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About gadflyarch

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  1. re: "the most humble in the world" - was mostly in jest, somewhat along the lines of Sir Lancelot in "Camelot" singing "c'est moi, c'est moi, I'm far too noble to lie, the man in whom these qualities bloom, c'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I." Christians are sinners and subject to all the range of miseries, insensitivity, bigotry, and other such maledictions as the rest of the world. That said, those who take their spirituality seriously (far too few of us) have far less of this than the general population and have had an impact on the condition of mankind far out of proportion to their numbers. The most serious problem with the Christian community is that there are so few among them who actually (1) know what Christ actually commands them to do, (2) are willing to pay the price for doing it, and (3) are spiritually equipped to do so. That comes from a working pastor who spends long hours a week working among them and who has a great love for the whole ragged bunch. So, don't go trying to throw the "True Scotsman" fallacy at me because I know what I'm talking about here and it's my business to discern the spiritual condition and status of those in whose lives, in God's providence, I have been given a role to play. Before you react to that go and read Hebrews 13:17 (that bit about "having to give account") and just consider how very serious those words are to someone like me who believes them to be absolutely true. All this is to say that no one understands sin so much as a true Christian and especially a pastor. Further, no one is grieved as much by the witness of those who claim the Christian title and yet act as if there is no difference between them and the world as those who truly seek to be submissive to Christ. That said, the fact of the matter is, that having a "palpable sense of moral superiority" is a matter of interpretation. If we are only speaking of external moral observance, then it is hypocritical for any Christian to so think. Not only that, it is a sin for them to think so for the scriptures plainly teach that any person who thinks they are without sin deceives themselves. But, and this is going on far more than it should, on the other hand... Christians and Christians alone have a claim on absolute truth to the extent that it has been revealed. That particular confession is absolutely bed-rock creedalism going back to Jesus Himself. ("I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, no one comes to the Father except by Me"). If what your are speaking of is a sense of possessing something precious, and possessing it in an exclusive sense, then, yes, there is some truth to that. However, as any Christian will tell you... it is not because of the Christian's moral superiority... it's because they have been given a gift.
  2. Doing the Job: Memorial Day (Movie Review)

    I thought "Act of Valor" was excellent also. BTW (shameless plug here), the screen writer for "Memorial Day" said some nice things about my review on Amazon (see recommendations there).
  3. No doubt in my mind... all the people I know who meet the latter criteria are among the most humble in the world.
  4. https://lh5.googleus...ic_PA220207.jpg (photo: Arrangements, GadflyArch, 2011) Ralph Waldo Emerson had a way with words. Emerson saw two things very clearly: (1) that Christianity (as he knew it in his day) was far from perfect, was prone to abuse, and was often manifestly hypocritical in those who claimed it, & (2) that nothing better could be invented by men. Man is a religious animal by design. There has never been an age in which the general mood of men as a whole was not shaped by the need to worship and the fear of punishment. The so called "enlightened" mind that Emerson so valued and which so many smug sophisticates today profess, saw this general tug and push of men's souls as a relic of survival equipment, a tool in Darwinian evolution, which is now as useless and irrelevant as a human appendix. It must have served its purpose once, but now it's best just to have it surgically removed. However Emerson, as with the more penetrating modern thinkers, saw that there must be however some transcendent reality (hence Transcendentalism) toward which man must turn his eyes in order to fill that aspect of his humanity that we call soul. Emerson saw this as an individual thing... best pursued in romantic engagement with nature.. as the solitary soul reached out from the confines of the physical and touched the face of God... Whoever He might be. Thus, for all his enlightened smugness, Emerson had to admit that "faith" was necessary... that in fact a man cannot be a man, a human is not human, apart from it. For it is "faith" which makes us, and not we it. People have confused the flawed instrument of the Church (here meaning the structural institution in its various forms) with Christianity for years. The form does not define the content nor does it restrict the Power that inhabits it. When one places certain objects "just so" in order to create some pleasing arrangement that, for some reason, evokes a warm response (See link above)... it is not the imperfections of the individual objects that occupy the attention nor diminish the pleasure. In fact, it is the very fact that the overall arrangement uses and transcends the imperfections of each object that gives the final dimension to the ultimate effect. This is what Emerson missed even as he had a glimmer of the truth that ultimately invalidated his final position. "Faith" does indeed make us... but it is not a "faith' that works independently or even at all in isolation. The faith which makes us human is that binding force which is manifest in community... in the arrangement of individual lives which are placed "just so" with other lives such that a true community faith is attained. This "community" faith then shapes us individually as well as corporately. A "faith" which is "alone" is not a faith which alone justifies. We are saved by grace through faith, but we are not saved apart from the faith that is manifested in community with others. Emerson's great failure was that he viewed the world only through the lens of the individual and hence, though he exhorted the students to preach the truth, it was truth itself which was just beyond his reach.
