Friday, July 05, 2002

Selection Process for the judges of the International Criminal Court resemble the selection process for judges of International Figure Skating, writes Steven Den Beste. This follows his post on the "laws" the court will enforce, which should be automatically void for vagueness. As he writes, "Here in the US, one of our most sacred principles of criminal law is that anyone should reasonably be able to determine before committing a deliberate act whether or not it is a violation of the law." The ICC seems more and more like a mockery of the rule of law. Talk about "lesser breeds without the law". Anyone can convene a tribunal and say they're enforcing laws (even such stalwarts of jurisprudence as Stalin and Robespierre had "trials" before executing sentences). Is this what people mean when they say we should leave the punishment of those who attack us in the hands of international institutions and courts? Sh'yah, when monkeys fly out of my butt!

Also, as pointed out before, the ICC has been set up on the model of continental European law, in a way similar to how the EU wants to operate its courts. This is another insight into the policies they plan on implementing. Too bad Britain can't get out now.
Two Natures The "civil authorities" now are not a distant Caesar, the sovereign civil authorities are all citizens with franchise, as I mentioned wednesday. Telford quotes Paul, Romans 13;1-7:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them - taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
If God the Father confers civil authority, and he has conferred it upon a Christian, and he authorizes the civil authority to do certain things (including bear the sword), why would He prohibit His believers from performing the legitimate (in God's eyes) functions of the civil authority? How would that disobey God's divine will, if He has placed them in positions of civil authority, which means doing what a civil authority does (as a teleological matter). Put another way, how is it illegitimate for a Christian to do what God has authorized to be done? Or, rather, perhaps the question is when and in what contexts are we enjoined from doing things that God otherwise permits?
We need to remember, firstly, that Paul was writing to specific Christian congregations. When he wrote, none of those congregations held civil authority (indeed, they were oppressed by civil authorities). Similarly, the Disciples of Jesus were obviously not in civil authority when Jesus was among them. They were not in a context where they ought to exercise the prerogatives of civil authority. Thus it is no wonder that the disciples, and the congregations Paul wrote to, were enjoined from doing what God has authorized a civil authority alone to do (just as there are things only the Church can do, there are things God permits only to the civil authorities acting under the rule of law that He institutes). But it does not follow, then, that if Christians are placed in a position of civil authority (instituted by God), that they are prohibited from doing what God allows the civil authorities to do. Quite the contrary - they are just prohibited from doing those things outside the institutions of civil authority.
It would also seem that Christians cannot fight in the name of Christ, but they can, it would also seem, do what God allows when He invests them with civil authority, under the color of civil authority and the rule of law. Otherwise God is setting up a contradictory position where He institutes a civil authority to do certain things, including bear the sword with reason, but prohibits those who hold civil authority from performing the tasks that He has put them in place to do!
We've been talking in terms of a duality - there is the Church, with its unique role, and the civil authority, with its unique role. The divine role of the Church and the human role of the State. This brings to mind certain Christological controversies. The Church rejected all interpretations of Christ as having one nature. It rejected Arianism, Monophysitism, Monotheltism, Monoenergizm. I always wondered specifically why they would reject the theory that Christ had one will. I mean, I could understand him having two natures, human and divine, inseparable, but surely he had one will? This discussion actually makes some sense of that duality, for me at least. There are two authorities, both instituted by God's divine will, the spiritual authority of the Church and the temporal authority of the State. Both have roles that cannot be performed by, or subordinated to, the other (thus a theocracy would be impossible in this interpretation). Likewise, on the other hand, when Paul is enjoining the Christians to "not resist" the governing authorities, clearly he means not resist them in their legitimate temporal sphere only, not in the spiritual realm (otherwise this is an exhortation to the Christians to not resist Caesar's attempts to compel them to worship him and the pagan gods that were Rome's state religion at the time).
Romans 13 thus is not "against" Romans 12, nor does it contradict Romans 12, but it does, it would seem, qualify it; describing a sphere of activity where actions that are otherwise prohibited (outside that sphere) are done with God's approval; this sphere is that of performing the functions of civil authority. Either that or Romans 12 & 13 put absolute prohibitions upon Christians participating in the institutions of civil authority (which would include the electoral institutions). This should not be surprising, since the Church likewise has a role where things can be accomplished that cannot be accomplished outside of the Church.
Now, where have I gone wrong?
"Constantinism" One slight correction regarding my own faith. Telford posts his impression that I'm Eastern Orthodox. I can see how he reached that conclusion, but though I have many sympathies with Orthodoxy, I'm not Orthodox. I was raised Catholic and then Lutheran (I had First Communion as a Catholic, my father's denomination, and was Confirmed as a Lutheran, my mother's). At this point I'm best described as non-denominational. Whatever knowledge I have, such as it is, of Orthodoxy comes from my studies of Byzantine/Eastern Roman history, as the two are intertwined (at least up to 1453) - their intertwining is, no doubt, one of the reasons people can come to the conclusion that Orthodoxy was "Constantinist", and interprets the decline of Eastern Christianity as being a result of the "Constantinist" fallacy. This is, if I understand it correctly, when the Church has been co-opted by the state authorities and puts temporal matters ahead of the teachings of Jesus (please correct me if I'm wrong). As I mentioned in a below post, things were not, IMO, so cut and dried in Syria-Palestine and Egypt, where the Monophysite hierarchy was not in communion with the state authorities of Constantinople. These were the areas that fell almost immediately.
But while I can very well see why people would come to the conclusion that the Orthodox Church had a "Constantinian" relationship with the state authorities, having studied the history somewhat I have come to the conclusion that it is more complex than that (the other day I sounded like Jessie Jackson, now I'm sounding like some French foreign minister). It was, to put it in modernesque, not "digital". There were many, many times when the Church resisted the state authorities, on theological grounds. The Emperor, since he appointed the Patriarch, could usually get that prelate to submit and agree, but the body of the Orthodox church would not if it was against the faithful's interpretation of scripture and theology. Thus there were repeated (almost continual) struggles where the Church resisted, non-violently, the attempts of the civil authority to co-opt it or subdue it (since the Imperial state would, in the final resort, use force, they could and did impose things for a time, thus making the struggles drawn out, but were rarely able to win in the end).
If I searched documents for a week I probably couldn't list all the occasions when this happened. I'll limit myself to a few famous ones. Probably the most famous being the "Iconoclast" conflict. In spite of over a century long effort by several Emperors to impose Iconoclasm on the Church, and the efforts of the Emperors to entrench, through appointments, an Iconoclast hierarchy, the Orthodox Church as a whole resisted, non-violently, with numerous people (foremost among them the Studite monks) continuing the struggle until ultimately the civil authorities were defeated in their effort to impose doctrine on the Church (this victory of faith over temporal authority is still celebrated as the Feast of Orthodoxy throughout Orthodox denominations. It's one of the more significant celebrations not directly connected to Christ.)
Another example is in the final centuries of the Empire, the civil authorities were desperate to forge a "Church Union" with the Pope in Rome, in the hopes of getting military aid to save the Empire. In other words, they wanted, for political reasons, the Orthodox Church to agree to submit to Papal authority and make certain changes in Church doctrine (one of which being the content of the Nicene Creed, one of the Creeds Telford mentions in his arguments). Again, because the Emperor was able to impose certain appointments, agreements would be made at the "top level", but the Church as a whole (the faithful) never submitted. They would not submit to the political priorities of the state because they put spiritual priorities first.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

