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Monday, October 12, 2015

Why I Gave Up News Reporting

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Why I Gave Up News Reporting
“Thou fool... put down thine iPhone, for this night is thy soul required of thee.”

(From last week's print edition of The Remnant. Submitted on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel)

I’ve decided to stay in Norcia for the Synod.

A few days ago, someone on the Remnant's website asked me whether I left LifeSite on my own, or “was pushed”. I answered simply, “I left. It was time.” I have been thinking of how, or even whether to respond more fully. I didn’t really mean to be cryptic. I suppose people wanted to know if some drama had occurred. But in fact the reasons were personal and I’ve debated whether to share some of it. It took me a while to figure out whether I really understood myself why I left so abruptly, immediately following the Rome March for Life.

It did come as rather a surprise, even to me, particularly after so many years: 2004 – 2015 and then some. It had been building up for a while, but that week, I just went home and stopped because I knew that period of my life was over, closed.

I started investigating what was going on about mid-1998. It was pure curiosity. I knew there was something drastically wrong, and wanted to know what it was. By early May of this year, I simply realised that I had found out what I had set out to discover. The spark of curiosity had died, to be replaced with something else. I knew what was happening.

And indeed, after this week, it’s pretty hard not to know, if one is a believing Catholic. Add to the US papal trip (more on which in a coming post) that video of the vile Cardinal Danneels bragging about being part of an anti-Catholic cabal within the highest leadership of the Church who elected Bergoglio to further their agenda, and I don't think we need to collect any more data on the real status of Francis and his evil tribe of churchwreckers, or what they plan to do.

When a pope tells a reporter that he knows that the things he’s doing and saying are making people think he’s an antipope or even the Antichrist, but laughs it off by mocking and deriding the faithful… again… there is little left to reveal. It’s not a conspiracy if they get in front of the microphones and tell everyone what they’re going to do, and then do it.

Whether Bergoglio is an antipope seems to me now to be irrelevant. Future theologians can work it out at leisure, if there is a future. But for now, I think its safe to say that he and his plans represent a clear danger to the eternal destiny of the faithful and the mission of the Church. When the news starts to sound like the plot of Windswept House, the time for sitting back and watching is over.

In May this year, I came to the rather abrupt realisation that the time for me to be standing back and reporting all this as news had come to an end. Why did I give up news reporting almost entirely? Mainly because I couldn’t keep pretending that everything that is happening is happening to someone else.

There is a kind of motif in disaster movies of the brave but stupid reporter, standing in the thick of the maelstrom shouting his observations to a cameraman while everyone around him is screaming and running away. Inevitably, usually in mid-sentence, he turns around just in time to be obliterated by whatever is happening.


"Some sort of huge, horrific, terrifying nightmare... only this is the real thing..."

I think I mostly gave up reporting because since March 2013, it had become clear that the disaster we are facing now is on such a monstrous scale that “the news” had become a kind of Fantasy, a distraction. That movie reporter, until the last moment of his life, was not really paying attention to what was actually happening. He was thinking about his audience, his editors and studio executives, the fact that he was making the ratings and his career take a huge jump. What he wasn’t thinking about was that he was about to die.

Culturally speaking, a reporter’s role is to maintain the fantasy that whatever is happening doesn’t apply to him, and most importantly, doesn't really apply to us, his viewers. The news is the stuff that’s happening over there, and though it might sound paradoxical, it is intended to give us the feeling that because it’s happening over there, it can’t be happening here.

One of the most important things John Muggeridge taught me about journalism is that the journalist always stands in for the ordinary folks at home. The reporter is the regular guy who doesn’t know anything but wants to find out, who asks the experts all the regular-guy questions that anyone would ask if he could. He does not try to become an expert himself, does not become part of the story. But we have come to a stage in world events, and in the development of the media, where this necessary professional detachment has become a means of facilitating complacency.