  5. I spent 23 years in the military during a time (Viet Nam) when the wider culture was definitely not disposed to endorsing that lifestyle. This movie demonstrates that finally it is possible for our stories to be told without the false romanticism of the early days nor the hideous distortions of the Anti-war crowd. When a military person talks about "doing his job" there is an entire layer of meaning that is included there that simply does not communicate very well outside the circle. He/She is not talking about simply putting in time at the desk nor just earning a paycheck. That person is talking about an entire focus of life and mission that integrates sense of country, sense of responsibility, sense of mutual dependence, sense of honor, sense of necessity that transcends ordinary vocation. This is not to romanticize it nor to unduly glorify it. It simply is what it has to be. The well understood observation that when the bullets are flying that a soldier is not fighting for his country, he is fighting for his buddies, is true. But the reason why he is fighting for them is because, fundamentally, they share that same set of sensibilities, each to a greater or lesser extent and each in different proportions. Life is clarified greatly when your immediate actions and those of your brothers in arms constitute issues of life and death. The simultaneously liberating and depressing reality that death is only one bullet away at any given instant and that there really is no such thing as a "safe area" breeds a certain callousness as well as intense awareness of each moment. There is the story of the soldier crossing Flanders field in World War I, in the midst of mind boggling carnage, suddenly being intensely aware of a single tree still standing and beautifully shrouded in fog. Life is real when your business is death. This of course does not mean, necessarily, that this intensity of experience is always conducive to mental stability. There are those of us in whom sensory over-load simply is intolerable and the danger of foundational collapse is a real possibility. That challenge is always present and as this movie shows, each person responds to it in their own unique manner. I have seen few movies which rivets the audiences attention to the military experience as well as this one. There are no rose colored glasses here but neither are honor and duty held in contempt. The central character hates the statement "it is what it is" but in the last analysis, that is the message that the story communicates. The connection between the grandson and the grandfather is far more than common military experience but it cannot be separated from it. Their stories are different but fundamentally the same. As the grandfather says... "you cannot choose your war... you have to just go and do the best job you can." That statement communicates the fundamental integrity and prevailing moral virtue of military service. A price has to be paid... but the whole point is that is a price that must be paid. Not everyone is called to it and not everyone can do it... and that also is just how it is. But for those who do and for those whose integrity is proven in it, there is a transcendent bond that is established among them that is as important as life itself. It simple is the way it is. What is possible to achieve is exactly what this movie portrays as being achieved, both by the grandfather and his grandson. The respect and appreciation of superiors and inferiors alike, when the man they want to fight with is the man that is there with them. Grandfather and grandson both walked the walk and their reward was not a grand parade and a bunch of medals. Their reward was the look in their fellow soldiers' eyes when tough decisions had to be made. Some will say that such is not worth it... they are the ones who don't know what it means to "do their job." This is a great movie and it is well worth watching.
  6. I Do, I Miss The Soviets -- So Sue Me

    Welcome to the club. There's lots of us out here. In one of my email correspondences I sign my submissions "the grump." Not so sure that I would ask for a "benign demagogue." If what's wrong with us could be fixed by government we wouldn't be so bad off.
  7. Collateral Damage And Capital Punishment

    <div> </div><div>Joe is obviously ill acquainted with the elementary rules of logic as well as what he calls "pure, reciprocal justice." I know of no ethical theorist, and I am acquainted with the works of quite a few, who would make such a claim. The idea of "pure, reciprocal justice" involves two elements across a spectrum of crimes: reciprocity where possible and punishment appropriate to the crime where it is not. It is a "result" for "result" idea rather than a "method" for "method." Even Hammurabi knew that.</div> <div> </div> <div> <div> </div><div>The question of relative "humane" practices in executions has more to do with the perception of those who are not the subjects of them than those who are. Can we really say that death by lethal injection is more "humane" than a guillotine? Only someone who goes through it can be certain. It is an interesting theoretical discussion that could be pursued elsewhere but no matter how Joe attempts to deflect the arguments I won't go there in this forum. If he wants to pursue it else where I will participate.</div> <div> </div> <div> <div> </div></div> <p>These prohibitions are already in place and no one will deny them. If the person is "innocent" then it is already prohibited that they not be harmed. If the person is "wrongly convicted" and such is proven then they are released. The issue is whether or not it is just to execute a person who is guilty... or whether that person should not be executed on the very remote possibility that the safe-guards currently in place have failed.