our job were to trace all the ripples. But that metaphor doesn’t quite work, because it makes things too easy. Ripples from a pebble flow in clear, predictable waves, and a freshman physics student should be able to account for them. The pieces of Revelation that have fallen on us from space are not inert but active, and the pool in which they plop—human life—is murky and full of dark, swimmy things. And some of them have claws. So perhaps a better image is a giant Alka-Seltzer, dropped in a swamp: Plop-plop, fizz-fizz, Oh what a morass it is!


No comments: