Blogs > Cliopatria > Things Noted Here and There ...

Jul 26, 2005 10:26 am


Things Noted Here and There ...



On matters archaeological,"sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." As my friend, Ralph Keyes, points out, however, there's no actual evidence that Sigmund Freud ever said that. [Speaking of Ralph, have a look at his office, the filing cabinets in his basement, and his amazing collection of vintage electric toasters, waffle irons, blenders, hair-dryers, cocktail shakers, radios, and streamlined vacuum cleaners. (Or, take my word for it. I've been there and it's pretty overwhelming)].

Scott McLemee's"Inner Checks and Political Balances," Inside Higher Ed, 26 July, meditates on the recent exchange between Tim Burke and David Horowitz at Front Page Rag. Beyond ideology, says McLemee, Burke's dialogical attitude makes us want to continue reading and talking with him and there's an attitude in Horowitz that makes us want to take a shower.

Two noteworthy columns in the New York Times:

David M. Kennedy,"The Best Army We Can Buy," NYT, 24 July, reflects on the relationship between an army and the people that it represents. Kennedy thinks that the"revolution in military affairs" puts a dangerous rift between the two.
Frank Rich,"Eight Days in July," NYT, 24 July, suggests that the Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court and the Plame/Rove investigation interacted in some fairly serious ways.
Gary Farber at Amygdala and Ogged at Unfogged claim that John Roberts has stumbled already in interviews. When asked what he would do if the application of existing law violated his religious commitments, Roberts said, after a long pause, that he would probably recuse himself. I'd argue the reverse: that Roberts gave exactly the right answer. Otherwise, we have concluded that the state is its own highest majesty. The argument of my secular friends on this issue would bar all faithful Jews, Christians, and Muslims from service on the court.

Years ago, when I was in theological seminary, I was shocked to learn that the most commonly defaced journals in the library were those that published sermons, sermon tips, and outlines. Apparently, my fellow student-preachers found themselves hard-pressed for a sermon on Saturday night and clipped something from the journals for Sunday morning. Hiram Hover cites a survey from Preaching Today that indicates that that probably hasn't changed. 69% of preachers reported using illustrations from other preacher's sermons, 43% admitted lifting the main idea for a sermon from someone else's sermon, etc.Hiram wonders what percentages you'd get from a survey of classroom lecturers -- or, even, whether you'd get honest answers from us. I do think that different canons apply to print scholarship, classroom lectures, and sermons.

The latest report on Cliopatria's member of the United States Army, Chris Bray, is that he's been transferred to Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg, MS, where he will wait in a 36-person cinder block building, sans toilet, until 20 August, when training will begin. The guy's normally a vegetarian, but Uncle Sam doesn't serve vegetables. If you can send him some at the address he gives, they'd be much appreciated.

Alabama's Stillman College will host a conference on"The Murder of Emmett Till and the Struggle for Civil Rights" on 15-17 September. David Beito, who will be giving a paper, has the information about the conference at Liberty & Power. I'm looking forward to being there.

Congratulations to Jason Kuznicki, who has transformed his personal blog, Positive Liberty, into a group blog. The new group members, Ed Brayton, Jon Rowe, and Timothy Sandefur re-enforce PL's libertarian cast.

Finally, thanks to Inside Higher Ed for the links to Hugo Schwyzer's"‘Incredibly Hot' – the Michael Gees Case" and to my own"Offenses Are Honored: An Open Letter to Vickie Ruiz and Lee Formwalt."

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Jonathan Dresner - 7/26/2005

I wouldn't argue that Roberts' answer is wrong because people of faith shouldn't answer to their consciences.

I would argue that it's wrong because he's opening himself up to an unending series of challenges based on his faith, challenges that none of his potential colleagues (at least one of whom is also Catholic; FWIW, 2 out of 9 would be a pretty good approximation of the Catholic population of the US) would tolerate.

Recusal might be the right thing to do, if there really were a conflict between doctrinal dictates and constitutional interpretation, but giving that answer up front takes the question of recusal (at least partly) out of his hands and makes it a public question. Someone who knows the court better should actually answer the question, but my impression is that Justices recuse themselves only very rarely and only when clear conflicts exist.

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