</p> <p> </p> <p>Joe has said that I agree that the current system is :"unjust" because there is a finite possibility that in it, through human limitations, a person might be wrongly convicted. He fails to comprehend or else willfully disregards precise use of terms. To speak of a system as "just" does not mean that it is perfectly efficient in every instance. It means that equitable treatment under the law is designed to be accorded to all (this is an oversimplification on a subject that would require a separate paper to completely define terms and develop). This means that there are procedures in place which recognize that both the individual who is being tried is subject to just methods of determining his guilt or innocence and that justice is also accorded through those same procedures to those who are victims of the crime. </p> <p> </p> <p>A just system may be perverted by evil intent (fascist government) or it may fail in some instance because of human limitations. These instances do not invalidate the "just' nature of the system. They indicate areas where instrumental means may be improved or evil men who seek to pervert it be subjected to it. To define a system as unjust simply because its procedures may not always be followed or that it may produce a wrong decision is simply fallacious. All of the procedures of "review" assume that lower courts may err. The "review" system is part of the "just" nature of the system. </p> </div> <div> </div> <div> <div> </div><p> </p> <p>I agree that the principle that separates Joe and I is this last statement. That the (possibility - my words) of "one such case is too many." Yep... that's the major issue. I am more concerned that justice be served with respect to those multitudes of criminals who deserve to die than the finite but incredibly small possibility that one person might die for a crime they did not commit at all. The greater possibility is that a person might die for a crime that could have been, under the current system, adjudicated and ruled as a lesser offense. At that point is where I would say that the current system IS unjust because too many crimes for which the death penalty ought to be imposed are adjudicated at a lesser level.</p> <p> </p> <p>I will address that here, along with Joe's imbecilic scenario in which the sheer possibility of my wife being on death row even when I know for a fact that she was home with me "cooking marshmallows" was advanced. What Joe assumes here is, is not that the death penalty is unjust... but that our criminal system is unjust and is evidently so flawed that such a possibility could even be advanced. It is an attempt to move the argument to purely emotional grounds.</p> <p> </p> <p>Here, in the words of a local prosecutor, is what is required to get a death sentence in the state of Maryland.</p> <p> </p> <p>"<span style="color: rgb(41, 39, 39); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 18px;"> To be eligible for the death penalty, one must commit a first degree murder coupled with an aggravating factor, such as killing a police officer or killing more than one person. The state must prove that the killer is guilty using more than just eyewitness testimony. The state also needs either DNA linking the defendant to the murder, a videotaped confession or a video of the murder. This is in addition to the protections of a jury of one's peers and a direct appeal to Maryland's highest court. These guidelines ensure Marylanders that those who receive a sentence of death are truly guilty." (Baltimore Sun, 01/18/</span></p> <p> </p> <p>Here is a system that is so weighted against the ruling of death penalty that such a scenario as Joe advances is absolutely ludicrous. But... my point is that what has happened is that now those who ought to be sentenced to death are not. It is the plea bargaining and commuted sentences and etc. etc. etc. that is resulting in the blood flowing on the streets.</p> <p> </p> <p>Joe is more concerned about the one or two who "might" be innocent than the 35000 people who die at the hands of vicious criminals during the ten year interval it takes to get a few of them actually executed. </p> <p> </p> <p>Don't tell me that this is an overstatement. Look at the percentage of crimes committed by "repeat offenders." I read somewhere that 85% of the violent crimes in this country are committed by just 15% of the criminal population. That means that most crimes are committed by repeat offenders... creatures who can be identified and dealt with in a better fashion. Not all of those crimes are deserving of death. But more of them are than are currently being prosecuted at that level. The number of repeat offenders who kill again is far greater than the less than 1% of people on death row who might, possibly, be wrongly convicted. </p> <p> </p> <p>From the Atlantic Monthly - not your usual "right wing rag."</p> <p><strong>"<strong style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 16px;">The convicted murderer in the United States serves, on average, just six years in prison." (Sept. 97)</strong></strong></p> <p>(I didn't "bold" that... it simply pasted that way and I cannot remove it"</p> <p> </p> <p>Is this "just"? Not in my estimation. A man who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death will spend, on average, about 10 years in prison before he is executed. Under current law, if we want to imprison murderers for a longer period of time we ought to sentence more of them to death. It will keep them off the streets longer.</p> <p> </p> <p>Over statement? No. Let's review a few actual cases:</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Charles Crawford -- Missouri. Life term in 1965 for murder. Paroled 1990. Convicted of murder again in 1994. </span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">---------------------------------------</span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Jack Ferrell -- Florida. Committed Murdered 1981. 15 years to life, 1982. Paroled 1987. Murdered again 1992. Condemned 1993.