Thursday miscellany

    1. Lawyer humor
    2. Christian leaders then and now
    3. Incarnation and secularism
    4. Resolve in foreign policy


Listserv exchange among lawyers yesterday:

Lawyer A: I have always thought Indiana had a very old statute that said that if a child was supported to age 14 by his or her parents, that child was responsible for the parents’ care in their declining years. Have looked and Googled and not found it. Anyone have a cite?

Lawyer B: Look at IC 31-16-17-1 et seq. This law has never been enforced that I know of. I would not rely on this law for your children to support your retirement.

Lawyer A: Thanks. So you know my kids?

Lawyer B: No but I know mine so I am keeping the day job for now.

Let it not be said that attorneys have no sense of humor.


“”Leave me thus. He who strengthens me to endure the flames will also enable me to stand firm at the stake without being fastened with nails.” (Polycarp)

“We desire  nothing more then to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ, for this gives us salvation and joyfulness before his dreadful judgement seat.” (Justin Martyr)

“Here I stand. I can do no other. May God Help me.” (Martin Luther)

Meh. Whatever. That traditional marriage ship has already sailed.” (Rob Bell)


Coincidentally, the day after my “God Became Sarx” blog, Father Stephen Freeman weighed in with thought on the incarnation (among other interconnected things):

The Incarnation of Christ is viewed by many Christians as a visit – God became man – died on the Cross to save us – and now He’s gone. For them, the Incarnation establishes nothing of a relationship between God and matter. The womb of the Virgin was but a temporary shelter, later to receive other children conceived in the manner of any woman. The fact that Christ is bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh means nothing – for it is not the flesh of Christ that saves. The saving action of Christ is a transaction accomplished off-stage on an altar in heaven.

This is not a caricature. For the ever-virginity of Mary is rejected by modernist Christianity as a pious fiction (and as idolatry by others). Atonement theories popularized since the Reformation concentrate on the abstractions of the Father’s wrath and the debt paid by Christ. The blood of Christ is poured out on a heavenly altar, the Cross being but an instrument of death.

In case you were skimming, those are not Father Stephen’s sentiments. He’s lamenting and contrasting them.

About the pacifying success of secularism:

Nearly four hundred years have heard the preaching of a secular gospel. Stanley Hauerwas at Duke notes that one of the great achievements of the modern secular nation states was their ability to get Protestants to kill Protestants and Catholics to kill Catholics. Wars did not cease – the only change was their justification. Modern secularists are shocked at the religious nature of the Islamist challenge, as though an outright grab for territory or control of the oil market would be more acceptable. The Thirty Years War has never been repeated. Kant, and associates, were successful. Rationalism and secularism, however, have not solved the origins of war itself.

I have heard some Evangelicals, growing into a more mature and historic Christian faith, who opted for Episcopalianism, or Roman Catholicism, or Lutheranism because, in essence, they found themselves incorrigibly Western, and were simply unable, after more or less effort, to acclimate themselves to Eastern Orthodox ways. (I’m glad there is a Western Rite Orthodox option for such folks in some places, but that’s another topic.)

When it comes to the secular nation states of modernity, I seem to be incorrigibly liberal and secular. I lament the lack of a common cultural core beyond Melvin Simon Malls and the orgy of spectator sports. I detest the smugness whereby secularism fancies itself neutral. Yet I’m no more, or barely more, comfortable with the thought of an explicitly religious core than I was, coincidentally, three years ago this very day, and for some or all of the same reasons. The main difference is that the “secular” and “neutral” culture seems to have moved with astonishing rapidity toward overt persecution of orthodox Christians.

One of my bits of standing advice, incorporated in every blog, is this:

In a regime of strict separation of Church and state, as the state gets bigger, the Church gets smaller. (I need no other reason to be a small-government conservative.)

Neither major party today believes in small government. The Democrats don’t pretend to and the Republicans are lying. I’m starting to see the point of those ardent and thoughtful Christians who vote Libertarian without real libertarian convictions. It may be the best we can do.

And I’m ever so sorry if that echoes Rob Bell. O wretched man that I am! Am I one of Blake‘s “the best”?


If Americans are less inclined to have the U.S. fight in more unnecessary wars after an unnecessary war that lasted almost nine years, that isn’t weakness. It’s sanity. A nation that can’t distinguish between avoidable wars of choice and wars to defend its legitimate interests is not in any sense a strong one, but one that is destined to exhaust itself through endless conflict.

(Daniel Larison)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.