Jeremy Pierce: February 2005 Archives

This is my fourth post in a series on the morality of slavery. In my previous post, I began responding to an argument that if slavery admits of the degrees I said it did in my first post then so will murder, rape, and genocide. The argument is intended to undermine my view by showing that it leads to the ridiculous conclusion that murder, rape, and genocide happen all the time and aren't really wrong when they do except in the extreme cases that we usually call murder, rape and genocide. I don't think my argument regarding slavery leads to that conclusion. The previous post simply makes the claim that moral absolutism about these moral categories is not completely uncontroversial to begin with. That doesn't really deal with the question about degrees of being in one of these categories, so I have to take up that question now.

For each of these moral categories, here are the possibilities:

(1) It's not like what I'm saying about slavery and doesn't admit of degrees.
(2) It admits of degrees but not in the same way that I'm saying slavery does.
(3) It is like slavery in its admitting of degrees.

The Morality of Slavery

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I didn't expect my posts on slavery to turn into a real series, but it's turning out to be one, so I figured I'd put together a post collecting the links to all of them in one spot. This post simply summarizes the posts I've written in this series, and I'll be adding to it with each new post.

I wanted to address one argument that I've seen cropping up in a few of the comments on my posts so far in the slavery series and comments at Clayton Littlejohn's first contentless post and then in Clayton's own second post that contained a real argument. That argument is this. If slavery admits of degrees and is thus not intrinsically wrong at the lower extremes, then the same would apply to murder, rape, and genocide. My response to this will take two posts. In this one, I'm arguing for one thesis as a start to looking at my more specific addressing of the claim in question. That one thesis is this. Moral Absolutism About Murder, Rape, and Genocide is at least going to be controversial, once you consider some extreme cases, and in that will it will be similar to torture, another moral category that many people are absolutists about.

The argument against my position is this. If slavery isn't always wrong for the reasons I've given, then that will lead to allowing murder, rape, and genocide as not always wrong. But of course those things are always morally wrong, so my view on slavery must be incorrect. I'm not dealing with the more general question yet in this post. My point here is the basic one that it's not uncontroversial to claim an absolutist view on any of these moral categories, so I'm going to present some reasons some people might think these actions might be ok in certain extreme circumstances.

Questions About Lying

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I'm still working on some replies to comments on the slavery stuff, both here and at other sites. It's going to take more work than I could do in the couple hours since we got back from the city. I don't have much energy for any post today, but I do have some questions that came up as I was preparing for teaching about lying tomorrow night. I'm curious to see what people think about these.

1. Is it lying to say something you believe to be false, to say it in order to deceive, but to be wrong about it. In other words, if you attempt to lie, but the thing you say turns out to be true, was it a lie? Can you lie by saying something that's true but that you mistakenly believe to be false?

2. Are actors lying when they perform. They're deliberately saying false things. Two views seem possible to me. One is that it's not a lie if people would be expected not to believe you. But then the perpetual liar isn't really a liar, right? The other view is that it's a lie but not a morally wrong lie. It's only wrong to lie if the people you're lying to aren't in on the lie, and here they're included in it by knowing it's all a fiction and by consenting to the lies. It's still a fiction, and therefore a lie, but it's a morally legitimate lie. I suspect most people don't like this idea, but it seems quite possible to me.

3. How does consent affect lying? In particular, I'm wondering if hypothetical consent makes a difference. Most people seem to think it's ok to lie to someone to get them to a surprise party while keeping it a surprise. Some will insist that they can do so without stating anything false, and thus it's not technically a lie if you just leave out all the information, but you can deceive someone quite well by stringing together a bunch of truths in the right way, and that seems just as immoral as lying is in cases when lying is unquestionably wrong. So the deceit here, if it's ok, should be ok whether the statements are technically lies or are just deceitful truths. What I'm wondering is why it's ok and if it has something to do with consent. If people would reasonably consent to being lied to in such cases, is that what makes most people think it's ok to lie for such purposes? Is that really a justification of lying in such cases?

