Merry Christmas!

I hope that all of those who may happen to visit this blog today have a felicitous day as we remember the incarnation of the Word and the coming of the Messiah, who is the very One come into the chalky frame, into this quintessence of dust. What can we say? Truly, God is great!

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I'm out here on the farm enjoying the fellowship of my diaspora'ed siblings.Many hours in the hot tub and several cigars burnt. Still no presents wrapped. LOL.

I've been finally sitting down with Seneca and doing a serious read. It seems that all of the translations basically suck, because his Latin is even more concise than the usual. Very interesting though. I think I'll get a pair of commentaries and work through a pair of plays. His meld of philosophy, politics, and bloody bombast intrigues me. Plus, he's the huge influence on the Racine and Our Bard.

I'm relatively low-key about it, but I should note that I'm going to Japan on Friday and shan't be back until Tuesday, 7 January. The secondary objective of my travels is to see the country where my greatgrandfather and grandmother were born, and where the Noss family worked in the missions field. The primary objective of my trip is to meet a wonderfully nice complicated Reformed girl with whom I've been corresponding for some time now. Her name is Emeth Smith.

And I'm on vacation generally, so I don't expect to be reporting to this palantir that often, whether as Denethor or as Saruman. LOL


Release from Bondage

Yeah, that's almost make me sound like a character in a Tolkien lay. LOL Anyways, I'm finally done with finals and what is probably the worst semster since Junior year in undergrad is over. I really can't express how happy I am to be done.

I have thought of blogging some of my family law final exam answer. As my father said, "Your professor is . . . perverse." Seriously, this was the most screwed-up fact pattern I've seen yet.

This movie is awesome!

I saw TTT with my parents and sisters the other night and was thoroughly delighted. Yes, Jackson did editorialize and dramatize, especially Faramir. But he included an amazing amount of Appendix material (Gimli on dwarf-women, Aragorn's funeral scene). He managed to get Rohan and Isengard completely right. But Gollum completely steals the show. Although the character is CGI on the human actor's outline, it's the most heart-wrenching thing in effect. It's a fine balance to capture, but the character succeeds in being deeply tragic and heart-breaking pathetic. Just like Tolkien meant in the bookÑas part-examplar of the Gospel.


Another silly personality test

Although this time it's remarkably accurate. Faramir is my favorite character, but I've always felt morally closer to Denethor, if that makes sense.



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Denethor, Man of Gondor, Ruling Steward of proud Gondor and father of Boromir and Faramir.

In the movie, I am played by John Noble.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test  with Perseus Web Survey Software


Tidbits from Wills cramming

There are three theoretical positions on estates: (1) unrestricted right to devise/bequeath; (2) absolute intestacy (inheritance by operation of law); (3) escheat to the State (100% estate tax). In reality, most testamentary systems use a mix of all three. But in a show of hands, a crowd of law students supported the three theories as absolutes in 90-5-5 ratio, respectively.

At common law, children were responsible for supporting their parents. Per Social Security Act of 1933 [at 42 U.S.C. ¤ 1396a(a)(17)(D)], Congress has abrogated the common law duty of support.

Adoption is traditional in Roman law and nontraditional in Anglo-American common law. Britian didn't legalize adoption until 1925. Maryland and Texas were the first states to allow it, in 1850. The majority of states didn't follow suit until almost 1900.

"The right to receive property by devise or descent is not a natural right but a privilege granted by the state." Hall v. Vallandingham, 540 A.2d 1162

The grand defect of American law is its failure to charge losing plaintiff with attorney fees.

Ordinarily, today, in our enlightened age, children have no statutory protection against deliberate disinheritance. However, minor children in Louisiana still have an absolute right to forced share (legitime).

It appears that the trust as an institution owes its existence largely to the Franciscan poverty debates of c. 1300. At least, that's how trusts where introduced into Anglo-American law.


The tattered worldview.

Conversation with two friends has recently led me to consider whether that my central personal-existential problem is that I lack a cohesive overall framework for interpreting the world, or at least of man and society.

Following certain late Dutch theologians, one might be tempted to say that "Everyone has a worldview." Right. In fact, the whole idea of "worldview" is, for my money, eminently deconstructable. It is essentially a creature of the nineteenth-century and its desire to elide hard compartment distinctions in favor of an all-encompassing unity. (Think Mendelssohn's violin concerto.) Reformed theologians today, especially, like to speak of "worldview" because they want to rebel against the Enlightenment"s compartmentalization of the disciplines, which effectively marginalized theology as a collateral science. This compartmentalization was itself, in turn, a revolt against the old scala naturae, which posited theology as queen of the sciences and philosophy as its ancilla.

