Thursday, January 31, 2008


Read it.

Then the Rosary Beads, Count Them 1-2-3...

Please excuse the ramblingness of this post; I'm tired.

I drove from Williamsburg to Roanoke and back today, and on the way I did two things of note: prayed the Rosary twice and did some thinking on Hobbes, Locke, Marx, the Fall of Man, the Labor Theory of Value, and economics. The latter was very deep (or seemed so at the time), and I may write about it later, although I'm still sorting it out.

As for the Rosary, the first one was said for the intentions of a friend of mine and the second for the petition of the Traditional Anglican Communion for union with Rome (I'm new to this, so hopefully these were both proper subjects). I've seen it recommended before as a good, useful, and edifying way to pass the time while driving, and there's a lot of merit to that. I'll confess that I have a tendency to get impatient and wonder how many beads are left in the decade I'm on, although I seem to be getting better at it as I become more familiar with things. Getting familiar is also a gradual process: unless I have a guide before me, I tend to slip into the Nicene Creed rather than the Apostles Creed, and in either case to use the Anglican version of it (the only differences are in word choice, not in substance). I also tend to forget how the Fatima Prayer goes; I called a friend to ask her while I was on the road and she told me she didn't normally pray the Rosary and couldn't remember (I think she felt bad, which made me feel bad, as it was for her intentions that I was praying).

The Rosary is one of those things which is (or at least seems to be) completely meaningless if not done in sincerity and contemplation. The Lord's Prayer is the same way. Why am I asking Mary for intercession instead of going straight to Jesus? Apparently it's a compliment to Jesus to pay respect to His mother and ask her to ask Him, which I suppose makes sense (the Fatima Prayer helps smooth this in my head, as it's directly addressed to Christ Himself, meaning that I'm not neglecting Him). The Glory Be is a prayer that I've always liked, probably because it's a short and succinct statement of unfathomable depth. I actually use the Lord's Prayer as a way to submit, as I think "Forever and Ever" is much preferable to "Now and Forever," but then it's not one billion Catholics knocking at my door.

It also helps for me to have a bit of a visual. Virginia highways tend to be bordered by trees, leaving a narrow bit of horizon straight in front of me. It's just the right shape to permit me to imagine a truly giant image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, although in my head it's got much brighter colors and is more realistic. As for visuals, I had bought a glow-in-the-dark Rosary for use in the car, as my long trips tend to be at night. Tragically (and I fully expect some playwright to pen a work on this), the beads only stay glowing for a few minutes, leading to me, who doesn't have a ton of manual dexterity to start with, trying to steer with one hand while blindly advancing beads with the other. It's a hard-knock life.

The one problem I have is the "Hail, Holy Queen" at the end. I don't say it. Maybe it's just a defect from Anglicanism and Evangelicalism, but it just seems beyond the Pale. The Hail Mary I get, but the Salve Regina just seems to take things too far.

I'm also thinking of replacing the "Holy Mary, Mother of God" with "Our Lady of Walsingham" when praying a Rosary for TAC union with Rome; is this permissible?

Friday, January 25, 2008


...I'm confused.

In other news, this is my 100th post at TribalPundit! Hooray for school!

Ron Paul

No, I haven't become a Ron Paul supporter. However, I did have what may have been a mini-epiphany the other day.

Honestly, Ron Paul supports confuse me and even make me feel a tiny bit nervous. While the man himself seems to be a mental hostage to a variety of conspiracy theories, his supporters horrify not only typical conservatives and liberals but even many libertarians. Have you ever been talking with someone and just realized that you were on completely different wavelengths and weren't really communicating? It's like that. Not all of them are like this, but a surprising number are. They're utterly dedicated to their cause, believe that Ron Paul is America's only hope, and honestly believe that the only reason Paul's not widely supported is because the media is screwing him over.

I have some sympathy for these positions. If I could describe my thought process when hearing them explained, it would go something like this:
"Mmm-hmm, okay...that makes sense. Yes, that's true. Uh-huh. Wait. Stop. Right, that last part at the end? You totally lost me."

One of the topics I worked on helping to research at my job this past summer was a group called J.A.I.L. 4 Judges. To make a long story short, they wanted to be able to pursue criminal charges against judges (and even jurors) who decided against them. Again, in short, they seem to fit the "Western state militia" stereotype.

What got me thinking is the realization that the supporters of these two groups (and I have no doubt that there's a very significant overlap) are people with grievances. They've been worked over in the past, whether it be by a corrupt city councilman who abused his position to cheat them out of desirable property they owned, but a justice system which let them down in a claim (or even criminal charge) in the past, or even simply being upset that they work hard and still get passed over for those with less talent and more influence. Sometimes these are simply misunderstandings over the way things actually work, but I'm inclined to think that most of these people have experienced an injustice, whether to personally or to a close friend or relative.

