Friday, May 10, 2002

The Saga Continues, Part II. One of the other subjects I like to beat to death is the long running battle for the judiciary. Last year, May 9, 2001, George W. Bush nominated 11 persons to the judiciary. This was his first batch of nominees. As of the one year mark, only three have had hearings.

As an olive branch -- a peace offering to the Democrats, President Bush offered Roger L. Gregory and Barrington D. Parker, both Democrats. Indeed Gregory had been nominated by President Clinton (and appointed to the 4th Cir. as a recess appointee), but not confirmed before the end of Clinton's term. Therefore, Bush could've allowed the term to expire. Naturally, both of these judges have been confirmed. (As has Edith Brown Clement)

So, to "deflect criticism" Charles "Chucky" Schumer held a hearing. Not a hearing for the nominees, but a hearing of four Clinton nominees who failed to receive a hearing and had their nominations lapse. [Byron York looks at the background of these nominations.]

Still waiting are: Priscilla Richman Owen, Jeffrey Sutton, Terrence W. Boyle, John G. Roberts, Dennis Wayne Shedd, Miguel Angel Estrada, Deborah L. Cook, and Michael William McConnell.
Public Figure. Richard Jewel is asking the Supremes to overturn a Georgia decision declaring him to be a public figure and therefore able to be defamed with near impunity. Of course, that's my exaggeration -- I've never been particularly fond of the Sullivan case. It seems like this would be a good case for the Supremes to use to clarify what is meant by a public figure.

BTW, my daughter and I had left Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park about 20 minutes before the bomb went off -- we were waiting at a subway station at the time.
The Saga Continues. With the next (and next to the last) installment of the Star Wars Saga less than a week away, it might be a good time to revisit two articles by SciFi writer David Brin, both on Salon. The first, What's wrong (and right) with "The Phantom Menace" is still one of the most even-handed looks as the worst Star Wars movie. The second is "Star Wars" despots vs. "Star Trek" populists (subtitled "Why is George Lucas peddling an elitist, anti-democratic agenda under the guise of escapist fun?").

Since I inadvertently mentioned Star Trek, you should also look at Ed Driscoll's comments on the devolution of Star Trek.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Movies and Bioethics questions. In a great opening essay of a series of essays on bioethics, Charles Murtaugh notes:
I'm surprised that the anti-biotech neocons don't use [Bladerunner] more in their arguments; I guess they're just too snobby to lean on pop culture. Instead, they endlessly invoke Aldous Huxley, in spite of the fact that Brave New World's dystopia relies on a totalitarian government, the antithesis of the libertarian vision of the future.
This is a good point, although I don't think of myself as a neocon (maybe a neolib, but that's another post).

Nevertheless, both BNW and the Bladerunner movie present warnings about science and bioethics which are worth thinking about.

Yet, without plunging into those right now, perhaps we should up the ante for this summer -- after all, it appears that the two big blockbusters both will touch on bioethical themes. Attack of the Clones, the Star Wars sequel/prequel is obvious. Yet, what about Spiderman? Here we have a man who becomes "enhanced" through gene therapy (or gene mutation). If we were capable of altering the human race by infusing it with spider genes, should we do it?

I'm just raising the questions now, since I haven't seen either movie.

One more thing, before lunch ends. Marvel comics -- indeed, most of scifi, it seems to me in the 1950's had this idea that radiation would create genetic mutations that would tremendously enhance a person or species. Therefore, we had the Fantastic Four, who received unique powers due to cosmic rays, Spiderman, bitten by a radioactive spider, the Hulk and the Gamma radiation -- and so on. I'll tell you, my experience with radiation is that it makes people extremely sick and weak -- never an enhancement or super powers. We can learn truths from stories and novels, be they Brave New World or Johnny Torch, but ya' can't confuse reality and fantasy.
Who Mourns for Quibdo? While the attention of the UN and the chattering classes was on Jenin, a real massacre took place in Quibdo. There leftist guerillas unleashed a mortar attack on a village killing over 100 civilians, with at least a third being children. To compound the sick irony, while these same people have been wringing their hands about the Church in Bethlehem, it was in a church in Quibdo where the villagers sought refuge; it was a church that was shelled by the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Censorship. In Iowa, a 12 year girl submitted an entry into a design for the school yearbook, which won a contest and was selected to be used as the cover. However, after the entry was selected, the government employees at the school decided that the entry constituted an establishment of religion and modified the design without the consent of the artist. The offense? Three words: God Bless America. Naturally, the government attorney is going to fight to the death to defend the government sponsored censorship.