July 4th and Kipling's Recessional, a poem for our times and our topics. Kipling strikes many themes similar to those of Hauerwas, or, in Kipling's words, "to strike a note of moral responsibility among all the self-congratulatory bombast. But rather than praying that God use his country's enemies as an instrument to humble the nation, Kipling prays that his nation be spared:
"Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget — lest we forget!
Land of Hope and Glory: Derbyshire also points out that "that when we speak, or act, in defense of our civilization, we should do so in the
awareness that we speak and act under the eye of a higher power — that everything comes to judgment at last,"
and quotes Evelyn Waugh's insight into Kipling's perspective as "He was a conservative in the sense that he believed civilization to be something laboriously achieved which was only precariously defended. He wanted to see the defences fully manned and he hated the liberals because he thought them gullible and feeble, believing in the easy perfectibility of man and ready to abandon the work of centuries for sentimental qualms." Much of what Jesus expected of us can only be done within the context of civilization, and seeing it fall would be a retreat, not an advance, from what God has set forth for His people.
Omar Karsou, a Palestinian businessman involved in the democracy movement opposed to Arafat's regime, wrote a very good article in the Telegraph - why Arafat must go and democracy will be good for the Palestinians, and why the Arab nations who use the Palestinians as a tool for their own domestic purposes ought to take a back seat in this to the interests of the Palestinians themselves.
Religion in Public Schools? Is seen as ok, as long as it's Islam and not Christianity.
Ponnuru on Hauerwas Ramesh seems to share Telford's opinion of Stanley Hauerwas, as this Corner post shows. He makes a good argument, as has Telford. I don't know if that means Telford will be modifying his negative opinion of NRO-types, though.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

An Evolving Divinity? Another thing that Telford wrote caused a probably unoriginal thought to arise, when he wrote in this post that "I haven't tried, but my hunch is that it would be hard to find wars in the Old Testament that conform to Christian just-war criteria." Is God's attitude towards His creation an evolving attitude? God floods the earth because of our wretchedness, but promises not to do it again, but expresses hope that we'll behave better. But sinners still go to the bad place and at one point He gets particularly vexed at the inhabitants of two cities, and nukes them.

Likewise, God grants a certain region to His devout followers, which they first seem to occupy peaceably (under Abraham). But later, when the followers return from Egypt, they wage a campaign of bloody aggression against the folks now living in the area to recover this land, with the approval of God.

Later, God sees that people are still behaving badly, so he sends His Son to minister to them, and bring the word of a new dispensation - God's Divine Grace. But this comes with even higher expectations for the standard of behavior God expects from those who become followers of the new dispensation (among which includes the fact that Christ's followers will not find divine approval of bloody campaigns of extermination to gain control over a divinely-ordained land-grant).

From this perspective it would seem that not only has God's expectations changed, but perhaps the Eternal Lord has changed as well, at least in His attitude towards His creation.
Clarifications and Musings Parts of what I wrote in the below "Some Thoughts" post may be as clear as mud. The errant phrasing is all mine, but here's an effort to revise and extend those thoughts.

One thing is that though much of my thoughts relied upon a certain current principle, I didn't explicitly state that principle, but it is this. In a Democratic Republic, all citizens with suffrage comprise the sovereign civil authority. This creates several dilemmas for the Christian position as Telford outlines it. Some of these I raised in that earlier post. This is also where I come to this conclusion:
"There are many who's interpretations of the biblical tradition lead them to the conclusion that of it as having created the mindset and preconditions where liberty and, eventually, a democratic republic, became possible (one won't find much freedom in Plato's Republic or in Aristotle, on the other hand), but the distinction made by Telford between the State and the people who inhabit it, and recognize its legitimate authority in the administration of justice, seems quite the opposite."
Opposite tin the sense that it's a move away from the concept of a Democratic Republic if one detaches from participation in exercising civil authority; if Christians cannot participate in exercising civil authority (while they might accept its legitimacy), then there cannot be a majority-Christian Democratic Republic. Which brings to my next clarification, and that is perhaps though Telford has taken pains to point out the unique role of the Church, and what the Church alone can do, in a reverse way there has been a conflation between the unique role of the Church and what civil authority alone can do. Or, to put it this way, a confusion of the unique role of the clergy and the role of Christian laity. Many of the people who have vociferous problems with the assertion of a general Christian pacifism would probably not have any problem with the assertion of clerical pacifism. The large numbers of such people, if there are large numbers, is not an argument that they are right, however. But they may not be wrong. Is their position inconsistent - recognizing that Christian clergy will and should be non-violent but not accepting that the general Christian community, of both clergy and laity, ought to be non-violent. Or, conversely, are they recognizing a valid distinction in roles? That civil authority can be exercised by Christians, but the unique role of the Church means that Christian clergy should stand apart, because their priorities should be elsewhere? Thus the example that some Christians will fish for fish while others fish for souls. Telford does adress this argument, saying "While gifts of the Spirit are distributed variously, the fruit (the word in Greek is singular, not plural) of the Spirit is common to all who share the one Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1-11). Paul does not proclaim that one set of Christians is loving, another is joyful, a third is peaceful, a fourth is kind.... All Christians are expected to be all of these things. Likewise, Paul does not enjoin some Christians from exercising vengeance in Rom. 12, nor does Jesus command some Christians to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5.

