Friday thoughts

    1. Mysteries fulfilled
    2. 10th Anniversary lament
    3. How RINOs were born
    4. Upcoming SSM cases at SCOTUS


Some big cosmology news yesterday. The Big Bang was longer ago than thought, and the cosmos looked pretty odd 380,000 years later. That’s my non-cosmologist “take-away.”

New data, new questions. “It’s a mystery and scientists hate mysteries,” one of them said.

But he’s wrong. Scientists love mysteries, and love to solve them.

Orthodox Christianity has “mysteries,” too:

In popular usage, the word mystery has become synonymous with puzzle. Thus a mystery is something we do not know, but something that, with careful investigation is likely to be revealed. In the Church, mystery is something which by its very nature is unknown, and can only be known in a manner unlike anything else.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman) Note that this is not only different than “mystery” in the common and modern sense, but that it’s not a “mystery” like a Gnostic secret disclosed only to the initiated cognoscenti.

Fr. Stephen also reflects on the Biblical words fulfilled and fullness:

Many people read the frequent statement in the gospels: “This was done so that the prophecy of Isaiah (or one of the other prophets) might be fulfilled….” What many people think this means is that the prophet made a prediction and it came true. Biblical prophecy (in a proper Christian understanding) has little to nothing to do with prediction. The prophets do not see the future – they see the fullness. What comes to pass is the fullness breaking into our world such that the prophecy “has been fulfilled.”

I’ve never been Roman Catholic, but I think it’s deadly accurate to say that no Protestant Church I ever attended – and I attended many, many Churches on choir tours and then dozens more as I moved around the country in young adult work years – had any understanding like this. They were too often about solving “mysteries” like the what the prophet Daniel supposedly was predicting would be “fulfilled” in the 20th and 21st Centuries. I encountered one of that kind very recently, who thinks that today may commence the Great Tribulation because “he” (Obama) “will confirm the covenant” somehow in Israel. Go figure.  And even the more sober ones were trying to solve mysteries, not to understand them.

I’m going on 16 years, and not for one second have I regretted becoming Orthodox.


On the 10th anniversary, give or take, of our invasion of Iraq, establishment Republican Peggy Noonan joins the mourners, first for what it did to the GOP and then, more fundamentally, for the lives it cost.

She also says why she came to support the war then – Colin Powell – and alludes to how appalled she was at the hubris and folly of Dubya’s second inaugural, which was the last straw for me.


I was pointed to this by a man who thought it hilarious. I think it’s amusing, but I find today’s Republicans In Reality scarcely more attractive than the nominalists.


I seldom disagree with Michael McConnell, but I disagree with this. Myopic or tendentious? We report, you decide:

But if the justices hold that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, this also imposes an answer of a sort. It would reflect the Supreme Court’s considered judgment that in the eyes of the Constitution, same-sex relationships may be treated as morally different from (and inferior to) heterosexual relationships.

The approach McConnell advocates, which avoids the question of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, may be preferable to confronting it. But McConnell is wrong that holding that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage implies that same-sex relationships may be treated as morally different from (and inferior to) heterosexual relationships.

Denying “marriage” licenses to same-sex pairs implies nothing about the morality of their relationships, but rather recognizes that there’s a rational basis for states to leave them to the private realm while focusing their licensing and regulatory attention on potentially procreative and biological-family-forming male-female pairings.

My bet? SCOTUS will strike down DOMA on federalism grounds without holding that there is or is not a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, just like McConnell advocates, because it likes avoiding big questions when narrow ones suffice, and because public opinion is changing rapidly appallingly and there’s no need for the court to short-circuit the political process at heavy cost to its legitimacy. That’s not my preference. I’d prefer an affirmation of Baker v Nelson, which effectively held that there is no such right when it dismissed the case for want of a substantial federal question. But if I were a justice, I almost surely woud be more circumspect.

But don’t ask me to bet anything I can’t afford to lose. And check back after arguments next week, by which time I may have a different bet to make, or a willingness to lay a bit more on the line.

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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.