Friday, March 15, 2002

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
My Nephew. My nephew, Brian, was confirmed last night. He took the confirmation name "Michael" after Michael the Archangel. He's 14 and pretty bright. And we're all proud of him. He put together a guide for Everquest that he markets on the internet for 10 bucks -- his mom, my sister, told me that he had 21 orders the prior day. Actually, I'm so proud of all my nieces and nephews and my own kids -- don't call them slackers around me.
Update. For those who've asked, my son is doing much better -- after a few days of pain, he seems to be back to normal. Also, I still don't have access to my msn account -- I won't until Sunday -- so if I haven't responded to messages, that's why. It also means no posts tomorrow.
Pickering. I listened to a lot of the hearings yesterday -- I had to do some number crunching at work, then had a long drive out to Ashburn, near Leesburg, in "rush hour." The hearing (speeches, actually) was pretty disgusting -- I think I've indicated previously that I don't have strong feelings for or against Pickering, but yesterday provoked some pretty strong feelings. On one hand, you had Dem's like Chuck Schumer acknowledge Pickering was not a racist and then turn around and say he was racially insensitive and was lenient toward cross-burners. Huh? The same thing went on with Dick Durbin.

Then there was Maria Cantwell who started off focusing on privacy in the 21st century and I began wondering (seriously) what she was driving at. After all, wasn't she with who was selling off all user information until that story broke. Is she in favor of privacy or against it. But pretty soon, she made it clear that privacy was nothing more than her euphemism for abortion on demand.

Someone mentioned the hearings on Judge Ryskamp -- and I was pleased to hear about that. I'd been thinking about those hearings earlier in the week. Judge Kenneth Ryskamp was nominated by Bush Sr. in 1990 or 91. I remember doing some work in Florida a few years later with some of those notorious "left-wing" attorneys (yeah, politically they might have been), and I noticed they had quite a few cases before Ryskamp, so I asked about him. They all thought he got a bum deal -- they acknowledged he was conservative, but they thought he was fair.

Last, Herb Kohl, made the argument that an appellate court judge is higher and more powerful than a district court judge. I strongly disagree with this. Yes, they do set the law for the circuit, but they hear cases in panels of three and only cases that are appealed to them. A District Court Judge, well it's like that old joke: "what's the difference between a trial court judge and God? A: God knows he's not a trial court judge." I think Herb is badly mistaken on this.

So, anyway, Pickering supporters, you should take some consolation in knowing your guy is still a District Court Judge.
God is a Libertarian. Following up on yesterday's brief discussion, Charles Murtaugh provokes me to jot down a first draft of something I'd previously threatened. Once again, I need to say I liked what Charles wrote and the manner addressed it -- but I'm using his piece as a springboard. To my way of thinking the short answer to that tricky theodicy question is that God is a Libertarian.

Preface: I’m no theologian – my formal religion education consists of the following undergrad courses: (1) religion in America, (2) Intro to the New Testament, (3) Intro to the Old Testament. I have no training in philosophy. I read a little bit. So I’ll try to give pretty clear definitions of my understanding of the terms or concepts I’m throwing around, but they may not be correct or the accepted usage by the philosophers/theologians.

To review, theodicy (each link will take you to a different source) is the broad question of “justifying or defending the Deity.” (Putting God in the witness stand? Didn’t the book of Job answer that? Yeah, it did – but we’ll look at that later. Although it’s pretty significant to this discussion.) Reduced a bit, it can be seen as two related questions: (1) if God is the Creator of everything that is, did He create evil? (2) if God is good, just, and all-powerful, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people and/or why do evil people prosper?

To simplify, I’ll stick to the God of the Book – that is, the God of the Hebrews, the Christians and the Muslims, as revealed in the first five books of the Bible (commonly referred to as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – not sure if that’s the correct order). So we begin with God. By definition, God is a supreme being.. He is eternal, neither created nor perishable – omnipotent, having all power, – good, just, righteous (I have been told that the word in the bible meaning righteousness also means justice), loving, merciful and compassionate.

There is one philosophy (Manicheanism), as I understand it, that teaches that evil is also eternal, at least so far; not created by God, but co-existing. The problem with this is that is reduces God’s power. He’s not all powerful if He can’t vanquish evil.