Christian Carnival LIX Plug

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Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet will be hosting the 59th Christian Carnival next week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

This is my second post in dialogue with Back of the Envelope's two posts on slavery and Christianity. The first argued that slavery is a matter of degree from absolute autonomy to being under someone's complete control. No one is ever at either extreme, though some have been closer to the extreme on the higher-slavery end of the spectrum. We're all slaves to one degree or another, to our employers and our government if to no one else. This post is now going to consider what the Bible says about slavery. [update: I've continued in this series enough to collect the links to each post all in one post]

Back of the Envelope has been blogging about Christianity and slavery. Part 1 sets up the series by asking what it is that makes slavery wrong without giving any answers yet. Part 2 looks at Christianity and slavery with respect to the biblical passages and some of the ensuing history of the church on this issue. I don't know if he plans any more or if this was all he intended to do, but he's already said enough to spur me on to record some of my thoughts. I agree with much of what he's said, but I take a more radical view. I don't think there's anything in principle wrong with slavery. In this post I'll explain why I think that, which will basically amount to explaining what I think slavery is. In my next post, I expect to look at what the biblical passages regarding slavery have to say and what I think the Christian's attitude toward slavery should be. [Update: this has turned into a series]

Christian Carnival LVII

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The 58th Christian Carnival isn't up yet, but the good news is that I've finally finished working through last week's 57th Christian Carnival. You can read about the mixup over hosting last week here. For ease of locating posts, see the Wittenberg Gate version here. All the posts are now linked to from there (though some are in my comment, which you'll need to scroll down for). My submission was Abortion and Coercion. I've already responded to Belief Seeking Understanding on retroactive prayer, so I'll say no more about that now. I've also already commented on Jollyblogger's What Is the "Gospel?" Here's the rest of my roundup:

Retroactive Prayer

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Belief Seeking Understanding asks Are Retroactive Prayer Requests Well-Formed? Normally, I would just have answered in his comments, but they seem to be disabled. Douglas seems more inclined toward a negative answer. He says:

Suppose you go to the doctor, and the doctor says "Well, based on everything I know at this point, you either have x or y. X is somewhat of an inconvenience, but y is significantly more serious." Is it foolish to pray "Please God, let it be x and not y?" If y is the consequence of a lifetime of choices, isn't praying such a prayer functionally equivalent to asking God to zap you into some alternate parallel universe where you had x, from another one where you had y?

Weird Searches

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Sometimes I get referrals from truly outrageous Google searches. Sometimes I just wonder what people might possibly be looking for. Some of it is funny because people think they can type an ordinary sentence into a search engine and expect to get out what they want. Others are just searches for really odd combinations of things. I often get searches of the following form:

[name of famous person] gay

This is especially funny when the person is fairly well known for not being gay. It's even funnier when there's absolutely no reason to think the person is gay, and the person never discusses issues related to homosexuality, e.g. John McWhorter. The only reason I come up on such searches is because I talk about both him and issues related to homosexuality.

But then this one came in during the night, and I'm just trying to imagine what the person was looking for:

really really black people

This is the 9th part of an ongoing series that I've been letting lie dormant for a few months. The series starts here. The links to all the other parts are in the inaugural post. I've been working through the arguments in favor of affirmative action before turning to the arguments against such policies. In this post, I'm considering the argument that gave the name 'affirmative action' to the policy. According to this argument, affirmative action gives approval, support, etc. to those who are too often not given it, and that provides a moral justification for affirmative action.

Terri Schiavo links

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The bandwagon is collecting a whole bunch of links to posts about Terri Schiavo. Also, Wittenberg Gate has pulled together the best post of each blogger willing to submit a post on the matter, and she's organized them according to a number of different categories. Altogether, it's pretty comprehensive. I wish I had time to look through them all.

