I'm doing my Law & Social Sci takehome and watching Frank Herbert's Dune. It's a bit of a ritual. Came out on the SciFi channel during my first round of law school finals (oh fateful time!) and I've rewatched it during every finals period since.


Schmemann on Death

This frustration will last as long as Christians continue to understand Christianity as a religion whose purpose is to help, as long as they continue to keep the "utilitarian" self-consciousness typical of the "old religion." For this was, indeed, one of the main functions of religions: to help, and especially to help people to die. For this reason religion has alwways been an attempt to explain death, and by explaining it, to reconcile man to it.

I'll compete this quote later... LOL
Jordan as liberal.

On Ex. 21:7ff

To apply this law today we need to ask whether the modern American wife is more like the Israelite free wife (with lots of independent power and property) or more like the slave wife. Without intending any insult, I think the modern wife is more like the slave wife, having relatively little independent power. The proof of this, for me, is the fact that men frequently beat their wives in this society, and get away with it.

* * *

On Ex. 22:16

Modern American women are often more in the position of slave wives than free ones, according to the Bible. They seldom have their own separate money. In the proper "Christian" home of today, the husband has
all financial control. He does not provide his wife with money at marriage, nor later on (although he may adorn her with jewelry, which is hers to keep). If she takes a job, it is assumed that he will have ultimate say-so over the spending of her money. The Biblical marriage, however, while it may appear to entail more tension and negotiation between husband and wife, also produces people who are much more mature.

The Law of the Covenant, p. 84, 148


Into Gilgamesh

sha nagba imuru ishdi maati
sha kullati idu kalaama hassu

I'm reading the proem to Gilgamesh in the original Akkadian. This is a dream come true. Of course, the book we have is itself a dream come true--cuneiform text, transliteration, and glossary with complete identifications of all forms and occurances. Still spent half-an-hour this evening looking for a shin-stem verbal form, though.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this compares to Homer. The vocabulary is quite rich.


The Paper

Okay... I admit that blogging an entire paper is a bit excessive. LOL My excuse is that I haven't blogged very much lately. And, honestly, I think the paper includes some nice phrases. :) I'm especially proud of my plea for something "beyond the one and many" at the end of the justification section. I rather doubt that my prof will like it, but--what the heck!--it's the last paper of the last class, and really something of a response to my hitherto undigested experiences in Family Law and Jurisprudence last semester.
Final Paper


The Interception of Sex by Violence:

Sadomasochism and the Criminal Law



      From the inception of human society, the law has tended to proscribe violence on the part of lesser individuals and limited violence to the hands of great men, such as kings, nobles, or judges. From the early modern period onwards, the law has been thought to monopolize violence in the executive arm of the State, which censures any competing eruptions of violence in civil society, according to the provisions of the criminal law. Although traces of the older Aristotelian and Semitic sense of crimes as wrongs in personam linger on--mostly in the tort system and in the occasional incorporation of restitution in criminal sentencing--modern criminal law treats violence primarily as a crime against the res publica and against public order. To the extent to which this is realized, the criminal law is concerned primarily with distributive justice and not with retributive justice as such. (1)

      Sadomasochism challenges the civil monopoly of violence in its employment of private violence for personal gratification.(2) In sadomasochistic activity, a sadistic actor inflicts violence upon a masochistic subject for mutual gratification. It is, in the Bard’s apt phrase, “The stroke of Death is as the lover’s pinch / Which hurts, and is desir’d.”(3) As I shall use the term in this paper, sadomasochism is inherently consensual inasmuch as it involves the willing participation of both sadists and masochists. I do not intend to challenge the claim of masochists that they, subjectively, believe that they need pain.(4) Where the subject is not masochistic—i.e., the subject does not enjoy and does not consent to the infliction of pain at the hands of another—the activity is merely sadistic, not sadomasochistic. As will be shown, it makes little sense, given the context of a free society, to speak of nonconsensual sadomasochism, save perhaps as a label for the aggregate of all of these activities.