Note that in this sense, the points I've made here address Telford's general point about holding positions of civil authority, but not the particular point about how Christians should behave if exercising such authority. At best these points skirt around the question of non-violence (I raise whatever questions I raise about pacifism in the paragraph ending with the lion, the lamb, and the shepherd). But one of the central locus upon which Telford has based his position is the attitude towards exercise of civil authority by Christians. His position on violence and non-violence is pretty clear. Interestingly, Telford argues that Bonhoeffer became "the former pacifist Bonhoeffer" when he decided that violence was appropriate in a limited circumstance (assassinating Hitler, who has become, if anything, the emblematic example of a possible exception to non-violence by some who are persuaded that non-violence is the way to go in almost all circumstances), but Telford also says I even allow theologically for extreme exceptions to the "no violence" rule. Does this make him the former pacifist Telford Work? If Boenhoeffer was wrong - or, at least, became a non-pacifist at the moment he made his decision that violence was justified by an extreme circumstance - what does this say about Telford's own decision on an extreme circumstance? Perhaps not much, because his exception allows for him to approve of others using violence in such a circumstance, while maintaining that he, Telford, must not. This does create a distinction, as Boenhoeffer was willing to pull the trigger himself. However, in this argument Telford is not simply asserting the legitimacy of civil authorities using violence under some circumstances, but of Christians doing so in an extreme circumstance. So the question remains: does this make him the former pacifist Telford Work? Or those Christians former pacifists?

Also, and this is a completely separate thing, but just an observation that, for some reason Telford's remarks have reminded me of that old critique of those who want to "immanentize the eshcaton".

I'm still not claiming to know the answers of anything here - I frankly admit that I'm using this as a "teachable moment" - but for myself. I'm the learner, here.

Significant parts of Telford's responses address parts of these questions. He (approvingly) quotes Hauerwas as writing "Fortunately, we are powerful people who, because we live in a democracy, are free to use our power. It is all up to us." This aspect addresses to some degree the question of Christians employing the instruments of civil authority. The critique of "Christian social activism" which follows seems, however, to run counter to this (though I would actually agree with much of its content, that Christians usually put forward their positions in a manner that "assumes that the key to our political effectiveness lies in translating our political assertions into terms that can be embraced by any thinking, sensitive, modern (though disbelieving), average American." (This "average American", it would seem, would probably include those who profess belief but are uneasy about arguments made in theological terms and expect people to advocate their public positions in secular terminology addressed to "any thinking, sensitive, modern" person).
The point about Jesus' rhetorical strategy is well taken as well.
In an earlier post Telford says that he agrees that the civil authority can engage in violence in the pursuit of justice, and that he can foresee some (probably rare) circumstances where a Christian, acting privately rather than in a civil capacity, would be forced by circumstances to use violence, but that the same Christian should not practice violence in a capacity as civil authorities. There might seem to be a disconnect here (since if the one is legitimate, and the other is acceptable under limited circumstances, it might seem that if we would want the civil authority to exercise violence only in a way commensurate with Christian practice, the best person to hold such a position would be a Christian), but the difference here may rest upon the fact that a Christian should not put himself in a position where it is foreseeable that he would likely have to engage in or authorize violence - and a position of civil authority would be just that (Telford puts it this way "Steps one and three are vocational. Step two is occasional". But then the argument circles back - Christians, as Hauerwas says and Telford seems to agree - have power in a Democracy. That power is the power of a civil authority, by its nature (as I stated near the start of this point), thus, if we hold the position of citizens with suffrage in a Democratic Republic, that is a position of civil authority.

Telford also writes As a Christian, if I see someone sinning (especially a fellow Christian), I say "Repent!" There are, though, Christian traditions where repentance is hand in glove with accepting the administration of justice for what was done. The two are distinct but not separate - intertwined. He also writes that The Byzantine Church in conquered lands was still in political communion with the state religion of an enemy empire. It was (and remains) constitutionally unable to free itself from its own political theology. Having lived by Caesar's sword, it was dying by Caesar's sword. Having supplemented the weakness of God with the strength of the world, it lost the power that had once survived an empire." This may apply to the Melkites (literally "kings men", which epithet supports Telford's interpretation. The "King" here is not Christ), does it apply to the Coptic Church? The Monophysite ecclesiastical hierarchy was deliberately established in defiance of the Empire's civil authority - seems to, on that basis, have rejected "Constantinism" and was in opposition to it. These were the regions that fell quickly to the invader - and they effectively stopped resisting the new civil authority as they had resisted the "Constantinian" civil authorities. They had ordained ministers and bishops, built churches, preached and spread their doctrines in the face of opposition of the civil authority in Constantinople (John of Amida and, especially, Jacob Baradaeus; the "Jacobite Sect" founder). So they would have seemed, by Telford's account, well situated to continue under the new occupation. They were instead the first to submit - to go into "political communion" with "the state religion of an enemy empire". The Monophysite hierarchy was not in political communion with the civil authorities of Constantinople, in spite of the Emperor's efforts (including the invention of new heresies designed to try and paper over the rift) to bring them into that fold. It was the Orthodox element - the "Constantinian" element, which held out the longest (against great odds, mind, by the point the Monphysite element and Persia and more were conquered; indeed, scholars who study Byzantium - including Treadgold, who I quoted earlier - often marvel at its resiliency and ability to endure so many pressures, though succumbing in the end). Likewise, the Western Church was "Constantinian" as well, if not moreso (with greater theological accommodation made for violence used not just by civil authorities but in the name of Christ), and it survived and expanded.

