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Showing posts from September, 2018

What Was Missing in the Senate Judicial Committee’s Kavanaugh Hearings?

The Senate Judicial Committee's hearings on the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court were painful enough to watch.  Yet they captured social pressure points throughout society.  The elephant in the room was the Roe v. Wade decision that unborn children lack personhood and may be put to death at any time up to birth.  That dividing issue in the USA led to all the tricks and theatrics in the hearings.  Yet the presenting issue had to be something else since the ‘Ginsburg Rule’ says that candidates will not reveal how they would vote on particular issues.
What better way, then, to bring the candidate down in the #MeToo era than to make a claim of sexual abuse?  As a real Catholic, unlike lip-serving Catholics in high governmental positions who regularly advocate for abortion and homosexuality, Kavanaugh surely personally opposes abortion.  While we do not know how, as a judge, he would vote on the matter (for his role is to interpret laws, not make them), he would…

The Ethics of Tribal Victimhood versus Biblical Vulnerability

The Modernist, Western era has pursued, with considerable advantages at times, an approach to ethics through ‘rights.’  The USA added an addendum to the Constitution of ten amendments, called the ‘Bill of Rights.’  The United Nations’ charter was written in the language of certain ‘rights’.  This ‘rights’ approach is not entirely wrong in ethics, but it cannot adequately ground or ensure the morality that societies need.  Among its inadequacies is a tendency to see society in terms of groups, groups whose rights need to be identified and protected.  This has, in turn, led to a notion of victimhood, that is, that some groups as such are victim-groups.
Alongside this trajectory in Western society has been a progression from modernist to postmodernist to tribalist perspectives and practices (as I have been arguing for the past three years).[1]  Tribalism’s understanding of ‘rights’ is strongly coloured by an assumption of victimhood.  On this perspective, if society is broken up into vari…

False Testimony, Sexual Violence, and Speaking Out: Some Biblical Texts

The Judiciary Committee’s hearings around the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh raise questions about what the Bible says about false testimony, sexual violence, and the responsibility of victims to speak out immediately.  The following quotations (from the English Standard Version) are offered for reflection.
False Testimony
Exodus 20:16  "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. [The 9th Commandment; so also Deuteronomy 5.20.  Cf. Jesus’ affirmation of this Commandment: Matthew 19.18; Mark 10.19; Luke 18.20.]
Exodus 23:1 "You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.
Deuteronomy 19:16-21 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing,  17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.  18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely,  19…

Tribal Victimhood and the 'New Justice': A Reflection on the Kavanaugh Hearings

Since the 1980s, Judicial Committee hearings for Supreme Court justices have provided a window into cultural changes in the United States.  The postmodern turn in Western culture involved moving from a modernist understanding of truth as objective to understanding truth as local and constructed.  In modernity’s period, justice presumed the accused to be innocent until proven guilty.  A good judge interpreted the law correctly: there was a belief in the facts of the case and in right readings of the written laws. 
Postmodernity removed the notion of right interpretation based on the meaning of the original authors.  Words could be bent to new purposes.  Laws were freed from the tyranny (!) of the original authors.  This created an overreach of the judicial system into the legislative system of governance, what people now called ‘legislating from the bench.’  What is ‘true’ became what is ‘true for us.’  Meaning would no longer be established by interpreting texts according to their int…