Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Good Day

I was stopped at a red light today and glanced over at the car next to me. There was a little girl, maybe four years old, with her face pressed against the glass. I flashed her a quick big smile and she smiled right back. I gave her a little wave and she waved back, too. Then as the light turned green and our cars started she waved one last time and I waved back.

It made my day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The TribalPundit Guide to Wine, Women, and Song: Chateau Morrisette Wines

I'd just like to take a moment to recommend Chateau Morrisette wines. The winery is in Floyd, Virginia, about 45 minutes away from Virginia Tech. Their Our Dog Blue, Blushing Dog, and Black Dog table wines are great deals for about $10, and their Stardog and Mountain Laurel wines are also worth checking out. They may only be available regionally but they're worth it if you can find them. Our Dog Blue is a Riesling, Blushing Dog is the counterpart to a Zinfandel wine (Zinfandel grapes apparently don't grow very well in Virginia), and Black Dog is a semi-dry red wine. I'm not much of a red wine drinker so I can't help very much for those, as my palate isn't all that mature. Of course, as one wine seller told me: "No one's mature after three glasses."

P.S. If there's a Trader Joe's near you it's worth checking out their Charles Shaw Chardonnay. I'm not usually a Chardonnay drinker but this California white is really, really good for $3.29.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beaten to the Punch

You know, I was going to write about the proposed ban on Wal-Mart coming here by the Blacksburg town council. However, this article in the Collegiate Times pretty much says exactly what I was going to say (although I don't think I would have used the word "ungodly" to describe a paint color).

I actually had a similar discussion with a friend of mine and here's the irony: she really likes Wal-Mart but doesn't want it in Blacksburg, especially since there's one ten minutes away in Christiansburg; I don't like Wal-Mart for a variety of reasons but I think they should have the right to open a store here if they want.

Weird, huh?

Mark Shea Needs a Vacation

He's been a lot more irritable than usual lately, and he took some of it out on me today.

The original post is about a prisoner who died during CIA interrogation of asphyxiation after being covered with a plastic bag. There's also a picture of the man in a body bag which includes blood-soaked gauze on his right eye. Shea's post talks about information "beaten out of him." Commenter Jeff asks for clarification, since he (and I) got the impression that the man was beaten during interrogation. Shea belittles Jeff, I defend Jeff, and Shea belittles me as well. Shea then goes on to ask Jeff "You do grasp, don't you, that 'homicide' is wrong, don't you?" to which I use Old Testament examples of God-sanctioned homicide to question Shea as to whether homicide is always wrong, resulting in the first post I linked above.

Here's the thing: Mark Shea had a post which seemed to be confusing. At least two people made the assumption that "beaten out of him" actually referred to the dead guy shown in the picture who was the subject of the post, and I think this was a fair assumption to make. It makes it seem as though the man was beaten to death (his injuries came while he was resisting capture) when in fact it was an interrogation gone wrong.

Was it torture to put a bag of air over the man's head? That's a good question, as it could be well-argued that the interrogators are guilty of negligently committing manslaughter because they were wrong to torture him. In Crisis magazine Mark Shea argues that torture is prohibited by Roman Catholic teaching according to section 27 (last paragraph) of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, quoting:
"Furthermore...whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as...torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself...all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator."

What I want to know is where the line is. Do the police tactics of playing two suspects off against each other or of talking up the accused's prison time if they don't turn state's evidence count as inflicting torments on the mind? If so, then this is torture. In fact, any attempt to coerce the will, such as offering cable television to inmates who behave themselves, would seem to fit this very overbroad definition. How can we condemn torture if we can't even agree on what it is?

That's part of the problem I've had with Mark Shea's coverage of the treatment of captives. He condemns those who don't agree with his views on what the administration calls "enhanced interrogation techniques" as being the "Rubber Hose Right." The admonition to love our neighbor would seem to say to me that we should send captives home and give them money, as that's certainly what I would like to have happen to me if I were ever to be arrested. I'd probably like for my captors to give me a foot massage as well. Are these techniques effective? I don't know, but someone in power must believe that they can be, and I don't think arguing from results is a very good way to figure out what's ethical. When we can't even define "torture" (or, apparently, "homicide") without including things which it isn't then how can we be upset with folks who disagree with us?

