Thursday, March 06, 2003

Wearing Hats at the Council of Trent

New York Times hit piece on conservative Catholics (and Mel Gibson) due Sunday. According to the NY Post's Page Six:

Mel Gibson's unholy Sunday

MEL Gibson is furious at the New York Times over a story that will depict him as a pope-hating, conspiracy-minded cultist.
It's no wonder Gibson was upset. In a story in this Sunday's Times Magazine, Noxon writes that Gibson embraces an ultra-traditional "strain of Catholicism rooted in the dictates of a 16th-century papal council and nurtured by a splinter group of conspiracy-minded Catholics, mystics, monarchists and disaffected conservatives."

The traditionalists disdain the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965, say Mass in Latin, and fast on Fridays. Women wear hats in church.

What bizarre cult practices are next. The rosary, family prayer, kneeling? Perhaps if Mel wanted to satisfy the Times' exquisite religious sensibilities, he should have adopted more orthodox practices like latex, B&D, animal sacrifice, or yoga.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

God Is An Anarcho-Capitalist A Heretical Hypothesis on Liberty

Both believers and unbelievers in God seem willing to continuously quote Matthew 22:21 as the basis for secular government, and wisely so in my opinion, as far as government is concerned. The verse linked, which is an answer to a question posed to Jesus about payment of taxes, and references whose portrait and inscription appears on a coin, states,

[Matthew 22:17-21 quoted for fuller understanding and translation changed to the KJV for esthetics.]
"17: Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18: But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19: Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20: And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21: They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."

Since JC's skills as a rhetorician were unaffected by the fact that he was human, it's important to note what this remark doesn't say. He was clearly trying to be ambiguous to avoid the trap his enemies had set for him. His statement doesn't take a position on the question "Who is Caesar"? and it doesn't really supply a definitive answer to the question "What, specifically, is Caesar's"? Pretty slick -- as one would have a right to expect. For his listeners, the phrase "things which are Caesar's" could be taken either way. And in our era, the replacement of Caesar with sovereignty by "all of us" in some nations leaves open the possibility that if "we are Caesar", we can render to ourselves. Not a justification for government in any case.

Now Improved Clinch goes on to quote the excellent verses from Samuel:

"And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, ... he will take your daughters, ... he will take your fields, ... he will take the tenth of your seed, ... he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, ... He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants." -- First Book of Samuel, Chapter 8, Verses 11 to 17. [My condensation]

I guess having a King is a rejection of God.

In addition to those there are quotes like:

"In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." -- The Book of Judges, Chapter 17, Verse 6.

And King David's punishment for the major sin of conducting a census:

[1] And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
[3} ... but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
[7] And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. 1 Chronicles 21.

And then we have JC's discussion of jurisprudence from Matthew 18

Here's his idea of conflict resolution:

15: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16: But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17: And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

In other words -- disfellowship the ultimate punishment. A pretty anarchist idea.

A "publican" was a tax farmer BTW. For those unfamiliar with this species of insect, a tax farmer was someone who placed a bid with the central government as to how much he would pay in cash for the right to collect the taxes from a given district. He then got to tax the residents for all he could get. His profit was the difference between amount paid to the central government and the amount he managed to extract. Publicans occur throughout the gospels whenever JC or someone wants to think up the worst form of humanity they can imagine.
Gods and Generals Redux
Professor Volokh speaks about the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. I differ.

But I hope that our soldiers are not being asked to defend the one item that the Ninth Circuit said may not be included in the teacher-led Pledge, which is our nation's being "under God." Theologically speaking, I don't think they can defend this, since our nation is or is not under God whatever our soldiers might do. Practically speaking, I don't think it's wise for us to be fighting wars over "under God." Morally speaking, they ought not be required to defend this. We can exhort our soldiers to believe in "liberty and justice," and even demand that they do so; and we can rightly say that a soldier who doesn't believe in liberty and justice is a worse American than one who does. But we ought not exhort our soldiers to believe in God, we may not demand that they do so, and atheist, agnostic, polytheist, or pantheist soldiers are just as worthy as monotheist ones.

I'm not sure that we can or should demand that our soldiers believe in "liberty and justice" either. Wouldn't such an exhortation suffer from the same 1A problems as God apparently does. After all what about our communist soldiers, socialist soldiers, Democrat soldiers, Republican soldiers, etc. They can't all be forced to profess libertarianism.

Which raises the general question of modern Church-State law in America -- why is religion unique? Apparently a government school is free to teach socialism or psychology as "truth" but not anything officially designated "religion". Indeed, many government schools do teach these belief systems (perhaps to the detriment of their pupils). One could make a whole list -- feminism, environmentalism, pedagocracy (to coin a word), esthetics, the political and moral superiority of the oppressed, etc. -- of belief systems that can (and are) taught in government schools without constitutional problems. Conservatives claim, in fact, that the schools are teaching the "religion of secular humanism" and it may be so. They certainly inculcate strange belief systems in their children (one reason I never sent mine to such institutions).

Now in the reverse case -- privileges for religion -- the Supremes in the two major conscientious objector cases UNITED STATES v. SEEGER, 380 U.S. 163 (1965) and WELSH v. UNITED STATES, 398 U.S. 333 (1970) determined that non-religious objections to all war - even a well-developed political philosophy in Welsh - was sufficient to give rise to CO status.

Why then is religion treated differently from other philosophies in government schools? Now it would be impossible to ban teaching of all philosophies (science, for example) in school so it seems to me that one must either end government education or end the discrimination against a single form of philosophy.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

MP apologizes for 'bastards' remark

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

OTTAWA -- A Liberal MP quickly apologized Wednesday after making an offensive offhand remark about the United States.

Carolyn Parrish was walking away from reporters after expressing frustration about the likelihood of war in Iraq when she said in mock exasperation: ''Damn Americans, I hate the bastards.''

But can Americans be bastards if no one else can? And is it appropriate for a Canadian elected official to make a religious statement concerning the status of the soul of another.

Lost in all the anger and angst about this remark is the peculiarity of a hard left MP using such a politically incorrect word as "bastard" or a religious term like "damn".

Persons of her ilk aren't even allowed to call bastards bastards these days. Since in modern law "[o]bviously, no child is responsible for his birth..." bastardy has been eliminated. Which would suggest that "Americans" must be free of that ancient stain as well.

And as for her claim that Americans are bound for Hell, I can't imagine that this is the official position of the liberal party.

I think perhaps that she should make an attempt to update her invective. Safer to call us fascists or racists or something.