Jeremy Pierce: April 2005 Archives

Update [1 November 2005]: Someone is selling T-shirts with an image like the one described below. I don't know if it's the same design or not, but this guy found this post and linked to it, which led me to discover the graphic. It provides a nice context for the discussion below even if it's not the same graphic (the information below seems to attribute the design to a different person). Now back to the original post:

I've been involved with an email exchange on a discussion list for one of the campus ministry groups at the university, and I decided this might be worth moving to my blog rather than clogging the mailboxes of over 100 people who are on that list. This way it will be accessible for those who want to see or take part in the discussion, but it's also not in the mailboxes of all the people who would otherwise have to see the messages.

It started with someone named Stephen (a common enough name, so I won't bother to anonymize him, though I've removed other identifying characteristics) who sent a message calling for people to protest the College Democrats' poster picturing Jesus punching President Bush. As bad as such a poster is, I don't think it's the Christian thing to do to engage in the kind of protest he was calling people toward, so I responded. The exchange is captured here.

Captain's Quarters reviews the new Hitchhikers movie. This is one I definitely want to see. Of course, I said that about Spiderman 2, and that ended up being a DVD viewing for us.

I didn't know Douglas Adams had written the script. It's not common that an author who's been dead for years is the author of the script for a new movie based on his books, so I guess I can be excused for assuming he hadn't written it. I'm usually more of a purist, but if the author himself approves the changes because of what the film medium requires I suppose I can give him that right. I'm sure it could never lead to anything as radical as the vast character changes in the Lord of the Rings films if Adams is behind the changes (and it's not as if changing something from this series is as grievous a moral error as changing the moral character of someone from Tolkien).

Anyway, it looks fun, even if it won't be fun in exactly the same ways the first first four books were. (I say that with hesitation, because even the fourth was marginally fun, paving the way for the fifth one that everyone says not to bother reading, which advise I gladly heeded if I had the assurances that it was much worse than the fourth.)

The case of David Parker is making the blog rounds. Parker spent this past Wednesday night in jail because he refused to follow the rule of law and leave his son's school when the police showed up. Read the email exchange that preceded his altercation. It's fairly clear from it that the school is seeking to recognize that some of their students come from families with gay parents and is seeking to have the children who interact with those students understand that. The goal is quite obviously to minimize harm to those students from children of those who would teach that it's immoral to be part of a family with gay parents. David Parker's complaints, given the intent of this material, seem to the administration of the school to be exactly the kind of thing they don't want being an influence at their school, and they're right to worry about that. His language is pretty clear. He doesn't want this family structure being recognized or talked about at all by any employees of the school, and no materials that even acknowledge that it happens can be part of his son's curriculum.

Notice that he's not upset about his son learning about sex at too early an age, as Michelle Malkin claims. He's upset that they're teaching his child that there are same-sex parent families. You don't need to talk about sex to do that. What's funny is that he's claiming that the school has no right to teach his child values and morals but reserving that for himself and his wife. Yet he seems unwilling to do that himself.

For my 1125th post (selfishly counting all of Wink's posts as mine but not counting any I've written for Prosblogion or OrangePhilosophy), I've decided to recount some of the biggest lessons I've learned through the practice of blogging. These are in no particular order, and they're sort of a mish-mash. Some are very serious, with serious consequences. Others are a bit sarcastic but about things with serious consequences. A few might be just humorous. I'm not going to try organize or categorize them. I just wrote them in the order they occurred to me. All of them really did come from personal experience, in case you might get the thought that I'm making any of this up.

I don't know how I missed this one. Well, I do know. I saw the title and thought it was the post I'd already read that had a similar title but was just the first in the two-part series. Anyway, Jollyblogger follows up his post on Sodom and homosexuality with a post on divorce. His original point is that Christians have pretended homosexuality is a sin all of its own caliber to the point of ignoring other sins, even when it comes to discussing the sin of Sodom, which Ezekiel points to as a whole list of things without even mentioning homosexuality. He focuses more on their arrogance and how the treated the poor. You don't hear about those as much from evangelicals in the news as you do from most evangelical preachers from the pulpit, but you don't hear about them enough even there. In this post Jollyblogger cautions against some of the statements made about God's judgment on America and Western culture for the sin of homosexuality because the same sort of argument would have meant God's judgment on the church long before homosexuality was even a major issue. Why? Divorce.

In previous posts (here, here, and here, I wrote about the resistance of Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, to Pope John Paul II's movement toward recognizing something closer to historic Protestant views on justification. I have to take that back. Ratzinger did not oppose John Paul II's movements in that direction. What had led me to say that was a document hastily prepared by some cardinals under Ratzinger's direction, and he apparently opposed them in this because he didn't think they understood the issues properly. The rest of this post is an email I received from someone who knows much more directly what went on with these events. [The JDDJ is the Joint Declaration between Lutherans and Catholics that I've referred to in other posts.]

Searches of note since Tuesday:

continent of Iceland any black people living there?
There aren't any people living on the continent of Iceland.

pictures of kids with color blindness
Are you expecting them to have monochrome skin or something?

This week's ridiculous accusation via a search:
Michelle Malkin hates her filipino heritage

quran "warp space"
Any ideas what this person might have been looking for? I don't know of anything in the Qur'an about warp space.