Great Minds Think Alike

Over at Instapundit, Prof. Reynolds (whose class I unexpectedly got to sit in on while considering University of Tennessee for law school) links to Wired post regarding the poor schmuck who got fined for using a coffee shop's WiFi connection without buying anything. They want to know if anyone has an analogy for what this might be like.

Oddly enough, I posed a very similar question to my lawyer dad a week or so ago. Was it stealing? His WiFi has intruded into your...airwaves, I guess. Might it be like picking an apple from a neighbor's tree branch which has grown over your fence? Using his connection might cause him a slight loss in speed but would it truly be more than negligible (assuming you weren't doing a lot of streaming)? Isn't this a similar situation to having a radio or TV antenna? Courts have ruled that you don't have the right to record anything you want off your radio or TV; does this mean that you can't download anything if it's not from your own connection or one to which you have rights? It could be argued that you're stealing bandwidth from the service provider, I suppose, even if not your neighbor. If so, wouldn't the fault lie with the neighbor for not securing his connection?

What would happen if his signal interfered with yours? I'm sure, like with garage door openers, these signals don't share the exact same frequency but what if they did? Could you legitimately use some kind of a jammer?

Do people have right-of-way to your airspace? For building purposes they don't and there have even been cases of churches selling their aerial-development rights to neighboring buildings to allow those buildings to be built higher than normally allowable. If you had a low-level cell phone jammer that had a range that didn't extend outside of your apartment but blocked the signal to your downstairs neighbor would he be wronged?

I think the next three years are going to be very enjoyable but will also make my head hurt a lot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Prayers Answered

Two pieces of really, really cool news in the blogosphere today:

1. Mark Byron got a job offer at a university and may have another one on the way. He's been looking for this type of work, for which he's well-suited, for several years now and I'm really happy for him.

2. Dean Esmay has decided to become a Christian. He's embracing the Roman Catholic Church, of which his wife is already a member, and it was their reverence for the Eucharist which seems to have sealed the deal for him. The Roman Catholic Church is a valid branch of Christianity with a lot going for it, despite much of its recent bad press, and it's great to know that there's a new believer out there.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What's on the MP3 Player...

I'm in kind of a contemporary worship mode, so that's the theme right now:

Audio Adrenaline - It is Well With My Soul
Audio Adrenaline - Gloria (cover of U2)
David Crowder Band - All Creatures of Our God and King
Five Blind Boys of Alabama - Amazing Grace (to the tune of House of the Rising Sun!)
Five Iron Frenzy - Every New Day
Five Iron Frenzy - A Flowery Song (arrangement of Doxology)
Five Iron Frenzy - Dandelions
Frontline Band - Open the Eyes of My Heart
Hillsong - You Said
Insyderz - We Will Glorify
Insyderz - You Are My All in All
Jars of Clay - Come Thou Fount
Matt Redman - Blessed Be Your Name
Michael W. Smith - You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)
Theophany - Holy Holy Holy
Third Day - Agnus Dei (cover of Michael W. Smith)
Todd Agnew - Grace Like Rain (arrangement of Amazing Grace)

If you somehow know all or even most of these songs the thing that will probably most jump out at you is that I like covers and unconventional arrangements. A Flowery Song and Grace Like Rain are magnificent covers of Doxology and Amazing Grace respectively, and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama's version of Amazing Grace keeps the words but takes the surprising tack of using the tune to House of the Rising Sun. I've got a soft spot for older hymns put to new music, with Isaac Watts and St. Francis each making an appearance in the list. The one thing I don't like is the distressing tendency of some bands to skip a verse when covering.