In the light of Terri Schiavo's upcoming judicially-imposed starvation, I wanted to record some of my thoughts on euthanasia and related issues. Before looking at the issues, it's important first to get some terminology out of the way. Euthanasia (from the Greek for good death) can be either active or passive, voluntary or involuntary. Active euthanasia is usually defined in terms of whether the person doing the killing actively does something to initiate the death, whereas passive euthanasia involves no such action but merely allowing someone to die. Euthanasia is voluntary when the person being killed has consented to being killed, and involuntary euthanasia is against such consent. Some people will classify cases with no consent either way as non-voluntary (but not involuntary).

Christian Carnival LVIII Plug

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Wallo World will be hosting the 58th Christian Carnival next week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Steve at Deep Calls to Deep thinks Christian bloggers are deceiving the Ecosystem. His reason is something I've noted before. When you end up in lots of people's thematically-oriented blogrolls, you get extra links from all the people who put those blogrolls on their blogs. Sometimes people will have a few of them in their sidebar, and you'll get a few permanent links from all those people if you're in more than one of their blogroll lists. Since there are getting to be a lot of such lists among Christian bloggers, it sort of feels like bootstrapping. The links go up without anywhere near as much increase in traffic, so lists like the primary Ecosystem list that track only links are deceptive in not tracking actual traffic. So Steve thinks Christian bloggers are deceiving the Ecosystem. While there's something to his argument, I disagree with the conclusion.

This is the fourth post in an ongoing series of reflections on the gospel of Mark, which I haven't been very good at keeping up with. I think at this point I might just abandon it, because the long list of posts I had ready to go disappeared with my hard drive when it failed, and I'm not excited about figuring out again what I wanted to do. Also, I was doing this as I was working through the first half of Mark in a Bible study group that I'm not able to attend this semester because it meets while I'm teaching. I wanted to gather together some of the thoughts I did save in a draft of a post a number of months ago, though. Perhaps at some point I'll decide to do some more of these now and then, but this will be the last I expect to do for now.

What I wanted to do in the post I had saved as a draft was to consider two subtle clues even in the beginning of the book of Mark that run counter to a prevailing view among scholars. A number of respected scholars have claimed that Mark represents an early portrait of Jesus from a time before what the scholars call a higher christology had developed. The idea is that Jesus wasn't perceived to be anything other than the Messiah at first, and eventually he came to be identified as God. This usually puts John's gospel as the height of the high christology, at least within the New Testament itself. They might still consider the creeds a step or two beyond that.

I don't want to challenge the idea that theological understanding developed over time. Nor am I interested in arguing that every nuance to the Johannine portrait of Jesus is in the synoptic gospels, never mind in Mark, the most simple of the synoptics by many measures, including with regard to theological statements. What I want to point out is that the gospel of Mark has two important references even in the first two chapters (in Mark 1:3 and 2:10) to things that entail, but do not make explicit, a fairly high christology.

There was some miscommunication regarding the hosting of the 57th Christian Carnival, but whatever misinformation led to the double hosting, it was genuine misinformation. The original host never intended not to host.

It was supposed to be at Sharing Spirit, until someone said they'd heard from her saying she couldn't host, which seemed strange to me because I'd been emailing back and forth with her for days about it. Dory tried to email her, without success, so she decided to have people email her the entries, and she put them up at Wittenberg Gate. Then the submissions that people had sent to Kim starting appearing at Sharing Spirit, each as a separate post at half-hour intervals rather than all together in standard carnival form.

