- America’s Unwritten Constitution.
- In Blackwater Woods.
- Life Is A Miracle, and so’s the book.
- A Democrat Insults Christian Fundamentalists – So what?
From Randy Barnett’s review (likely pay wall) of Akhil Reed Amar’s new book, America’s Unwritten Constitution:
He is masterfully creative in finding overarching themes that tie the disparate clauses together in novel and sometimes counterintuitive ways. For example, because the abortion and contraception laws invalidated in Roe v. Wadeand in Griswold v. Connecticut, respectively, were enacted before women could vote, Mr. Amar proposes that the old statutes should have been held unconstitutional under “a robust vision of the Nineteenth Amendment” that protected women’s suffrage (though he also intimates that, if reenacted today, such laws might violate the “robust idea of sex equality” now supported by “a strong majority of Americans,” which provides a “popular gloss” on the Fourteenth Amendment).
Barnett thinks that in the end, Amar’s approach “turns out to be just another living constitution, after all,” and that’s a charge Amar was trying to avoid.
If this sort of thing floats your boat (it floats mine, but I still have just 24 hours in my day), Amar will be guest-blogging at Volokh Conspiracy this week, and that should produce a ton of instructive commentary and exchanges.
Amar’s opener replies to Barnett’s review.
Poem fragment to entice you:
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
(In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver, at The Writer’s Almanac)
To over-recommend Wendell Berry’s book Life Is A Miracle, I’d have to tell you to sell your Bible and your prayer books to get the money together to buy it.
It strongly evokes C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, but reflects more accurately the dehumanizing influences of our world, not that of Great Britain in the 40s, taking as its foil not some anonymous hack literature textbook, but E.O. Wilson’s Consilience, a hack text of scientism.
Look for lots and lots of quotes from it over coming days and weeks, starting with this:
I have been working this morning a front window where I’ve been at work on many mornings for thirty-seven years. Though I have been busy, today as always I’ve been aware of what has been happening beyond the window. The ground is whitened by patches of melting snow. The River, swollen with the runoff, is swift and mighty. I saw four wood ducks riding the current, apparently for fun. A great blue heron was fishing, standing in water up to his belly feathers. Through binoculars I saw him stoop forward, catch, and swallow a fish. At the theater on the windowsill, goldfinches, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, and Cardinals have been busy at a heap of free (to them) sunflower seeds. A flock of crows has found something newsworthy in the cornfield across the river. The woodpeckers are at work, and so are the squirrels. Sometimes from this outlook I have seen wonders: deer swimming across, wild turkeys feeding, a pair of newly fledged owls, otters at play, a coyote taking a stroll, a hummingbird feeding her young, a Peregrine falcon eating a snake. When the trees are not in leaf, I can see the wooded slopes on both sides of the valley. I have known this place all my life. I long to protect it and the creatures who belong to it. During the 37 years I’ve been at work here, I’ve been thinking a good part of the time about how to protect it. This is a small, fragile place, a tender strip of woodland between the river and the road. I know that in two hours a bulldozer could make it unrecognizable to me, and perfectly recognizable to every “developer.”
From The Religion Clause blog:
The Palm Beach Post reports that Palm Beach County, Florida, Democratic Party Chairman Mark Alan Siegel resigned Friday, two days after making controversial remarks about pro-Israel Christians. Interviewed at the Democratic National Convention by Patriot Update’s Scottie Hughes, Siegel– who is Jewish– said of Christians who support Israel:
They’re not our friends. They want Israel to pursue policies which are antithetical with its security and existence. The worst possible allies for the Jewish state are the fundamentalist Christians, who want Jews to die and convert so they can bring on the second coming of their Lord. It is a false friendship. They are seeking their own ends and not ours.
After initially saying that he would merely take a leave of absence, Siegel then resigned completely, saying: “My comments merely served as a distraction to the good work of Democrats in Palm Beach. Again, I express my deepest apologies to anyone I may have offended.”
This is a bit of a puzzle to me. There’s nothing unusual about someone being thrown under the bus or falling on his sword politically. That’s not the puzzle.
- There’s a grain of truth to what he says. Evangelical/Fundamentalist devotion to Israel is quite tinged not with anti-Semitism, but with apocalyptic fervor and an end-times roadmap that a Jew in Israel might well think shows some pretty rough terrain for him. I’ve said so myself occasionally, and thought it more often than I’ve said it.
- Fundamentalists are hardly part of the Democrat base, so why should the Palm Beach party worry about what they think?
So this story seems to cry out for a little bit more than I’ve got.
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