I sometimes wonder if other Christian traditions are missing out. For all the grief I give the Christian music industry there have been some wonderful songs to come out of it. Do Catholics sing It Is Well With My Soul, Come Thou Fount, or Holy Holy Holy? I know Amazing Grace and A Mighty Fortress have made it across the divide. I'm sure the Orthodox have their own nigh-impenetrable set of songs varying by nationality, but what of Western traditions? Are a lot of these just the domain of Protestants and Evangelicals?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What I'm About

This blog is meant to be many things. Of course, it's a place for me to put my thoughts, although I think I write better with a pen and Moleskine paper. This blog is also a successor to HokiePundit, the blog I kept up during college and grad school, starting in 2002. Going to law school and moving from Blacksburg to Williamsburg, I wanted to be able to start somewhat freshly. The focus of the two blogs will be somewhat similar, but different in ways that I'm sure I don't even yet realize.

One thing that has been on my mind for a while, and is a passion of mine, is the question of how the people of God are to live in the world. How and what are we to do? We are told repeatedly to love God and to love our neighbors, and that is what we must do, but how do we actually put that into practice? How do we love the repairman fixing our water heater, how do we lovingly manage our finances, how do we properly devote ourselves to God in a world where there are so many ideas and we aren't told specifics? It's not even so easy as listening to others who have a relationship with Jesus Christ: we often sincerely disagree on all sorts of matters, and trying to find the "most holy" person or institution and relying on them is a fool's errand if we're looking to them for political answers.

Saying that, it isn't the case that things are so confusing that we may as well give up and hope for the best. Matthew 10:16 indicates that not only are we to want to do the right thing, but we are to use our heads to find out what's right and what only seems right. We have an obligation not always shared by those of other belief systems. We cannot merit our salvation, and our actions are meaningless (and even counterproductive) if they are not done in concert with God. We are not merely charged with finding our own way to salvation, but with loving and serving and helping those around us. Check out Ezekiel 3:16-25 for a passage not often shared in homilies. Also look at Matthew 7:24-27. It is good to want to build a house to shelter people from the troubles of the world. At the same time, building without wisdom not only wastes your efforts but may make things worse for those you wanted to help.

So here's the problem: we want to do the right thing but don't know how or even have much of an idea of where to start. This is in terms of policy and government; even if you're not an elected official you are a participant in the political process and you have an obligation to participate in a way that reflects the light and love of Christ (assuming you're a Christian).

How do we do this, though? Do we refuse to participate, form our own subculture, and sit on our hands (politically speaking)? We'd be about as relevant to the average American as American Indians; they may not seek to be relevant, but if we're called to be then withdrawal isn't an option on the table. We must participate. Should we seek to install a theocracy? I believe the idea is unwise. Several countries tried to implement Communism through force last century and it caused untold misery and ultimately failed because it was coerced. Faith can't be coerced, although behavior can. What of that, then? Should we use force for certain limited goals, such as preventing abortion, redistributing wealth, or whatever other idea catches our eye?

Most of us have no idea where to even start on this. As Christians in America, we may not even be sure whether it's right for us to follow the government. If not, then what's the alternative? If so, how do we act as agents of God to bring love to the political process and not just impose our values? What role do (and should), to name two examples, federalism and common law play in policymaking and voting?

I want to help the average person better understand his/her role. I don't want to tell people what jobs they should take, how they should vote, or anything like that, but I want to equip them with the tools to better know God and His will for them. Just as the printing press allowed ordinary people to read the Bible for themselves and cars allow us to travel far and wide, I think a framework for decision-making could be helpful and allow people to maximize their talents.

Of course, I'm just a law student ( be), and not the wisest person in the world. I can still see a few things, and I'd like to comment on them little by little as I can. Hopefully others can take these pieces and see how they fit with their own lives, or perhaps they have the glue to make something useful out of the pieces. What you the reader see and what I see may not be the same, and so I hope very much that if you see something that I write which interests, annoys, or blesses you that you'll comment on it and help me learn. That said, I'll probably have several months of posts about buying a laptop computer or talking up Chateau Morrisette wines, but don't be shocked if something useful gets put here from time to time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Apparently, This Blog Gets Read

By my count, it's been 151 weeks since I last said something worth mentioning on TS O'Rama's Spanning the Globe best-of feature. It is therefore with great pride (the good kind) that I announce my reappearance on the charts, and the first appearance since moving to this blog. To be fair, I didn't make up the quote. I'm pretty sure I got it from Shane Claiborne's book The Irresistable Revolution, and he may have gotten it from elsewhere as well.