Laurence Thomas points out a piece of evidence for one element of victimology. His main thesis is that vocal black media types (he mentions no names, but I imagine he has Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton at the front of his mind) will justifiably complain and urge change when white people's behavior toward black people is quite atrocious. Yet the same people will be up in arms at any relatively minor slight by white people, and they'll say little to nothing about such gross offenses against black people as the recent case of four black teenagers raping a disabled black girl. This displays a misplaced sense of moral outrage. Laurence says it better than I could:

Green Eggs and Spoo

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Ethan's getting really into Dr. Seuss, and Green Eggs and Ham is one of his current favorites. In searching for some Babylon 5 stuff, I ran across this, which contains the text of a long-lost Dr. Seuss work. If you don't know B5, this will not be funny.

Hypocritical Witch Hunt

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I'm not excited about partisan bickering. This may sound like that, but it's in fact in response to partisan bickering. It seems to me that the ethics witch hunt against Tom Delay, regardless of whether he has committed ethics violations, is pure politics and not about ethics violations at all. Republicans may be willing to do this as well, so this isn't about Republicans or Democrats. It's just that in this case it seems to me that Democrats are pointing out all these things Tom Delay is accused of doing, and the only reason they're doing it is because he's an influential Republican who's had a lot of success getting Republicans to go along with an agenda far from their own. Instead of fighting the fight of ideas, they simply want to impugn his character.

That might be fine if all the major players who were doing this weren't guilty of the same sorts of things, but the reality is that most politicians do most of these things quite often. Maybe they should hunt Tom Delay down, but if so they also need to do the same with Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and many others. See this for some specific charges against some of the people who have been vocal about Tom Delay in a way that's at least potentially deserving of the charge of hypocrisy. I'm not going to endorse any one of these charges. The point is that politicians do this all the time, and people selectively comment on it. I'm not saying this because I like Tom Delay. There are a number of things about the man that I don't like, and I wish he and the left would stop pretending he's representative of evangelical Christianity. My point here is simply that there's a worry about hypocrisy in this witch hunt.

I wrote the content of this post on 1 July 2003, right after the opinions for Lawrence v. Texas went online. I've been meaning to transfer it to my blog but lacked an immediate reason to do so until Tony's comment here. I haven't changed a word. I haven't even read it all to see if I agree with all of it still. This is simply my reflections after reading all the opinions on that case at the time.

Interesting searches since Thursday:

Is Iraq an unjust war?
No, Iraq is a country.

in the what states is it illegal for gay people to get marriage
It would be much easier to ask which states allow it. I don't think there's likely to be a website out there listing all 49 states that don't allow it separately when they can just say that Massachusetts is the only state that does allow it.

Autobiography of dust in the wind
So is Kerry Livgren's song writing a biography about itself, or is the dust that it's about writing its own life story?

scalia thinks women are property
You've got to wonder about why people like this don't get deterred by the obvious lack of influence wishful thinking has on what search engines will turn up. Anyone who searches for something like that deserves what they'll get if they turn up my blog. As it happens, this search turned up my reference to Scalia's claim that orgies can be beneficial to society.

On to the roundup:

The Bible translations that call themselves the literal translations have a funny way of defining 'literal'. What they really mean is that the number of words in a sentence in the original is as close as possible to the number of words in the translation. At least that's what's going on in I Corinthians 3:16-17. There is a difference in translation philosophy between preserving the form of the original and preserving the sense of the original. Those are different elements, and erring on either side means preserving a different element of the meaning of the original.

That's not what's going on in the differences between the translations that say they're more literal amd the ones that say they're more dynamic in I Corinthians 3:16-17. The main difference with this passage is not about preserving the form vs. preserving the sense. It's about preserving one aspect of the form (and therefore one element of the meaning) vs. preserving a different aspect of the form (and therefore a different element of the meaning). First consider the following translations of the two verses in question:

Revenge of Mr Dumpling will be hosting the 67th Christian Carnival this 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:

Scot McKnight, biblical scholar and theologian, extensively interacts with D.A. Carson's forthcoming book on the emergent church (or really about the epistemology of Brian McLaren, one of the key leaders in the emergent church). I really like Scot's attitude about this and think he's mostly right in his understandings of the issues. I hesitate at some of his conclusions, mostly out of ignorance and reluctance to go that far without further understanding, but much of what he's saying seems right to me given my limited understanding of the emergent types (even though my brother is one of them). I've left some lengthy comments where I have anything to say and don't really want to reproduce any of that here, mostly because it would be a lot of work to provide the context for each comment. The best way to find all the posts is to go to the April archives and read starting at the bottom.

At Jollyblogger: The Power of Spirit-Less Preaching

God may speak powerfully through someone, but the emphasis on Spirit-filled preaching in some quarters misses something important, the word itself. The example of Philippians 1 is apt. Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached, even if the people who were doing it were doing it to spite him (presumably because he was in prison, and thus they could have all the results while he was locked up). At the most fundamental level, God works despite the human who delivers the message, not because of what we do. Of course, we can cooperate with God's purposes by repenting and having the right motives, just as we can cooperate with his purposes by preparing carefully and thinking hard and prayerfully about what our audience needs to hear. Too often being Spirit-filled seems to have something to do with tone, volume, or how the preacher or the audience feels rather than whether God has worked in the hearts of those hearing it for genuine lifechange. That's the true indication of Spirit-filled preaching, and it may not have much to do with whether the preacher is Spirit-filled.