I believe there are ten entries at each location that aren't at the other, for a total of 50 entries, but I can't link directly to anything at Sharing Spirit without linking to individual submissions. So that you can see all the ones not at the Wittenberg Gate post, I'm putting them all in one place here:

[Update 27 Oct 2006: This list of commentary recommendations has just gone through another major update over the last month or so. I've added new releases and replaced some commentaries with ones I've since concluded would be better for the list in question. I've also added several alternatives for each book in the advanced commentary list rather than just the one or two I was recommending originally at that level. Also, here are some links to all the posts in this series below, which for some reason I'd never gotten around to doing. The basic level commentaries are in this post. The other posts are intermediate commentaries, advanced commentaries, and my recommended forthcoming commentaries (as opposed to my more comprehensive forthcoming commentaries list)]

People often ask me what commentaries I would recommend for a particular book of the Bible. I have a significant commentary library that I constantly refer to, even reading some cover to cover. I also read lots of reviews of commentaries and investigate further purchases through the libraries I have access to and inter-library loan. I have a fair idea of the strengths and weaknesses of different commentaries.

For those who have never used a commentary before, they help your study of the Bible by giving background on language, archeology, theology, poetry, and connections with other scriptures. You can take advantage of someone who has spent hours wrestling with the text to find its meaning, its purpose, its relevance to life, etc. A commentary is incredibly helpful in getting the details of the text while also providing a broader framework. Commentaries vary in quality and usefulness for study of scripture as God's word, and some are too technical for someone without seminary or Bible school training.

I'll be starting a series of posts that will review the commentaries on each book of the Bible, working one book at a time. When I start that, I'll have one post that serves as an index for the whole series, and I'll link to it from here. This series will in part serve to explain my justification for the choices I've made in the lists in this post. It's much more than that, though. Sometimes it's worth having a number of commentaries on a given book, and this will help sort through all the possibilities, emphasizing the strengths and weaknesses of each book I discuss. Until that's finished, there are the lists here that just give the ones I recommend most highly in each of three categories.

I've gotten another list of things to blog about that I don't want to take the time to have extended posts about, so here's yet another roundup. The funny thing is that almost all of these came to my attention today, so it's not as if it's been building to the point of overflow for a while. All of a sudden I just had many things I wanted to link to, and I'm spending all the time I get on bigger projects (not to mention that I really need to catch up on my teaching responsibilities that I all but dropped aside from bare minimum class prep for much of the last week, given that I've been nearly a full-time dad while Sam's been sick). So these have entered the "Around the Blogosphere" queue in a very short time, and I'm now emptying it again (or at least emptying it of things I'm not reserving for more extended posts). Anyway, here's some of what's going on around the blogosphere.

Universalism and I Peter

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In a comment on my treatment of universalism and Romans 10, Dave said the following:

Also, what about the spirits that Christ preached to who were disobedient in the time of Noah? They were to be judged according to the flesh, but live according to the spirit.(I Peter 3:18-20a and 4:6).

I don't think either I Peter passage teaches universalism. As I started to explain why in a comment, I decided I might as well make it a post, so here it is.

The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society is now online, at least from calendar years 1995-2003. I've found two sites that give access to it. I believe this site is the official one. Articles are in separate PDF files, and each issue's book reviews are all compliled into one PDF. FindArticles also gives access to articles and book reviews from the journal, in this case from December 1997 through September 2004. They list each book review separately, though they don't list the author of the book, just the author of the article, which is a little frustrating. Update: They also have Trinity Journal.

As I was looking through the lists of articles and book reviews, two pieces stood out as worth highlighting for those interested in the issues they raise. One is D.A. Carson's 1997 paper "Reflections on salvation and justification in the New Testament", which analyzes the strains of thought in Catholic and Protestant views on justification and salvation in the light of the developments around that time that brought Catholicism to accept Luther as never having endorsed the view they had declared heretical. In the aftermath of all that, it became pretty clear to me that Protestants and Catholics have largely misunderstood each other on these issues in many ways, and Carson explains exactly how that is.

The other piece I wanted to highlight is also by D.A. Carson. "God, the Bible and spiritual warfare: A review article" looks at the work of Greg Boyd, an open theist, with one of the most thorough and able defenses of traditional understandings of divine knowledge of the future that I've ever read.