One thing that jumped out at me, though, was the description of me as "Anglican Robert." That's not false; I am Anglican(-ish). It makes for an interesting juxtaposition with the quote, though, which was that "When Christ returns, He's expecting a bride, not a harem." I may be reading way too much into this, but it seems like a little bit of a dig at such a quote from one regarded as a Protestant (whole separate issue there...) by the Roman Catholic TSO.

As for me, I subscribe to a version of the "Branch Theory," believing that while Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism are all valid forms of Christianity, they're not the only valid forms and that none of them has right to more than ceremonial precedence over any other valid form. Of course, an immediate question of which forms are valid arises, to which I'd reply that Trinitarian forms of Christianity, most especially but perhaps not entirely limited to those which affirm the Nicene Creed. To my mind, the denial of the Eucharist to one who affirms the Nicene Creed is indefensible, as that creed specifically talks about the communion of saints. Unless a group is willing to say that those of another group are not believing Christians, they cannot rightly discriminate in such a way.

Does this squabbling make Christianity a harem, rather than a bride? Perhaps not. What it may simply mean is that we are immature and thus often inconsistent (I doubt many commentators would deny that such statements can be very applicable to Christianity as it is practiced), and that short of healing in Christ, we will never be the Bride of Christ as we are meant to be. On the other hand, when Christians refuse to recognize each other as fellow believers there cannot be said to be unity an any meaningful sense. Some of the more rural churches, which tend to have "Baptist" in their name regardless of any actual affiliation, are stereotypically guilty of this. The Roman Catholics certainly are, in practice even if not with hostile intent. A lot of Evangelical ministries will tell people that in certain countries in South America and Eastern Europe, only some tiny percent of the people are Christians and that they are terriby persecuted by the Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. This implies that they don't consider these other groups to be believers. Of course, Anglicanism often goes the other way, which lets them off one hook only to be snared by another, so it's not blameless, either.

What does all this mean? I guess it just means that I don't find that juxtaposition ironic, as a Roman Catholic might. Nothing wrong with that, and it gave me a reason to blog.

Coming soon: the TribalPundit guide to Wine, Women, and Song. Two of those are probably going to be a lot easier than the other.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The President as Your Own Personal Jesus

Remember that song by Depeche Mode? "...Someone to hear your prayers; someone who cares..."? According to Martin Gore, the songwriter, the song is about making someone (who isn't God) into your god. As he states, "...that's not a very balanced view of someone, is it?"

What got me thinking about that was the upcoming (, you know, like a year and a half) election for President, and how I'm utterly unimpressed with any of the major-party candidates. I tend to vote Republican, not out of any sort of party loyalty but because the candidate on the ballot with whom I most agree has tended to be from the GOP. I wish this weren't the case; I'd like to see some Democrats who aren't supporters of abortion and who think the Iraq war was worth pursuing run so there would be less polarization and more competition between the parties. In some cases, if I'm uninspired by any of the options I'll typically write one of my parents in (they raised me well, so I may as well give them a shot at whatever office it is I'm voting on). I was considering Steve Adams (only one letter away from Adama, and The Admiral has been doing a successful job of shepherding humanity so far...) as something of a protest vote, but I'm now leaning towards Fred Thompson. I'm on board with most of both men's views, but electability is important. I wish Adams well, and hope his candidacy will advance the causes of faith in Christ and in reforming our political system, but we're at too critical of a point in history for me to spend my vote protesting the current way the political process is working.

In any case, part of the problem is that I believe that we Americans, aided in large part by the press, are making the position of President of the United States of America into more than it should be. We want the President to be our leader, chief executive, First Citizen, ambassador at large, hero to children and foreigners, mommy, daddy, and sometimes scapegoat all at once. That's a lot to ask of one man (or woman, when and if that day arrives). He's a celebrity, and we're interested in his personal life, accent, and who's on the ins and who's on the outs with him. If someone in his administration does something stupid or illegal, it becomes a reflection on his leadership. When foreigners, who it should remembered have their own interests in play and should by all rights love their own country more than ours, like or dislike him it is treated as a referendum on whether he's right for America. When something goes wrong we immediately look to him, either for gravitas and the proper expression of the national feeling or as a scapegoat, as though the President controls the stock market or the response of local/state agencies to natural disasters. It's related to the erosion of federalism in our national consciousness in how we always demand the best, even when it's overkill for the situation. I don't need the chrome trim and factory-added decals on my new truck, especially at $429, but darn if it isn't tempting. Nor do I need 2GB of RAM and an advanced video card on a laptop I'm going to use for web browsing and Microsoft Word...but I want it anyway. Why settle for less? In the same way, if I have a problem then I want to know that the President of the United States is on the case.