Here I am not entirely disputing Telford's arguments against Christians subordinating themselves and their arguments too much to the language of unbelief (as I said above, I have sympathy for those concerns). But where on theological grounds I lack enough knowledge to speak authoritatively, I am more confident on historical grounds, and the establishment of the Monophysite Church was in opposition to, rather than in submission to, the Caesars of Constantinople. They were the first to go under, and did not prosper as Telford speculates:
Let's pretend that pacifism, rather than Constantinianism, had ruled the day in the eastern empire at the time of Muhammad. What would have happened then? I think a church so well trained in the way of the cross would have known how to "obey God rather than men" and make life hard for their new rulers. It could have done what the Hebrews did to Pharaoh, the first Christians did to Rome, and Gandhi did to the British. It could have offered loyalty without subservience.
Note that the Monophysites, during the invasion, were non-violent (they did not comprise the armies that Heraclios sent to beat back the invasion). They did practice non-violent resistance - against the Imperial authorities (making it difficult for the Empire's armies to provision themselves). This did not continue under Islamic rule. They had not accommodated themselves to the civil authority of the Empire but did to the civil authority of the Caliph. On the other hand, it was the Melkites that the Caliphate had to watch out for - they became the closest thing to a "resistance movement" in the area and helped contribute to a Byzantine revival and recovery that started a century or so after the initial conquests and endured until the arrival of new enemies (in a period where the Empire had partially disarmed, demobilizing troops along the frontiers. . .). So I'm not sure the history supports the conclusions Telford reaches on it.
Some Thoughts on Christian Pacifism: So I’m not given to false modesty. There are topics where I’m pretty confident about my ability to speak to with some knowledge. But there are areas where I am out of my depth – spelling is one, and theology, well here, too, I can’t say I have any authoritative knowledge. But not because I want to be ignorant or disinterested. So here I am, engaging in a conversation far out of my league. Well, personally I’m going to treat it as a Socratic exchange (Telford Work gets to be a kind of Socrates). This post will have more questions since I won’t presume to give answers – those questions will not be rhetorical, though they will, in many cases, be pointed (and certainly come from a point of view).

It’s nice to see we’re both wargamers. Should we be wargaming? Hey – I’m not being critical; I’m not giving up my hobbies at the moment, either. But there is a point here – it’s not a specifically Christian activity and yet we can engage in it and still be Christians. Many activities are not activities Christ calls His followers to, but we engage in them and we might find an implied acceptance by Christ that we will engage in them, alongside our Christian pursuits. Note that this is not the same as setting up a dichotomy where we are Christian in one sphere of our lives and separate that from other spheres of our lives and live them as if the one does not impact how we behave in the other. But the existence of this – the areas of our lives where we are not disobeying Christ but not engaging in the activities of His Church informs much of what I will be asking about, below.

Telford speaks of a “ministry of justice” that interferes, apparently, with a Christian “ministry of reconciliation”. What about other activities – ministries, if you will – that are, at best, disinterested to both reconciliation and justice – like farming? Be a fisher of men, not of fish, but in such a case, if the vast majority (or all) members of a society profess the Christian faith, as I think Christ would hope to come to pass, isn’t it implied that some will fish for fish – or sew for crops rather than sewing for souls – so that the community may eat?

Here I’m going to be the one who will sound like Jesse Jackson, but can true reconciliation occur absent justice? If it can’t, but Christians are to not participate in civil authority that administers justice, then isn’t the faith incomplete? Of course I do not believe that Christians (as opposed to, perhaps – perhaps – the Church) are to abjure from participating in civil authority and creating a environment where justice prevails. Nor do I think Telford believes that, either, though at times his statements would lend themselves to such an interpretation. What I suppose will be critical here is not whether they can participate in civil authority and justice-seeking, but the form their behavior must take in such pursuits.

Telford mentions the “swords into plowshares” comment, which, for some reason, made me think of the “lion lay down with the lamb”, which might strike some people as a “when pigs fly” kind of comment – or at any rate something that will happen only when His Kingdom is established on earth, not in the “natural” realm as it exists now. The lion is not going to lay down with the lamb in the natural order as God has established it currently. Similarly, while we anticipate and prepare for His Kingdom, we are alive at the moment and must, perhaps, doing the best we can, try to create a community where, insofar as is possible, justice prevails over injustice. The lion is going to eat the lamb unless a shepherd prevents the lion, perhaps with a sling-stone or a staff (cudgel).

Also, Christian tradition has long highly regarded the hermit living isolated in the wilderness or the stylite or monastic community cut off from society, a life that does not lend itself to reconciliation with other people (what is being engaged in here is the reconciliation between the hermit and God) – it makes it more difficult (anyone who wants community with the monk in such a case must seek him out, not the other way around). The point here is, well, it might be that either the monastic tradition is inherently flawed or the de-emphasis on individual aspects of faith that Telford is coming from, and towards a social-based one, is somewhat deficient.

Likewise the separation between the divinely authorized administration of justice and the divinely authorized mechanisms of the state on the one hand and reconciliation on the other may not be as sharp as Telford delineates. The Church has one role, to be sure, and the civil authorities have another role, but, especially in a predominantly Christian Democratic (or Federal) Republic, the two overlap if only because the members of the Church and the sovereign members of the Republic overlap. The real question then, it would seem to me, is the legitimacy of the use of force – or, more starkly, of violence – by Christians who are citizens in such a state.

Without the willingness to do so, a just community would seem to be impossible, and Christ did not want a community where injustice was prevalent – quite the opposite. Christ said “render unto Caesar”, and just as Telford points out that “Pacifism” is an active state not a passive one, so too is “render” an active condition –rendering is something you do, not allow to be done by others (even in the sense of praising it being done). Rendering unto the state that which is the state’s legitimate function does not simply mean grumblingly paying taxes to fund state activities but washing ones hands of them, or looking on, even happily, while others do them. Especially not in a Democratic Republic. The arguments Telford uses seem to set up the state almost as if it were an individual in a completely separate sphere, rather than organically integral to the society, community, and its members (either that or the Church becomes detached, which would seem even more odd); members over which Telford agrees this State has some legitimate authority. But elsewhere Telford is critical of individualism (even, perhaps, individual accountability in the sense of emphasis on the individual’s role in sin). Here the state is cast apart almost as if it is somehow distinct from the people who compose it, a separate actor (thus my argument that it is treated as if it were a individual distinct from the society). I may be misunderstanding the points he’s making (like I said, I’m not pretending to expertise here), and if so I hope he’ll correct me.

