Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gloria in Profundis

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all--
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

G.K. Chesterton

(thanks to Holy Whapping).

December 25, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas and the Manger

Merry Christmas! 

It seems to me that there are two templates for living life: one dominated by power and control, the other by surrender, which comes with faith, hope, and love.  Without hope, without faith, without love - without purpose and direction - life is reduced to an attempt to exercise power over whatever little (or big) slice of life we can control. 

For centuries, God has proposed an alternative path, a path that will lead to true freedom and happiness.  It is the path of surrender to God and His will.  Throughout history, God has worked through the weak and the marginalized to show us this way, choosing David, the youngest in his family, to be king; choosing Mary, an unwed teenager, to bear His Son; choosing Israel as His people, etc.  On this Holy Night, God drives home this point by becoming (in the form of the second person of the Trinity) a completely vulnerable and dependent baby.  His first dwelling - a cave.

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All,

Michael S.

December 24, 2005 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Christmas and the Manger

Merry Christmas! 

It seems to me that there are two templates for living life: one dominated by power and control, the other by surrender, which comes with faith, hope, and love.  Without hope, without faith, without love - without purpose and direction - life is reduced to an attempt to exercise power over whatever little (or big) slice of life we can control. 

For centuries, God has proposed an alternative path, a path that will lead to true freedom and happiness.  It is the path of surrender to God and His will.  Throughout history, God has worked through the weak and the marginalized to show us this way, choosing David, the youngest in his family, to be king; choosing Mary, an unwed teenager, to bear His Son; choosing Israel as His people, etc.  On this Holy Night, God drives home this point by becoming (in the form of the second person of the Trinity) a completely vulnerable and dependent baby.  His first dwelling - a cave.

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All,

Michael S.

December 24, 2005 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Gary Becker and Richard Posner on Deterrence

I read the Posner & Becker postings on capital punishment and deterrence (to which Rick called our attention this morning, here) shortly after reading the Donohue-Wolfers paper (about which I posted this morning, here) that will soon appear in the Stanford Law Review.  It seems clear that Becker and Posner posted before reading the Donohue-Wolfers paper.  It will be interesting to see what they say after they've read the paper.  The Donohue-Wolfers paper mounts a powerful econometric argument that there is no empirical basis for "believing" (as Becker says he does) that the capital punishment has a deterrent effect.  (In the same issue of the Stanford Law Review, Carol Steiker of Harvard argues a "moral" case--as distinct from Donohue-Wolfers's '"economic" case--against capital punishment.  For Steiker's paper, click here.)
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December 24, 2005 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Becker and Posner on Capital Punishment

Richard Posner and Gary Becker have posted thoughts --occasioned by the recent execution of Tookie Williams -- at their blog on the "Economics of Capital Punishment."  Becker notes, among other things:

I will concentrate my comments on deterrence, which is really the crucial issue in the acrimonious debate over capital punishment.  I support the use of capital punishment for persons convicted of murder because, and only because, I believe it deters murders. If I did not believe that, I would be opposed because revenge and the other possible motives that are mentioned and discussed by Posner, should not be a basis for public policy.

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Another important religious-institutions case

Professor Friedman over at the (excellent) Religion Clause blog reports on a lawsuit, filed recently in California, raising "the issue of whether a religious school can avoid the anti-discrimination provisions of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act by invoking the school's right to freedom of religion and association."  Apparently, Cal Lutheran High "expelled two female students who were suspected of having a lesbian relationship with each other.  In a letter to the students' parents, the school said that the 'bond of intimacy' that exists between the two girls is 'unchristian'. The students' attorney . . . argues that the school is a 'business establishment' under the anti-discrimination law."

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Democrats for Life breakfast

This event -- the "Annual Pre-March for Life Breakfast" of Democrats for Life of America -- might be of interest to MOJ readers who will be in Washington next month for the March for Life.  The featured speaker is Dr. Alveda King.

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More from Cardinal Schonborn on Darwinism

Several of us blogged this summer about Cardinal Schonborn's New York Times op-ed on "neo-Darwinism," "Finding Design in Nature."  The Cardinal revisits the matter, clarifies his views, and responds to his critics in this (timely, in light of the Dover case!) First Things essay.  Here are the concluding paragraphs:

Some may object that my original small essay in the New York Times was misleading because it was too easily misunderstood as an argument about the details of science. As a matter of fact, I expected some initial misunderstanding. Even had it been possible to state in a thousand words a highly qualified and nuanced statement about the relations among modern science, philosophy, and theology, the essay would likely have been dismissed as “mere philosophy,” with no standing to challenge the hegemony of scientism. It was crucially important to communicate a claim about design in nature that was in no way inferior to a “scientific” (in the modern sense) argument. Indeed, my argument was superior to a “scientific” argument since it was based on more certain and enduring truths and principles.

The modern world needs badly to hear this message. What frequently passes for modern science—with its heavy accretion of materialism and positivism—is simply wrong about nature in fundamental ways. Modern science is often, in the words of my essay, “ideology, not science.” The problems caused by positivism are especially acute in the broad anti-teleological implications drawn from Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has become (in the phrase of Pope Benedict XVI, writing some years ago) the new “first philosophy” of the modern world, a total and foundational description of reality that goes far beyond a proper grounding in the descriptive and reductive science on which it is based. My essay was designed to awaken Catholics from their dogmatic slumber about positivism in general and evolutionism in particular. It appears to have worked.

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Senate passes umbilical-cord-blood bill

This is good news:

The Senate on Friday passed legislation to promote collection and expand therapeutic use of umbilical cord blood, which can be used to treat such diseases as leukemia.

The legislation involves "adult stem cells" drawn from umbilical cords of newborn babies or the placenta.

It is noncontroversial -- unlike legislation that would allow federally funded research of embryonic stem cells derived from leftover embryos at fertility centers.

This news, though, is a bit more troubling (to me):

Some lawmakers who back both bills had been reluctant to approve the cord blood bill without the embryonic stem cell bill but decided on Friday to let the less controversial bill go through.

It is hard for me to see why lawmakers whose support for public funding of embryonic stem-cell research is motivated by concern for those with serious diseases would even consider holding up research that presents fewer moral problems.

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Noonan on John Paul the Great

Last week, the New York Times excerpted a chapter from Peggy Noonan's forthcoming book, "John Paul the Great."  Very moving.

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)