Christian Carnival LVII Plug

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Update: I'm not removing any of the information below, but Dory, who now manages the Christian Carnival, seems to think the hosting is not clear for some reason. If you submitted any posts, please send them to her [ChristianCarnival ATT gmail DOTT com], and if you haven't yet submitted anything then submit to both places.

Sharing Spirit will be hosting the 57th Christian Carnival this week. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Ash in the Wind

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Mark Roberts connects Ash Wednesday, Ecclesiastes, and the 1977 Kansas hit "Dust in the Wind" (which Mark wrongly lists as 1978). The song isn't even remotely representative of the group's symphonic and progressive rock sound, with its complex time signatures, textured and layered sound, and classically-influenced stylings mixed with classic American blues. Still, it's a well-done acoustic guitar tune with a nice violin solo, and the lyrics really are similar to some of the themes in Ecclesiastes. They were actually based on Native American poetry, but Kerry Livgren did later become a Christian, and now he does connect them to Ecclesiastes' themes. I find it interesting that John Elefante, the singer who took over for Steve Walsh when he left the group in 1981 and turned out to be a Christian, refuses to sing the third verse when he does the song live now. My guess is that he finds "nothing last forever but the earth and sky" to be blasphemous.

This is part IV in a series on meta-ethics begun here. See that post for more details. So far I've looked at a simplistic version of subjectivism, one that thinks ethical statements are about our own attitudes but are still the sort of statement that can be true or false. That view is hard to square with how we use moral language. A more sophisticated subjectivist view simply denies that our moral statements are the sort of thing that can be true or false. They don't have any cognitive content. The view is thus called non-cognitivism.

The most basic version of non-cognitivism is emotivism. As with any form of non-cognitivism, it says moral statements aren't really statements at all. There aren't really moral truths, but moral statements aren't false either. They're not the sort of thing that can be true or false in the same way that it isn't true or false that chocolate ice cream is better than black raspberry. Some people prefer one or the other and thus have different attitudes, but there's no truth or falsity of either one.

Christian Carnival LVI

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The 56th Christian Carnival is at Dunmoose the Ageless. I count 36 entries, and my own Division in the Body of Christ is among them.

The Christian Carnival for this week, which I'm still working through, has one post that I thought needed extended comment, so I'm not including it in my weekly Christian Carnival roundup. Little Emily in the big world takes on the critics of James Dobson over the We Are Family video that SpongeBob was a small part of. She claims to offer information about the We Are Family website that supports Dobson's claims that apparently some have been saying are false. I don't dispute any of the factual information Dobson is saying, and I never really did. My original criticisms of Dobson's statements are almost untouched by the information presented in this post.

Jonathan Ichikawa has been complaining (actually starting with this post) that some on the right are talking about the high percentage of abortions among black women as genocide. He's not disputing any of the facts they cite. He just thinks it's too much to call it genocide, particularly given that the people who are making the decisions to kill their fetuses are themselves black. I'm not sure that self-originated genocide is impossible. Why couldn't a race commit genocide against themselves? Even so, I think a number of other factors make abortion less the matter of choice that pro-choicers want it to be a more in the direction of coercion. Most of the post that follows develops from a comment I left on his post.

Out of Touch

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In the past, I've indicated my preference for NPR over conservative talk radio. There's more real content, less of the shouting match that you find on both conservative radio and cable news station shows, and mostly real commentary informed by real research and careful thought processes, with people from many backgrounds and occupations and issues along a wide spectrum of interest. My one caveat showed up in spades yesterday on Terry Gross's "Fresh Air". Most of the people at NPR just seem to me to be out-of-touch with mainstream America in a few important ways (though not at all on others, and maybe they capture the others better than the other shows I was comparing them with). It wasn't just the sense that she was out-of-touch, although that came through. She seemed to me to have a clear political agenda driving her attempt to force a sound byte for her own view from a well-known and much liked conservative.

