Like olive shoots

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.
You shall eat of the labor of your hand.
You shall be happy and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house.
Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
May you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel.

Psalm 127 (according to the Septuagint), sung at Orthodox Crowning (Wedding) Services.

God in our image

“What use will your prayer be to God?” ask the swarthy workers of the earth.
You speak rightly, sons of earth. What use is the mariner’s telescope to the North Star, when it sees the mariner even without a telescope? But do not ask me, since you already know, what use a telescope is to a mariner.Read More »

P.D. James, The Children of Men

Netflix a while back sent me (at my request) the 2006 film adaptation of P.D.James dystopian The Children of Men. I actually had time to watch it tonite.

I’m not really into thrillers, and there was too much of that for my taste. There was also way too much of “the F word,” mostly in its adjectival form. Surely with a bit of imagination they could have conveyed “these are desperate revolutionaries” or “these are fascist, xenophobe soldiers” some other way. (The nudity is not erotic and is, in my judgment, necessary.)

But the premise was a fascinating one.

Alfonso Cuaron directs this Oscar-nominated film version of P.D. James’s classic dystopian novel, a futuristic drama set in a world in which humans have lost the ability to reproduce and subsequently face certain extinction. Things change when a single woman mysteriously becomes pregnant, prompting a conflicted government bureaucrat (Clive Owen) and his ex-wife (Julianne Moore) to join forces to protect her. Michael Caine co-stars.

Overall, I recommend it. Just be sure the kiddies are down for the night, and don’t play it too loud.

While at the Oasis tonite, I picked up Bishop (now Saint) Nikolai Velimirovich’s Prayers by the Lake and read two gems, XXXVIII and XXXIX. After watching the movie, how could I not notice the opening of XXXIX?:

Do you know, my child, why the clouds are closed when the fields are thirsty for rain, and why they open, when the fields have no desire for rain?
Nature has been confused by the wickedness of men, and has abandoned its order.
Do you know, my child, why the fields produce heavy fruit in the springtime, and yield a barren harvest in the summer?
Because the daughters of men have hated the fruit of their womb, and kill it while it is still in blossom.

(Note that (1) this is a prayer, and not necessarily literal; (2) if taken literally, it says that our sin confuses nature, not that God screws up nature to punish us; (3) that point 2, and the prayer in its entirety, is evocative of how Orthodox Christianity differs from many other Christian traditions.)

Burning Witches and Stoning Adulteresses

C. S. Lewis, one of my greatest influences, opined that we don’t burn witches because we don’t believe they exist or that they can harm others. If we did think that people were casting efficacious spells of black magic to harm others, surely we would punish them.

In other words, we have a difference of opinion of fact with those who burnt witches; we have not really made a moral advance as compared to them.Read More »

As the California SSM case sinks in

When a judge takes a hotly-contested definition of marriage and labels it a “finding of fact,” we have not discovered an ingenious end-run around the turmoil of our culture wars. We have simply witnessed another volley in those wars. Tempting as it may be, the rule of facts cannot escape the moral controversy enveloping the marriage debate. Pretending otherwise serves neither the long-range interests of same-sex marriage advocates nor the vitality of our political community. (Robert K. Vischer)Read More »

A few links to others’ comments on same-sex marriage decision

First, Stephen Chapman, conservative and supporter of SSM, shows how extremely libertarian his position is (he would legalize polygamy) but also make good points about the “who decides” issue and the likely backlash.

Second, a Yale law professor (one of several “experts”) points out the odd “factual posture” of the case and actually thinks that despite his efforts, “Judge Vaughn Walker left us with a remarkably limited and vulnerable opinion”:

The invalidation of California’s Proposition 8 is based on the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses — not the California State Constitution — and is potentially of national consequence. But while he rehearsed every nuance of the evidence introduced at trial, Judge Vaughn Walker left us with a remarkably limited and vulnerable opinion.

Because Proposition 8 came out of California’s idiosyncratic ballot initiative process, it lacked the careful legislative record that most state statutes would enjoy. It was evaluated instead by reference to the sometimes unscientific or intolerant public claims of anti-gay campaigners. An impressive factual showing at trial was therefore essential to the legislation’s survival.

The largest part of Walker’s opinion is devoted to the evidentiary inadequacies of the defenders’ case. Observing that their evidence was “dwarfed” by that of opponents of the proposition, and dismissing the testimony of key supporters’ witnesses as “unreliable,” the judge concluded that “the trial evidence provides no basis for establishing that California has an interest in refusing to recognize marriage between two people because of their sex.”

Disappointed supporters will no doubt try again, arguing that this decision is a limited assessment of one particular factual record. As written, the decision lends itself to the conclusion that the failure was not with Proposition 8’s legal content but with its supporters’ sorry lawyering. This ruling is not going to settle anything.

Third, some Republican strategists are recognizing the peril of overplaying the issue — which I thought would be hard to do.