Regio dissimilitudinis

Let me begin by apologizing to any readers.  Between now and Easter, it’s a personal and professional crunch time, and it’s hard to get time to sit down and plan a quality blog post.

Since the search for truth is one of the main emphases of this blog, I could not help but read this piece from the AP this week: Vatican admits altering photo of letter from Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis.  This was particularly disturbing, after Pope Francis’ impressive address this year on the 52nd World Communications Day, which pointedly addressed the phenomenon of “Fake News” and other phenomena of the contemporary media landscape.  This caused a rather large furor in the journalistic world, because such a clearly doctored photo would violate the Associated Press’ professional standards, and severely wounds the Holy See’s Press Office’s credibility in the eyes of the world and of the faithful.

In St. Augustine’s City of God, he talks about the world as the realm which is always leaning toward being a regio dissimilitudinis, or a realm of dissimilitude, or realm of ‘unlikeness’.  The very word ‘dissimulate’ in English means to hide, conceal, fake or feign.  In other words, the world, insofar as it is alienated from God as the source of transcendent truth, will inevitably decay, unless steps are taken, to become more and more ‘unlike’ the God who made it, and tend more and more to pass into shadows, appearances and half-truths, rather than the fullness of reality.

We all have a role in this anti-culture of being men and women passionately dedicated to truthfulness and transparency.  When is the last time you or I ‘doctored’ a detail in our life?  Have we ever deliberately misrepresented someone?

The more we are citizens of the regio similitudinis, so to speak, the more we contribute to bringing this world more in line with the transcendent and true order of things, the more we make our world like heaven, and the less we contribute to our precipitous slide into the tyranny of lies, of which digital media is the atomic bomb in terms of its power.

It is said that the truth speaks for itself, but we must speak it often, so that we find ourselves and our whole pattern of life illuminated by its embrace.