Accordingly, it is really not necessary that "everyone have a worldview"--at least not in the sense that the worldview rubric is somehow indispensable for relating theology to the rest of knowledge. Indeed, I think that one can argue rather well that the worldview rubric has some unhealthy side effects: specifically the erosion of good category distinctions between say, ethics and physics. On the popular level, this is reflected in the heavy-handed moralistic presentation of the sciences in most Baptist curricula, to give an example.

Perhaps most importantly, the Faith doesn't really require that one have a worldview as such. Look at the creeds. They don't make claims about the nature of reality or even of truth in as many words. They do make a set of specific claims about the Persons of the Godhead in terms of creation, incarnation, resurrection, and final judgment. Furthermore, when Paul asks us to take every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, he is speaking in martial-political terms: he is making claims about the Son's identity as Lord over thought, not about thought per se.

So perhaps I can rationalize not having a full-orbed world-and-life view, if you understand my above caveats. Existentially, what gives occasion to this suggestion is the fact that I don't feel very confident at all about having much of a worldview lately. There was a time in which I didn't feel at all this way. I was proud to have an aggressive, triumphalistic worldview. It's not that I've been there, done that. No. I still actually have a fairly robust philosophy of history. And I have a solid, orthodox Christology. But about the larger questions of theology, literature, and politics, I've become fairly agnostic. Is democracy really an a good form of government? Was FDR entirely unjustified in what he did? Should the state intervene in the economy at all? Are wars of religion justifiable? Is the rule of faith inclusive of soteriology proper? In what sense is sola scriptura correct? Do believers alone possess just title to things? Is natural law really so separate from a regime of theonomy? Should the Church be autonomous of the Emperor?

I used to think I had fast answers on all of these things. It was a matter of applying the presuppositions prejudices of my worldview and finding Bible verses to proof it. Now, I have come to see that many of the teachings which people around me cherish so strongly are have not those grand pedigrees or justifications which they suggest. Take the Neomarxist critique of the traditional family: in reality, yes, there was real oppression of women, but mostly in the context of a nineteeth-century struggling with the Enlightenment's negation of femininity as hyperemotional and nonrational. Or take the Reformed and Baptist custom of preaching very long rhetorical sermons: in reality, this comes from the Humanists' interest in promoting civic virtue through public rhetoric in Renaissance Florence by rediscovering classical oratorical models; it has no parallel at all in the Bible, except perhaps in the epistles of Paul: indeed, biblical examples consistently illustrate dialogic teaching building off of Q & A.

I have committed myself to what is really the equivalent of intellectual philology--that is, to tracing the history and genesis of discrete ideas. The immediate effect of this work is to undermine my confidence in the sort of round, cohesive integrity claimed by various intellectual systems, from Platonism to Calvinism to Utilitarianism. Instead, bodies of doctrine emerge as structural creations erected as additions or new construction on a much-rebuilt site.

To be continued . . .


Succinct grad school comment

"It's interesting, isn't it? You get in based on GRE scores - that show the breadth of your reading - in order to do work focused so narrowly that (the way I think of it) only 10 people in the world might care about your work. Then, once you've mastered that tiny aspect of your discipline, you're considered prepared for the job of counseling / mass communications / teaching every area of this discipline to teenagers with only a passing interest in the subject."

- Kathlene Bowers of UC-Berkeley and Davis, posting on Christianity and Literature listserv (chrislit@homer.acs.bethel.edu)


Nemesis no enigma

I guess I can never quite take Star Trek seriously after Galaxy Quest. When I see the fakey aliens in their plastic goth-lite Gladª-brand garb, I just release endorphins! What can I say? Is it raiment or rainment? I forget. LOL

Star Trek IX ("Insurrection") had to have been the worst Trek ever, with the possible exception of the ludicrous installment V. So the series could only go up from here. X ("Nemesis") is a fun film, has some cool twists, and features a good space battle. The namesake of title, the Picard clone Shinzon, even looks uncannily like Dr. Evil. :) Notwithstanding these plusses, the whole piece sorta pales in comparison with VI and VIII. Just as in Minority Report, the auter (whoever he is these days LOL) pulls back from any really strong sense of catharsis. Data is killed, and everyone is sad, and there is a real sense that his soul is gone, but Brent Spiner gets a few more minutes of screen time all the same as Data's duller twin. In a nutshell, the film tries to be II ("Wrath of Khan") but fails and falls far short. And I don't think it's just for want of James Horner.