Or, lets look at it this way, perhaps. You’re a professor in the North American Federation (NAF) who happens to be both a Citizen and someone who wants to be a sincere and practicing Christian. Do you vote? If so, you’re part of the civil authority, exercising your power as a member of the sovereign community, with decision-making powers. It doesn’t, IMO, matter if your candidates win or lose, you’re exercising the sovereign power in the sphere of state authority (an authority that, in a Democratic Republic, you jointly hold with other members of the community of Sovereigns). Is it then impossible you to be a Christian, since if this state is to exist now – and if we agree that it may use violent means to defend itself (and we might, as Christians, see that, in a certain instance, as something that we could praise, if not join in ourselves) – it will not be a pacifistic, non-violent state?

There are many who’s interpretations of the biblical tradition lead them to the conclusion that of it as having created the mindset and preconditions where liberty and, eventually, a democratic republic, became possible (one won’t find much freedom in Plato’s Republic or in Aristotle, on the other hand), but the distinction made by Telford between the State and the people who inhabit it, and recognize its legitimate authority in the administration of justice, seems quite the opposite. No wonder many who value freedom have found much to criticize in Liberation Theology, for example.

It is true, on the other hand, that just as Christ does not, as Telford points out, never say that for the state’s sword must have soldiers to wield it or it is no sword at all, neither does he say anything specific on behalf of democracy. So perhaps a Christian living in society really ought to be detached from governing authority and decision making, and leave those into the hands of others? That is, if we recognize that there is a legitimate role, ordained by God, for state power, the administration of justice, and even, at times, of violence, but that the role of the Church of Christ is non-violence.

But then we seem to be in a sort of circular argument, almost, where we recognize these authorities as legitimate (at least if they behave within certain fairly strict limits in exercising these powers justly), and the existence of societies governed by believers (or people who profess to believe), but Christ’s Church’s role is to be non-violent and thus it is detached from these activities – except for its role in criticism (properly understood, a role of being critical and, after a fashion, judging whether these powers are being excised appropriately and crying out when they are not). Which then circles me back to whether the members of the Church who are also members of the society may have not a dual role (implying distinction between the spheres) but a joint role. What impact does this have? Does the North American Federation become a non-violent entity in a world ruled by the use of force?

Lets take another hypothetical. Someone who professes to be a sincere Christian – and we have reason to believe that he is sincere in asserting that is his faith – is elected to the office of Princeps of the North American Federation (by a electorate wherin over 80% of those voting also profess to be Christians). He has taken on a certain position with certain mandated functions. Functions we apparently agree are legitimate for the civil authority to have. The North American Federation is attacked by the minions of a Bond-like Super-Villain. These guys are pretty fanatical and they don’t seem to be open to non-violent persuasion (they’re especially vexed about something tragic that happened in Spain five hundred years ago, for example, and have demands that are impossible to satisfy short of surrender). What should this man do? No one can do what the Church alone can do but no one can do what the Civil Authorities alone can do, but what does a Christian do who holds a position in the later? The Church has a non-violent role. Does he? If he does, what will that entail in this circumstance?

It’s not as if Telford does not address this at all (he does, though not head on in the sense of saying what, specifically, it would entail; so I ask). Which brings me to where Telford says
“They may indeed countenance others using force. Their own participation in defeating evil takes a different shape. Pacifism, as my colleague Jonathan Wilson just reminded me today, means "peacemaking," not "passivism." Paul saw armed, structural evil overwhelming his country too, and saw that the grace of the Church (which he distinguishes from the civil authority that is also divine grace, not just "nature") is the one thing the Christians can offer that is powerful enough to overcome it.”

Ok, so what, then, does that entail? Indeed, well lets go into that. I think that Telford would probably agree if I said that what many of Haurwas’ critics object to isn’t a passive pacifism (keep quiet and keep to yourself) but the peacemakers who seem to expect us to concede to what Hauerwas’ critics see as the forces of evil – rather than exhortations calling on these forces to change their ways, it sometimes seems, to many at least, that he and other similar folks blame us while almost – or more than almost – excusing the other side as being justified in their behavior. This is one of the things that many found objectionable in Hauerwas’remarks, at least as they were reported.

Or take it this way. Hauerwas doesn’t have to go to these lengths, but has he expressed any desire to go down to Gitmo, not to protest their being oppressed and imprisoned by America, nor just to comfort them, but to bring the teachings of Christ and His salvation to them? On the one hand here we have, it can sometimes seem, a justification for Christian pacifism based on the distinctly different – and non-violent – role for the Church to play in spreading Christ’s salvation, as an activity. But on the other hand the action, along with the risk, does not seem to be there. Many of Hauerwas’ critics could, no doubt, see him and a group of fellows going down to Gitmo to criticize the behavior of the United States, but those gestures would be, it seems to me, calculated to make the participants feel good about themselves (who’s hubris? again; Telford addresses this here, saying "A tone has often surfaced in this debate that reads Christian pacifists as moral Pharisees showing off their personal purity for the sake of self-glorification. Undoubtedly there are people who have this attitude. There are people who pray and fast to be seen, and people who pray and fast to be faithful (Matthew 6). Likewise, there are people who show off their "moral superiority" by sticking flags on their cars or warblogging while others do the fighting. But there are also people who wave flags and warblog just to support an effort they believe in."). On the other hand, attempting to bring Christ’s Salvation to the prisoners would show true courage for one’s faith – probably Hauerwas and those who would join him would risk losing friendships over such an action, in addition to a possible Fatwa from Islamic authorities. But they would set quite the example, and this behavior would truly emulate the activities of the pre-Constantinian Church (which risked much on behalf of the faith, spreading it in ways that would call down actively inhospitable responses). The worst, and most, that is likely to happen (and this is not a criticism of such an activity or a justification of the response) of the other thing is that everyone will say “there he goes again”, either nodding approvingly or tut-tutting disapprovingly. But people would be impressed and perhaps persuaded and lead to emulate the example if the other was done – if an effort was made to bring Christ to the Prisoners.