      Sadism, masochism, and their conjunction, sadomasochism, are essentially cathartic activities in which the sadists or masochists (or both) experience emotional climax and a sense of release. Sadomasochism, sadism, and masochism are often erogenous activities conceptualized in sexual fantasy, accompanied by sexual arousal, and culminating in sexual contact or sexual intercourse. Yet they are not necessarily erogenous. Throughout history, man has sought release through a variety of mechanisms. Greek tragedy, for instance, no less than its modern cousin, the horror film, seeks to affect its audience with pity and fear.(5) Asceticism seems to create and perfect chronic pain through deprivation or stimuli, in order to achieve a heightened spirituality. Self-flagellation exemplifies such nonsexual masochism, but really no less than the entire medieval system of penance. On the other hand, sadism, masochism, and sadomasochism are deeply rooted in the traditional experience of childrearing. In the last analysis, no evaluation of sadomasochism can hope to be complete without resolving its troubling, ambiguous relationship with the form and content of childhood discipline. But the explication of such connections must be placed outside the scope of this paper, equally as must the consideration of those theological questions of sin and death, which, I think, sadomasochism so very quickly begs.(6)

      In modern society, sadomasochism is typically justified in terms of a right of personal autonomy. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”(7) Although this right may be claimed as justification for other potentially masochistic activity such as body piercing, its primary function is to underwrite the free love of liberal democracy’s “liberated” citizen. To the extent to which sadomasochism is identified with individual sexual autonomy, it becomes a “hot,” highly visible shibboleth within a larger debate over place of human sexuality in civil society and in the criminal law. It is my contention that inasmuch as sadomasochism is identified with sexual autonomy, it has become a proxy, even a guerilla, in what is by now a long, cold kulturkampf between the “old” Right and the “new” Left.(8) As 1968’s revolutionary armada coasts into apparent stalemate with various conservative flotillas on flagship issues such as abortion, prostitution, and homosexuality, sadomasochism functions as a bit of speculum in which we may reflect on and perhaps reconsider the post-procreative jurisprudence of the late twentieth century.


Sadomasochism in the Case Law.

      Although the intersection of sex with violence may give rise to a variety of criminal offenses, sadomasochism primarily implicates the criminal offense of assault, and so our review of the case law will focus on that offense.(9) Traditionally, assault with violence or force has been considered a breach of the peace for purposes of criminal law.(10) In the presence of injury, assault constitutes a breach of the peace to which the victim is merely a witness for the prosecution (and a potential tort plaintiff). In the absence of injury or where the injury or imposition is very slight, the consent of the victim might be available as a defense. Traditionally, consent is allowed as a defense in socially beneficial activities involving assault, such as contact sports.(11)

      Unlike most sports, sadomasochistic activity necessarily involves the intentional infliction of pain on one of the participants. This infliction of pain need not be accompanied by serious bodily injury, and, in the vast majority of instances, is not. And yet, rather undeniably, the infliction results in minor bruising and psychological conditioning in many instances. Accordingly, American courts have consistently refused to recognize the consent of the masochistic subject as a defense to assault. In People v. Samuels, a male sadist was convicted of aggravated assault on the basis of his filming of a beating of a masochistic male subject; a California appellate court held that the consent of the victim was not a defense, inasmuch as sadomasochism was not analogous to a contact sport.(12) In Commonwealth v. Appleby, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction, for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, of a male sadist who beat his live-in male lover with a ridding crop. The actual holding of the appeal was to reject the defense that, as a matter of law, the victim could have consented to the violence.(13) Evidence offered at trial indicated that the victim was essentially analogous to a battered spouse—and had actually sought sheltered in a monastery after one of the beatings.(14)

      Perhaps the most famous articulation of denial that masochistic victims’ consent can be a defense to assault is found in the British “Spanner” case, Regina v. Brown.(15) This case resulted from a sustained police investigation into a private sadomasochistic club in London; the sadists were a group of older men who engaged in sadomasochistic activities with a number of younger men over the time period of a decade. The activities were consensual and sexually gratifying yet painful to the extreme and (at the risk of prejudice) positively brutal.(16) Videotapes were made and distributed. Writing for a 3-2 majority, Lord Templeton distinguished this sadomasochistic conduct from sporting activities as effecting violent injury not as a secondary incident to a social good, but as an end in itself and, thus, positively evil.

