March 25, 2017
And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (Luke 1:28-31, Catholic Revised Standard)
That isn’t necessarily a perfect translation of Luke, so let’s see some others:
King James Version:
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
Most of the translations have “favored” in some sense or other. Some of them make the construction out to be a declarative sentence in its own right:
March 24, 2017
Thanks again to this blog spot, I have an update on Timothy Miller and Philip Zodhiates, who were both sentenced in the last two days. The Department of Justice website wasn't nearly so helpful, as I was able only to find there this post about Philip Zodhiates and nothing new about Timothy Miller.
The biggest good news (according to this source, which has proven accurate in other sentencing matters on these cases) is that Timothy Miller is (more or less) free. After his plea bargain, he was sentenced to time served and one year of parole in Pennsylvania, plus a $100 fine. Let's not forget, though, that the vindictive Janet Jenkins is still planning to bring a massive RICO suit against all of these people, which is independent of the criminal charges. So he's not out of the woods yet. But for the moment I'm sure he's rejoicing just to be reunited with his family.
Philip Zodhiates was sentenced to 36 months in prison, but he's appealing and is free pending the appeals. I don't hold out much hope for the appeals (it didn't work in the case of Kenneth Miller), but he's able to be with his family meanwhile.
Continue to pray for Kenneth Miller (see here for occasional updates) and pray that Jenkins's malice will be thwarted in the attempted RICO suit. Pray also, as always, for the continued safety of Lisa and Isabella, probably in Nicaragua.
March 20, 2017
If you are interested in undesigned coincidences, head on over to Answering Muslims and check out the work of Jonathan McLatchie. McLatchie has a lot of good material on a lot of subjects and is generally a very smart and interesting writer. He has posts on Old Testament UCs here, here, and here that I have not covered.
In other news, my book Hidden in Plain View is right now ranked #1 new release on Amazon in the category of Jesus, the Gospels, and Acts. I was interviewed today by Eric Metaxas and will let readers know when that interview will air. I thought it went well.
March 16, 2017
I just became aware of this article, "Homophobia Has No Place in the Church," from a year ago at the "Desiring God" blog. In case you don't know, this is the blog of an organization run by (normally insightful and careful) Pastor John Piper. Piper didn't write this article, but it's highly disappointing that it appeared on Desiring God.
The piece is by a pastor named Nick Roen, who (according to the article) has revealed that he struggles with same-sex attraction. It epitomizes what is often wrong with even relatively conservative Christian dealings with the issue of homosexuality. In these dealings, Christians state that actually having homosexual sex is morally wrong, but they repeatedly undermine their own position by attacking any natural law basis for this position and by generally normalizing homosexuality (e.g., through teaching that it is no worse than any other sin and by encouraging "coming out") and watering down opposition to it. In the end, it becomes "just another sin," and this position fails to do justice either to the unnaturalness of homosexuality or to its current cultural urgency and the need, now more than ever, for us to speak clearly about it. The article runs almost entirely on implication, and here I'm going to draw out a number of these implications and point out their falsehood.
March 12, 2017
One of the current problems with discussing things about marriage, transgenderism, homosexuality, and related issues is a relatively unsatisfactory degree of agreement about what it is to be “human”. And this poisons a lot of the discussions.
The ordinary “definition” I use is the one that Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas generally applied, man is a rational animal. To give a proper and complete definition of a substance is to give state all 4 of the kinds of cause for the thing, but primarily it is to state the “nature” of the thing, which is given by its form and matter – its formal and material causes. For a natural thing, it suffices, then, to state the genus in which the thing’s species is found, and the specific difference that differentiates it from all other species in the genus. Man is in the genus animal (which implies the material aspect), and he is different from all the other species by the fact that man is rational.
I don’t posit this as if it were undebatable, for others surely bring up problems with that definition. For the purpose of this discussion, it is sufficient to note that this is a reasonable attempt and a widely held classical definition. What I find interesting about it is that it often goes unnoticed that if this is the proper definition of man, it would imply that “animal” is the lowest possible genus above the species 'rational animal'.
This matter is taken up somewhat in an interesting article by David Oderberg in discussing whether there can be enhanced beings derived from humanity so that they would be a different (superhuman) species.