That’s not what anyone is talking about seeing happen, though. Not as a serious proposition (even me throwing it forward is just as a sort of illustrative thought experiment). Perhaps that’s at the root of much vexation – a distinction made between the Church’s role on the one hand, but not followed through with action to fulfill that role, even by those, like Hauerwas, who most forcefully make the distinction. It’s certainly a shame.

A related but slightly distinct critique from the rest of this screed (everything above) is on this point which is a specific response to my earlier post. Is it really true, as Telford interprets it, that the Eastern Christians over-emphasized sin at the expense of a recognition of God’s Grace? I don’t know – remember, the quote I used that Telford likewise includes in his response emphasized a coupling of the two – a recognition of Sin along with redemption, of the power of God’s Grace, in a way that, if anything, was distinct from that of the Western Church (which, if anything, often made more accommodation for the perceived needs of civil authority, especially in the sphere of violence). We need to remember where two of the points Telford reminds us to consult – the Apostle’s Creed and (especially) the Nicene Creed came from; their origins were in Eastern Christianity which repeatedly affirmed them. It is good that we’re talking about the contents of the Creeds, though, and not Alexandrine monks inciting their followers to engage in bloody riots in the streets over whether Christ has two natures or one, but we should remember that those monks had little respect for either non-violence OR the civil authorities of Byzantium.

Oh, and an aside: Telford, you can call me “Porphy” for short; most people use that as a nick. Oh, and yes, I agree - even as I often fall into the same trap - with your implication that all the various sides in debates, including the Right, often speak and write in a manner that will only reach those who already agree and cause others to tune out. That's a problem that should be worked on.
Hauerwas and Work: Stanley Hauerwas' words have certainly stirred up a debate, which no doubt pleases him. But one of Telford Work's initial points - that Hauerwas should not be lumped together with the anti-war left, is something that still remains unconvincing, because if Hauerwas doesn't deserve to be identified with them, then he should not speak in their polemical style, which it all too often seems that he does - treating the anti-war left, in effect, as the audience he is reaching.

The rejoinder might be that we wouldn't have had this debate at all without Hauerwas' remarks. BUT to the extent to which people who are not members of the anti-war Left have been engaged in an exchange, it has been through Telford's words. The problem, for Work, has been - and so far remains - overcoming the tone that Hauerwas set and how it has caused many to have the reaction of tuning out the whole thing as more of the same from the usual suspects.

This point is sort of getting lost in what has become a fruitful discussion - but the regnant effects still effects the tone of much of exchanges. This is not a small point, because if Hauerwas' goal wasn't just to get rousing cheers and amens from those "usual suspects", but to try and persuade those who don't already share his outlook, then the way he speaks his words and forms his ideas has been less than helpful, but actively harmful. It is no wonder that so many seem to suspect that Telford is reaching - stretching - to defend a mentor he respects but in a way that is unconvincing and, well, blind to what Hauerwas actually said. That may be, as Telford has said, to misunderstand Hauerwas' meaning. But Hauerwas seems, on the face of it, to deliberately invite such misunderstanding. Why, I can only speculate. It could be for decent motives that I cannot fathom, or it could be because, given his audience and those he (apparently, given all accounts) has as comrades. Getting the sort of reaction he did helps confirm certain world-views, especially among the Left. No wonder, under such circumstances, that Glenn Reynolds could point out that there are all kinds of hubris, and setting up conditions that allows one to pat oneself on the back for how enlightened he is compared to those who are enraged by one's comments is certainly one such form - a form very common among "the Anointed", the "left elite".

The exchanges on Christian Pacifism are certainly worth pondering and considering. I'll likely have a post on that topic later today, as well, after I've digested what's gone on. But this is also important and getting lost, I think, at this point in the discussion. If Telford - and Hauerwas - want those outside the circle who already agree with him to give what he says due consideration, then he (Hauerwas) should stop couching his remarks in a way that speaks only to the anti-War Left Choir. Telford's tone has, IMO, been far more constructive on this score, and actually stands a chance of reaching some people who aren't in that group.
Telford Work continues a lively exchange with his critics. He also has highlighted this discussion which is relevant to the topic of Christian pacifism and engaging in just war.

Our Enemies, the Saudis Another in an ongoing series written by many people. Realization is dawning in many people that the House of Saud is not a "moderate" or "friendly" Arab regime. Just one that has, at times, been useful and seen us as useful. Eventually we'll probably look back on our dealings with the House of Saud the same way we look on our dealings with Stalin in World War II.
Political Influence of the Islamist-American Bund (CAIR) continues to be challenged. We can hope that McKinney goes down and is replaced by a more rational person - of any race. She's wretched on so many levels, more than just this.
How Healthy is Arabic Civilization asks a report writen for the U.N. by Arab intellectuals. Not very, they conclude - which is itself a good sign. Willingness to face one's problems is a necessary condition for dealing with them (see "Strafing" below, as well), and something that can't really be done for you by outsiders, but must be done internally. We can fight Radical Islam, contain and even defeat it, but the problems that have led Arabic civilization to where it is can only really be solved internally. One might reply that outside help and advice is key, but I would retort that it can be effective only if it is received by a receptive audience.
Strafing of Civilians in Afganistan So a friend asked me why I hadn't commented on this yet. The main reasons were that there have been conflicting reports of what happened - kind of similar to the mid-air collision near the Swiss-German border or the accounts of the Kursk's sinking, and the fact that, as those stories would imply, life in general isn't free of accidents, mistakes, and bad judgement - and war all the moreso (like the lamentable friendly-fire incident where four members of the Princess Patricia's were killed).

The United States has invested far more effort (ingenuity - developing guided munitions; money - buying expensive guided munitions and using them in preference to cheaper drop bombs; training - time consuming; and rules of engagement - often highly restrictive to avoid mistakes, to the point where it has often led to the "bad guys" getting away while those at the sharp edge of the spear wait for target confirmation from the rear, so much emphasis do we put on avoiding, as much as possible, killing the wrong people, especially innocents) than any other nation, especially those who criticize America's military effort or, even worse, levels of military spending (doing it this way isn't cheap). Yet, in spite of this effort, not everything can be avoided. Take a similar bad incident that I've already mentioned - the killing of four Canadian soldiers. The investigation of that incident has been largely completed. Here we had pilots who ignored commands to not fire, and fired anyway. Those pilots will be punished, quite possibly tried for manslaughter and jailed.

