Preliminary Middle East Conflict Paper Topic

Some of the central issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict center around access of Jews, Christians, and Muslims to the religious shrines and holy places, and ultimately implicate the status of Jerusalem itself, viz., whether as Holy City, prize of conquest, or neutral corpus separatum. Inasmuch as rights of pilgrimage and the very concept of such “sacred space” are patently anachronistic to modern international law, I wish to examine and compare the development and usage of some of these norms.

Greek law, within the context of Panhellenism, developed norms governing access to religious sites by members of competing poleis. The greatest examples of this are perhaps the festival of Zeus at Olympia or the Oracle at Delphi, which seem to have achieved something like a corpus separatum status. (Further research into Roman and Mesopotamian law may reveal further examples of parallel phenomena.)

Within the order of Islamic civilization, a similar problem may be seen with respect to the access of the Faithful, in their several striving sects, from many parts of the empire, to the holy places of Mecca and Medina. Indeed, given that the emphasis on pilgrimage comes much later in Christian thought, one is tempted to wonder to what degree the whole Christian idea of pilgrimage (which, in its definite expression, comes much later) was conditioned by the prior Islamic experience. Certainly, how the Muslims customarily regarded norms of religious access to Mecca, Medina, and Al-Quds conditioned their own response to the Crusades, and ultimately to the modern Zionist crusade.

Through the Crusades and their aftermath (which is, ultimately, colonialism itself), Roman Christianity developed a set of legal norms governing pilgrimage (including the “Peace” and “Truce of God”) and justifying expeditions to make the Levant safe for pilgrimage, which ultimately led to the establishment of the short-lived kingdom of Jerusalem. (I would like to compare and contrast this with any Byzantine norms regarding the holy places and pilgrimage, which I suspect were pretty non-existent.)

Two leading examples of corpora separata in the modern world are Vatican City and Washington D.C. In both instances, the corpora were instituted to free the administration of a precinct of wider religious or civil-religious significance from the influence of the “host” State. Both D.C. and the Vatican represent examples of how a corpus separatum regime may be used to administer a precinct of great symbolic significance, while assuring its access to pilgrims and tourists.

Comparison with norms used by related cultures to govern pilgrimage and holy places, and to preserve their neutrality in the face of traditional territorially-defined political conflict, helps us to understand a key part of the background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Preliminary Jurisprudence Paper Topic

The following represents my basic concept for a paper topic. It is admittedly wide-ranging in time, but I believe that it can be focused topically in a very apt manner. I intend to refine and restate this concept further over the next few days, leading to a final paper topic statement by this Monday.

I intend to treat of the idea of the right to property (i.e., as estate) as (1) an immutable right under natural law, as (2) a creature of social contract, and as (3) a creature of positive law, together with various jurisprudential implications of these three traditions. Conceptually and doctrinally, my material will be roughly threefold: (1) property as a natural right in a late medieval and/or “silver age” Scholastic philosopher (Ockham, Vitoria, Suarez?); (2) property as a natural right in early modern social contract theory (Grotius and/or Locke); (3) property as a fundamental right (or not) in Welfare State legal philosophy (Lochner, New Deal, Rawls). I expect to distinguish these three jurisprudential approaches are more or less representative of (1) medieval Christendom, (2) political liberalism, and (3) socialism. I expect to apply this material to two historical problems: (A) late-medieval debates on ecclesiastical property (i.e., on whether the Church necessarily requires jurisdiction over property in order to realize its mission in the world) and (B) twentieth-century debates over substantive due process (i.e., over whether property rights are necessarily part of those rights and liberties guaranteed under the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution). I believe that there is a hitherto overlooked parallel between problems (A) and (B) inasmuch as the liberties secured by the medieval Western Church (e.g., as set forth in the opening §§ of the Magna Carta) have served, historically, as prototype for those liberties acquired by individuals over that long liberal march of progress. See Harold Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. I expect to conclude with very pointed criticisms of the Court-packing crisis of 1937, from the standpoints of traditions (1) and (2), but also with a renewed appreciation for the limitations of traditions (1) and (2), as cogent jurisprudential and viable philosophical alternatives for postmodern man, in the face of starkly changing social conditions.

I expect that this research will be practically helpful inasmuch as it should directly inform my understanding of Rawls’ two principles of justice and indirectly contribute to my understanding of Aristotle’s conception of justice as set forth in Nicommachean Ethics, V.


Annoyance at not being able to develop intellectually at all?

LOL. A friend mentioned that and it sounded too familiar. I hate the “at all” part. It really stings! I walk around the law school killing time right before classes reading Vergil or looking at a real book, and people ask me if I’m reading that for “fun.” Or, worse yet, being caught in a bar on Friday night curled up with some great book and a beer and told that I need to “loosen up.” :-( I talk to my friends in history or English or classics and I turn a little green from envy. I'm in my fifth semester of law school, and it's the second one that I'm actually enjoying. Sometimes, I wish I could just push the rewind button in life and erase the whole affair. Nearly walked away from it twice before—am really only finishing because, with funding for this year, nothing's ventured beyond my time. But enough complaining!

For me, the experience has been positive inasmuch as it has allowed me to understand how liberal socialist atheists think, and generally how contemporary society is trying to enforce its value-choices. That's an internal perspective that I didn't acquire at my little conservative Mecca of a college. The experience has also helped me to become a more versatile apologist, in the sense of learning how to argue ruthlessly for things one doesn't "believe in" at all.

What do I want to do with it? Well, get on with the "real project" as soon as possible. For me, this means extending and refining the sort of theologically-driven social critique articulated by people like Machen, Schaeffer, and (most of all) Rushdoony in an historically-conscious, legally-sophisticate, and literarily-allusive mode. In other words, work on rewriting De Civ. Dei for an American audience, addressing the history and destiny of the American experiment in terms, not of redemptive history b.c., but of ecclesiastical history a.d. Hopefully involves heavy study of the epic tradition of imaginative, civilization-defining literature, and of medieval and early modern political philosophy.

At this point, I don't especially want to practice at all. Feel vaguely like a seminary student who's lost his faith in "god" (i.e., the people or their legislatures). Practically, I guess I'd like to practice in an anti-regulatory posture serving small businesses and farmers. Sortalike what the Institute for Justice does. But I'm still working on the whole "what next" question. One option is clearly to enter a terminal program in political philosophy or history of ideas and practice locally while in that program. A career in service abroad is another option.

Does that sound terribly jaded? Perhaps it explains some of dark allegories. LOL.


Dull blog

I guess I need to come up with some interesting content for this blog. Soon. My attempts to publish a spiritual mediation are not exactly going anywhere. Maybe I should try writing about more ordinary things. LOL


Between the Darkness and the Light:
III. Orientation and Alienation

In two epiphanies Philosophia had revealed herself to me.

The first—oh, the first! how its white light, its angel choirs, its Platonic intertext made me like some young god sent out to resolve the cosmos in dialectics! It was as if I were on a mission from God to live out in life what others only studied, in so much moive fai, as merely intellectually stimulating ancient history. I remember being happy, possessed, consumed bright Apollonian optimism and so firmly convinced that it is the love of questions that conquers all.

In her second epiphany, my mistress came—not out of some logos but as if out earth itself—and led me up above Thebes and acquainted me, not with Apollo, or even Diana, but with that other god. Instead of the proud and stirring periods of Plato’s holy martyr, I hear the brutal, overbearing hexameters of that materialist magician, Lucretius, who believes without believing. In place of that shrine of gleaming marble, I saw only a dark wood. Ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Is my end my beginning? Or is that just a stolen line?