So did a loving, righteous, good, just God create evil? Again, that’s not consistent. So that must be rejected.

So what did God create? (Again, I’ll simplify a little bit to jump over the whole garden of Eden scenario – i.e. the tempter and the Fall.) God create beings who He could love. It would further appear that He desired beings who could similarly love Him. And this is the key. To create beings worthy of love and worthy of giving love, he had to vest them with full free will. Free will means that those beings are capable of choosing to love God or reject God. It means that they are capable of choosing to love one another or not. When the beings choose to reject God, or not love the other, they create evil (or choose to not do good).

But why not punish evil and reward good? Well, to a certain extent, there are inherent rewards in those choices. But if each act of evil and/or good were immediately punished/rewarded you would, in no short time, terminate that free will. So God has decided to allow each being to choose “...whether they'll win or lose/Follow God or sing the blues, who they're going to sin with” (Larry Norman, “Only Visiting This Planet.”). Which is why, as I indicated at the beginning, I believe God is a Libertarian. He doesn’t impose (or force) us to obey the rules. He let us know what these rules are (be it the simple things like the rule of gravity – step off the top of the Sears Tower and you’ll die – or the ethical/moral rules set forth in the Decalogue) and it’s our choice whether to follow them.

Anyway, those are my lunch hour thoughts.

Last, as a Christian, I acknowledge my debt to Augustine who taught that evil is not some "thing" or "substance" but only the privation of the good (privatio boni). Similarly, evil is to goodness what darkness is to light (compare “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)".

Further Reading:
Plantinga on Theodicy (a summary article)
The Problem of Evil Revisited.
How Can A Good God Allow Evil?.
A Biblical Theodicy.
Epicureans and the Areopagus Speech

Update: Getting some good criticism on this. More Later.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

test All my post are belong to blogger.

Update. It looks like Blogger finally freed yesterday's posts.

All your base are still belong to us. [flash]
Two Quibbles. In the context of looking at Left Wing Theology and September 11, Charles Murtaugh addresses, in passing, theodicy, Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell (hereinafter I’ll refer to these two as “P&J”) and the Gospel.

Hoo-boy, I’d really like to look at this in greater depth, but I just can’t right now. Please read his essay, because, even though I disagree with him on some points, it is quite good and he is to be commended for his approach and thoughts.

Why I write presently is to clarify two points – not to critique – that will have to wait until later.

First, Murtaugh writes:
This last response [evil is always punished, not just in the next world but in this one as well] seems to be favored by some on the religious far-right, who observe terrible events that the rest of us consider wrong, and pronounce them right and just. . . . Most recently, we have seen Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson proclaiming September 11 as the just desserts for America's heathen ways.
In fairness to P&J, I don’t think that they are saying that America was punished for our evil ways – what they said was that God had withdrawn his protection or blessing from America because the nation had crossed some sort of spiritual tipping point from honoring God to mocking Him. You may say it’s splitting hairs, but it’s not – it’s an important distinction that needs to be observed. It is from this perspective that P&J should be compared to Chomsky – or vice versa.

My second quibble is over his use, following Chomsky, it appears of the word “Gospel.” I think what Chomsky may have been referring to was the Gospels, i.e. the writings attributed to (or at least bearing the names of) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The gospel generally refers, at least in theology, to the message that is proclaimed by the followers of Jesus. See, for example, "the gospel of the kingdom" (Matt. 4:23), "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24), “the gospel of Christ" (Rom. 1:16), "the glorious gospel," "the everlasting gospel," "the gospel of salvation" (Eph. 1:13) and "the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). Why I disagree is because Murtaugh writes: "The Gospel, of course, promised punishment for hypocrites as for all sinners, and rewards for the virtuous." Actually, the Gospel -- the good news -- is that despite all of us deserving eternal death, God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus has paid the price and made the way for us.