What the final report on this latest incident will say, we don't know yet. But here is a truism - in spite of our monumental efforts to cut down on killing of innocents, and great success on that front compared with others, America receives the lion's share of criticism on this score, much greater than (and some of it comming from) countries that, for example, level entire Chechen towns with artillery barrages as a matter of course in their own war on terror. The reason for this is related to the fact that many, especially in Europe, will turn a blind eye when Yassir Arafat's minions lynch - execute - palestinians who are suspected of dealing with Israelis, but will howl in outrage at America's treatment of enemy prisoners at Gitmo because, though we've given them each copies of the Koran, prayer rugs, pointed out the direction of Mecca, fed them better than they ait in Afganistan, etc, we're "mistreating" them because we don't tuck them in at night with milk and cookies and we take precautions against having a repeat of the prison uprising in Afganistan that resulted in the murder of Mike Spann.

On one level I don't mind the fact that the U.S. is held to a higher standard than other countries. As a civilized nation, we should behave better than thugish kleptocracies and barely civilized backwaters. The analogy is akin to expecting more from a cultured, philosophically educated genius than one does of a town drunk who everyone knows has beaten his wife for years or from the village idiot. With some of these countries, just hoping they won't kill or starve their own citizens on a massive scale through politically created famines or rampant corruption and misgovernment is asking a lot.

On the other hand, though, the hyper-criticism and sudden discovery of exactingly - impossibly - high standards whenever the United States is involved on the one hand with a far more relaxed, flexable, even "understanding" attitude when others are involved is often something used by America haters, both at home and abroad, as a means of flagulating the U.S. and trying to make this country impotent in the face of those who dislike or hate it. So, I always say "consider the source" when these things come up.

It is also exhibit A in why we won't submit our citizens to the unaccountable but politically motivated jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. I have comparatively few doubts that, if someone screwed up in a criminal fashion here, as in the earlier fire incident and as in Mi Lai, we'll hold them accountable for what they did - rather than what someone hurling about hyperbolic but unfounded accusations says. Because the American people set a pretty high standard for the institutions that are accountable to them as it is. Just ask Nixon.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Bureocratic Infighting's Casualties: A sop to the Saudis and a victory for the "moderates" in the war against Radical Islam.

Turning the Voice of America over to providing a forum for the other side while firing eloquent advocates of ours seems particularly. . .well, lets come out and say it: decadent.
Tammy Bruce, in what is effectively a rejoinder to yesterday's Moslem moderate angst article in the NYT.
A Few Words About Honor made by James Bowman.
And Now For Something Completely Different I've felt all along that, with India, Turkey held a critical position in determining the success or failure of the war. Unfortunately, their Prime Minister is not healthy and their struggling Democratic institutions are teetering as a result of this and the economic slump (to put it mildly) that Turkey is in. More like free-fall. Both America and the EU could help this country, which was a faithful ally of both during the Cold War and has not lost its critical status during this one, with better trade terms. Without Turkey's support, doing anything about Saddam will be much more difficult. Keeping the pro-Democracy elements in charge in Turkey, by returning their good will with ours, is all the more important.

Yes, Turkey has, like most countries, many significant flaws - their government isn't all that democratic (though it's far better than most of its neighbors in the region), and its treatment of the Kurdish minority has been deplorable. But letting the positive elements drift into oblivion will only allow worse, and more hostile, ones to take charge, to the detriment of all involved.
International Criminal Court taken down in another excellent essay by the Captain. Not much to add to that other than what I've already said elsewhere and earlier.
Then, as far as the Europeans Go: We had the BBC World Newshour this morning almost reluctantly reporting on the Vivendi accountancy scandal, when they had reported the American scandals with a breathless thril. They wanted to tag the whole thing as a "crisis of global capitalism", and later in the program they spent an entire segment on a puff-piece dedicated to a British "dance musician" (who, listening to his stuff, I found to be a talentless hack), exalting him for his Correctitude - opposition to globalization, hatred of profit, and the like. He uses his "music", which he creates by destroying things he doesn't like (McDonalds products, Rupert Murdoch stuff, etc - the usual line up of Leftist hates). It was a frank exhaltation of the nihilism of the modern Radical Left.
Sullivan Also has an article on corporate corruption, which makes some good points but lets Al Gore's demogogy off far to easily. As I've already pointed out, the accountancy scandals that have been exposed during the Bush administration have all been practices that the companies began years earlier - during the Clinton-Gore administration. So Gore's words more properly apply to his own administration. The sad thing is that even guys like Sullivan, who would normally notice such slight of hand rhetoric immediately if a Republican engaged in it, somehow don't call Gore on it, letting him off with credit for "a seam of truth" in a line that is nothing but deceptive.

Sullivan's article is otherwise excellent, but that makes it all the worse that he, of all people, is not calling Gore (and other Demogogicrats) to task for these hyperbolic and false charges, instead of invoking them as a form of truth-telling.
Sullivan and Easterbrook: Andrew Sullivan has a pithy concurance and dissent from a New Republic article by Gregg Easterbrook. He takes particular exception to this sentance: "Has conservatism reached the point that any development that transfers money to white male CEOs is deemed acceptable?"

In addition to the smear Andrew pointed out, that entire sentance is an odious calumny, because I haven't heard or read any Conservative defending these guys.

Indeed, well before the Easterbrook article, there were several articles on NRO that called for the same thing Andrew (and Gregg, who's the TNR writer I most respect) want - the individuals responsible for these crimes to be tried and punished for them.

I didn't see anyone saying these things were acceptable. Far from it.

So that make's it all the worse, and all the more surprising comming from Esterbrook, who usually doesn't engage in this kind of loose, polemical assault. But then I remembered - we're less than six months from a mid-term election. The New Republic's traditional season of demogogy.

