Keeping tabs on the blogosphere

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I tend to go a bit crazy with Mozilla's tabbed browsing capabilities. Rather than move on from something interesting, I open a new tab and keep browsing, and the tabs become a snapshot of what's caught my attention. I have 12 open at the moment, and it's about time I shut Mozilla down for a while. So let me write about a few and close them up as I go along.

Jim Davila of the University of St. Andrews has a blog called Paleojudaica, which received an Instalanche for his post about MIT's Time Traveler Convention and his speculations as to why no time travelers were in attendance. The normal stuff of his blog is ancient Judaism and archaeology. Recent entries include one on the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount and a link to an article about Egyptian Karaite Jews, a people who migrated to Egypt under the Persian Empire in about 550 B.C. and who began leaving Egypt because of persecution during the 1950s. Elsewhere, Davila has an essay on why he blogs about his academic speciality:

I don't remember the exact concerns that led me to open a blog. I think it was partly frustration with the carelessness and inaccuracy with which the mainstream media often treats specialist subjects such as my own, combined with being impressed with how often the major political blogs were able to catch the media in errors and sometimes get them to correct them. I think it was also partly my longstanding interest in making my work available to a popular audience. Having a blog gives me an international forum to give non-specialists a better perspective on the media reports they read about my field and to speak to them with something approaching my whole voice rather than just my scholarly voice.

Manuel L. Quezon III, grandson of the founding father of the Republic of the Phillipines, is a columnist and also a blogger about Filipino life and politics.

A new blogger called Zippy Catholic has been stirring the anti-evangelical pot by arguing from Gödel's incompleteness theorem that sola scriptura -- a fundamental doctrine of the Protestant Reformation which asserts the sufficiency of the Bible -- "asserts its own irrationality." His first post on the topic is here. That was linked elsewhere leading to a lengthy comment thread, featuring Zippy and some other Catholics debating a handful of evangelical Protestants. Then Zippy posted yet another entry in which he seems to say that evangelicals believe in salvation by knowledge, which leaves out those incapable of abstract thought, but in fact we are saved by love, and we love Jesus by doing what He commands, and what Jesus commands is that we obey the Catholic church. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying. That's why I link, so you can read it for yourselves.) In the comments to that latter entry, I posted a question and a further clarification, to which I have yet to get an answer that doesn't beg the question:

Zippy, you write: "those who love Him will do as He commands because they love Him." How does one who loves Christ know what Christ commands, so that he may be able to do it?

How can I know that Christ commands me to heed the successors of Peter and the Roman magisterium, rather than, say, rival claimants to apostolic authority in Salt Lake City or Constantinople? How do I know who truly speaks for Christ?

You can read the entry and the replies I've received to my question.

Kevin Johnson, one of the Reformed evangelicals participating in the discussion, has also posted some thoughts here and here.

Kevin Johnson also participates in a blog called Communio Sanctorum, which is described as "an online theological journal designed to highlight the sacramental, trinitarian, and covenantal connection we have with the historic Church...[,] a Reformational contribution to catholicity." Apropos to the above discussion, here's an article on sola scriptura and the place of councils and confessions:

Rightly does the Protestant tradition, building as it does on substantive strains of the larger catholic tradition, say that no authority under God is absolute. This is why, for instance, we conceive of the Church (particularly in her Councils) as being the minister and not the legislator of the Word. 'Sola' Scriptura does not mean that we cannot have Councils and that they cannot lay down definitive rulings on matters of doctrine and practice; it just means that 'definitive' cannot itself mean 'irreformable'.

I forget where I found this, but it's a column by novelist and left-leaning Catholic priest Andrew Greeley about Cardinal Ratzinger, written before he was elected pope. This was intriguing:

Many devout Catholics would recoil at [Ratzinger's] blunt assertion (which I quoted the other day) that it is wrong to say that the Holy Spirit elects the pope because there have been popes the spirit would never have elected. He might also be less likely than some other popes to identify his convictions with direct communication from God.

Last tab -- political not religious, but it also has to do with authority and interpretation. Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy notes an Alabama Supreme Court concurring opinon for a decision in which the Court actually defers to the legislature's long-standing interpretation of the Constitution's requirement for a majority vote to enact legislation.

Justice Parker then goes on to argue that each of the branches of government have an independent obligation to interpret the constitution, and that as a result, the court should defer to a longstanding constitutional interpretation by the legislature:

[T]he Alabama Legislature has consistently followed the third interpretation for at least three decades. I believe the Legislature is within its authority to interpret § 63 in this way, and I therefore conclude that this Court should defer to that interpretation. By so deferring, we show proper respect to a coordinate branch of government.

On the same blog, the next entry up, Eugene Volokh writes that the Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Schools have adopted a sex-ed curriculum for the 8th Grade that includes handout listing "myths regarding sexual orientation." One of the "myths" listed: "Homosexuality is a sin." The "fact" rebutting the "myth" counts the biblical passages condemning homosexual behavior, notes that Jesus never spoke on the issue, notes that religion has often been used "to justify hatred and oppression," and praises liberal Christian groups for "beginning to address the homophobia of the church." Looks like a state institution pronouncing on matters of theology, and the U. S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. noticed:

The Court is extremely troubled by the willingness of Defendants to venture — or perhaps more correctly bound — into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge. The Court does not understand why it is necessary, in attempting to achieve the goals of advocating tolerance and providing health-related information, Defendants must offer up their opinion on such controversial topics as whether homosexuality is a sin, whether AIDS is God’s judgment on homosexuals, and whether churches that condemn homosexuality are on theologically solid ground. As such, the Court is highly skeptical that the Revised Curriculum is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, and finds that Plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim certainly merits future and further investigation.

Last Thursday, Williams granted a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the curriculum from being deployed as planned.


Warren said:

I became fatigued before finishing even a quarter of that "Zippy" thread. Did anyone ever answer my pet question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Don said:

Holy backdoor...that Maryland handout is insane! Without even considering the conclusion, just that they are determining what is or is not a sin. Wow!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 12, 2005 10:48 PM.

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