I've felt this way before, and you probably have, too. It just makes you feel upset that things aren't right. Sometimes we're able to let it go. Sometimes, like Don Quixote, we're able to channel our outrage into a quest to right wrongs against others, disregarding the slings and arrows we perceive against ourselves. Other times we just want to get even and so we seek equalizers. You've probably heard the old saying that "God made man; Sam Colt made them equal," talking about how the "Peacemaker," being accessible to the public, brought the physically weak up to the level of the strong. Some more directly followed the spirit of this by arming themselves, resolving to fight for their rights, even against the American government and its agents if necessary. Others, and this is where Ron Paul and J.A.I.L. 4 Judges went, have attempted to start grassroots efforts to equalize through the ballot box.

Much of the time, the proper response to suffering an injustice is to offer it up to Christ. Actually, we should always do that, but what I mean is that it doesn't always require efforts on our own part to try and put things equal with the way they were before the injustice. Not everyone subscribes to Christianity, especially the flavor I'm advocating, and it's not incomprehensible to me that folks will try to take measures into their own hands (after all, most Americans are descended from people who decided to do just that and emigrate here).

There is a danger when you have a large group of people who feel aggrieved. This is just as true of the rural white people who seem to make up most of the Ron Paul supporters as of urban black people fixated on "institutional racism" and seek reparations for slavery. This can go horribly wrong: Germany before WWII got royally shafted in the early 20th century (most notably with the Treaty of Versailles), Southerners felt their rights trampled upon by busybody Northerners over slavery (while doing little about child labor in their own backyard), and the recent spate of school shooters (and we do not need to remember their names) who found themselves at the bottom of the high school totem pole are examples of what happens when there's no redress or safety valve.

My guess is that these people paid attention in Civics and were told that they had a variety of God-given rights which shall not be infringed by the government, the same government that was obligated to protect citizens whose rights were invaded by others. Instead, they found government taking these rights while leaving the person prey to others who connived to harm them. Maybe they tried to work their way through our often-Byzantine legal system, only to find themselves denied justice (perhaps through a procedural error) and even owing their lawyer a massive debt. Locke, Hobbes, and others argued that we have a government in order that we may be better protected than we ourselves could do. When a person sees that this isn't the case, they may feel justified in deciding to resolve the situation without submitting it to government.

Their backs are also against the wall. In the past, one could simply pack up and leave for the wilderness to seek a new fortune. Columbus to America, Americans in Manifest Destiny, and the California and Alaska gold rushes were examples of this. We've hit a snag, though: there's nowhere else feasible to go. Maybe we'll eventually colonize space, but at least for now that's not an option. Maybe this was an aberration, that civilized people could become pioneers, mixing the decency and security of civilization with the freedom of the wilderness. Certainly throughout history there have people whose only option was to somehow cope with their situation as it was without the ability to escape. One by one, the traditional bastions of freedom which made up the English-speaking world succumbed to fear and sought the remedy of collectivized security. The same stock of people who fought the Battle of Britain and who waged the first successful colonial revolution in modern history now expel high school students for having a Swiss Army Knife on the dashboard of their car.

It isn't a steady decline; popular outcry sometimes forces the government to scale back its claims. Overall, however, the trend has been downward. Technology and new economic concepts have allowed some people to obtain more power, but someone who simply wants to be a farmer or a teacher or a "country doctor" finds themselves regulated by a huge bureaucracy. Ancient Rome comes to mind, falling from a powerful Republic to a tyrannical and corrupt monarchy to a decrepit society unable to do anything but allow themselves to be conquered by barbarians.

It seems to be part of the general Anglo-Saxon mindset, which is itself somewhat barbaric and less cultured than other systems. I suspect it could hardly be any other way. Take the descendants of loutish Vikings and Goths, give them a touch of Celtic and Roman culture and civilizing, and then introduce a religion originally started by the Jews (whose history is full of against-all-odds victories in the name of God and righteousness) and you'll wind up with a people who revere mottoes such as sic semper tyrannis, nemo me importune lacessit, and nolo me tangere. Other cultures, such as China, the rest of Europe, India, and others place a high value on survival rather than vindication. We believe that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; they think that it's the tallest blade of grass which is the first to get plucked.

Where does this leave things? Sadly, but probably unavoidably, unresolved. We tend to want heaven on earth. Failing that, we want a just cause and a clear enemy to fight against. We're not at either extreme right now, though, and as much as prevention is better than repair, it's nearly impossible to make happen. In the meantime, we should try to win battles where we can, not because we think we can win the war (only the return of Christ will win the war we're truly fighting) but because the victories we achieve grant relief to those who are oppressed and might otherwise be crushed.

