Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The fallacy of the "independent thinker"

There must have been a time when the expression “Think outside the box” meant something. I’m not quite sure, because many expressions that have passed into and out of corporate-speak seem to have been crafted to obscure, if not drain, meaning from a statement.

From my experience, the cliché once captured the idea of changing one’s perspective or approach to problem-solving as a means to achieving a goal. No matter how fecund a particular style of management or problem-solving normally is for you, occasionally you find a situation where it doesn’t produce results easily, if at all. Or, it may work for a while but lose its effectiveness over time. Or it can lead to a lot of wasted time and resources chasing avenues of approach into blind alleys. As one writer put it (back in the days of the typewriter), “Some days the words won’t come; other days, they can’t get to the wastebasket fast enough.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A multinational (small) business

The mainstream media seems to have a problem with translations. In his ongoing battle with the press over recent allegations against Pope Benedict XVI, the papal spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, stated, “The Catholic Church is not a multinational corporation.”

At least, that’s what he would have said had he been speaking English. Alas, he was speaking Italian. Impresa—“firm, business”—was translated as “entity”. The resulting phrase made it look as if good Fr. Federico was making the Church something local.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The crucifixion of the Pope

I suppose, given that the furor has been going on for over a week, I should comment on the scandal of the New York Times.

No, I didn’t miswrite that. The scandal I’m addressing is the insane allegations and factual misrepresentations by the Times concerning Pope Benedict's alleged involvement in a Wisconsin case of priestly sexual misconduct. The scandal I’m addressing is the failure of the Times’ editors to impose any kind of substantive journalistic standards of fair, accurate and unbiased reportage. The scandal I’m addressing is the (sadly successful) attempt by reporter Laurie Goodstein to create a cover-up of a scandal out of whole cloth, to charge protection of an abusive priest where none was offered, and to lay the blame for these notional outrages upon Pope Benedict XVI.

Here are the salient facts of the matter:

After twenty-four years of ministry at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee, Father Lawrence Murphy was under investigation by the local authorities for sexually assaulting some of the minors in his charge, possibly as many as 200, although Fr. Murphy later only admitted to abusing 19. It should be stressed that there was never any accusation by the district attorney’s office or the police that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was anything less than cooperative, nor was there  any allegation by victims that they were pressured or bribed into silence by Church officials.

No cover-up there.