Monday, April 03, 2006

An Old Testament Perry Mason - and ???

Today's pre-Gospel reading was long, but one of the most cool readings there is - a WHOLE short-short detective story, during Holy Mass, yet! It is especially cool because it has all the ingredients in perfect measure - crime, mystery, accusations, a victim, Divine intervention (but not the way you would expect!), a really thrilling court scene, and a superb denouement (that's French, it means "un-knotting" - it's what the detective does int he big scene at the end of a story). But all that and it is also in Sacred Scripture! Sorry I don't have the chapter, but you can find it in the book of Daniel - it's the "story of Suzanna". In case you don't know it, you ought to go and read it.

Now what's that ??? stand for in my title?

Well, it's because that story fits in so well with what I was writing yesterday. (Timing, timing - hey, so often, miracles are all about timing...) I was starting to write a very strange chapter called "the Virtues of Subsidiarity" - meaning the positive traits and morals required within the system if it is to succeed at its purpose. No, Subsidiarity is not its purpose; Subsidiarity is the scheme by which that purpose is achieved! More on this someday. But just to give you a hint, it's like what Chesterton wrote about "success":
...there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. Any live man has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing suicide.
[GKC, ILN Nov 2, 1907 CW27:579]
But you are wondering about how Daniel the Detective relates to Subsidiarity - and its virtues.

Here's the connection. The story pivots on people in authority who tell lies. (Don't worry, I won't blow the ending for you.) And one of the critical virtues of Subsidiarity is honesty. It is bad enough when "low-level" members of a system are dishonest - but it can be disastrous in the case of "high-level" members! And what is to be done then?

Well - the story might be included as a parable in my forthcoming book on Subsidiarity. For like Suzanna, one can appeal to Higher Authority. And like Daniel, even a "low-level" member can take corrective measures.

If this is a bit mysterious, all the better. But think about it before you post with your questions. And don't blow the ending for those who haven't read the story yet!


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