Jun 22, 2016

You're Not Married, Probably


If Adam and Eve are Paradigm Spouses, Who is Married?
Many neo-con Roman Catholics are attacking their Pope's recent comments that most Roman Catholic marriages are nullities. According to one editorial, "in effect, Pope Francis told millions of Catholics that they are not just unmarried, but were incapable of being married, because the modern world has corrupted them and because the Church failed to 'catechize' them." Here's a summary of his remarks from Catholic News:
Pope Francis said Thursday that many sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.
While he initially said in unscripted comments that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null,” he later approved a revision of these remarks. When the Vatican released its official transcript of the encounter the following day, they had changed the comment to say that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.”
Most of the attacks on Francis' position are really grounded in the policies supporting canon law's presumptions in favor of a valid marriage in disciplinary proceedings. They think questioning the validity of most marriages will undermine those in troubled marriages because if such people are told that their marriages are probably invalid anyway, they are more likely to proceed to annulment and divorce.

And, the presumption in favor of marital validity seems right as a canonical policy. If two people come to a church with a record of marriage, you ought to presume they are married. The alternative would be to treat them as unmarried until they offered proof and a de novo judgment had been made about whether they were married. It would weaken the protection of the rights and obligations of marriage to be constantly questioning and requiring new proof of marital validity. If a man and a woman present themselves with an authenticated record of marriage, we ought to presume that they are married for disciplinary purposes, like deciding whether one of them can marry someone else.

But I don't think Francis' remarks are best taken as sounding in canon law or attacking its presumption. It reads like an absolute judgment concerning modern culture before the background of absolute theological truth. (Francis' skepticism about canon law is well known.) Against Francis' neocon opponents, I think Francis' attack on modern marriages is important and timely, especially given the widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage, no-fault divorce, the propriety of the unmarried having sex and bearing children, and marriages formed with no sense of a general duty to seek and educate children. Real belief in any of these logically conflicts with the intent necessary to form a marriage. This is enough to raise serious questions.

Jun 12, 2016

Trump and the Law Professors: "Textbook" v. "Law Review" Racists?

Bias and Mistrust
According to CNN, "House Speaker Paul Ryan ripped Donald Trump's recent remarks saying a judge presiding over a lawsuit involving his business was biased because of his Mexican heritage as 'the textbook definition of a racist comment.'" In addition to Ryan, whose judgment may itself be biased because he reportedly is motivated by a desire for Trump to lose and clear the way for his own presidential ambitions, Trump has received some criticism from Christians. They claim that, as a matter of faith, we may not include a judge's race in arguments about a particular judge's partiality, even if as Trump alleges, he has a history of unfair rulings against a person of another race in a particular case.

To share some of the context for these claims familiar to me, U.S. law professors have been claiming that white judges are generally biased because of their racial background for many years. (And, one shouldn't even get started on white juries, whose racial bias is treated as self-evident.) If Trump is a "textbook racist," as Ryan claims, should those making these claims be called "law review racists?"

Here's a few samples of the first couple of law-review articles I pulled up searching for "white judges":

Jun 11, 2016

Solid Common Ground


Ernst Jünger's Eumsewil contains an account of an allegorical discussion, which is interesting for our time, especially given our own political iconography:
Rosner [a travelling visitor] started talking about his experience with elephants. "The elephant tests the ground before taking each step. When it finds itself sinking into quicksand or a bog, it never hesitates to swing up its trunk, lift its rider from his seat and thrust him under it foot like a piece of wood to support its own escape."
The Domo [the diplomatic chief of staff], who has a mind for such anecdotes, replied "The fault lies with the driver who demands the impossible. This could never happen to an experienced mahout."
He was probably correct [the narrator comments]; if you ride an elephant, you have to know what you are doing and where you are going.
Those who disagree deeply about many things with respect to the politics of the Republican Party, or the U.S. as a whole, can find much to agree about with respect to the truth of this passage. Party and national political disagreements are largely about (1) the identity of the Mahout, who has led us into quicksand, (2) what kind of quicksand or bog is threatening to drown us, and (3) who is the Elephant which will pull the bad Mahout off its back and thrust him beneath its foot for necessary support.

In other words, we disagree about who we are, who has misled us, and what is nature of the difficulty into which we have been led. But we all sympathize with the Elephant in the story rather than the Mahout; we sympathize with one who has been led by someone who doesn't know what he's doing or where he is going. That's a good common base of feeling on which to grow towards unity.

Jun 7, 2016

The Beast Opens Its Maw


And Hillary speaks: Keep Fighting for a More Equal America is her editorial, celebrating the Democrats' tyrannical imposition of a new sexual ethos on America, as aided and abetted by the endorsing inaction of the corporatist Republican establishment. It's so unbelievably awful that you have to read it to believe it. Read it and you will understand the shamefulness of the posturing Republican elites who are to busy criticizing their own nominee instead of Hillary for making this statement.

What does she celebrate? (1) Americans aren't allowed anymore publicly to think, speak or act on sexual differences as created, natural, and a vital part of the moral, social and political order. American force mandates same-sex marriages, but prohibits same-sex showers. (2) The privacy of the family is to be destroyed by the draft of women and sending them into harm's way on the battlefield, just as abortion has destroyed the sanctity of the womb. (3) Marriage now, per Obergefell, permits no permanent covenant of procreative sexual fidelity, no permanent bond to educate children born in wedlock -- it's a insubstantial instrument of "intimacy" unrelated to anything other than the fleeting fickle fancy of subjective satisfaction between easy entry and effortless exit.