In principle there is a difference between violence which is incidental and violence which is inflicted for the indulgence of cruelty. The violence of sado-masochistic encounters involves the indulgence of cruelty by sadists and the degradation of victims. Such violence is injurious to the participants and unpredictably dangerous. I am not prepared to invent a defence of consent for sado-masochistic encounters which breed and glorify cruelty . . . Society is entitled and bound to protect itself against a cult of violence. Pleasure derived from the infliction of pain is an evil thing. Cruelty is uncivilised.(17)


The dissenting lords argued that the conduct should be analyzed under the law of private sexual relations, but the European Court of Human Rights unanimously upheld the decision. The court held that conviction of the sadists was not inconsistent with Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.(18) Observing in dicta that the activities in question might lie outside the defendants’ private lives by virtue of the club-setting, the court declined to resolve the question of whether the State could prohibit such sadomasochism as moral evil, and found only that the State was justified in prohibiting the activity on account of its potential for harm—precisely as genital torture.(19)

      The New York case of People v. Jovanovic might seem to offer support for the view that consent may be a defense for sadomasochism, but this interpretation seems dispelled by a close reading. At trial, a male sadist was convicted of assault, sexual abuse, and kidnapping for his actions in what seems to have been a sadomasochistic encounter gone away.(20) A New York Appellate Division court reversed his conviction on evidentiary grounds, finding that the exclusion of email correspondence with the victim prejudiced his ability to present his defense and to confront his accuser; this decision was upheld by the New York Court of Appeals.(21) Significantly, however, the Appellate Division rejected the defendant’s argument that consent was a defense to sadomasochistic assault or that he had a constitutional right to engage in sadomasochistic sex.(22)


Sadomasochism and Justifications for Punishment.

      In modern criminal law, two broad species of rationales for the imposition of penal sanction are generally understood to be available.(23) The first of these is utilitarian, and is comprehended in the consequentialist and teleological principle of utility described by Jeremy Bentham. “By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of ever action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party in whose interest is in question.”(24) The second of these is retributive, and has its locus classicus in the deonotological moral theory of Immanuel Kant. Retributivism, for Kant, is but an implication of the categorical imperative. “The categorical imperative, which as such only affirms what obligation is, is: act upon a maxim that can also hold as a universal law.”(25)

      Utilitarian theory looks to the good of the community and asks whether a particular action serves to increase or decrease the  “sum of the interests of the particular members who compose [the community].”(26) Utilitarian theory conceives of happiness and good in essentially quantitative, “hedonistic” terms: “By utility is meant that property in any object whose tendency is to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness . . . or to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to what party whose interest is considered.”(27) In Bentham’s view, asceticism is the categorical denial of the principle of utility, by which men prefer pain to pleasure, and is the fount of crime.