</span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">---------------------------------------</span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Timothy Buss -- Murdered five-year-old girl. Sentenced to 25 years in 1981. Paroled 1993. Murdered 10-year-old boy. Condemned 1996. </span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">---------------------------------------</span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Henry Brisbon, Illinois. Murdered 2 in robbery. Sentenced to 1000- 3000 years. Killed inmate in prison 1982. Sentenced to DP. Commuted by Governor Ryan. </span><br /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">---------------------------------------</span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Randolph Dial -- Oklahoma. Life for murder 1986. Escaped from prison with deputy warden's wife as kidnap victim. 1989. Still at large. Warden's wife never found. </span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">---------------------------------------</span><br style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" /> <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Arthur J. Bomar, Jr. -- released from prison in Nevada on parole in 1990. Bomar had served 11 years of a murder sentence for killing a man over an argument about a parking space. Six years later in Pennsylvania, Bomar brutally kidnapped, raped and murdered George Mason University star athlete Aimee Willard.</span></p> <p> </p> <p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman">The great argument for the deterrence value of capital punishment is that it absolutely guarantees that the perpetrator will not kill again. Even "life in prison" will not deter these animals from killing. </font></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman';">This morning's news contains a story about a young man, caught up in the drug culture, who killed his mother because she would not help him pay off his drug debts. This young man will, almost certainly, be convicted of manslaughter. He set her on fire. But, the defense will say, there are mitigating circumstances... He will probably be given some chance of parole. He will go and take his advanced degree in criminal behavior from the experts who are behind bars... he will be returned to the streets at some point in the future and will, in all likelihood, get right back into that same drug culture, only now, he will be far more deadly. But his mother will still be dead.</span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman';">I'm tired of this. Joe thinks that the possibility of "one person" being wrongly convicted is worth the absolute certainty that many other people will die at the hands of criminals who ought to have been executed. A death toll that would produce riots in the streets if it reflected the casualty rate of a foreign war is shrugged off by saying "it's worth it" as long as we can pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on how noble we are for doing away with the death penalty.</span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Joe is not willing to build the number and quality of prisons it would take to effectively shield this nation and the other prisoners from killers. He is willing to let multitudes of people certainly die in order to eliminate the possibility that one person might die for a specific crime they did not commit or for which they could have been given a lesser sentence. </span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman';">I am not. </span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Note Bene - Joe's statement about my position that the Bible trumps the Constitution as being "risible nonsense" flies in the face of the first 200 years of this nation's history and the very well-documented position of the people who framed the constitution or played an immediate part in its inception. He might peruse <strong><u>The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United State</u></strong>, by Benjamin Morris; Any of the biographies of such men as Samuel Adams, John Adams, George Washington, John Witherspoon, etc. etc. I would most highly recommend <strong><u>Sacred Fire</u></strong> by Peter Lillback. Further, I would simply point to the pledge of allegiance which states "one nation under God" which always meant "one nation subject to or accountable to God". It may be "risible" to Joe... and he may snidely dismiss it with a false guilt by association with Sharia law... but the bottom line is, that for those who take Christianity seriously, they must first be accountable to God and not to man. God has spoken in His word and His Word, and that speaking is meant to be obeyed.</span></p> <p> </p> </div>
  8. A Time To Keep Silence (Mini Book Review)

    Lam. 3:25-28; enjoy
  9. I Do, I Miss The Soviets -- So Sue Me

    I was flying a carrier based light-attack aircraft (A-7's) during the Yom Kippur war of 1973. We had the largest assembled carrier strike force since WWII sitting off the coast ready to do some serious stuff. Surrounding that fleet, very much like Indians encircling a wagon train, was the most formidable Soviet concentration of "first strike" anti-ship platforms ever to go to sea. Things were pretty tense. Sitting in that airplane, with a full combat weapons load under the wings, and knowing that all it took was a perhaps inadvertent activation of a fire-control radar for full pre-emptive tactics to go into effect, causes one to evaluate all of one's previous life very seriously. I know where you are coming from. It was different then.... you knew who your enemy was and you knew the rules you both were playing by. But... that was pretty scary. I don't miss that tension. With regard to your closing paragraphs, may I recommend Andrew Delbanco's "The Real American Dream: A Meditation on Hope" - it is a very enlightening, but not very hopeful, work. He not only validates your overall impressions but gives brilliant clarity to the shifting cultural precepts that has resulted in this condition. He contrasts that period that culminated in the Cold War with the period which we now inhabit and points toward what must happen before "hope" / "optimism" can again characterize our general social ethos. It's a quick read and well worth it. thanks for your service, shipmate.
