Archive for February, 2008

Speaking of Emory Scholars

February 26, 2008

John Witte grounds the storm over Archbishop Rowan William’s recent comments (about the role of sharia in Britain) in appropriate history. Witte is one of the strongest scholars of law and religion in the West and on occasion announces positions on major issue of the day. In no way is he a “liberal multicultural accommodationist” though he ultimately concludes:

Granting Muslims and others equal treatment in these cases does seem “unavoidable” if the parties have freely consented to this method of dispute resolution. To deny Muslims divorce arbitration while granting it to Jews and Christians is patently discriminatory.



Harold Berman’s Obituary Page

February 22, 2008

Emory now has a memorial page up with this week’s tributes included John Witte, Jr.’s retelling of their last visit is marvelously vivid. Elsehwhere, Johan van der Vyver writes:

World law, as envisioned by Harold J. Berman, is not so much concerned with legislative initiatives of the political law-creating agencies, but emphasizes customary legal relationships established at the initiative of voluntary enterprises and associations of persons engaged in international activities. It embraces common features of the world’s legal systems, singling those out from differences that persist within the world’s legal regimes.

Vision of world unity based on collaboration from the bottom up, progressive libertarianism, perhaps, or integral federalism as some French have called it. A project beyond our own capacity to complete. This evocation of humility is part of Berman’s academic glory.

With Friends Like These…

February 22, 2008

Via The Daily Dish’s Patrick Appel, “Obama doesn’t need negative ads if Clinton supporters keep making videos like this.”

Is she Laverne or Shirley, and who’s Squiggy?

Obama’s Substance, cont.

February 22, 2008

via Peter Levine

one “gotcha” interview that didn’t work

It’s fun for reporters to pick out young people on the street and ask them hard, policy-wonk questions to show that they don’t know anything. This, however, was the wrong young man to condescend to:

Help End the Trope

February 21, 2008

There are a number of ways Obama supporters have proven they have substantive as well as spirited raionale for supporting him. Here’s a legislative summary from Obsidian Wings on his/her search on Obama’s Senate record: (see more here, here, and here)

There he was, working for nuclear non-proliferation and securing loose stockpiles of conventional weapons, like shoulder-fired missiles. There he was again, passing what the Washington Post called “the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet” — though not as strong as Obama would have liked. Look — he’s over there, passing a bill that created a searchable database of recipients of federal contracts and grants, proposing legislation on avian flu back when most people hadn’t even heard of it, working to make sure that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were screened for traumatic brain injury and to prevent homelessness among veterans, successfully fighting a proposal by the VA to reexamine all PTSD cases in which full benefits had been awarded, working to ban no-bid contracts in Katrina reconstruction, and introducing legislation to criminalize deceptive political tactics and voter intimidation.


Balthasar Online Conference

February 21, 2008

Hans Urs von Balthasar is one deepest and broadest 20th century Catholic theologians. I’m hoping to learn more about his “dramatics” and compare it to Rosenstock-Huessy and Kenneth Burke. Note the inventive, free method these theologians and students employed. via Fire and Rose

The first annual Balthasar Blog Conference is just around the corner on March 16-25. The topic is Balthasar’s theological exegesis. We have an exciting schedule of ten plenary posts by the following participants:

I am pleased to announce the first annual Balthasar Blog Conference, scheduled for March 16 to March 25, 2008. (This is a change from the original dates of March 9-16. I have moved it back a week to give more time to the presenters.) The theme for this blog conference will be “Von Balthasar’s Theological Interpretation of Scripture.” We should have ten “plenary” posts from the following theo-bloggers:


On Social Security and Other Campaign Issues

February 21, 2008

Robert Samuleson in the Washington Post today examines Obama’s “specifics.” Samuelson notes Obama’s pledge to “protect social securuty benefits for current and future beneficiaries” and a new exemption from income tax for retirees making less than $50,000 “shifts more of the burden onto younger workers” (Samuelson). Other elements of Obama’s economic plan are “[b]oilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemate. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion.” All this falls short of the high standards on which Obama campaigns. Samuelson then declares it a “mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation’s major problems.”



February 20, 2008

I’m watching Harvard Law’s Randall Kennedy discussing his new book “Sellout.” He describes the epithet as an intellectually dishonest rhetorical move in which one’s foe is stripped of all status and whose arguments no longer need be considered. Contra his colleague Stephen Carter, Kennedy affirms the necessity of the category of sellout. The crime of traitor was written into the Constitution, Kennedy mentions, and every group will struggle to define the boundaries and goals of membership. However, Kennedy states that he cannot label any current prominent African American as such. In his speech he doesn’t give examples of whom he would identify.

This reminds me of last year’s explosive Rosenfeld report “Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism (published by the American Jewish Committee) that categorized a number of Jewish critics of Israeli policy as anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. Is this report simply an elaborate smear to delegitimate foes? Or is there a real fear of sellouts in Jewish communal affairs?

Grandma Gets Worms

February 20, 2008

On my daily walk I passed an older neighbor poking the leaves on her porch steps with a stick. Odd, I thought. “Finding any worms,” I inquired randomly. She turned toward me with her left hand open, smiling, and replied, “My grandson has turtles.”

Bricks in the Backyard

February 5, 2008

I made the local news along with my house mate Friday night when the house behind us began to fall apart in a major way. Some loud work over the weekend to bring the rest of it down.  We’re concerned they’re not following EPA lead and dust rules but our fence will be rebuilt soon. No one lived there for 2 years.