March 9, 2017
This is a good reminder that ridiculous prosecutorial aggression arises in all sorts of nooks and crannies unrelated to the culture war. The federal government is prosecuting an Amish farmer for selling an herbal salve that he believes cures cancer. Apparently the facts of the case aren't really very much in dispute. This blog post lays the facts, and the relevant legal "reasoning," out in some detail. See also here.
As the federal government sees it, if you make any healing claims for your product, including distributing pamphlets with anecdotal claims of healing from users, then you're by definition selling a drug. If you're selling a drug, then you have to be fully regulated by the FDA. This farmer at first made healing claims on the labeling of his product. Then he backed off on that repeatedly in response to demands by the FDA and judicial orders, until he got the labeling as required. However, meanwhile he also distributed pamphlets somewhere in the vicinity of the store where the salve was sold that made healing claims. Therefore, he's still an illegal drug seller across state lines.
February 28, 2017
A positive entry for once.
I get e-mails in French (which I then put through the wretched Google auto-translate) from the Committee to Support Vincent Lambert. He is a disabled Frenchman who was slated to be dehydrated to death a couple of years ago. I blogged about him last in July, 2015. Well, guess what? He's still alive. He's not receiving the best care, but he is being fed, and at this precise moment, he doesn't seem to be in imminent danger.
I don't know the details of the whole legal situation in France and in Vincent's case. I think that an analysis by a French-speaking pro-life reporter who interviewed everybody involved might have brought out more clearly exactly how all the publicity and activism halted his scheduled death and how much danger he is in right now. Here is the online version of the latest update from the French group. If that doesn't work, try this link.
I want to bring up the fact that Vincent is still alive, due without doubt to publicity on his behalf, because at one time in the summer of 2015 an American pro-life blogger I very much admire said in a comment that supporting him was like trying to refight the 1968 election. I'm glad his parents and others didn't look at it that way. While there's life, there's hope.
February 24, 2017
A brief update on the status of my book, Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts.
February 20, 2017
Here’s a good example of getting things topsy turvy: This piece in The Atlantic on charter schools that have religious affiliations. If you reverse everything they say, you come close to the right order of things.
Does Religion Have a Place in Public Schools? “The question of what to do with religion in school-choice programs is how, or whether, to keep the baby while ditching the bathwater.”
Only problem is, the authors get mixed up on which is the baby and which is the bathwater, and ends up trying to ditch the baby in order to keep the dirty bathwater. The question that they should have asked is whether secular public schools have a place in a nation with religion.
Perhaps the most pervasive feature of the article is an assumption by Justice and MacLeod that “what schools are for” is to train students to be good little children all supporting the secular democrat(ic) regime. [all emphasis below is mine]
From the standpoint of democratic theory, the basic problem with school choice is this…
In some ways, deregulating public education and transcending the geographic limitations of 19th-century districting laws can enhance democratic education. [which does NOT mean “the education that occurs in a democracy”]
February 18, 2017
Forgive me for a post that isn't tied together by a theme. Unless it's the theme of this entire blog: What's Wrong With the World.
First, in case you haven't heard, the State Supreme Court of Washington just ruled that Barronelle Stutzman broke the law and discriminated on the basis of "sexual orientation" by refusing to give florist services to a homosexual "wedding." Washington State even has a Defense of Marriage law, but the justices said that that has nothing to do with it. She now faces possibly crushing costs, including paying the legal costs of her opponents. ADF Legal is talking about appealing to the SCOTUS. Even if Neil Gorsuch were confirmed, that doesn't tell us what SCOTUS would do, not least because the court tilted left even when Justice Scalia was alive and might very well rule along the same lines as Obergefell that it's perfectly wonderful for homosexuals and their weddings to have protected class status at the state level and, hey, while we're at it, they must have it at the federal level too. Because of the 14th amendment, of course.
If you're not reading the Babylon Bee, you should be. They make you laugh when you want to cry. Dark humor and funny, biting satire. Their satiric headline after the recent ruling: "New Registry Allows Engaged Same-Sex Couples to Decide Which Christian Florist to Put Out of Business."
I saw the ever-witty Frank Beckwith, my former blog colleague, comment on a Facebook thread: "I had been under the impression that flower arranging was an act between consenting adults."
