Thursday, April 15, 2004

"Full disclosure" & Truth

Bob Serrat, host of "Chicago Tonight," last night commented on how the public broadcasting of the 9-11 commission might actually impede the pursuit of truth. He's absolutely right, putting his finger on yet another contradiction in our political culture. We equate the good and the true with "disclosure" which has no room for truth in secrecy. Catholics should not fall for it. Some truths must be held "im pectore;" truth sometimes is best served framed in the shadows of the confession booth, of the "Messianic secret" that Christ maintained throughout his earthly ministry. "Openness" is too often an invitation for political grandstanding, melodrama, and other forms of histrionic decadence--all enemies of truth. Groups like Voices of the Faithful scream for ever more disclosure, showing no regard for the veiled, eschatalogical nature of truth and justice. They assume we can all equally serve as judges of truth and of all authority figures. But truth is not democratic--we don't broadcast all trials and have people vote in their verdict; we entrust justice to a limited, semi-private group of 12 who are privy to the nuanced, tenebrous contours of the truth.

This isn't to say nothing good can come of these proceedings. It's at least interesting theatre. Families of 9-11 victims will get to feel justified in their respective adoration or hatred of Bush. The parties will use it to push their campaigns this way or that. Islamic extremists will continue to plot the demise of the West. Still, these modern inquisitions occlude the truth from view as much as they reveal.