[A]ny one who reprobates any the least particle of pleasure, as such, from whatever source derived is pro tanto a partisan of the principle of asceticism. It is only upon this principle, and not from the principle of utility, that the most abominable pleasure which the vilest of malefactors ever reaped from his crime would be to be reprobated, if it stood alone. The case is, that it never does stand alone; but is necessarily followed by such a quantity of pain . . . that the pleasure in comparison of it, is as nothing: and this is the true and sole, but perfectly sufficient, reason for making it a ground of punishment.(28)


To his eighteenth-century mind, asceticism is the common quality of traditional religious superstition as well as much of classical philosophy. Adherents of asceticism “think it meritorious to fall in love with pain” and accordingly misapply the principle of utility.(29)

      On its face, then, utilitarianism seems diametrically opposed to the whole purpose of sadomasochism. In his empirical-rationalistic schema, pleasure is unequivocal and obvious: Bentham can accept the masochist’s identification of bodily pain with sexual pleasure no less than the religious ascetic’s identification of eternal pleasure over bodily pain. But assuming for the moment, as masochists will say, with all subjective honesty, that they really do need the infliction of pain, utilitarian theory argues that the content of the criminal law must be informed by the happiness of the community, not the individual as such: laws and measures of government must be seek to increase the sum total of happiness in the community as a whole.(30)

      The primary example of the utilitarian rationale for restricting consensual violence is the need to maintain able-bodied men for national defense. It is on this basis that contact sports have usually been allowed, for instance, and other forms of violence, such as amputations, have been prohibited.(31) Within the context of post-1965 America, we might analogize this rationale to the need to provide free citizens who may participate in the democratic process, free from fear and historical narratives of oppression. Sadomasochism, inasmuch as it perpetuates the iconography of servitude and punishment, arguably contradicts the principle of utility as applied in this context.

      Retributive theory, on the other hand, considers only the individual on his or her own terms. In Kant’s system, “a human being can never be treated as a means to the purposes of another or be put among the objects of rights to things.”(32) The personhood and autonomy of the individual preclude this. Criminal punishment

can never be inflicted merely as a means to promote some other good for the criminal himself or for civil society. It must always be inflicted upon him because he has committed a crime. . . . He must previously have been found punishable before any thought may be given to drawing from his punishment something of use for himself or his fellow citizens.(33)


In other words, crimes may only be punished on account of the moral fault of the individual as a moral agent, and not because of any grand calculus of social engineering.

      Superficially, sadomasochism might seem to be consistent with such a vision of autonomous and “self-actualizing” individuals. Similarities, however, because Kant’s vision and the gospel of our own time are disappointingly thin. Punishment is, in the first place, unavailable for the private use of the individual, any more than for the greater good of the community. Indeed, in Kant’s view, the individual owes himself moral duties of dignity and self-respect, which require him to eschew both servility and arrogance, and a final duty of self-knowledge, which requires him to known his own heart and search out his motives.

Moral cognition of oneself, which seeks to penetrate into the depths (the abyss) of one’s heart which are quite difficult to fathom, is the beginning of all human wisdom. For in the case of the human being, the ultimate wisdom, which consists in the harmony of a human being’s will with its final end, requires him to remove a obstacle within him (an evil will actually present within him) and to develop the original predisposition to a good will within him which can never be lost.(34)


Such duties, which are really the dictates of philosophy from Socrates down,(35) are inconsistent with the dark fantasies of sadomasochism and cannot be harmonized thereto. Sadomasochism promotes the brutalization and dehumanization of one human being at the hands of another; its playful confounding of pain and pleasure is the sexual equivalent of sophistry, not self-examination.

      Furthermore, sadomasochism is arguably inconsistent with Kant’s major exception to his principle that each human being is an end in himself—marriage rights. In sexual intercourse, “a human being makes himself into a thing, which conflicts with the right of humanity in his own person.”(36) For Kant, this implies that sex must be characterized by equality and mutuality, values which sadomasochism explicitly undermines. Sexuality is not only legitimate only within marriage, but it is only truly possible within marriage: “that while that other person is acquired by the other, as if it were a thing, the one who is acquired acquires the other in turn; for in this way each reclaims itself and restores its personality.”(37) Although Kant was not privy to our modern biology, we might perhaps consider this exception, whereby a human being in converted into a thing, to be explained by the biological imperative of accessing the DNA of the other in procreation.