Update: He's got another post up now where he expands on and clarifies the point even more, starting from the way I just formulated it and offering some adjustments and caveats. I agree with pretty much all of it.
Update 2: Now he's got another post up.

Edward Feser at Right Reason distinguishes between two kinds of libertarianism (though he later doesn't think they're both equally worthy of the name), the kind that favors free markets and limited government and the kind that goes much further and requires government neutrality (as opposed to presumption one way or the other) on every controversial moral issue. Having made that distinction, he goes on to explain why he thinks the latter view is morally deficient:

If "libertarianism" is merely another way of describing the classical liberal presumption in favor of free markets and limited government, then it is a healthy tendency which conservatives ought to welcome. But if libertarianism entails also that government can and must be neutral between views about the moral legitimacy of abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia; that we can have no enforceable positive obligations to other human beings other than those we explicitly consent to take on; and that a society can be perfectly just as long as property titles are respected, no matter how morally depraved that society might otherwise become, then it is a view that is in my estimation false and dangerous, and ought to be opposed by every conservative.

Christian Carnival LXVI

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The 66th Christian Carnival is at Pseudo-Polymath. My contribution is How Do We Respond to Ministry?

La Shawn Barber has been complaining about Bush's plan to move illegal immigrant workers into a status where they can be kept better track of and abused less by the employers who illegally hire them. See also Sierra Faith, where I first saw this and commented before seeing it at La Shawn's site.

I agree with La Shawn on many things, but this is something I just can't come on board with. I can understand why some people might oppose this program. I can't understand why they would describe it the way she does. She says it's a program to reward criminals for committing illegal activity, and I can't see how that's what this is. It's not rewarding anyone. It's simply reducing a penalty. There's a huge difference.

This post is for the purposes of keeping track of all the posts in my series of commentary reviews. The intro to the series is here. It explains the series and lists resources I've used and will be using in this series. I started out with an overview of the various commentary series I'll be looking at as I treat the commentaries on various books of the Bible. Since each post will be assuming background knowledge of the series, I thought it best to have a post at the outset dealing with all of those. This series started out as a way to provide more detail on particular commentaries, focusing on one book of the Bible at a time.

I also have a list of which commentaries I recommend on each book of the Bible at three different levels of detail. I do intend to keep that post updated as new works come out and as I come to appreciate any that might become my most recommended. This current series will cover more commentaries on each book than what appear in that list, and I'll say something about them instead of just listing them. So it's mostly a deeper exploration, and it's partly a justification for the choices I made in what I put in that list. [Update: See also my list of forthcoming commentaries.]

This post will list linking to all the posts I've written so far as I review the commentaries on each book of the Bible. Here's the list so far:





I Corinthians
I Peter

Christian Carnival LXV

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The 65th Christian Carnival (yes, I know, this is last week's; I'll eventually get around to this week's) is at AnotherThink. My entry for this one is Reflections on the Schiavo Case.

Bishop of Rome

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I find it funny that a number Protestants have been insisting on calling the pope the bishop of Rome. Anglicans consider the pope the bishop of Rome, because they consider all the bishops of equal authority, and they consider the pope the only bishop in Rome. Eastern orthodox have the same view, though they didn't adopt it to justify a king's adultery that Rome wouldn't allow. They simply believed the bishop of Rome was claiming more authority than was really his to claim. Protestants (besides Anglicans) generally don't consider the pope the only bishop in Rome, so why do they think 'the bishop of Rome' refers to him uniquely?

Protestants generally recognize that the word 'bishop' in older English translations of the Bible refers to the local elders of a congregation, the spiritual leaders who carry out the normal teaching function of the congregation, oversee spiritual leadership, and discipline members of the congregation when necessary. Each congregation thus has at least one bishop, ideally a plurality for any local gathering. A leader Protestants wrongly call the pastor should count as one of these elders or bishops, but ideally there will be others in a team, all of whom will teach, even if one or two will be paid full-time. A Protestant might even think Catholics should be calling their whole priesthood bishops or elders rather than priests, since everyone is a priest anyway, and the priests serve the functions that elders do in the biblical records. It just strikes me as funny to see those who believe in many bishops in Rome calling the pope the bishop of Rome, as if that expression is uniquely referring.

Interesting ways people have found me since Monday:

why is a group rape bad?
If you don't know that, I'm not sure anything on this site will help you.

gene robinson's first name
Believe it or not, his first name is Vicki. Now people searching for it with this search might find it more easily.

i believe bush doesn't do God's will
Wow! He thinks he's human, too! What a coincidence! At least he's trying to do what he thinks is God's will, i.e. what he thinks is right. That's not true of many civic leaders, who do only what they think people want them to do so they can get reelected.

differences between christians and protestants
That must be like the differences between Muslims and Shi'ites, the differences between politicians and Democrats, and the differences between human beings and those who search the web for differences between Christians and Protestants. [I'm sad to say that I've gotten three separate searches for this so far since Monday, plus differences in christianity and catholicism once.]