Key politically active evangelical leaders are going to meet soon to discuss how the political message of the religious right should include obeying the command at the very beginning of the Bible to take care of God's property that we've been given to manage. In this Washington Post piece, the guy they focus on the most seems to me to be a panentheist rather than a theist, but you don't find that out until the end when they quote him as saying the earth is God's body. Still, James Dobson and Chuck Colson were also named, and they're true evangelical Christians who have both taken political views meant to be informed by the Bible.

It's nice to see that they're finally listening to the voices that have pointed out how narrow their political agenda has been, with opposition to abortion and gay marriage taking center stage and a few other side issues (e.g. stem cell research) trailing along behind, while concern for the poor and marginalized, and wise management of and interaction with the creation entrusted to us, have simply been absent. Since this focus ignores the breadth of biblical values that might inform political opinions, I'm glad to see this. It's important to be sure that our policies really are for the best, and I'm not convinced left-environmentalists really have the best policies in many cases. The same is true for left-minded attempts to deal with racial issues or poverty issues. What I'm upset at many conservative evangelicals over is not that they don't adopt liberal policies on these issues but that they don't seem concerned about the issues at all. [Hat tip: There is some truth in that]

Relatedly, last week President Bush said at the National Prayer Breakfast, "For prayer means more than presenting God with our plans and desires; prayer also means opening ourselves to God's priorities, especially by hearing the cry of the poor and the less fortunate." [Hat tip: also from Jonathan]

Searching for Equal Rights

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Someone searched Google for "do women really enjoy equal rights" and got my Equal Rights and Gay Marriage post. I was wondering what the person was looking for, because that sentence is ambiguous. It could mean "do women really have equal rights?" That's a usage of 'enjoy' that seems to me to be departing from the English language, at least around here, but in parts of the English speaking world, particularly among more educated people, you might see it. I would lean against this interpretation, just because I can't imagine someone wanting to ask that question and wording it that way, but I guess it's possible.

It could also mean "do women really enjoy having equal rights?" or "would women really enjoy having equal rights?" assuming they don't have them. That was my first thought as to its meaning. After reflecting on that for a bit, I realized that there's another divergence of meaning, this time over 'equal rights'. It's not an abiguity, this time, though. The words 'equal' and 'rights' mean the same thing in both cases, but what counts as equal and what counts as rights are matters of debate, and that's why someone might even think to ask the question while others would think the answer is obvious. If certain things count as equal rights, then I don't see why women wouldn't enjoy them. If other things count as equal rights, I can understand why women wouldn't want them forced on them to make them be just like men in every way. Amazingly enough, the post this search led the person to, even though it's about gay rights, does get into that issue a little. If the person read far enough, this badly formed, ambiguous, open rather than quoted, sentence actually might have found the what the search was designed to find. Of course, it was on page two of the Google search (and now isn't even there anymore), so that lessens my surprise a bit.

The Le Moyne incident I blogged about over two weeks ago has finally caught the attention of blogosphere heavy hitters. I guess that shows how little influence with the top bloggers comes from being in the top 100 (something I've known for a long time).

See Instapundit and Volokh for links. I have only two things to say beyond what I already said and what's in those two posts. First, some of the facts I'd been presented with originally seem not to be the case, though I'm not willing to spend the time right now investigating those in detail. Second, Volokh quotes from Le Moyne's faculty handbook to show how what they've done is at odds with what they state for themselves about faculty:

"A college or university is a marketplace of ideas, and it cannot fulfill its purposes of transmitting, evaluating, and extending knowledge if it requires conformity with any orthodoxy of content and method. In the words of the United States Supreme Court, "Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die."

Normally I'd read something like that and feel encouraged that the administration officials won't take issue with what I choose to teach, as it seems to me the philosophy department doesn't, but these events show that I could be fired simply for presenting an argument that, e.g., Plato might have been right about something that's currently illegal and against Le Moyne policy. Of course, in my case it would be more likely that they just don't hire me again for the next semester, given how easy that is to do with adjuncts. I'm glad the hiring decisions for teaching aren't in the hands of whatever administration officials were responsible for this.

