Thursday 8/4/14

  1. From preposterous to axiomatic in 42 years
  2. Give Ted a place to stand and he’ll move the world
  3. Bizarre, sad, dangerous
  4. To play a responsible 21st Century world role
  5. Woohoo! The whole world and I keep my soul!

1

It occurred to me as I closely read some material against same-sex “marriage” (see my last blog, for instance) that Judges like Posner exhibit no awareness in their questioning of the many Amicus Briefs that must have been filed on the likely harmful effects. Someone might reduce them to sound bites, I suppose, but the sound bites would be dismissed as spiteful and hateful and paranoid by SSM partisans and airheads who can’t be troubled to read and think.

So:

  • Did they not bother reading them?
  • Is the limelight of asking provocative questions with reporters present just too irresistible?
  • Do the Judges occupy a parallel universe, between which and the universe I inhabit too great a gulf for mutual comprehension?
  • Do they understand fully what they’re doing but derive perverse pleasure from sheer autocratic exercise of will?

I don’t mean to oversimplify. I really don’t. I know about standards of review and precedent and all that lawyerly stuff. But still, 42 years ago the claim of a right to same-sex marriage was dismissed by the United States Supreme Court for want of any substantial federal question. How did it become axiomatic between then and now?

2

Ted Olson, formerly famed for Bush v. Gore, now more famed (or infamous) for teaming up to defeat California’s Proposition 8, will be speaking for the Federalist Society on class actions and the BP oil spill settlement:

Olson returns to his conservative home not as a repentant prodigal son, but as one telling his father’s farm hands bawdy tales.

(John Murdock) In the Proposition 8 case, we find what may be marriage revisionists’ best answer to my concluding question in the prior item:

Olson … was queried by Justice Scalia as to just exactly when it became unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage: 1791 with the Bill of Rights, 1868 with the 14th Amendment, or some other date, perhaps after the Court declined in 1971 to review a Minnesota Supreme Court decision upholding opposite-sex marriage requirements? Olson replied, in classic “living Constitution” fashion by saying this happened “when we as a culture determined that sexual orientation is a characteristic of individuals that they cannot control.” Pushed further for a date on that occurrence, Olson said, “There’s no specific date in time. This is an evolutionary cycle.”

(John Murdock) Well, there. I guess that settles that. Find the fulcrum of something that supposedly changed and Ted Olson can move the world.

3

From another cosmos, it seems, is George Weigel’s reflection on the 50th anniversary Mass and celebration of friends in Poland (the priest at whose wedding later became Pope):

One other facet of this happy celebration struck me with particular force. As on their wedding day when Piotr and Teresa first exchanged vows, now, on their golden jubilee, the priest celebrating the thanksgiving Mass wound the end of a stole around their joined hands, its other end remaining around his neck, as the couple renewed their pledge of love and fidelity. It’s a marvelous Polish custom, perhaps familiar in other cultures. And it says something very important about marriage, which is under assault throughout the world by the forces of moral confusion, misconstrued “tolerance,” and societal deconstruction.

What that gesture says is that, in the biblical and Christian view, the couple “getting married” are engaging in a priestly act, an act of right worship: They are sealing, not a mere contract, but a covenant in which two become one. And from that unity, from that new family, springs the gift of new life. The Church’s official witness to this covenant-making, the ordained priest, exercises his unique form of priesthood by offering the Church’s recognition of, and blessing on, what the couple, in their exercise of the priesthood of the baptized, have covenanted together. That stole, touching both priest and couple, embodies the classic Catholic teaching that the couple who bind themselves for life are the ministers of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

When marriage is reduced to a contract for mutual economic advantage among any configuration of consenting adults, something essential in what Christians understand to be “marriage” is lost: something “deep-down-diving,” to borrow from the playwright Ibsen. And that, I suspect, is why state marriage licenses that no longer specify “Bride” and “Groom” but rather “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2” seem somehow bizarre. And sad.

And dangerous.

4

To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself:

  1. What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone?
  2. What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort?
  3. What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance?
  4. What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance?
  5. And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?

(Henry Kissinger, reformatted)

5

[F]or a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?” For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million–strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels’ passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn’t want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names–Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology–its emphasis is on God’s promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

(Time Magazine, 9/10/06, via Rod Dreher, on the occasion of Victoria (Mrs. Joel) Osteen saying something markedly dumber, but no more heretical, than usual.)

Let’s give a 2- or 3-gun salute to the numerous Evangelical leaders who know, and say, that this is bunk.

But to borrow a canard from criticisms of Islamdom’s powerlessness against terrorists, “why don’t they crack down on the Osteens?”

This paragraph in draft had a precis of my answer, but I’ll let you try to figure it out.

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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.