What we want is to set up a man as our god and king. As a Christian, it's often hard for me to remember that even though I can't find God by my five senses He's always there. However, at least I have faith in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to carry me through. For those who don't have that faith in what's True, but are simply seeking to do what's right (...and there are those who aren't seeking to do what's right, too), it must be nearly impossible not to want to set up some sort of idol so we can have a place to direct our feelings and longings. As a nation imbued with a Christian aesthetic, even a Protestant and increasingly an Evangelical one, we've set up all sorts of icons and formulations regarding our country. Just trying to sort out all the images on a dollar bill will make your head hurt (it was only the fun story and the pleasant-to-look-at lead actress that helped me while watching National Treasure). As Gideon found out when he made a golden ephod which later became an idol, icons can very easily become idols if we become careless and irresponsible.

To a large extent, that's what I think has happened. Life is complicated, and a good case can be made that we're more aware of more troubles than those in the past. We're worried about the situation in Iraq, although Iran is also kind of scary and it's a good thing the North Koreans are only starving, not shooting the nukes they may or may not have at us. Darfur is worrisome as well, especially as nothing seems to be going on. Meanwhile, depending on your bias, you may believe either that the neocons are working to establish a theocracy with the help of the Illuminati or that militant homosexuals are trying to turn our country into a NAMBLA playground. Taxes are impossible to figure out, some appalling decision was just made by the local government or reached by some court in a state in which you don't live (as your state tends to be a model of reason, as Virginia tends to be). All this and more, which doesn't even include Jenny needing braces and headgear and how Barry Bonds may have used steroids. It's a lot to take in, and shifting some of the responsibility for figuring out how our government works (which, to be fair, is pretty complicated at times) is very tempting. We can't know everything, and even being politically savvy is very time-consuming, especially when we've just gotten back from work and the kids have a soccer game or there's a paper due tomorrow. However, we've seemingly abdicated just about all of our knowledge of our own government and the world of politics. Instead of figuring for which things our state (Commonwealth, in the case of oft-reasonable and definitely exemplary Virginia) is responsible and which things are under the purview of the national government in Washington DC, we simply want to go to the most obvious and seemingly-highest-ranked source, whom we believe to have the power to give and to take away.

From a Christian point-of-view this has its own dangers, and for which (another) over-long post could be written, but it's also unsettling from the perspective of policymaking and concern over maintaining our freedom. Although we cavil about the Patriot Act and possibly-illegal wiretapping, we're very willing to trade or even give away our freedoms and rights. This overmagnification of the office of the Presidency is a symptom of the entropic tendency for a people to let things fall apart, when maintaining our civilization and the many benefits we derive from it is very expensive and time- and energy-consuming. That may have come across as a little melodramatic, but it's not meant to be. If you look at once-great powers Britain and France, or ancient Rome, you can see how this begins to play out. I have some ideas, hopes, and plans on how to revive ourselves, and we're not sunk yet, but it's very easy for one step to become many on the road to mediocrity. We're currently a (the?) great power, and until and unless we can pass the torch, we have a responsibility to guard it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Japanese is a Scary Language

You know, if this guy were speaking in Italian or !Kung, it wouldn't be nearly as scary.

*WARNING: link has subtitled profanity and a rude gesture

(via Samizdata)

A Confession

Apparently, the Jesus film has been viewed more than 5.5 billion times. I've never seen it. What should my penance be?

Hypocrisy - First Fisking for This Blog?

Apocalyptic cultist Laurie David recently gave a short interview to the Rocky Mountain News and...well, color me unimpressed. Laurie David was the producer for An Inconvenient Truth, the Jesus film of those who believe global warming is imminent, caused by mankind, and reversible.

