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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Ed Peters

Good thoughts. I saw this a day or so ago, and it seems that Catholic News Agency was behind the original distortion. Maybe CWN picked it up uncritically from CNA, while only CNS ran the more accurate piece. Like you said, tho, I don't want to dig thru L'OR to find out (mostly cuz I don't care about Harry Potter, etc) but now I wonder. Okay, one bad article doesn't spoil the bunch, but then again, it doesn't bolster my confidence.

Brian Schuettler

"Doveryai, no proveryai" must be your new motto, Mark. At least you won't be tempted to heresy and, for what it's worth, we're all in the same boat. :-)

Jeff Miller

I heard Fr. Roderick talk about this yesterday and he mentioned that there were indeed two articles in the paper that were indeed pro and con. The original reporting by CNA was irresponsible.

Mark Brumley

Ed: Thanks for the comments. However, now the situation is worse for me. CNA is added to the mix.

I really don't understand this situation. It seems that either certain Catholic news outlets are grossly incompetent for not checking the original, published story about which they are reporting, or they are deliberately excluding highly relevant information, which is dishonest. I won't generalize from these particular articles, but I also will read these "news" outlets differently. More skeptically, that is.

Brian Schuettler

and nothing in ZENIT that I could find...

Mark Brumley

I hope this is simply a matter of some Catholics' strong animosity toward Harry Potter getting the best of them, not a general pattern of reporting. That does not make it acceptable or mean that I am not going to be more skeptical than I would have been but it helps makes sense of things, if it is so.

Otherwise I shall begin to think that the Vorlon saying that understanding is a three-edge sword must be understood in a subjectivist sense, and take up C.S. Lewis' tendency not to read the papers or their cyber equivalent.

Brian Schuettler

LifeSite seems to have gotten it right:

It seems to be accurate and thorough.

Ed Peters

agreed, folks.

Mark Brumley

Brian rightly points out that we must "trust but verify".

Unfortunately, verifying everything is impossible and verifying almost everything is exhausting. Even verifying almost almost everything is tiring. It's much easier to say, "Why bother?" and doubt all of it. "Don't your read the papers?" asked Christopher Derrick. "Why should I?" replied C.S. Lewis.

That's a posture all too easy to asssume vis-a-vis the MSM. Now the temptation is to adopt it with respect to the Catholic media.

If this had been a matter of a misquote or a mispelling or even a mild "spin" presented as "just the facts", I could live with it. Certain Catholic media outlets routinely and unapologetically obscure the distinction between news and analysis, and between analysis and commentary. But most critical readers can figure that out. What's more, pure objectivity in reporting is difficult, if not impossible. Reasonable allowance can be made for all of that.

But this is a case of major online Catholic news sources either not bothering to get the facts and reporting as if they had--perhaps simply repeating another source besides the original source without telling us--or knowing the facts and suppressing them. And on a high profile, controversial topic (although more important than it otherwise should be, imo). No amount of critical reading of the "reporting" here can yield the truth because key facts were simply left out of the stories.

If I can't trust Catholic news sources to be competent here (I take for granted that no dishonesty was at work), then why bother taking seriously anything they "report"? How do I know they aren't uncritically reporting in areas I can't verify?

As I said above, I hope this is just anti-Potter mania overcoming certain folks at certain Catholic news sites to such a degree that they didn't bother to go to the original source to verify it. That's a disservice to the Potter discussion and will probably contribute to intensifying the heat and diminishing the light. But if it's sui generis, we can get by. Let's hope it is, even while we must now read our friends more critically than we would have liked.

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