A conversation with Dr. DiCarlo (my erstwhile Arabic-learning associate and fellow speculatee of epic poetry, the history of ideas, and comparative religion) brought up the point of good books on Neoplatonism. I said I thought that the short list should just be MacKenna's translation of the Enneads, the Pseudo-Dionysius corpus, and the new I Tatti edition of Ficino's Platonic Theology. Does anyone have any additional suggestions?

This is really one of my research interests. The problem is that some aspects of Neoplatonism are very positive (IÕm blanking on what those exactly are right now LOL) but it has pervasively influenced Christian theology in ways to which many Christians are simply oblivious. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is but the most obvious of these.

I got my Akkadian books today. Yippee! One is a nice outline of grammar by Caplice, which complements nicely the Huehnergard which I already own. The other is absolutely adorable edition of Gilgamesh. Just looking through this text is like a dream come true. (Okay, okay, I still have yet to take the class. LOL)


A Quote on Zero Tolerance

"I cannot tolerate this age. And I will not. I might have tolerated you and your Catholic church and even joined it, if you had remained true to yourself. But now you're part of the age. You've the same fleas as the dogs you've lain down with. I would have felt at home at Mont-Saint-Michel, the Mount of the Archangel with the flamming sword, or with Richard Coeur de Lion at Acre. They believed in a God who said he came not to bring peace but the sword. Make love not war? I'll take war rather than what this age calls love. Which is a better world, [****] fornicating Happyland USA or a Roman legion under Marcus Aurelius Antonius? Which is worse, to die with T. J. Jackson at Chancellorsville or live with Johnny Carson in Burbank?"

Walker Percy, Lancelot, p. 144.
Arranged Marriages

A friend of my mine was cursing like a good feminist, ranting about advice on an email list for church-administered matchmatching. Yes, cold-calling local reformed churches and asking about the eligibles would be disrespectful and out of place in a modern social context. However, it's very "Genesis" of some book-blindered Reformed nazi to suggest. :)

But the fact remains that there was a time in which people approached marriage from the standpoint of looking to the community to provide the right person. It's so ironic, so "omega," how the pattern has inverted, when you think about it. It used to be that couples were introduced by their elders, got to know each other in public, and then gradually withdrew to from public to private in order to focus on one another as they neared the point of commitment. Now, in our modern Mordor society, we've inverted the model: people meet anonymously, without advice, without references, superficially, as alienated individuals; they date in secret, they gradually get to know each other, when they trust each other enough and have more or less decided to committ, they introduce each other to their family and friends as as de facto spouses. Was this what Francis Fukuyama meant by the "end of History"? LOL



Finished with both papers. Ended up writing/rewriting 40 pages in about as many hours. Neither one turned out that great, but the Vitoria one (I ended up only doing Vitoria, not Ockham) will be a useful springboard for further work. De Indis is actually very profound. Now all I have left in-class Arabic and Wills finals (Wednesday, and the Wednesday after) and two take-home finals (Patents and Family Law) which can be done anytime up to December 20.

And I can't wait to see TTT!!!



I'm slippng towards Gommorah Gomorrah. I just finished my paper on "Pilgrimage and Shrines in Jerusalem to A.D. 1000". That's right, 1000, not 1250. It got too long and I concluded away the Crusades, just like that. Anyways, hardly one of my most successful efforts.

I feel even more existentially bitter n twisted about legal education now. LOL. Honestly, I think it's numbed my ability to composed extended utterance. I am learning things; I just don't feel that confident about anything at all anymore. Especially about haunts me and burdens my heart. Thump. Thump. Not ideas, and certainly not nice reformed girls.
Latin Question

Does anyone actually know how good Tacitus, Seneca, and Lucan really are? I mean, I know what they're like, but to what extent do they reward close study? To what extent has all of this silver age stuff been neglected? Does Vergil really deserve his imperium sine fine in the real of poetry? Is Cicero really the summit of Latin prose? Is Seneca actually the next best thing we have after Euripides?

Just curious!
Third Base, Hell Week

My jurisprudence discussion on justice went well on Monday. My arabic presentation on Iraq went well on Tuesday. "Saddam Hussein is not a king (malikuun) but he has a lot of palaces (qusžr)." Presently working on papers. Have about 16 hours in which to complete the pilgrimage paper (it's going well). Have about 40 hours (by 5 p.m. Friday) to complete the property paper (it's substantially in my notes n noodle). I am such a procrastinatorÑbut my plate is now clear and my life = writing.


And so it begins...

I've been spending the holiday with family, have been having a wonderful time, and must now repair to Columbus to face an extraordinarily gruelling week. Come Friday, I'll be nearly dead. So much to accomplish by then. :)