So to Ron Paul supporters, let me say a few things. One, please don't spam my email or comments boxes. Two, keep supporting your beliefs but take the time to examine them periodically as well. Some of your allies have views that are abhorrent to most Americans, and while that's not dispositive of what's right it does tend to be generally reliable. Three, work on your tactics (but remember that they're a tool for being more effective, not for winning at all costs). Despite some claims to the contrary, you're simply not connecting with most Americans. Lastly, make sure the things you're fighting for are worth the fight. If something can be resolved without too much harm by simply letting it go, do that. For many other things, keep your efforts proportional to the threat faced. And, of course, for a select few things, use every tool at your disposal (so long as it's righteous and doesn't lead you to sin) to win and remember that fair fights are for practice or for suckers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I've got a lot of assignments due soon and hardly any time to work on them. I don't expect to put up any posts for the next week (maybe two), although I'll probably take study breaks and read other blogs.

By the way, this is apparently the Octave for the Unity of the Church. If you'd consider praying for the Traditional Anglican Communion's petition for "full, corporate, sacramental union" with the Holy Catholic Church I'd appreciate it!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Don't Care What They Say...

...I like wearing socks with sandals. Not with shorts, of course, but I like wearing Tevas with white socks and jeans. Of course, I like sandals in the winter, too.

Don't hate.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Looking back on the rise of the insurgency, it seems as if the average Iraqi did not know what to make of America. I suspect that many would have been far more supportive a long time ago, if it were not for the image of a helicopter atop a building in 1975 and a line of desperate people running for their lives. To work with Americans may have been what many wanted to do much, much sooner.


When Michael Moore makes a hugely successful film praising Saddam's paradise and calling these people who bomb women and children in marketplaces "freedom fighters," and when an election turns and places into Congressional power a political party dedicated to reproducing that helicopter tableau as soon as possible... what would you do? Because if you guess wrong and the Americans leave, you will be taken out into the street in front of your family and have your head sawed off.

-Bill Whittle of Eject Eject Eject
(via The Smallest Minority)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Beautiful Piano Music

This is an absolutely gorgeous medley of songs from the anime series Cowboy Bebop written by Yoko Kanno. In order, the songs are:
The Singing Sea
Piano Black
Green Bird
Piano Black (Reprise)

Personally, my favorite is ELM, followed by Green Bird. It's easy to just close my eyes and listen for a while.

Sorry for a post that feels rambling in so few words, but I was in the mood for some relaxing music; I hope you enjoy.

Dorky Legal Humor

So how does the rule in Johnson v. M'Intosh apply to dating? If a man has a party at his house, does he have rights ratione soli over his guests?

Certainly some women are ferae naturae and the custom among singles is to disapprove of an interloper who interferes with a man in hot pursuit of a woman. Of course, actual bodily seizure is not, in all cases, necessary to prevent the intrusion of others. At the same time, however, society benefits when relationships form. Furthermore, if the first seeing or pursuing such women had exclusive rights over them it would prove a fertile source of quarrels and litigation.

The dissenting view, it should be noted, is that exclusive rights may be acquired without bodily touch or manucaption, provided the pursuer be within reach, or have a reasonable prospect of taking what he has thus discovered.

I Don't Like Being Cynical, But...

...I don't believe for one second that this was unscripted. It's just that after eight years of shenanigans this looks clumsy and transparent.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Committing Adultery

No, not me. Our first assignment for my Constitutional Law class is an exercise with the following facts (I'm paraphrasing; some relevant information will be added in the discussion):

You are in charge of a fund established seventeen years ago by a group seeking to "return to the 'old-time religion' of the Ten Commandments." To do this, they put together a program where on a person's eighteenth birthday, he or she could pledge to obey the Ten Commandments (no further elaboration or clarification was provided by the group). If they did this faithfully for seventeen years, they could collect $10,000 from the fund [this is an older exercise; perhaps $25,000 would be the equivalent today] and some of the first pledge-takers are now coming to you and seeking payment. Here are their situations (assume that the issue of adultery is the only part of the Ten Commandments in question and the contract between the fund and the claimants is unquestioned):

1. Claimant A is a married man. He has had sexual intercourse with women other than his wife while married, but cites the Jewish Encyclopedia, which says that adultery is "voluntary intercourse of a married woman with a man other than her husband." All of Claimant A's partners were unmarried women.

2. Claimant B is A's wife. She has also had affairs, but with the consent of her husband.

3. Claimant C is a man in a bigamous marriage with two women. He has been faithful to these two women.

4. Claimant D is a married man (and a "practicing Christian" aware of Matthew 5:28) who has lusted after other women, including a co-worker with whom he often holds hands, but has never consummated this lust. One reason for this is that his family needs the $10,000.