Clinton on Self-Loathing

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Arthur Finkelstein is one of the key promoters of the Stop Hillary movement. He's also gay, momogamous, and married to his partner. President Clinton is now on record belittling this man in what seems to me to be a completely irrational way. He says, "Either this guy believes his party is not serious and is totally Machiavellian in his position or there's some sort of self-loathing there." I'm trying to figure out what he means. The only thing I can think of is that he should oppose Republicans simply because many Republicans disagree with one thing Finkelstein obviously cares a lot about. That's such an awful argument that it's hard to believe Clinton really believes it's true.

Pro-choice politicians (largely, anyway) in Illinois have passed a law (that still needs to be passed in the state Senate) that will make it criminal to perform an ultrasound without a doctor's order. The ostensible reason has to do with worries about muscle and nerve damage with prolonged exposure to ultrasound waves. I'm not sure what counts as prolonged, but I've been present for five ultrasounds, and they're usually pretty quick. Some pro-lifers have seen this as a ploy simply to prevent crisis pregnancy centers from using ultrasounds to convince women not to have abortions, which it turns out is a fairly effective method. That effectiveness, of course, reveals more about abortion and what women have been falsely led to believe about fetal development than it does about the tactics of people who are pro-life. Some of the comments at World's post on this seem to show suspicion of dirty motives of anyone who is pro-choice without any further investigation to support that suspicion, and the groupthink among the mostly pro-life people gives them all the support they need. In this case, though, there does seem to be at least something to that suspicion, and I have two pieces of evidence to offer in support of that.

Benedict XVI

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The College of Cardinals has selected Joseph Cardinal Ratinger to be pope. As the title indicates, he's taken the name Benedict XVI. I have to have mixed feelings about him. After all, he's the one who insisted to John Paul II that he not sign the Joint Agreement with the Lutherans (which I've posted about here and here) that I think was generally indicative of a good movement within the Roman Catholic Church, and he also changed none of the catechism as a result of the Joint Agreement with Lutherans. I think that's the most critical issue for the future direction of the RCC. [Update: I've been corrected on this. See this post for more information.]

On the other hand, on issues I think they need to hold ground on, he's been a stalwart. I don't agree with the RCC position on artificial contraception, and I think the whole category of priests is unbiblical (or at least restricting it to some but not all believers is unbiblical), so the issue of women as priests is irrelevant. There are issues lurking behind the scenes there that I do care about, and I suspect he's more likely to agree with me on those. As much as I disagree with the Catholic statement of the gospel, it's much more accurate than those who reduce it to social and political themes, and Ratzinger has resisted that pressure.

Pseudo-Polymath will be hosting the 66th Christian Carnival this 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 the second introductory post to my series reviewing commentaries on different books of the Bible. The first introduces the series and explains some of the classifications I'll be using. This post will review the various series of commentaries. See this post for a list of series abbreviations, which I'll use a little bit in this post. The first time I introduce a series I'll give its whole name, and I'll use abbreviations if I refer to it when discussing a series later in the list. I suppose it's fitting that a post that took well over a month to complete will end up as the round number of post #1100.

[Update: I'm putting together posts listing individual volumes for each series, but it will take me a while to do this. As I go, I will put links in from this post. As of this update, I've only got two in there, but this process should be a lot quicker than my more detailed reviews of commentaries on each book of the Bible, which takes a lot more work for me to put together if I want to do as careful a review as I've been doing. So I expect these to be filling out in due time.]

So why do I keep getting insane numbers of searches for "reverend ketcham"? I can't seem to find anything interesting related to those keywords that would have arisen recently. What's stranger is that they begin to show up in the evening and then get sparser during the day time. At one point they were even more frequent during the given interval than the searches for my name were (which have begun to slow down a lot now that his funeral is over). [Update: See the answer in the comments.] Other unusual searches since Thursday:

I'm not sure why you think shouting will help. Maybe you should reconsider your assumption that there can be someone who is both Catholic and Protestant, never mind the assumption that there are exactly two of them or that their pictures would be online even if they existed and there were exactly two of them.

theology of the muppet show
Next thing you know we'll be looking at the military tactics of Struck Touched By an Angel or the philosophy of science of Beavis & Butthead. Wasn't Jim Henson a practitioner of the most badly misnamed religion in history, Christian Science?

Ineffective search of the week:
christian song, i think about the cross
Way to distract the search engine with thoroughly irrelevant terms. There are probably thousands of such songs, but this will turn up only ones containing the terms 'think' and 'about' in addition to many other things that aren't songs but have the word 'song', as was the case with my post that turned up, which was a Christian Carnival I hosted with a Kansas theme. Isn't there someone that can teach people common sense regarding web searches?

questions to find who would your friend be
in a movie? in an alternate possible world? I know this is someone who doesn't know how to use a search engine, but it's pretty bad if even a human being can't figure out what they're searching for.

should christians think?
at all?

David Heddle has a nice post up giving a synopsis of five key Christian figures from the mid-fourth to mid-fifth centuries: John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Leo the Great, and Augustine. This is part of a larger series on church history that's been very good overall, much worth checking out. Two things in this post caught my attention as worth saying something about. (There's much more in the post that caught my attention, but not to the point of wanting to flag it.)

1. David ends the post with a very nice discussion of Augustine's theology as a systematic development of what was later called Calvinism, leading into an especially good treatment of limited atonement as a theological issue independent of Augustine himself.