  10. Collateral Damage And Capital Punishment

    I have no idea what it means to “head for the alfalfa” but since Joe appears to be unconditionally inviting my further participation, I shall. I, of course, did not say that I was promoting "hammer for hammer" but "life for life" justice. Joe is simply avoiding the point. If he is saying that "hammer for hammer" sentencing is "cruel and unusual" and therefore unconstitutional, then there is at least grounds for debate but it is not, de facto, proven to be such. I am sure he must not be implying that "life for life" justice is unconstitutional. That would be plain silly. Maimonides (1135-1204) was an important Jewish philosopher. I am only acquainted with his teaching through secondary sources, most notably Maimonides' Ethics: The Encounter Of Philosophic And Religious Morality - Raymond L. Weiss (1991) and other survey works, so I am not a scholar. His goal was to try to reconcile Rabbinical Jewish thinking with classical philosophical paradigms. That is a pathway fraught with peril for anyone. From what I do know of him he was erudite, often persuasive and often wrong, as he was in this particular quote that Joe advanced. I specifically argued against his idea that "absolute certainty" was the criterion one must use before a capital sentence could be executed. There are only huge differences between the two when one is selectively myopic about what is being discussed. There is no huge difference at all when one advances the idea that it is unjust to take a human life unless there is absolute certainty as the only criterion that will justify the action. If it is "just" to risk taking the innocent lives of non-combatants and children in the bombing of cities, then it is certainly "just" to risk taking an innocent life on occasion when the rigorous application of judicial processes have perhaps wrongly condemned an individual of a specific crime. I will say more about this below. But the principle is the same - there are "higher values" that make the taking of "innocent" lives sometimes necessary. If Joe does not condemn the assassination of a foreign terrorist abroad when he has been exterminated by a drone even though there is no absolute certainty that the person is guilty of the specific act of terrorism assigned then neither should that criterion be used for domestic terrorists either. If any "rabbit trail" was introduced here was by Joe's own hand. It is he who advanced the arguments from Scripture (in his quote) relating the episode of Sodom and Gomorrah to the question at hand. All I did was demonstrate where Maimonides was wrong in his selective application of scripture. As far as the "Big Guy"" being unjust... I will leave that up to Joe to discuss with Him when they meet in the not too distant future. If history holds true Joe will discover that He takes any questions of His own justice very seriously indeed. This is calumny plain and simple, something to which Joe appears overly prone. I never defended any capital punishment system which supports arbitrary and unjust killing. That is why I was so outraged over Joe's linking me with Pol Pot. (another instance of calumny) Our present judicial system is not arbitrary and, though not perfect, is not unjust. Is there a finite possibility that a person might be wrongly convicted of a specific crime? Yes, that is my entire point. In this world perfection is not possible. But, is the system "just" - within human limitations yes. Let's examine it a bit more closely. Joe says "Dozens more innocents would have died on death row if the self-righteous liberals at the Innocence Project (and others like them) hadn’t done God’s work (!) on their behalf." To my knowledge there are about 3146 inmates on death row now. So, even by that minimum standard, a dozen would be less than 1%. But that number is actually far lower. Those "dozens"; that were discovered was over a period of years.... so the total population of death row over the same number of years has to be taken into account. When that is accomplished the percentage that have been wrongly convicted is well below 1%. BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! Advances in judicial process is such that now, as Joe admits, those who have been wrongly convicted are being released. That means the ones that remain are NOT WRONGLY CONVICTED - and they deserve to die, and the percentage falls even more. But even that is not really the issue. I am not concerned with those who are sentenced to death. I am (far from sanguine) outraged at the numbers of those, like William Spengler, who commit crimes that justly deserve their own execution and they are not on death row. In Baltimore alone last year over 300 people were killed by murderous thugs, too many of which were either innocent bystanders or simply arbitrary targets of gangland terror. A conservative estimate of the number of similar deaths in the top ten cities of our country alone places the total number of deaths at over 3500 EACH YEAR! And we only have 3146 people on death row. Assuming a ten year wait for execution, that means that during the time that 3000 death sentences are being adjudicated, over 35000 people have died. This is terrible. The larger problem is not that there is a finite possibility a person might be wrongly convicted. There is the outrageous certainty that people who ought to be executed are not being so. How many of those being returned to the streets are returning to the killing fields and actively participating? I don't know the absolute number but I know of one... William Spengler... and to my mind he is not the exception... he is representative of the whole. If Joe finds debates about the Bible tedious then he ought not to introduce it into the discussion. As far as it being "wildly contradictory", if he wants to debate that in another forum just let me know... There is far more unity to Scripture, even miraculously so, given its 2000 year long process of assembly, than would warrant the description of "wildly contradictory." As far as it being irrelevant... no. Christians place the Scripture above any human law and have for over 2000 years. Virtually all the liberal advances of Western Civilization are rooted in this fundamental perspective... even, as Joe might agree, on such as the ultimate issue of slavery in the US. The Bible trumps the Constitution and it is perilous for any society to forget that. Again Joe cannot focus on the central thesis. I have not ever denied that capital cases ought not to be adjudicated with "greater care"; In fact I demand it. However, more cases ought to be so adjudicated and if a jury of his peers finds some criminal guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (note the criterion - not with absolute certainty) then a capital sentence ought to be handed down and then, with due attention to reasonable review and appeal as well as the back up possibility of direct pardon from the governor or president, based on exceptional circumstances, it ought to be more expeditiously carried out. It is not a discussion about taking greater care in adjudicating, it is about the idea that capital punishment ought not to be done at all or only when the impossible standard of absolute certainty is established. Note the self-contradictory nature of Joe's