Mrs. David proclaims that "the changes are going to come when these guys [the current administration] are still in office," i.e. the next year and a half. That's pretty soon. Look, I'm not convinced that this global warming is anything more than a cyclic variation, especially seeing as Mars is also getting warmer. To say this is merely natural is to say "cyclic variations for me, but not for thee." If anything, perhaps we should be more worried about another ice age here on Earth, as we're said to be overdue (and from Blockbuster and my local library I've very well acquainted with the badness that occurs when things are overdue).

Now, what if Mrs. David is right? Shouldn't we be pulling out all the stops? Mrs. David certainly isn't. When asked what she's doing, her response was basically that she reuses bags, drives a hybrid, and uses energy-efficient lightbulbs. She also apparently got a no-idling rule passed for her local Kiss & Ride. Perhaps she meditates each morning and lights incense as well, although the latter might actually be counterproductive to stopping global warming. There's no mention of using a bike instead of a car, of using solar or watermill power, or of hunting and gathering her own food, instead of buying them at the supermarket (with all the attendant fuel and refrigeration costs in getting them to that grocery store).

Meanwhile, you have Al Gore chartering planes to take him to his speaking engagement, where he receives as a speaking fee $100,000 ($125,000 Canadian), or $40-per-ticket. He couldn't take a train or drive a Prius?

Lastly, and contrary to Jimmy Akin, carbon offsets can be compared to the selling of indulgences in medieval Europe, at least in public perception. Given that the piece of paper does nothing, yet makes its recipients believe that they have done something good by simply spending money, the comparison does have some aptness. This whole environmentalism thing was just a belief system in the past, but with a deity (Gaia, who is unhappy and apparently impotent to stop change but omnipotent to punish us), written scriptures (Al Gore's Earth in the Balance), evangelism (An Inconvenient Truth), a prophet (Al Gore again), and a system of salvation (buy carbon-offset credits), environmentalism has finally become a religion. Watch for some isolated group in the mountains to still be practicing it two thousand years from now, like the Druze, Mandaeans, and Yazidi.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Ave Maria Law School's Self-Immolation

Honestly, this blog isn't going to be All-Catholic, All The Time. Really.

As I've read at Volokh and Mark Shea, among other places, Ave Maria Law School is in some serious self-caused trouble. Many of the professors feel as though the school is being run as the personal fiefdom of a wealthy donor and board member, while the administration argues that the school is a "failed experiment" and starting over is best. Before I go any further, let me give some background.

Ave Maria Law School, which has no direct connection to Ave Maria University in Ave Maria Township in the state of Ave Maria Florida, is an independent conservative Roman Catholic law school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor is also home to the elite law school at University of Michigan, as well as being the hometown of Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, who is the wealthy donor mentioned in the above paragraph. Monaghan is also the a major donor and founder (I believe) of Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Township (perhaps they could secede and call their new political entity the State of Grace?). The law school, as well as the university and the town, was formed because other Roman Catholic law schools, such as those at Notre Dame, Georgetown, and so on, were considered too liberal, both politically and theologically. Although US News & Work Report ranks AMLS at the bottom, in Tier 4, the school has received some positive attention and praise, and appeared to be slowly gaining in credibility and prestige.

From my perspective, it looks as though Monaghan and the administration want to connect the law school with the university, which would likely improve both of them. However, there's more to it than that. It's doubtful that the school would keep its extremely-important American Bar Association accreditation if they moved from Michigan to Florida, as Ave Maria Township is considered the middle of nowhere (not that it stops Washington & Lee from being a top-30 law school...). Fuel was added to the fire when the administration warned faculty not to use their AMLS email accounts to send emails criticizing the administration or promoting another law school. This was apparently done because some professors had sent email to the student body saying that they were investigating carrying on the mission of AMLS in Ann Arbor if the school relocated to Florida. The administration has said that they're dead-set on moving, and that there's no "Plan B" if they don't get ABA accreditation.