Update. I do have a web-based e-mail account I used to use a lot -- on (, but the site was supposed to shut down at the end of February. Anyway, yesterday I wanted to let Charles know I was posting this, so I used that account to do so -- I just checked back and found a really nice note from Charles there. Thanks -- very classy.
Judiciary Committee. It looks like the proceedings of the Judiciary committee -- in which they will reject the nomination of Judge Pickering -- will be carried live by CSpan starting at 2:00 EST.
In re Sullivan. Andrew Sullivan comes back for a second crack at Dreher. What he shows however, is that he has totally and completely missed reading anything that Dreher has written on the subject. That's the best face I can put on it. If that's not the case, he is deliberatly and wilfully distorting the record. There are a few writers out there who I will not read anymore because of such complete lack of integrity. Sullivan, in my book, is on the border.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Dinner's over. So much for my dinner break -- back to work.
Fun with Words. Except this is not fun. The AP ran this story yesterday, headlined, "House Expands Protection of Fetuses" The opening sentence: "A fetus outside a woman's body that has a heartbeat or is breathing on its own would be considered 'born alive' and given legal protection under a bill approved by the House." Huh?

According to your basic dictionary, see, a fetus is "2. In humans, the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo" and a baby is, well, any human being outside the womb. (I skipped the definition, because it defines baby as including a fetus -- must be a right-wing editor running that site.)

The story even notes ardent pro-abortionist Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY as saying: "A baby born alive is a baby, a human being under the terms of the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This bill merely restates that, so we have no problem with it."

More. Kathryn Jean Lopez had an essay up earlier today on this -- maybe I should read NRO first before I start ranting.
Ice Sculpture. My sister sent me a beautiful picture of an ice sculpture. Here's a copy of the picture and a brief story.
Sullivan v. Dreher. There is something that happens to the normally lucid Andrew Sullivan when he reads criticism of his pet cause -- he loses his objectivity and rationality. He did it today with his diatribe against Rod Dreher and his comments at the NRO 'blog, the Corner. He rails against Dreher for, "...something he calls a 'lavender mafia' allegedly running the Church, controlling seminaries, discriminating against good straight Irish-Catholic boys, and the rest of it." The problem is, this phrase "lavender mafia" doesn't originate with Dreher. In fact, in the same post (Sullivan posts several items at once and I have trouble getting his links to work -- maybe he should switch to blogger), Sullivan praises Garry Wills for his essay in the NY Review of Books -- and if you go down to the paragraph following footnote 4, you find Wills also citing to this "lavender mafia."

C'mon, 'Drew, quit being such a bloody hypocrite -- does Wills have some sort of premonition that allows him to channel what Dreher is going to say?

More. Dreher responds to Sullivan. Let's see if Sullivan is mature enough to admit he was wrong.
Islam Condemnation. Update: awhile back I noted the silence from Islamic organizations regarding the murder of Daniel Pearl. One organization has issued a strong condemnation -- the Islamic Circle of North America. I know nothing of this group, but it seems to me that if they're responsible enough to do this, they should be the ones who get the attention, not worthless groups like CAIR.
Is she? Is this the world famous National Geographic girl? Her nose looks different. Other than that? ‹shrug› maybe... Her face doesn't show the ravages of age as much as it does the wearing down of time and experience. It's a brutal enemy.
Quote "Give me a chaste, orthodox priest who struggles with his homosexuality over a straight libertine or dissenter anyday..." -Rod Dreher. See this follow-up by a parish priest as well.
New. Thanks to Orrin Judd, I have been alerted of the efforts of Ed Driscoll and most importantly, I learn from Mr. D. that my beloved Raiders have a new coach. This blog, on the strength of that alone, will get a shingle on the list on your left -- plus the rest of his stuff is good as well.
Another Test.

click to take it!

You sometimes doubt yourself - who you are and what you can do. You're a curious person, with questions and concerns about the world. You go along with the crowd and aim to please others to your best ability. But when you finally discover what you're really capable of, you can do some serious ass kickin'! You're fast and furious, and you will always stick up for what you believe, and those who you care for. Not only that, but you're charming and charismatic, so you get along with people well, and others often look up to you.
Personal Stuff. I've resigned myself to pull a 12+ hour day today, so before I get started, I thought I'd indulge with a few comments. Things are still very busy for me -- my wife said she knew things were bad when she called me yesterday to say that she was waiting for an ambulance to come pick up our son and her Dad was coming to stay with the other kids and my response was a non-commital "uh-huh." To be fair to me, she prefaced her statement with reassuring comments and indicated that she was just doing this because our HMO told her to do it, not because it was necessary. He is 3 years old and was complaining of severe neck pains. When the EMTs showed up, they didn't think it was necessary for him to go to the hospital, so after she got through to the HMO and got an appointment for later that day, they left. At his appointment, the doctor determined that he has swollen lymph glands in the back of the neck, which are pressing on nerves which are causing the pain.