position. He says that it is just that Capital punishment be extended to those who deserve it. He then goes on to say that this latest execution in Huntsville was in fact just ("in some crude way" - whatever that means). Then he turns right around and says that it is a question of whether the death penalty can ever be "accurately and justly applied." He admits the actual fact of that which he asserts "probably never can be." Joe cannot affirm justice and deny it at the same time. Justice is justice... it is either just to execute criminals in cases of capital crime or not. If Joe's position is that he wants to say that it is never just to kill another person for a capital crime and that, as he implies, that each and every one of them should be kept off the streets for the entirety of their natural life, then he better put forth a plan for building a prison on every block. Because the whole point of this argument is that we are releasing too many criminals, who ought to be justly killed for their crimes, in large numbers, back to the streets so that they are in fact killing folks that are supposed to be protected from them. This is far too long and it is keeping me from other stuff - so I will close with this: SANGUINE? Cheerfully optimistic? Confident? Is there anything in my post that communicates such a disposition? If descriptions are desired I am more in the "totally ticked off" mode. I am disgusted and furious at the death of those two firemen. And if that freak in Colorado is not executed I am going to be even more furious. I am furious that our social order has descended into such moral chaos. I am furious for those who wring their hands over a "couple of dozen" who "might" be innocent and yet "sanguine" over the deaths of firemen and school children and movie customers. I am aghast at the blood flowing in the streets of our cities and the way comfortable people merely "cluck-cluck" their response and do not demand that the vermin who are doing these crimes be exterminated. The gene pool needs to be cleansed of some DNA on occasion and capital punishment is a just and justified way to deal with those whose internal disposition has inclined them to the sub-human lifestyle evidenced by these creatures. Joe actually admits that his first, and justified impulse, is to "drive the perpetrator's nose into his brain." This impulse is just. The fact that he is restrained from taking personal action is also just. But that does not invalidate the impulse. It only regulates it. Would I be sanguine about a loved one being on death row? No... The first question I would deal with is "are they guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?"; If that criterion was justly applied I would be grieved that my loved one had committed the crime and I would be resigned to their fate. If I knew that they were innocent then I would, of course, pursue their release. However, being certain of their innocence requires that the "beyond reasonable doubt" criterion of the court had not met and I would have recourse to pursue it. Just "knowing" they're innocent, based purely on affection or personal intuition, is not sufficient and is completely unreliable even for our own personal peace. For all the furor over "gun control" and ending the "war" overseas... where is the passion for justice for those who are unjustly dying in our streets and neighborhoods because of wrong-headed thinking that doesn't require the lives of those who have demonstrated that they not only can but have killed others? Sanguine? I don't think so.
  11. Collateral Damage And Capital Punishment

    Horse feathers! (or substitute any other term for feathers that conveys the idea more concisely) It has nothing to do with "preserving a/the venerable institution" as if the justification for Capital punishment was ultimately some arbitrary convention. It is the principle of justice which demands execution in those cases where in (circularly defined) it is just to so do. And to link me to Pol Pot is just another one of Joe's silly unwarranted extensions - let alone being offensive. It is hilarious to have JMcQ quoting scripture (in a secondary source). More on that below. Maimonides had some good things to say but his insistence on "absolute certainty" before killing anyone rather than take the chance on killing an "innocent" person is certainly debatable. With such thinking the only logical course of life a person should undertake is consistent pacifism. Don't shoot first when there is an intruder in the house... the person might be innocent. Don't drop bombs on enemy cities because the probability of killing innocent people is quite high. With regard to Scripture - the circumstances of God destroying Sodom and Gomorah was that it was warranted because there was not 10 people in the city who did not deserve death at the hands of God's wrath. Lot and his family escaped, not because they did not deserve to die, but because God chose to show mercy on them. It was "just" for God to execute those who deserved to die. With respect to Exodus 23:7 - the issue is not in doubt. One is not to slay those who are known to be innocent and righteous. It is not a question, as with the pervert I was speaking of in the first post - William Spengler - who killed his helpless 92 year old grandmother, of what should be done when there is no doubt or virtually no doubt about their guilt. If a person is innocent... they are not to be subjected to arbitrary killing, at the whim of the powerful, who rule by terror. It is unjust to kill the righteous just as it is just to kill the murderer. Justice works both ways. It is Scripture which details capital punishment as the necessary just action for a person who has murdered another human being. Genesis 9:6 commands that man is to shed the blood of anyone who has murdered (malicious taking the life of another without God ordained sanction - e.g. war, self-defense, etc.) another human being. It is not to be the exception but rather the rule. Mercy may be given in certain cases but justice demands that it be clearly established that the perpetrator has forfeited his / her right to life. With regard to absolute certainty - How hypocritical to require it in the judgment of men about whether a person should be executed "ever" and yet deny the need for absolute certainty when requiring a derelict father to pay child support. Both are questions of what is just - how one establishes the guilt or innocence of an individual will always have some degree of probability to it. It is manifestly irrational to believe in something called "justice" and then say that it subject to some impossible standard to implement. Lastly - Why doesn't Joe respond to my question about the families of those two firemen who were ambushed and killed by William Spengler. They would be alive today if the man had been justly executed for the crime that he was, within all standards of reasonable certainty, guilty. I wonder if Joe, in all his liberal self-righteousness, would be equally sanguine as he is now, if one of those men had been his brother, father or son. But I doubt that anyone whose lack of intellectual and argumentative integrity allows him to lump me with Pol Pot simply because I hold to the justice of capital punishment would acknowledge his own hypocrisy in that also.