Update. Look, I know this is not censorship. It's a school publication put out by a public school -- a government funded school. However, if someone's going to claim that a piece of art with the words "God Bless America" is the establishment of religion, this is censorship. Moreover, you know that's what KAREN FINLEY (yipes -- sorry about that mistake!!) and all the peers in the NEA community would cry if it happened to their group.
Faith. Go read this essay now.
Faith and Works - From the Mailbox. Sometime ago, I and others had a number of posts on this subject. I received a lot of e-mail on it. I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner. Also, I'm afraid I lost some copies of some messages in trying to consolidate everything to respond to them -- I apologize for my incompetence.

A good way of beginning this review is with a short note from Pat C., who said that “Isn’t your point that Catholics and non-Catholics aren’t really different? Don’t they teach the same thing, just with a different stress on the syllables: toe-MAY-to or toe-MAT-to?”

Yes, that’s what I was trying to say when I wrote: “I[] sometimes think that Protestants seem to be from Saturn and Catholics from Jupiter, so that when they get together, while they are talking about the same thing, they just think it's different.”

Tony Adragna writes:
Here's my recollection of the dispute (been awhile since I was in seminary): it's the difference between "induction" and "deduction". We Catholics don't say that "works save", but it's not enough to profess faith - you must also live a Christ-like life. Living the Christ-like life entails "work": Christ didn't just tell us to have faith - he also instructed us to "do" things: care for one another, look after the sick, feed the poor, visit those in prison, etc. - all the things that Christ did in his ministry.

Protestants don't deny that living the Christ-like life is necessary. but assert that if you have true faith that faith will be evident in the fact that you live a Christ-like life.

Set aside the difference in doctrine, and you get to the same core understanding: you must have faith, and that faith must be evident in your life if it's true faith.
Well said – I concur.

And brand-spanking new blogger Marc V, who runs Spudlets, writes:
Part of the reason we have so many different Christian denominations are due to our interpretations of salvation and sanctification, as well as other issues like the inerrancy of the Bible and the role of the Holy Spirit.
I agree – also the nature of the Holy Spirit was behind the Great Schism, was it not – the Filioque? Orthodox and Rome.
We get caught up in faith vs. works, and you correctly stated that our works are like filthy rags to the Lord, and that works are the fruit of our salvation. We are initially sanctified (cleansed of sin) when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, admitting we are sinners, repenting and seeking the Lord's help in our lives (born again). Jesus died for the sins we commit before and after our salvation.

Our sanctification is ongoing when we humble ourselves before the cross, repenting and asking for His forgiveness. There can be no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, and Jesus' sacrifice was perfect, thus negating the need for our weak and useless animal sacrifices. If you think of works (our "sacrifices") as helping to wash the soul, then you miss the power of the cross and you run into the trap of relying on your own power for redemption.

Works should be our way of advertising to the world that we are children of God going about the Father's business. That is what I believe was Jesus' mindset as he ministered in Judea about 2000 years ago.
Aye, He stated: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5:16

Last, with respect to my note on the papal bull Unam Sanctum JRC (sorry, only a first and middle initials – I won’t publish last names without consent -- which I assume if you have a blog), notes that this was issued long before the Protestant Reformation. Yes, but it comes after the split with the Orthodox churches. JRC also notes that “in the 1940’s the Pope excommunicated Fr. Leonard Feeney for teaching that one must be a member of the Roman Catholic
Romeo and Juliet meet the Christian Booksellers Assoc. Terry Mattingly has a good column about this subject. Actually, his comments apply to most trade or business associations, but with the CBA, you get the veneer of religion and the "Will of God" beating you down, as well.
Succession. If Charles were to abdicate, who would be the heir to the throne? Would his abdication remove his sons from the line of succession?

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Where's Harry? I'd sure like to know when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be out. June of 2003? Okay.
WWJD? Last week, this was the question posed by the Newsweek cover, with respect to the problems in the Roman Catholic Church. Regrettably, the text inside the cover didn't really get to the meat of the issue, as noted by Tim Swarens.
Key Dutch Rightist Is Shot Dead - Washington Post
Gay Dutch leader killed by gunman - Washington Times

Monday, May 06, 2002

Been out sick. Got a touch of something on Friday and the kids were sick as well. Back to regular posting in a day or so.