2. In the section on Jerome, we see a precursor of contemporay translation debates, though David doesn't mention it as such:

In 382 he returned to Rome and was charged by Damasus, bishop of Rome, with the job of revising the Latin New Testament. Jerome was reluctant, knowing that he would be "blamed" by those who found their favorite translations altered, and this time with the Church�s authority. (Indeed, "I think the original must be wrong," said one such malcontent when told that his favorite translation had been undone by an appeal to the earliest manuscripts.)

Hmm. Haven't I heard that exact claim about the earliest manuscripts before?


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Marla Swoffer (formerly Proverbial Wife for those who might know her by that but not by her real name) has started TypeBlogs. One of the selling points is a blogroll for each Myers-Briggs personality type, and she's got a link to a quick, online test to discover which type you're most like. [You could also do this short one, this longer one, or this word matching one. Generally speaking, longer tests are more accurate, but shorter ones are quicker to do.

To join one of the blogrolls, see this post.

I gave the communion meditation last Sunday, and I received this note from one of the teenagers in the congregation:

Dear Mr. Pierce,

I didn't get the chance to tell you at church, but I wanted to thank you for your communion message. The Lord used your words in a very direct and specific way in my life today. I can't explain, but I wanted you to know. :) [or the equivalent symbol written out, anyway]

I'm not posting this because I think it says anything about me. It may not have anything to do with me. It's likely that something I said and something she was going through happened, in God's providence, to connect in a vivid way for her, which I couldn't have done anything deliberate to provoke anyway. I'm posting it because I think it tells us something about how followers of Christ should relate to those who are in any form of spiritual leadership over us.

I've updated my RSS feeds. I now had two feeds of RSS 1.0, two of RSS 2.0, and one of ATOM. The two of each version of RSS are so I can have one excerpts version and one with full posts in the feed. Until now, the ATOM feed was the only one that gave full posts, I believe. If you read my blog with a newsreader and have been using one of the RSS feeds, the feed you've been using has converted to full posts. If you prefer the excepts, you should switch to a different feed. The links to all of them are at the top of the sidebar.

Someone emailed me saying his newsreader was updating with old posts as new, I believe with the same date and time as the new post, and it does this every time I post something new. Has anyone else had this problem? If so, which of my feeds have you been using? Does anyone have an idea what could be causing this problem and how it might be solved? I've already been spending more time than I really can afford to on this and would appreciate anything that might prevent me from putting in a lot more time if it's something pretty simple.

Bad Colorblindness

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Sam points out one counter-productive and truly discriminatory consequence of the absolute colorblindness view that most pundits won't notice because they're mostly men. The view that it's immoral to recognize racial differences requires that we don't pay attention to skin color when dealing with things like makeup or hair care. It's a completely unworkable view in the light of basic biological realities, never mind in light of harmful social processes that need to be talked about and can only be talked about in terms of the racial categories that gave rise to those social problems.

Brush With Celebrity

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I was walking home tonight from a talk on campus, and I saw a crowd coming out of the community center on the corner of my street, and as I cut through their parking lot to get to my street I was sort of cutting through the crowd. I saw a few people dressed pretty formally as I went by, which seemed strange to me for people coming out of a community center event, and I saw the guy I'd just passed by being led as if the guy leading him was something like a bodyguard to keep people at a distance. As I was moving away, I looked back and got a good look at his face. It was Ralph Nader, who I'd just heard was in town and was about to speak on campus tonight. I guess he had just finished a talk at the community center. I'm not sure I would have connected his face with who he really was if I hadn't just been talking about him. I'm sure I would have thought he looked really familiar, but Ralph Nader isn't exactly the sort of person I'd expect to see on my own street. Well, there he was, and I was probably only a few feet from him.

Through a Glass Darkly uses the Terri Schiavo case as an example to illustrate three principles about how Christians should interact with the political sphere.

First, Paul tells us to respect those in positions of authority, which for us includes the judiciary, whether liberal, activist, or whatever other term you want to call it. Many Christians recently have been anything but respectful. This was a big problem among politically conservative evangelicals when Clinton was president. Now that most of these people like the president, the ire transfers to others. It's just as evil. Criticizing someone's ideas is one thing, but the kind of language I've seen goes way beyond what's required to criticize someone's ideas.

I don't normally link to carnivals I'm not in, but I can't resist this time. The host for the 134th Carnival of the Vanities was so rude and unintelligently critical of many of the posts in this week's carnival that Laurence Simon decided to do a decent edition of the same carnival on his own site.

I have nothing at stake because I'm not in this carnival, but I've had someone misrepresent and poorly portray what I've said in a COTV in the past, which showed both laziness and lack of respect on his part. So I can understand why he's done this. This one was much worse than the one I was in was. Maybe seven or eight people got the unintelligent lack of respect and unwillingness to engage with the content in the one I was in. Here it was probably close to half the entries.