  12. The Not Crazy One

    Christie cannot help but be thinking about the possibility of running however he has some serious problems to overcome within the Republican rank and file. He may be as much a Republican as Joe Lieberman was a Democrat. I like independent thinkers and Christie does follow his own drum-beat but I doubt seriously that he is temperamentally suited to the office... he strikes me as having a bit too much Howard Dean in him.
  13. see: http://www.nytimes.c...h_20130102&_r=0 Two firemen would still be alive if the "horrific killing" of his 92 year old grand-mother had been ruled sufficient evidence that William Spengler deserved to die and that end attained. Ask either of those two firemen's families if they think that putting this man to death would have been the right thing to do back then. The case for capital punishment is not that it will "deter" future criminal action - it may or may not depending on other social circumstances. To conclude that "life imprisonment" is less expensive is to miss the point. The reason why the death penalty is so "expensive" is because of the massively redundant legal processes that prolong the process. Arguments based on the possibility that someone might be erroneously convicted are similarly in error. The idea that justice must be denied in every case because the process might fail in very few cases is just as silly. Collateral damage is not just restricted to warfare. Keep perfecting the system but keep fighting the war.
  14. Presuppositions, Definitions, etc; The Historical Orthodox Christian View of Sin, that is, it's inherent, pervasive, universal indwelling nature Recent News reports of gruesome murders accompanied by acts of cannibalism (Maryland, Florida) The Newtown Tragedy Walker Percy is quoted as saying that in our post-modern Western world, something has gone wrong, and gone wrong in a sense far more radical than, say, the evils of industrial England which engaged Dickens. It did not take a diagnostician to locate the evils of the sweatshops of the nineteenth-century Midlands. But now it seems that whatever has gone wrong strikes to the heart and core of meaning itself, the very ways [in which] people see and understand themselves. [from Huston Smith, Forgotten Truth, preface, vii, 1992] Percy, with his usual perceptiveness saw the seed which now lies fully germinated. I think that the Newtown murders have, perhaps finally, forced a fairly massive and long overdue self-examination on the public consciousness of our country. The prevailing question I keep hearing being asked is "How could anyone do such a thing?" or variations on that theme. There is the usual hue and cry for solutions that will fix the "problem" and let us all go back to our mindless existence and trivial pursuits. The assumption, sometimes recognized but most often not, is that there IS a solution. As Smith mentions in the preface to his work, it is only in our Modern Western mentality with its fatal misreading of the potential and capability of modern science (not just technical fields but the entire edifice), that forms a "notable exception... in its very soul" from what he called "the human unanimity." He is speaking of a prevailing unanimity that understands the world in terms of transcendent truth. Especially the issue of evil and how to explain it. Science seems to say that for every "problem" there is a solution... a "fix" if you will... that will enable man, as scientist and as beneficiary of science, to overcome that problem and make it "go away." Jacque Ellul called this "techne." Here it is presumed that civilization is progress in that it is the triumph of man over his surroundings, environment and, to some extent, himself. Given enough study, practical application, enforced or exhorted cooperation, and man proves that whatever obstacle, moral or technical, he faces can be overcome. Huston said that it was high time (then) for us to "rejoin the human race." He asserted that such a view is seriously misguided. "Post modern science gives us not another model of the universe, but no model at all." The obvious corollary is that if it does not give us a model of how the world actually is, then it certainly cannot give us ultimate solutions for what the world ought to be. And it is exactly here, in the light of news events flashing into our consciousness, that I must say "amen!" The problem with viewing the Newtown killings, the cannibalism murders, the recent infant deaths at the hands of their mothers, etc. as "problems" that need to be solved by new legislation (political solutions), armed guards (NRA solution), wider screening/treatment of mental illness (medical/psychological solution), etc. is that it fundamentally ignores what seems blatantly obvious. We are diagnosing these events as anomalies, as aberrations, as deviant behavior. We are assuming that the "mean" of human behavior (most people don't do these things) somehow accurately defines the "essence" of human nature. Since "most" people don't do these things, we assume that people are fundamentally "good" (or, all people are fundamentally "good" and bad behavior is in someway a product of external influences on a person who, absent those influences, would demonstrate that goodness) and that