The purpose of the news, I think I’ve concluded, is not dissimilar to the disaster movie genre. It has to show thrilling disasters that are exciting to watch, but at the same time create the illusion of an unbreachable safe distance between us and what is happening. We have learned to live all our lives as though we are only watching it all happening remotely on YouTube. It is the modern equivalent of gladiatorial combat, creating a vicarious thrill, as long as it keeps happening safely within the confines of the arena, while we remain firmly in our seats and can go home in one piece with our loaf under our arm.

And now, of course, everyone is doing it. We have started to see the repeating theme in films of people simply not believing that what is happening around them is really happening, or applies to them.

It has become a cliché. We shake our heads in horrified wonder at the guy running for his life from the Japanese tsunami who stops to pull out his iPhone and get a video. “Run, you idiot!” we shout from the sofa.

When I talk about the nature of the news in general as a way of retreating and maintaining psychological distance from what is happening, I mean only that this is just one of the inevitable effects of the news – particularly internet news – on human psychology in western society. I certainly don’t mean that this is the intention of the people who report the news. I especially don’t mean to say that the work LifeSite and other good Christian news outlets does is unimportant or a distraction or a Fantasy. And I don’t mean to imply that one cannot both report the news and fast, pray and do penance. Reporters are called to sanctity too.

But the world is now so saturated with information, particularly on the internet, it seems impossible to use this medium to alert people to the real dangers. Moreover, the internet trivializes and desensitizes by its nature. The medium, as it has been said, is the message. We click from videos of Christian children being beheaded in Iraq, to funny cat videos and on to the next thing within five minutes, with none of it really making an impact.

I started my research in 1998 very shortly after my reversion to the practice of Catholicism, and while recovering from a somewhat mysterious illness. I had a lot of time on my hands and not a lot of money, so I spent many days in the computer room of the library of Dalhousie University, reading about the long-term cultural effects of utilitarianism and other materialist philosophies of the 18th century. I wanted to know what was really true, what was really going on.

I had known since childhood that there was something seriously, seriously, wrong with the world, but I didn’t find out what it was until I was 34. I had started reading the modern utilitarians, Peter Singer and his followers, and realized, in a rather horrifying moment, what I had known at a gut level: that this philosophy had already taken over the whole world. The ideology that had created Auschwitz was alive and well and running the show in health care and bio-medical research around the world. These days, we called it "Bioethics."

At that moment, though, I knew that this evil was much larger than it looked, that it was on a vast, almost unimaginable scale. From that moment on, I understood that I was in a war. A very, very large war, that was being fought in the main completely invisibly but whose consequences were cosmic and universal and eternal. It had to be fought, but I knew that ultimately we did not have the power to win.

I entered active pro-life work in 1999, interested in the New Eugenics and the creation of human life for biomedical research and bioengineering. I focused on learning everything I possibly could as I went along, but knowing before I started that this work was not the solution. For years, I continued to have a nagging feeling that while this direction would be tolerated, I was expected at some point to leave it, to get on with what I was supposed to be doing.

By March 2013, I understood what was happening well enough, and knew already that the time for standing to one side and reporting was drawing to a close. I felt it very powerfully in the Piazza that cold and drizzly night, though it would take a while for the details to be added. I knew then that merely reporting what was happening, literally right in front of me, was no longer the appropriate response. One of the most powerful convictions I had that night was that something new was starting, the next phase.

This year, finally, I could put it off no longer. Having got the lie of the land after 15 years of close examination, I had to acknowledge that pursuing all this as nothing more than material for 700-word news articles – to be squeezed in apologetically between pieces about celebrity pro-lifers – was not an appropriate response. It was the equivalent of stopping to film the tsunami.

While we had been running all over the place reporting on this and that detail all those years, the enemies of Christ had been maintaining a laser-point focus on what they needed: the papacy. After reading in the last day or so about the “St. Gallen Mafia,” I understand more clearly the sense of dread that I and so many others felt upon seeing Bergoglio, dressed in papal whites, standing for that long motionless pause, looking out at the crowd in the Piazza. While we were distracted, Sauron had got hold of the ring.