Obviously, I don't know exactly what the experiment of Ave Maria Law School entailed. Monaghan had apparently bought out two other Roman Catholic law schools in the area and closed them down, along with the short-lived Ave Maria College in Michigan he had founded. At this point, the move looks like a foolish decision being made by those with the authority to do so. I suspect that few of the professors will move to the new location, and I doubt that the ABA will certify the school, which is truly a death knell as AMLS graduates won't be able to sit for the bar exam in most states. At the same time, though, even having the exact same staff in the exact same buildings would be a different school if the legal recognition of the school were transferred down to Florida. To argue otherwise would be for Roman Catholic to admit that the Church of England is the legitimate expression of the Catholic faith in Britain, as they kept the property and all but one of the bishops kept their seats.

It seems to me that a wiser course of action would have been to start a satellite campus in Florida. If it was economically viable then the two campuses would strengthen each other and provide more opportunities, and if not viable than resources could quietly be shifted to one of the schools. Not being in the know, however, I have no idea if this would have been possible. In the meantime, though, just about everyone comes out poorly, with the faculty and administration looking petty and the students looking abandoned. I have a soft spot for the Catholics, and I hope God will continue the mission of the school somewhere, regardless of mankind's pettiness.

TS O'Rama Has Gone Insane

How else to explain this post, where he waxes proud of his new toilet and challenges Richard Rich, a 16th century Chancellor of England, to a commodal flush-off? Perhaps TS is still upset over the martyrdom of Thomas More.

Explaining Catholicism

Being Anglican(-ish) is kind of an interesting situation. At times you're despised by Protestants and Evangelicals* as a crypto-papist but by Roman Catholics as a mere heretic, and at other times you're seen as sufficiently close to whatever the mark is to be a reliable glimpse into the other side. Due to this via media, I think a disproportionate number of Anglicans have looked into Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Wesleyanism, and/or Calvinism at times. I don't know much about Orthodoxy, but I place myself somewhere between Wesleyanism and Catholicism and utterly reject Calvinism. However, my interest in denominations has gained me something of a reputation as a go-to guy for people having questions about other Christian traditions.

One of those instances was tonight, when a friend of mine invited me over to talk to her roommate about what Roman Catholics believe, as the roommate is Evangelical but has her eye on a Catholic guy. Of course, I'm not Roman Catholic, but I have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, have attended RC masses, and have read up on Catholic beliefs. I've been told that my understanding of Catholicism is pretty much on-target, although I do have some serious disagreements with it.

In any case, she and my friend quizzed me for a long while, asking for clarification and Biblical support for Catholic doctrines. I went and explained how the RCs see the Bible as coming through the Church, how praying to saints is like asking a friend to pray with you, how Catholics don't try to work their way into heaven, and how sacraments are seen as imparting a change on the nature of the recipient. I also pointed out that in terms of the Holy Spirit, Catholic and Pentecostals/Charismatics are much closer to each other than they are to Cessationist Protestants and Evangelicals. They took it in, asked good questions, and said they might have some other questions soon.

For me, I really enjoy that kind of discussion. Catholics and non-Catholics alike tend to have mistaken understandings of each other, and that's not a good thing. I have some serious disagreements with Catholic doctrine; I don't claim that they worship the Pope or believe Mary is greater than Jesus. It'll take a miracle for there to be true reconciliation, but perhaps the drift can be slowed and a process of healing the universal Church can begin. After all, when Christ returns, he's expecting a bride, not a harem.

*Modern Evangelicalism isn't really a protest against Catholicism. In fact, it often has very little to do with Mainline Protestantism, especially if the Evangelicals are also Charismatics. Catholics seem to often use the term "Protestant" to refer to all non-Orthodox non-Catholics, and "Fundamentalist" to refer to Evangelicals. In general, Mainline Protestants (classically, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists) refer to themselves as Protestants, while Evangelicals (a more nebulous group, but almost always including "Bible Church" groups) generally consider "Fundamentalist" to be pejorative unless they're KJV-only and do things like forbid dancing, card-playing, and movies. Calling an Evangelical a Fundamentalist is like calling a Roman Catholic a Papist (or Mary-Worshipper), and calling an Evangelical a Protestant is like saying that the Greek Orthodox are Catholics.