Monday, July 01, 2002

And Here, A Change of Heart: Not everyone beguiled by these movements becomes dehumanized. Here is the story of one young Palestinian woman who changed her mind at the last minute.
Moslem Moderates feel under siege, according to a screed in the New York Times (link requires running through maze to get a pellet). Perhaps that's because folks like Khaled Abou El Fadl spend hundreds times as much time and effort lecturing the West on the way we're fighting their more radical co-religionists and how hurt their feelings are than they spend actually making an effort, rhetorical or otherwise, to defeat the very Radical Islamist movements they say don't represent "moderates" such as themselves.

People like the little old lady quoted at the top of the article would probably have a lot more confidence in their good will if they did more to demonstrate through their actions that there was a great distinctions between themselves and the killers. Instead, however, what most Americans see from "moderate" Moslems are not forceful, unequivocal condemnations of these movements, but instead usually rationalizations for them based on accusing their existence and methods on us.

Now, that may be an intellectually respectable position. But it's the other side's position, and thus it's no wonder that many Americans remain unconvinced by moderates such as these. As usual the definition of "moderate" as someone who can't make up his own mind and thus is suspected by both sides has a grain of truth to it. They need to decide whether they are going to embrace civilization, flawed though it may be, in this struggle, or the other side. Equivocation is a position, but not one without costs - such as feeling "under siege" because people don't know for sure whether you are friend or foe.
What Should Bush Do about McCain's petulant extortion tactics? Other than ignoring them?

Well, he should do this: insist that the federal nomenees he's already sent up, both Judicial and Executive, be voted on before Dashle's pet FEC nomenee - who McCain is fronting for.
A Memnonic Image Ken Lay with his friends:
Heroes of the Revolution, II: Signs that the patience of the Palestinians with their leadership may be running out, and that Bush's speech has done far less in galvanizing Palestinians behind Arafat than some handwringers predicted.
Heroes of the Revolution: One of the Guardian's perennial storylines. This one hails none other than Barbara Lee as a hero of the Left, and the kind of American the Guardian likes.
Grey Out in Cali? Internal democrat poll shows California voters disatisfied with Davis, and Simon 9 points ahead, according to the SF Gate (scroll down). Early days yet, but voter's attitude towards the incumbent are usually decisive, and I, personally, can't see them warming to Davis. Of course, California Democrat candidates have long been successful in dirty campaigns aimed at demonizing their opponents, and that strategy - which has been quite effective in previous elections - is the one Davis is turning to now.
Oh, the Excitement People are dancing in the streets around the world today, throwing lavish celebrations of the New Age that has Dawned. What brings on this millenial rapture? Or, rather, yawns and disinterest? The International Criminal Court has opened today. To celebrate this new epoch in pious internationalism (such as future indictments Sharon but not Arafat, or even the leaders of Hamas; of, eventually, Bush or some American Secretary of State, but not Castro - no, never Castro), I link to this fine article. The court that will bring into being this New Dawn of Enlightenment has at its core the following principle:
The idea that laws ought to be made by the people's representatives will be replaced by the pre-modern concept that law-makers are answerable to no one but themselves.
Oh, the joy that fills my heart to live in such a Brave New World as this!
Campuses and Terror the strange alliance, not so strange really, continues. The hatreds are all branches of a similar tree.
Oderunt Dum Metuant alert: Again, not really. But a nice write up of Plutarch by Rodger Kimbal.
Berkowitz Fisks Fish Well, not exactly an "Fisking" as that's defined, but a good takedown none the less.
Junior Scores Own Goal: So Albert Gore Jr. held a retreat to grub for money and gave a few typically bovine utterances. Among other howlers (including one zapped by Powell), he accused the administration of creating a climate that made the recent accountancy scandals. Last week he said "You see, now," Algore said, "What it means to have an administration that's committed to fighting and working on behalf of the powerful and letting the people of this country get the short end of the stick." Of course, though he propagandistically blamed the Bush administration, all the shennanegans of these companies began - but were not dealt with or caught - during the Clinton-Gore administration. They're comming to light and being resolved during the Bush administration. But if an administration climate is to blame for allowing these things to happen, well, Al, they started on your watch.

Of course, the media ("blame the media") didn't call him on it as they would a Republican.
Kate O'Bierne Scores on Vouchers on this week's Capital Gang, with this: "Liberal hypocrisy has never been more apparent. They are perfectly willing to trap low-income kids in miserable schools they'd never send their own kids to." That must be considered outrageous hate speech by the likes of Jessie Jackson - mainly because it's so true (his kids went to the same sort of private schools the Gores sent their kids to).
Messianism, Socialistic and Islamist, pondered by a experienced pannel over at Frontpage. The broad point that we'll win the war against Islamist Radicalism in a military sense is probably right, but so is Bukovsky's point that people will, as in the Cold War, die on account of Cultural Marxists within our own societies:
"The West’s response to radical Islam is as bad as it was to the communist challenge. Essentially, this is because the West is poorly suited to fight ideological war of any kind. It always fights itself more than it fights the enemy. It cannot define the goals and the means, the nature of the threat, a coherent strategy to deal with it, possible consequences and inevitable sacrifices. In short, the West is not terribly good at fighting wars as such, least of all the ideological ones... . But, those you call "liberals" are actually in command here in the West. And they are but one reason we cannot win. Unless and until America sorts out itself, we have no chance in hell winning."
France, theirs and ours.
Commit a Crime? Get paid. The USS Clueless has a screed on it.
EU-Democracy Hypocracy: great point.
Oh No another quarter heard from on the Hauerwas thing. Too funny. Cruel, but less cruel than a certain type of sanctimony.

This one is more detailed and sober. Kinda has the effect of asserting Jesus as saying "you want a piece of me? 'Cause I'm the only one standin here."
Some Thoughts on Brazil's relationship with the U.S. and the potential theirof.
The differently-abled Bell-ringer of Some People's Dame: When did we go so far that this would seem reasonable to some people?
Well, He'll Fit Right In: So, as is my practice, I'm listening to the BBC World Newshour insult my intelligence on my way in to work this morning. In one of the later segments they have on a representative of Poland, which is applying for EU membership. He's asked about the difficulties of a referendum in Poland on EU membership, and says he understands it will be hard but they will work to overcome the difficulty by not just targeting their membership at "those who are already in favor of the EU" but at "the uneducated" as well. So we already have the traditional EU Elect's attitude towards their constituencies on display.