I have believed for a long time that however it was done – the details are at this stage not so important – Vatican II was used by the enemies of Christ to inject an entirely new, false religion into the existing structures of the Church. They injected this poison, this antireligion, that then began to spread like a virus, infecting the entire body one cell at a time. It rewrote the spiritual DNA of religious orders and academia first, then spread to the diocesan structures, the national bishops organisations and international charitable agencies. And finally, in March 2013, the enemy took the citadel.

Now we know quite concretely what the next phase will be and we’ve got a pretty good idea of the timeline. Danneels and his friends, including Bergoglio, believe that the war was over that night and it is clear they are moving forward with the plan for the final liquidation of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal foundations – starting with sexual morality – to transform her into a vehicle for secular humanist, Freemasonic ideologies, like a colossal spiritual syringe full of “merciful” poison to be administered to the whole world.

In the last weeks and months, the only really new information are the details of what exactly it will look like, coming mainly from interviews with Pope Bergoglio’s closest collaborators. What will happen next month at the Synod and after is nothing more than the formal installation and recognition of the new religion, and the final expulsion of the old religion of Christ. We will be introduced to the religion of Kasperism, of Bergoglianism, of Neomodernism, in short. Or as it was described elsewhere, the “abomination of desolation in the sanctuary.” What we Old Narnians must do after that, what it will be possible for us to do, remains to be seen.

Sitting at my desk in Norcia today, hearing the bells ringing for Sext, I’m not going to say that I made the wrong decision. But for at least five years I had been experiencing a growing conviction that by treating these things merely as “news” we have been playing that cultural distancing game, trying to reduce it to a psychologically manageable scale. We have unwittingly placed this cosmic struggle between good and evil on an equal level with the doings of celebrity movie stars and the weather report.

I do not accuse LifeSite of this. Quite the contrary, LifeSite has always prided itself, with justification, on presenting the Big Picture, so my drive to put the pieces together and understand what was really happening made me a good fit there. To us, the “life issues” were not disconnected, discrete artifacts of culture and history. We knew that these things were interconnected and always treated them as one gigantic movement.

The news was a convenient way to continue learning and figuring things out, but as I went along, it became more and more apparent that these things we are fighting truly are Powers and Principalities, not political soundbites. It is a ferocious war for souls, and since 2013 I have kept being brought back again and again to contemplate the implications of that reality for myself.

How are we told we must deal with Powers and Principalities? Were we instructed to write articles and briefs? To organise marches and demonstrations? To circulate petitions and lobby parliamentarians? Throughout my tenure in the pro-life movement, the thought nagged and nagged me: we are not handling this as we should. This is not a proportionate response. I kept wondering, when are we ever going to take seriously the things we really have been told to do?

Spiritual discernment can be tricky, especially in times like ours when institutions have all collapsed or been infiltrated. And in the light of recent events, we are all struggling to figure out the next right thing. I know that the intentions and motives of the people dedicated to recording the details of current disasters are good ones, but it is not my calling. I’m not sure now that it ever was.

This year I was accepted as a Benedictine Oblate. I have been assured by my spiritual superiors that this is a Real thing, that Oblatehood is being turned to by more and more people, like spiritual refugees, who need the contemplative life but for various reasons can’t pursue it through the usual means. I think it’s time I started taking that seriously.

We have been told over and over, through the 20th century and into this one, by the most authoritative human voices in heaven and earth, what we should do. As frustrating and unsatisfying to the natural senses as it may be, our instructions are to fast and to pray, to do penance and make reparation. I want to perhaps try doing that and see what happens.

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Last modified on Monday, October 12, 2015
Hilary White

Our Italy correspondent is known throughout the English-speaking world as a champion of family and cultural issues. First introduced by our allies and friends at the incomparable, Miss White lives in Norcia, Italy.