When I host a carnival, I present the material as the person would themselves, usually using their own description. If I have something very short that I can say about it, whether a mild criticism or an acclamation of praise, I will do that. Extensive or less mild criticisms will go in a comment on the carnival post, in a separate post altogether, or on the post that was submitted. It's never ok for a carnival host to be rude to anyone submitting a post, though harshness might be ok for someone who keeps submitting posts that obviously shouldn't have been submitted because of content, which COTV doesn't have any restrictions on anyway, and even in that case the post just shouldn't appear at all. Respectful treatment of submissions is part of the convention of the COTV, and anyone who is willing to take part ought to follow it or be heavily derided by all who take part.

First: how are people finding me this week?

Biggest search event of the week: Someone with my name died Friday night, and I've been getting scores of searches every hour for it. That's what I get for monopolizing the Google ratings for my name. I've had to check my sitemeter every couple hours if I don't want to miss anything. I don't mind getting more traffic if it's people wanting to read my stuff, but this is just from frustrated people who can't find what they're looking for. At least people began to leave comments to help them after a bit.

Unfortunate misspelling of the week:
critically asses locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities
The difference one letter makes. My students do this often enough, and spellcheckers can't catch misspellings that are real words. One of my colleagues regrets the existence of the word 'posse' because it means spellcheckers never catch 'posses' for 'possess'.

Conspiracy theory of the week:
mcwhorter's ties to swift boat veterans
John McWhorter is a linguist who writes popular books about race on the side. I can't even see the connection in content, never mind with the people. He didn't even vote for Bush in 2004, so I'm not sure why anyone would think he'd have much to do with the Swift Boat Vets, whose main goal was to prevent Kerry's election. All conspiracy theorists are intellectually dishonest in their speculative connections, but this one seems to be from just plain stupidity. Well, it's probably just racism, which is a kind of stupidity, particularly when it involves assuming that anyone who is black who says anything remotely like what conservatives say, even if it's for very different reasons, must have something to do with the most extreme people on the conservative side on issues unrelated to what that person even talks about. It's racist to assume a racial essence that requires black people to be liberal, and it's racist to assume that those who will say conservativish things must be mirror images of whatever your image of a conservative is. The only reason people will think such things is if they assume black people can't think for themselves.

False dilemma of the week:
is the death penalty racist or just
This one came earlier in the last week and then again yesterday. The second time, it had a question mark at the end. I don't suspect that was because they were less sure that those were the only options.

Attempt to Start a Slanderous Rumor by Means of a Google Search of the week:
norman geisler homosexual molester three times

Most bewildering search of the week:
philosophical meaning of eyeshadow

Voting Felons

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New member of The Conservative Brotherhood Joseph C. Phillips writes about the ban on felons' being allowed to vote. The following quote stood out to me as showing genuine insight into something I think it's easy to ignore if you don't look at it from the proper perspective:

Confronting a party that is suffering due to its own lack of vision is discouraging enough, but it is truly disheartening to witness a party so cynical that it would look to criminals to shore up its base, particularly when the overwhelming majority of the victims of this new interest group were other black people.

Now that's the kind of argument you won't see from most white conservatives, who tend to give general arguments that they expect most people to follow. What distinguishes black conservatives is that they will tend to argue for what's best for black people, from the perspective of black people, since they are themselves black. If you want to convince white people of conservative views on this issue, tell them to read George Will. Black conservatives tend to come up with arguments that black people will hear, at least if they're not tuning someone out from the outset as an Uncle Tom merely for being conservative. Joseph has provided just such an argument here.

Christian Carnival LXIV

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The 64th Christian Carnival (yes, I know I'm a week behind, but I've had a particularly busy week) is at Proverbs Daily, with a nice topical categorization in terms of particular proverbs. My Intermediate State is there, and it's consciously occupying its position in the carnival but not with the kind of consciousness I have now.

The Conservative Brotherhood recently accepted some new members, and apparently this has drawn some attention to them. Wizbang highlights the group (mistakenly calling it a blog), and a commenter decided to make the impossible to defend claim that it's immoral to form such a group. I first thought that he was claiming it was racist to make these distinctions, but he doesn't go quite that far. It's a dangerous enough attitude anyway. Chapomatic expresses a pretty similar worry, but he's not as firm about it and considers it a more minor issue among people he greatly respects. You can see other responses to this at Conservative Brotherhood members Baldilocks, Cobb, Michael King, Sam, Ambra Nykola, and Booker Rising. I've left comments on a few of the sites so far, but I'd like to organize all of what I've been thinking and writing together in one post.

The primary issue that keeps coming up is colorblindness. I've addressed this issue before. There's a kind of colorblindness that's good. When you get to know someone, you see them in terms of being a person and not in terms of being a person defined by color. At the same time, there's something very insulting when a white person says to a black person, "Well I don't really think of you as black." It's as if you're saying "You don't fit my picture of what black people are supposed to be like." This kind of colorblindness is just plain racist, albeit a kind of residual and unintentional racism that you might not blame someone for.

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Laurence Thomas has a blog, I worked for Laurence as a TA for three and a half years, three as his head TA for a 400-450 student ethics class with a team of six TAs (plus the occasional undergrad TA or three). I also helped edit his portion of his book with Michael Levin on sexual orientation and human rights, and he actually heeded to some of my comments, though not all. That book more than anything else helped shape the current form of my views on those issues from what it had been previously. I would say that he's also influenced my thinking on abortion, euthanasia, race, affirmative action, and a number of other applied ethical issues, but I think more fundamentally he helped shape my thinking on more basic foundational issues, such as the moral implications of the state of evil in the world that Christians call the fall, which he describes under Martha Nussbaum's term 'the fragility of goodness'. His work on the value of showing moral deference to those whose moral framework we can't understand due to their own experiences is outstanding. He also awakened in me a desire that I haven't always honored to give thought in an ethical theory to oft-ignored considerations like the value of modesty, gratitude, and forgiveness, and I think he convinced me more than anyone else how deep a role parental love plays in the moral development of a child.