Er, yes. But then again, with anti-discrimination ordinances in place, is anything an act between consenting adults? Pretty much any service offered to the public can be compelled under "public accommodations" laws, so...
February 14, 2017
I went through college as part of an ROTC program that granted an officer commission upon completion of my degree. I received my commission as a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant in January of 1992, and I went through The Basic School the same year.
If "The Basic School" conjures images of Full Metal Jacket in you, back up the truck: That movie depicted Basic Training, which is what enlisted people go through. TBS, a.k.a. "The Bummer Summer", is officer training, designed to make you well-rounded and capable of leading in any military occupational specialty, or MOS. It is, generally speaking, a continuation and amplification of the education officer candidates got in the ROTC program, and especially the Officer Candidate School session held during the summer before our senior years. The instructors never made us do push-ups until we threw up: It wasn't that kind of training. The iconic memory, for me, was doing a nine-mile run in combat boots, and then doing mapping problems so the staff can see how well we could think while fatigued.
While not exactly cerebral, Marine Corps officer training contains a significant amount of warfighting theory at the strategic and tactical levels.
That's right: We read books.
February 8, 2017
Philosophers like to philosophize, and surprisingly enough, they are not all immune from the influence of "the current." If a new movie comes out exploring an old subject, you will find that somewhere, some philosopher has decided that this requires that he write something new about it. That wouldn't be a bad thing in itself, but it is a bad thing when philosophers come to the wrong conclusions about a type of thing that has been hashed out long ago, and it's especially odd if they do so in a way that implies that this time it's different because of the peculiarities of the case at issue in the new movie, book, etc.
I have been surprised to find something of this phenomenon occurring concerning the new Scorsese movie, based upon a book by Shusako Endo, Silence.
February 1, 2017
In the Netherlands, a female doctor knew that a patient with dementia had previously said she would want euthanasia "when the time was right." Then she developed dementia and wasn't able to tell anybody that the "time was right."
So the doctor went ahead and decided on her own that the "time was right." The patient, over 80, was "exhibit[ing] signs of fear and anger" and sometimes wandered around her nursing home at night. So the doctor deemed that she was "suffering intolerably."
The doctor didn't want to distress the patient (remember, she was already exhibiting signs of fear!) by telling her, "Okay, I'm going to give you a lethal injection now." So instead she drugged her without her knowledge in her coffee, then started to give her the lethal injection.
That's when things got messy.
January 29, 2017
I’ve avoided saying much about neo-reactionaries or the alt-right since I wrote a long piece about both last year, but with the election of Donald Trump being credited by some as a triumph of the alt-right I thought I would use a very thoughtful piece by a chastened liberal to revisit some alt-right ideas and see whether or not they merit new consideration.
Professor Daniel Gordon teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and while I haven’t studied his academic work, judging from this essay I’m going to analyze below and his current position in heart of liberal academia, I get the sense that he comes from an older tradition of more humane scholarship – he’s the kind of liberal who actually wants to understand his conservative opponents and/or doesn’t like the radical (and often ignorant) Left that has taken over campus activism and in many cases, academic scholarship.
January 27, 2017
Years ago I was privileged to hear Alabama's Judge Roy Moore speak. During that presentation he ran a clip of his cross-examination for "acknowledging God." The man who carried out that cross-examination and Moore's eventual removal for retaining the Ten Commandments in the face of a SCOTUS determination of "unconstitutionality" was William Pryor, currently a front-runner for the next SCOTUS nomination.
The clip made a big impression on me. It was the impression of a man so wedded to the idea that the rules (as he perceived them) must be followed that he was tone-deaf to what I can only call creepiness. Specifically, the creepiness of asking a man if he will continue to acknowledge God and trying to get him in trouble for doing so. One got the odd impression that Pryor thought this was the only way to get a straight answer from Moore--by speaking Moore's language. If Moore was going to call it "acknowledging God" to continue to display the Ten Commandments, then Pryor was going to adopt that language in order to get Moore to admit that he would defy the Supreme Court. Something had gone badly wrong.
Yet when Pryor's name was mooted for a possible SCOTUS nominee, I nonetheless was cautiously optimistic. Why in the world would I feel optimistic at all?