At work, I have a number of priority and ultra priority assignments. The one that get's me right now isn't in that category -- but it is kind of urgent. There is a woman who has contacted us that needs a lot of help -- she needs angels. And while what she does need some legal assistance, it's not something I can do or assist her with. Nor can I get her a referral. There really isn't much I can do -- I'm going to talk to a few folks later this morning, when they get in, to see if we can get her some limited assistance, but it's doubtful. It's just hard to see someone who needs a lot of help and is so far away and there's nothing that can be done. Pray for her, I guess.

We have some guests with us for the next few days -- our old neighbors. I remember I once told this neighbor that I thought he was the best appointment in the Clinton administration, however he wasn't a direct Presidential appointee. His boss was and he was the number 2 guy, brought in by the boss. The couple took us out for dinner last night and we talked of many things. One thing this gentleman does every year is spend some time in England at Oxford taking a course or two. Lately he's been doing a personal study of Oliver Cromwell and will be taking a course on him this summer. I had a wonderful time picking his brain about this subject and, in particular, the attack on Drogheda, Ireland.

The only impact this may have on the wider blogdom is that I turned over my home computer's phone line to their use for the next week -- so my msn email account will be out of service for awhile. I need to get a web-based e-mail and will be getting a new ISP in the next month or two -- my free account with MSN is nearly at an end.

Okay, well it's time to start work.
Punishing Yates. I think it was Rich Hailey who said, before the trial began, that there would be some focus on Russell Yates -- I could see what he was saying, but had my doubts. I figured the prosecution would hammer away at the indicted and the defense would dwell on sanity. Then yesterday, while driving to pick up my daughter, I put on the radio briefly and heard caller after caller seeking an indictment of Russell Yates (to which the host agreed) and one demand that he be put to death as well.

I have not followed this trial or case at all -- it is just too disturbing. (What was it Mother Teresa said -- the greatest threat to peace isn't nuclear war but it's mothers who can kill their children?) Nevertheless, I am truly amazed to see people calling for the lynching of the father of five murdered children.
Unbelievable. I just can't get over this story from the front page of this morning's Washington Post. On March 11, 2002, six months to the day after the attacks, the flight school for the terrorists Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi received notice that their student visas were approved.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Acceleration. In reflecting on "Nine-Eleven", which is what it seems like we're calling the attacks (or 9-11 or 9/11 in written form), one of the things I was struck by was the acceleration of the dissemination of information.

Rich Hailey writes about 9/11 (read it), touching on the shooting of JFK and the attack on Pearl Harbor. With Pearl Harbor, the fact of the attack was broadcast by radio -- no pictures. It was first done as a bulletin read off a teletype and then the regular broadcast resumed. People in the DC area talk about the PA announcer paging assorted military men during the Redskins-Eagles game.

With the assassination of JFK, the announcement was made on TV -- first that shots had been fired and then that the President had died. Yet even this was a talking head shot -- no live TV, nor film of what happened. With the Reagan assassination attempt, the cameras ran footage of what happened continually. A replay of videotaped footage.

9/11 was different. Not only was what happened different, but the reporting was different. We saw what was happening -- the whole world saw what was happening. I remember for me, it was my sister Ann who called me at home (I was off that day) and said she had the television on and there was a report about something wrong at the World Trade Center, when all of a sudden, right before her eyes, the second plane came out of nowhere, smashing into the second tower. The horror was broadcast live.

Not only that, but it went around the world. This was confirmed by that documentary the other night that showed while the firemen in the base of the building didn't know what was going on, people in Taiwan did.