5. Claimant E is a married man (and a Catholic aware of Pope John Paul II's statement that "adultery in your heart is committed not only when you look with concupiscence at a woman who is not your wife, but also if you look in the same manner at your wife" [Googling this doesn't seem to work, although I suspect it's in Theology of the Body]) who has never lusted after another woman from the day of his marriage, but occasionally has lustful fantasies about his wife.

The big question here is what "adultery" means. It may mean different things to Moses, to a modern Jewish rabbi, to a modern Evangelical, to a modern Catholic, to a modern Mormon, to a modern Muslim, or to a modern agnostic (among others). According to, the primary meaning of the word "adultery" is this: "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse." Under this, Claimants A and B would be denied for cheating on their spouses, Claimant C would be denied because bigamy is illegal in the United States and so one of his partners isn't legally his wife, and Claimants D and E are eligible in that they did not have extramarital sexual intercourse.

If the Jewish Encyclopedia is correct, then Claimants A, C, D, and E would certainly appear to be eligible for the payout, while Claimant B would not be, as polygamy was tolerated for men only and there is no recognition of the Christian views of adultery. Had Claimant B had nonconsensual sex only, she would have been eligible.

If we take a sola scriptura approach (and whose Bible do we use, do we only use the Book of Matthew, and which translation of Matthew do we use?), the question turns on whether we apply ancient Jewish custom or the modern American definition of adultery. If the former, we can definitely say that Claimant B is still denied because she is a woman, and Claimants A and D are denied for each lusting in his heart. Claimants C and E are problematic. In Matthew 5:8, does it mean "another woman" (E would be eligible), or "any woman" (E would not be eligible)? Also, has polygamy been prohibited under all circumstances in the New Testament under a sola scriptura reading? Most commentators, including the Church Fathers, seem to agree that it has been, but these writings are extrabiblical. Claimant C's eligibility hangs on this question of legal marriage in two ways: what the Bible allows and what the government allows. Having not taken a class in contract law, I don't think I can analyze this part properly.

An understanding of adultery as put forth by the Pope would be the same as above except that Claimant E would definitely be ineligible. Claimant C would also be ineligible (if eligible above) if your acceptance of the Pope's statement included an acceptance of all Catholic doctrine.

Ideally, the group that established the fund would have clarified what they meant. Absent this, however, it's a tough question for you, the fund manager.

I find Claimants C (bigamist) and E (Catholic lusting after his wife) to be most sympathetic, especially as, according to the fact pattern, the pledge was taken prior to the Pope's statement. In the United States, Claimant D (Christian lusting after another woman) would probably be able to collect in that he didn't violate the plain reading of the Commandment (although if I knew he and his co-worker had rented a motel room for the night after he collected the $10,000, I'd deny his claim), while Claimant C would not as bigamy is illegal (although if he immigrated from a country where polygamy is legal and was married prior to coming over, I'd grant an exception). Claimants A and B have clearly violated the modern American understanding of adultery. While all of these people may be guilty in God's eyes of breaking the Commandment, American law (which these Claimants will surely resort to if they disagree with your decision) tends to require an act of some kind to verify the intent.

Any Idea?

Several times over the past few months I've been approached while in stores (Circuit City and some department stores) by guys who strike up a conversation and it's always a similar experience. They'll be near me in the store and turn and ask me a question. The first few times I thought it was just regular conversation: if I'm wearing a Virginia Tech sweatshirt back in May, it's not unreasonable that someone might ask if I went there. Other times, though, it became clear that this was just a way to get their foot in the door, as when questions were along the lines of "That's a nice shirt, is it a large?"

The guys all seemed to fit a mold of 20-30 years old, self-employed (or in one case, a college student majoring in business), and non-threatening-but-personable. At least two were married and shopping with their wives. After a few minutes of conversation, they'd invariable ask if I needed a part-time job. I always told them that as a first-year law student I wasn't allowed to have an outside job, and the conversation would end politely with them wishing me luck in my studies.

I have no idea what this was about. It had never happened to me before yet over the summer it happened maybe every two weeks or so. Has some get-rich-quick program recently come out? Is this some recruitment scheme for a religion? They weren't super-nice like Mormons, slightly-angry like Jehovah's Witnesses, or creepy like Scientologists, and none of them tried to give me anything to read, or even a business card.

It's possible that this was just a series of random occurrences or that something in the way I dress or act has changed recently (I got asked if I needed a job at Jos. A Banks and a local bar, too), although I've been dressed in different ways and have always been minding my own business, looking at neckties or albums when approached. As it is, I'm baffled.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I Just Can't Do It Any More

Two of the blogs I often read (run by relatives) have gotten to the point where reading them pretty much just makes me sad. I suspect that there are people reading this who recognize who I'm talking about. Maybe I'll check back in a year or so to see how things shook out, but I'm done witnessing things that shouldn't be aired in public.