therefore what we must do is discover how to "fix" those "few" who are different from the rest of us. The actual scenario is summed up in the famous saying of Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us!" The true state of things is that it is the "mean" of human behavior that is the result of external influences, not the tragedies of crime. Evil lies at the heart of man because he is not born with a clean slate on which good and evil is inscribed in some relativistic conditioning process. Man is conceived with an inherent drive toward his own self interest that, if not bounded, will manifest itself along a continuum of evil. Man's problem is moral... he needs to be saved from himself. Even apart from religion, from Shakespeare to Camus, the essential human condition has been glimpsed if not illuminated with floodlamps. Even comedy is based on tragedy. And it is not just the 'Shadow' who knows "what evil lurks in the heart of man." Man, unique among the creatures, is able to analyze himself... and to deceive himself. Recognizing this, we can see that what all the "solutions" being advanced need more than anything else is that for them to achieve much of anything, which ever is chosen, there must be a general, wide-spread, "repentance" that accompanies them. That's a religious term and I do not apologize for it. It is the most accurate word to use. What is needed is a general change of mind, a turning away from and a turning to something else. We must put away our blinders and adopt the consensus that, in a very real way, we ALL participated in these crimes. We have ALL done our part in producing these "monsters." We have ALL, through neglect, through distraction, through slothfulness, through self-absorption, or through actual promotion of such evils, participated in creating a climate that promotes evil rather than acts to curb ourselves. Please note, I mean that personally. We have to understand ourselves, individually, as needing imposed boundaries that are moral sanctions - not physical, coercive sanctions - that act to inhibit, restrain and otherwise limit our inherent tendencies to evil. On the other hand, we need, as Huston notes, to recognize that apart from positive encouragements, moral exhortations, that are grounded in absolutes (what's right is right - for everyone) the negative curbs will not long prevail. We need to take off the blinders and see what is really there. We have spent too long in Pinocchio's circus. If we are to survive it will take more than a few placebos to do the trick. We must have a season of mourning... in sack cloth and ashes. Then, in humility, maybe, just maybe, we can have some hope of agreeing on something we can do... together.
  15. This is all I have time for: But it can't wait >>>From what I’m able to see, I’d say GFA's friend’s child is ill served by his parents’ ideological fanaticism.<<< Let's see - Joe goes right for the jugular. Anyone who disagrees with him must be motivated only by ideological fanaticism. Not only that but they are "ill serving" their child. This from a man who just wrote a post about how we need parents who are more concerned about their child's character formation. Let's review a few facts. This issue has to do with concern about the plight of those who are living in poverty or oppression in other countries due to "no fault of their own." This particular set of parents adopted this particular child, who had a serious birth defect, from foreign country. They already have a family, yet they took this young man, of a different race, from a country that didn't want him, from parents who gave him up for adoption, where he would have never had the medical treatment he needed and for all practical expectations would never have been able to achieve any significant measure of freedom or relief. What did they do? Without government help, they went through a private organization, spent a lot of their own money, got help from some others, met the bizarre requirements for foreign adoption, brought the kid home, taught him what it means to live in a loving environment, gave him a wider family in a cross cultural setting, and set about the expensive tasks of years of corrective surgery to bring him to a near state of normalcy. Their efforts have resulted in a young man who is now prospering in public education. These are the "ideological fanatics" Joe snidely dismisses. Let's see, what label can we assign to Joe for such brash insufferability (is that a word?)? Well, the rules of civil discourse prevent me from writing it I suppose. The point is: Opposing the methods pursued by such agendas as "world citizenry" does not mean ideological fanaticism, bigotry, selfishness or anything else. Christian organizations were doing stuff in foreign countries before Joe ever woke up from his first Hippie hangover. I can speak immediately of AIDS programs, relief of hunger, cultural assimilation, etc. that are among the most effective in the world, in both numbers and quality, and they do so without one single dollar of government support. Big government, world or otherwise, does not have to be the default position for dealing with major social issues and one does not have to be an "ideological fanatic" to believe that other ways are superior.