Christian Carnival LV

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The 55th Christian Carnival is at Wittenberg Gate. My Sider on Evangelicals Mirroring the World is part of it.

Outside the Beltway notes that Senate Republicans will indeed change filibustering rules for presidential nominations that have made it past a committee vote. They've targeted Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Two moral issues are raised by this. First, if Republicans chose Judge Brown as the first to do this with simply because she's a black woman, as a number of liberals are claiming, is that immoral? Second, is the removal of this rule a bad idea, as even a number of conservatives have argued?

Christian Carnival LVI Plug

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Dunmoose the Ageless will be hosting the 56th Christian Carnival this week. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Wow!

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I'm currently the top Google hit for "enterprise canceled". There's a word for this achievement, but I can't remember what it is. Update: Googlewhack! Update again: I found a few more things I'm a Googlewhack for: I don't know what the term is, but that's not it. I'm pretty sure there is one.

abominations unclean
Christian victimology
brights victimology
white voyeurism
ethical nihilism
Mark tidbits

Update: And then there's this. I'm just hoping his connecting me with John Kerry has nothing to do with any genuine facts about me.

Blogging Caesar is Back

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Scott Elliott of the Election Projection site is back from his hiatus after the election ended. I figured he'd be gone longer, so I hadn't checked in a while, but he's been back since the beginning of the year and intends to post daily. Two items of note so far:

1. He's predicting that the close Washington election is going to cost Democrats a senator, with Rossi taking that spot. Scott's predictions are often right. He was one of the few people listing reasons why Bush would win well over a year ahead of time, and almost all of his reasons turned out to be the main reasons Bush won. His reasoning in this case makes sense to me, so we'll see if he's right on this too.

2. I know Americans are ignorant about important things, but this is ridiculous. A poll asking people what percentage of Iraqis would need to vote for the election to be legitimate. 40% of those who had an opinion thought thought Iraq needed to have a higher turnout than the U.S. did in November 2004. Otherwise it wouldn't be legitimate. So, unless for some reason you need a much higher standard for Iraqi elections to be legitimate, no U.S. presidential election since 1970 was legitimate.

Pseudo-Polymath has challenged Christian bloggers to defend whatever divisions among followers of Christ are justified (and I assume to explain which ones not are justified and why). He's been chronicling the responses so far.

I'm going to try to do something independent of what people have said so far, almost without referring to the other posts. If I focused on getting into everything the others have talked about, I don't think I would be focusing on the things I consider to be most important about this sort of issue. The one post I do want to mention is Jollyblogger's post. It's not in the roundup above, but I want something he says to be in the background as I move through what I want to say, so I'll start with a quick comment on what he says and then move into the more controversial claims I'm going to defend.

My list of things to blog about has gotten too long and contains a number of things that are too old for me to want to bother with extended comments, so here are some of them that I'm giving up on, along with some more recent ones that I've decided not to comment on but thought were worth a link.

Here's some of what's going on in the world of political columnists. Yes, I'm talking about those whose opinion pieces existed before the blogosphere and who actually put some time into their pieces rather than simply spouting off at things as soon as they hear about them. I hope that format never leaves us with the rise of the blogosphere, so I 've decided to do some regular highlighting of good columns from thinkers I respect.

This is the fourth part of what will be at least a seven-part series on Justice Clarence Thomas. The first post is here, introducing the series and explaining the 98-page paper from which I'm taking the content of posts 2-6 (at least) of this series. In "Just Another Brother on the SCT?: What Justice Clarence Thomas Teaches Us About the Influence of Racial Identity", Angela Onwuachi-Willig argues that Justice Thomas' conservatism is a distinctively black conservatism with a rich history in black conservative tradition. I've already looked at that history and the general themes of contemporary black conservatism. This post focuses on how those themes lead to today's black conservatives' positions in three particular issues: education, affirmative action, and crime.