Two hundred years ago, December 24, 1814, the U.S. and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Ghent, putting an end to the War of 1812. However, the word doesn't reach Andrew Jackson in time, and on January 8, 1815, he routs the British in the Battle of New Orleans. Quite a change.
Bzy. Still very busy -- now "priority" projects are being superceded by other "priority" projects.
Gas. Gas prices in this area have gone up about 15 to 20 cents a gallon in the past month -- what's the deal with this?

Monday, March 11, 2002

Digital. Busy day again -- probably won't let up for awhile. However, a quick check of the headlines at the Post (AP) shows a lot of them have the word "Digital" at the end. Is this some kind of virus?

Update It looks like it's gone now -- must have been a template problem. Busy day for me.
Judges. I don't know if Judge Pickering should be moved from the District Court to the Court of Appeals. I haven't read any of his opinions, I've heard the criticism of those on the far-left ("he's a racist") and seen them disproved by those right-wing institutions like the New York Times and the Washington Post. I talked with one person who supports Pickering who acknowledges Pickering's opinions are great, but they're not bad. My reaction to this whole thing is knee-jerk: if Neas and his ilk are opposed, I'm in favor.

I will say this, I think District Court Judges are extremely important and may be more difficult than any appellate court position. Trial court judges have to rule immediately on hundreds of issues during the course of each hearing -- appellate judges sit in a panel, usually three for the federal level, get briefs and oral argument about a very narrow range of issues, and then have time to consider their decisions. If Pickering's really lousy and or a racist, they should've never confirmed him as a trial court judge.

In addition, the Instapundit writes
At the moment I'm working on a law-review article that looks at every Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving two recent Supreme Court precedents, and what I'm finding causes me to echo Mike Dukakis, and say that the problem with the federal judiciary isn't ideology: it's competence. These are, for the most point, and entirely independent of the outcomes, lousy opinions: conclusory, devoid of analysis, disrespectful to litigants, and badly written. I wish there were groups that would assess judges' judicial temperament, but the ABA doesn't seem to do much of a job there, and the various lobby groups just want to get on TV and push their direct mail fundraising.
I haven't done this type of analysis -- and it actually sounds fun to me to do it. There are a few judges out there who's opinions I really love reading: Alex Kozinski, Richard Posner, Frank Easterbrook, John T. Noonan, Ralph Winter (both Senior status), and, yes, even Stephen Reinhardt. In my own circuit, I like J. Harvie Wilkinson III and J. Michael Luttig. (Hoo-boy, I bet I'm overlooking someone, and except for the first three mentioned, I've not read much of the others.) On Prof. Reynold's comments about the lousy opinions, yes -- I've come across those. One I looked at last week in a state case the writer claimed a case supported a certain proposition and quoted two separate words, not sentences or phrases, from this prior case. When I looked at the prior case, it stood for nothing of the kind. And that prior opinion was similarly lousy -- as was the efforts of the lawyers involved. [Hmm, all those cases were from Florida -- which gave us the judicial push to impose Al Gore as President...] The ABA ceded the authority to review judges when allowed politics to skew its judgments. In my opinion, this goes back prior to Bork, although that was were it was most egregious. The ABA panels on judicial nominations seemed to rate some of Carter's appointees higher than they deserved. Reynolds last comment also gets an endorsement from me -- and it should be underscored that he doesn't limit his comments to the left, although it's appropriate in the case of Pickering. The right does the same thing.
Wow. Very powerful. Jules and Gedeon Naudet documentary last night was captivating, breathtaking. I still can't get over 343 firefighters died -- the pictures were awesome.
Cover Watch. Both Time and Newsweek devote their covers to Operation Anaconda. Time uses an action photo, while Newsweek runs the pictures of the eight soldiers who gave their lives last week. Advantage: Newsweek.

Look, I don't want to restate the obvious, but the reason that men are giving their lives overseas right now is because there is a bunch of evil people out there seeking to destroy lives and end freedom. They must be vanquished.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Deer Slayer. PETA official slays deer -- who's fault is it? Why the state's of course -- so let's sue the state. Here's the whole story in the Washington Times.
Personal Update. Friday and Saturday I was wiped out by this bug going around -- so were most of the kids. Debbie was away at a retreat. I'm doing better now, and Sarah's temperature finally broke -- after being around 100 for a full week. I'll catch up later.