I really enjoyed working with him and think he offers a lot of insight into the kinds of moral questions that most people want to stay away from, either because the questions are too hard or because they won't like the conclusions they'll draw. It helps that I have tremendous sympathies for some of his underlying convictions on moral issues, but sometimes even when I disagree with his conclusions I'll really appreciate what he has to say to get there. There's a lot more that I could say about him, and when I get a chance to read through his posts perhaps I'll flag some of them.

The next Vox Apologia is on the cosmological argument for the existence of God, and I happen to have some ready-made notes on it from back when I taught a course that included it as a topic, so I've decided I might as well post them and submit it as an entry. These notes were last modified September 21, 2001, so they may not reflect my current thought. I'm not editing them at all. Also, I should say that my presentation depends heavily on William Rowe's work, most importantly the short article he wrote for introductory courses that appears in Reason and Responsibility, ed. Feinberg and Shafer-Landau, with one reference to the other text we used in that course, Jan Cover and Rudy Garns's Theories of Knowledge and Reality (abbreviated TKR).

Another Think will be hosting the 65th Christian Carnival this 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:

Did someone with my name die? I've been getting a lot of searches for my name since last night. I mean a lot, something like a few an hour some hours, though it's slowed down a good deal now. After a while of this, I finally saw two this morning that hinted at what might be up. One was "Jeremy Pierce suicide" and another "Jeremy Pierce death". I looked at a bunch of searches related to that, and I've pretty much monopolized the Google results for my name, so I can't come up with much. Does anyone know what's going on here?

Update 4-10-05: Someone named Jeremy Pierce did die Friday night. See the comments if you came here looking for further information, and if you have more information for the many, many people trying to find out anything on this, please feel free to share it in a comment so those who have so far been very frustrating in looking for something on this will be able to know what's happened.

Update 4-12-05: A commenter provided this link to an article about Jeremy's death. You'll need to type in your zip code and one or two other incidentals to access it, but you don't need to register with an email address. There's also more information now in the comments.

Doug at announces his preference for the ESV over other Bible translations. I'm not going to comment on most of what he says, but I found one thing very interesting. He gives a number of different translations of Psalm 119:11. You can check the post for the different versions, but here's what fascinated me. Aside from The Message, the most dynamic translation out there (done by a real scholar or scholars, anyway), the two most dynamic translations of that verse were the NASB and the ESV, which are normally much more formal translations. All the others retain some word for hiding when they record the psalmist's statement that he's hidden God's word in his heart. The NASB and the ESV use other words. The NASB psalmist has treasured God's word in his heart, and the ESV psalmist has stored it up in his heart. I just found that interesting, but it underlies an important point.

Many Protestants say that Catholicism is simply not part of Christianity. They say that Catholic views about justification and salvation in general are not compatible with what the Bible teaches about such matters, and in fact Catholics are teaching what Paul in Galatians calls another gospel, which is not really a gospel at all but something else. Paul was right to condemn the Galatian heresy as another gospel, which is not really a gospel at all but something else. It's quite clear to me that Catholics do not teach or believe the Galatian heresy, however. That leaves it open that Catholic teaching is another gospel besides the Christian one, but if so it's not the one Paul was confronting in Galatians, as many Protestants seem to insist on.

My own view is that some elements within the Catholic church do teach and believe something that might be characterized as another gospel and thus might not saved according to what the Bible teaches about salvation. I'm not sure if this view is another gospel, but it might well be. However, I also firmly believe that many within the Catholic church do not believe another gospel at all. Now that I've said both those statements, let me point out that what I said is consistent with saying that from the top the Catholic view is another gospel, and many within the RCC are faithful to the true gospel despite that. It's also consistent with saying that from the top the view is the true gospel, and many within the RCC depart from that. I actually think both of those would be false, and the reasons are fairly complicated. [Update: I've been corrected on some of what follows. See this post for more information. Apparently Cardinal Ratzinger was not behind the opposition to the Joint Declaration. He in fact opposed that opposition.] The fact is that there isn't a teaching that can be said to be from the top, because the Pope John Paul II and [Update: some within] the catechizing wing of the Vatican have endorsed conflicting theologies, one of them as far as I can tell fully consistent with Reformation theology, at least on the matter of justification.

Now that we've had some time to distance ourselves from Terri Schiavo's death and some time to get distracted by the death of John Paul II, I've decided to share some of my mixed feelings from the whole affair. I know Wink is planning to do the same, and I didn't really intend to one-up him on this, but as I was working through the Christian Carnival I came across Neil Uchitel's post at Digitus, Finger & Co., and I wanted to say much more about his post than I have room for in my weekly Christian Carnival roundup. Wink can frame his comments as a response to this if this doesn't entirely preempt what he wanted to say, and I'm fairly sure it doesn't, so I've decided to go ahead with this.