Paramount has canceled Star Trek: Enterprise right at its high point. The writers this year have been systematically dealing with every single problem ever raised by critics against the series. They have written a few absolutely incredible multi-part stories after a pretty good season-long arc last season. They've tied the show into the original series in ways fans had originally hoped would happen but never did until now. The character development has tremendously improved. Most importantly, the stories this year have been some of the best of the entire franchise. I've liked the show all along, but it took until last season to get really good, and the non-filler stories this year have been some of the best Trek ever. It's not quite up to the final ten-part season finale for DS9, but the only things that high up the scale are Babylon 5 and the best episodes of the two Stargate series.

Paramount made one mistake. They moved the show this year to Friday, the night that they knew the SciFi Channel runs the most popular science fiction show of all time, Stargate: SG-1. They even play it at the same time. Since the Stargate shows show in the summer and spring, the Paramount execs had an entire fall to realize that they were going to be competing in the spring with the most popular show ever to air in the genre of their show. The one piece of information they cite for why they're canceling the show is that it got low ratings, especially low in the first week of the complete SciFi Friday lineup on the SciFi Channel. Unfortunately, Paramount owns both the show and the network, so it's not even clear that another channel could run it if another one could be found to run it (though SciFi themselves might do so if given the chance; they're willing to run the complete tripe Andromeda has turned into). [Hat tip: Ramblings' Journal]

Pseudo-Polymath wants Christian bloggers to address the following question:

Of the differences we hold, why are they strong enough to keep us apart, out of communion, and in (sometimes bitter) disagreement. What are these differences? I challenge you to defend them! Tell us what differences you hold more important than what you profess each week: your belief in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. Or are the differences just political and based on historical inertia? If it is just traditions of styles of worship and praxis, why does that still hold us apart? I don't have the answers to these questions, but many out there who read this undoubtedly have thoughts on this.

I'd like to say something about this at some point, but I'm not going to get to it tonight.

Christian Carnival LIV

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The 54th Christian Carnival is at Digitus, Finger & Co., and mercifully it's only got 34 entries this week. Unfortunately, I still wasn't able to get through it very quickly and am posting this a week afterward yet again.

My Spongebob the Patsy is there, as is Sam's Pray for Iraq's Elections.

Christian Carnival LV Plug

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Wittenberg Gate will be hosting the 55th Christian Carnival this week, and somehow the announcement got lost in my email. I just found it now when I was wondering why I hadn't gotten one before Tuesday night. It turned out it was just way back among the Friday messages, and I didn't have time to look at it before it went off the screen.

This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

This is my seventh post for Joe Carter's collaborative project Jesus the Logician (which would better be described as Jesus' Reasoning).

During the week Jesus spent in Jerusalem before his crucifixion, he spent much of his time in the temple disputing with various groups of religious leaders. Much of what we have recorded in the gospels from those discussions is with the Pharisees and scribes. We have only one recorded discussion with the Sadducees, though it appears in all three of the synoptic gospels (Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-34, and Luke 20:27-40).

Jesus the Logician Deadline

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Today is the tentative deadline Joe Carter gave for submissions for his collaborative project Jesus the Logician, which would better be described as (Jesus' Reasoning). I have no idea if Joe intends to stick with this as a deadline, but it might be a good idea to finish up any submissions you want to do if you still want to contribute to this (or if you want to contribute any more posts; I have at least one more I'm working on right now on Jesus' interactions with the Sadducees as recorded in Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, and Luke 20:27-40, and I hope to do yet another beyond that if I have time). The list of current entries so far is here.

Update: Joe's tentativeness of the deadline apparently was completely serious. He isn't closing it off just yet. He wants some more entries first, so let's get cracking. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do for my eighth.

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