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Ever since Marvin Olasky quoted SCOTX Justice Nathan Hecht on Harriet Miers’ originalism, I’ve been aware that there are connections between originalism in law and religion. I’ve done a bit of writing on the subject, including a failed unpublished essay and a draft of a chapter in a book that isn’t published either. Unlike the essay, the book is not a failed project; it’s just new and unfinished.
Mark Eckel, and I have agreed to be co-editors. Inshallah, we’ll put together our own chapters, the introduction chapter, and a proposal and get things underway sometime next year with a call for proposals from other possible authors. My finished chapter uncovers an important insight: Originalism in biblical theology is a bit more of an intentionalism, and originalism in American Constitutional law is a textualism, and there’s a reason for that difference.
Several years ago, I was walking through a Southwest Airlines concourse to my gate, when I saw a tall, thin Saint Nicholas deplaning. It was Christmas Eve, so I was not surprised. Continuing towards my gate, I spied a traditionally padded Santa Claus, coming off another flight. “Of course,” I realized, “you should expect to see Saint Nick in the Southwest Airlines concourse.”
As different as the two characters in the airport appeared, how much greater is the gap between the Nicholas, whose Saint’s Day is 6 December, and the jolly old Saint Nick, whose arrival coincides with and even crowds out the Christ Child or Christkindl? What does the persistence of the former and popularity of the latter say about veneration? ‘Tis the season to reflect on Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus, without going full Newsweek.
They live their lives by a sacred code; it isn’t secret, but few people actually know its inner sanctum. Life entails a commitment to consciousness, discipline and faith, and because of the lure of everyday secular life, many fall away, believing they are not up to the task or are unwilling to comply with the demands. Those who remain are deeply committed to living virtuous lives, to raising loving and principled children, and to following the Law.
They are practicing or Orthodox Jews who embrace Torah, love G-d and revere acts of kindness. I have witnessed these three qualities among my practicing Jewish friends, and I venerate them for the life choices they have made.
I’m making a list and checking it twice. We have the 8 days of Hanukkah covered. One of the 12 days of Christmas is taken. 6 days are unclaimed in the Advent season. Lots of opportunities to gift your fellow Ricochetti. I speak, of course, of our monthly Group Writing theme: “Veneration.” All you need do […]
“Taste and see…”
It is an evening service at the beginning of Great Lent. The lights are subdued, not completely off like they will be on Great and Holy Friday, but dimmed enough such that the candles have their say in the illumination of the small nave. This is an evening liturgy, and being Lent it is a special liturgy. The hymns and antiphons are all in a minor key, mournful and repentant. The priest is wearing darker vestments of purple. Even the censer is changed out for one with quieter bells, or perhaps no bells at all. The icons on the iconostasis glow and shimmer above their vigil candles. The icons on the walls around watch with their eternal gaze, keeping company during this holy time of year.
77 years ago, today, December 7, 1941, America was formally at peace, while much of the world was in flames. It was a sunny Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor, when the skies filled with Japanese attack aircraft and a peaceful day exploded into war. The strike was aimed at the old heart of the U.S. Pacific fleet, the battleships floating at anchor in Pearl Harbor.
Before dawn on 7 December 1941, the American strategic center of gravity in the Pacific reposed in the seven battleships then moored along “Battleship Row”, the six pairs of interrupted quays located along Ford Island’s eastern side. Quay F-2, the southernmost, which usually hosted an aircraft carrier, was empty. Northeastward, Battle Force flagship California was next, moored at F-3. Then came two pairs, moored side by side: Maryland with Oklahoma outboard, and Tennessee with West Virginia outboard. Astern of Tennessee lay Arizona, which had the repair ship Vestal alongside. Last in line was USS Nevada, by herself at quay F-8. These seven battleships, ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-five years, represented all but two of those available to the Pacific Fleet. The Fleet flagship, Pennsylvania, was also in Pearl Harbor, drydocked at the nearby Navy Yard. The ninth, USS Colorado, was undergoing overhaul on the west coast.
Man does not live by bread alone. As bread was being earned at a record clip, and more people got off the dole, more people in their prime years cut their own lives short. Reflecting back on the U.S. military’s Herculean effort to end suicide in the service, an unwon battle, I am painfully aware there is no clear solution, no magic pill or words. And. I wonder if our changing societal habits and beliefs make vulnerable people more vulnerable.
2017 brought unbroken good economic news, and not just for stockholders. President Trump repeated at every occasion the good news for everyone, including demographic groups who had been lagging in employment. Wages started to rise. And in the midst of all this, the suicide rate increased to a 50-year peak.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Lots of opportunities to lift our eyes and spirits. I speak, of course, of our monthly Group Writing theme: “Veneration.” All you need do is write a short essay to start the conversation. Perhaps you could ask a question or two to get the conversation flowing? Hey, […]
Imagine, if you will, that a battle had gone differently on October 10, 732 in France. The Battle of Tours not only stopped the Islamic conquest of Europe from Africa and up the Iberian Peninsula, but started the reversal which would culminate in 1492 with the Iberian Peninsula united into two Christian kingdoms with the Muslims (and the Jews) eventually cast out or forced to convert. What would have happened had the Muslims won? The battle took place at least half the way into the heart of France. Had the Muslims been successful there, things would have been dark for European Christendom. It’s possible that Byzantium could have faced a two-front war within a few hundred years. Byzantium might have fallen earlier, leaving only Islam in Europe with Paganism on the Northern fringes in areas that were not yet Christianized. Over time, those areas, too, might be brought into Islam.
Now, imagine further that a thousand years after the thorough conquest, a thousand years after the last Christians and Jews had converted to Islam, that someone wanted to revive the old religion. Perhaps Islam was starting to fall under its own weight. The only problem is that nobody had wanted to be seen as trying to preserve the old religion against Islam, so very little was left. All that scholars had found about Christianity was one fairly well-preserved version of the Book of Psalms, and then some attestations throughout time that didn’t really get into exactly how the whole religion worked and was practiced. Certainly, it lacked the cosmogony and theology components. Further, there had been three scholars writing about “the old ways” a couple of hundred years after the fall of Christianity, but the true scholars of the old languages, history, and archaeology were pretty sure that their writings were very tainted with their Islamic religion, plus they were probably misunderstanding things from spotty oral history that had passed down for two hundred years by the time the stories reached them.
For many, music is an important part of worship, and the greatest composer of sacred music was Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1733 he composed his first church work in Latin, the Mass for the Dresden court, but it was not performed. He reused this Mass in the Kyree and Gloria section of his famous 1749 B-minor Mass. Bach venerated God with the declaration Jesu Juva (Jesus help me) at the beginning of his sacred music and Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone) at the end.
I’ve sung the 1745 Cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo (BWV-191), which was written for Christmas Day. The first movement is essentially identical to one in the B-minor Mass, with the final two movements different due to the text, making the Cantata a B-minor Mass “Mini-Me.” So instead of listening to the entire B-minor Mass (about two hours), you can hear this Cantata in about 15 minutes. And you’ll laugh at a short video about the Cantata below!
As we turn the page to the last month of another calendar, it is fitting to reflect on what we truly value. Each month, Ricochet offers a theme, a word, around which members are invited to stretch their arms and write. This December, we will compose variations on the theme of “veneration.” The relative rarity […]
There are two major monthly Group Writing projects. One is the Quote of the Day project, managed by @vectorman. This is the other project, in which Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on a proposed theme. It is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with […]