Neil raises some important points about the Terri Schiavo case that I think most Christians who have written about it aren't considering, sometimes out of mere ignorance but sometimes, I suspect, out of total irrationality in the face of arguments that should convince them. I don't agree with everything Neil says, but he's right about enough things that I wanted to express my agreement in addition to noting my further reasons why I don't think his conclusions all follow. Much of what follows comes from my own comments on Neil's post, since I wanted to preserve what I'd spent so much time writing.

How people arrived here this past week:

what's the meaning of patricia williams
Now was that supposed to be like "What is the meaning of this?!?!?" or like "What does this this expression mean?"

facts about spongebob no one knows
If no one knows them, then why are you searching for them as if someone out there knows them?

bad negative sinful emotions
As opposed to positive sinful emotions?

"islam is not real"
I'm not sure what this person was looking for, but not one of the hits involved anyone even discussing the strange thought that Islam is not real. Some had to do with the God of Islam not being real, others of someone's Islam not being real, one about Islam not being real big on revolutionary thinking, and one about the Nation of Islam not being real Islam. Whatever they were looking for is not on the internet anywhere.

any thing on Romans
Wouldn't it be easier and more effective just to search for "Romans"?

saddam's justification for invading iraq
I'm not even sure what to say about that one.

David Velleman at Left2Right raises some worthwhile questions about asexuality and marriage. His argument is that some people don't have sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex not because they have it to people of the same sex but because they don't have it at all. They're asexual. Yet we allow these people to marry, and we allow them to marry each other. We just don't let two asexual men or two asexual women marry each other. On this one I don't agree with him fully, but it's the kind of question worth asking.

Touching Base

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I just wanted to check in and say that I'm still here. The comments have been fairly active over the weekend, and that was exhausting. I was also very sick Sunday night and all day yesterday, completely unrelated to last week's sickness. I spent almost the entire day yesterday grading to get an exam back to my class last night, and I had to teach for three hours in the evening while unable to stand more than a few minutes at a time. Then I had to teach again today, and I was scrambling from 5-6 pm last night to be prepared for class and then again this morning for today's mid-day class. So that's why I haven't been posting much of anything for a few days. I've been wiped out with little energy to think about something for long enough to write more than what it takes to respond to comments, because all my concentration has been reserved for grading and then class prep. Now I've got a little leeway before Thursday, but I'm going to be out this evening, so I'm not posting anything substantial today. I just wanted to touch base and report that I've got some stuff I'm working on.

I'm most of the way done with my second post in the commentary reviews series, giving a one or two paragraph review of each of the major commentary series. I've got something I wrote up halfway about punishment, torture, and whether we should delight in the suffering of those who deserve punishment. I've also got a post already worked out in my mind about Roman Catholicism, the Galatian heresy, and what Protestants should think about those who follow official Vatican teachings. I've got my next two posts in my affirmative action series already planned out, and I realized some very interesting problems that open theism raises that I don't think most open theists want to admit. I've also got a post for Prosblogion pretty much planned out on the problem of foreknowledge and free will that will follow up on my recent post there.

I do expect to do my usual Wednesday roundup tomorrow, and I hope maybe one of these other posts will be done by then. I'll almost assuredly be able to spend an hour of uninterrupted time writing during my office hours Thursday evening, unless of all things one of my students actually decides to show up for office hours. There's plenty of stuff I'm working on. I just need to get some time to write it up without distractions and while I can pick my head up enough to focus. Since I seem to be getting mostly better, I expect at least a few substantial posts to be done before the end of the week. I just haven't been able to focus on anything for very long in the last few days.

Proverbs Daily will be hosting the 64th Christian Carnival this 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:

Pope John Paul II died today at the age of 84. I have little to say except that, as a Protestant, I'm extremely grateful for the most Protestant-friendly pope so far. What I'll remember him for has little to do with what most of the media outlets have been talking about endlessly for the last 24 hours. It's for the groundbreaking progress in Catholic-Protestant relations under his watch, most notably the accords within the last decade between Catholics and Lutherans.

According to a the Catholic end of the declaration from that time, the heresy they had condemned as Lutheranism turns out not to be Lutheranism after all. Luther wasn't a heretic, they now say, though the view they had condemned is a heresy. He just didn't hold that view. They now understand Protestants to be using the word 'justification' the way Paul does, and they believe they've been using it all along the way James does. In the end, the views are close enough that neither should see the other as a heresy.

Leaving Time

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Evangelical Outpost has joined the intermediate state debate (cf. my contribution here). The views on the table were cessation of existence and then resurrection, an intermediate state of complete consciousness, and my own tentative suggestion that there's a conscious intermediate state but not fully conscious and not involving much of what we normally consider to go along with our conscious states now. Since it was mostly scriptural interpretation, I was keeping it at my own blog, but now that it's philosophical I'm cross-posting it at Prosblogion.

Joe says that he's surprised not to see a fourth view, that we simply cease to exist in time but don't cease to exist altogether. We live in time until we die, and then we leave time to go be with God in eternity, a timeless existence. He says he doesn't think his view conflicts with Christian scripture. I agree that his view need not conflict with scripture, but I don't think it can make any sense philosophically without conflicting with one of the most crucial Christian beliefs about God's creation of the universe.



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