      As an aside, I feel compelled to observe that the usual juxtaposition and dichotomy of utilitarian with retributivist rationales is intellectually problematic. This dichotomy tends to define individual and social goods in competition with one another and, indeed, as mutually exclusive in extremis. I suggest that what is missing here is an appreciation for the only partially teleological character of the utility principle. Utilitarianism fails to be perfectly teleological inasmuch as it admits into its calculus no truly infinite or transcendental good. Accordingly, it, just as Nazi Germany or Orwell’s dysutopia, stands vulnerable to the charge that there is some end, some good active in the universe beyond society as such. For the children of 1968, this good may very well be some cosmic coition, in whose name they may, following De Sade, choose to rebel against the social good and their own individual reason. And yet, can we not conceive of a good, greater than society’s, greater than which cannot be conceived? For we merely choose, as a social convention, the historical construct of 1648, not to discuss that Good in the context of the criminal law, even when deontological theory hands us its little imago on a silver platter.(38) So I can only observe that in an older and perhaps wiser time, philosophers thought that there was, properly, no conflict between the external good of society and the good will of the individual, as both corresponded, as macrocosm to microcosm, on a scala naturae to God as Lawgiver and Judge, whose representative the Monarch in this world was, and who, in turn, in his person united our retributive and utilitarian justifications for punishment.


A Modest Proposal.

      Precisely because it is my conviction, following Kant, that individuals have no moral right to free love, and still less any moral right to consensual sadomasochism, it is my contention that, in an ideal world autonomous of contemporary political realities, consent ought not to be a defense for sexualized violence and, accordingly, sadomasochism ought to remain criminalized in toto. Yet inasmuch as the law in a liberal-democratic order stands especially condemned to make concessions to the spirit and mores of the time, I suggest that, at minimum, consent should be allowed as a defense only within the context of state-regulated “encounter” sadomasochism. Sexualized violence is too dangerous to allow total amateurs to practice the art and to hold themselves out to the subculture as “masters” or “mistresses.” That this is in fact the practice of the above-ground “bondage” community only serves to belie the point.(39)

      Constitutionally, our high court has never recognized a constitutional right either to sexual intercourse or to sexual conduct.(40) Loving v. Virginia, overturning a recognized a constitutional right to choose marriage partners, did not establish a right to have sex irrespective of a State’s marriage licensing regime.(41) The holdings of the line of cases legalizing contraception and abortion—Griswold, Eisenstadt, Roe, and beyond—were framed in terms of procreative and not recreative autonomy.(42)

      Within the federal system of the United States, I suggest that sadomasochism is best regulated by the States directly. States ought to be free to force their citizens to limit sexual activity to the state-supervised institution of marriage if their legislatures so wish. Conversely, States ought to be free to elect to prohibit (and criminalize) incest, polygamy, homosexuality, and prostitution, at the discretion of their legislatures. Within this framework, sadomasochism becomes another elective—next to same-sex civil unions and prostitution—on the smorgasbord of our culturally and geographically diverse federal republic. Prostitution may afford the best analogy. Like sadomasochism, prostitution implicates serious public health and safety concerns. States may choose, according to the judgment of their legislatures, to permit or prohibit prostitution. Those States which allow or have allowed prostitution have typically done so in a highly regulated context, replete with inspection and certification. Significantly, the practices of the above-ground “bondage” community anticipate such regulation through training, public demonstration, referral networks, and community censure. Here, at least, they provide a ready model showing how, if we are unable to extricate sex from violence, we might at least be able to prevent their complete confusion.

(1) See, e.g., Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1133a18 (Bekker ed.).

(2) See Cheryl Hanna, Sex is Not a Sport: Consent and Violence in Criminal Law, 42 B.C. L. Rev. 239 (2001); see also Monia Pa, Beyond the Pleasure Principle: The Criminalization of Consensual Sadomasochistic Sex, 11 Tex. J. Women & L. 51 (2001).

(3) William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, V.2.

(4) See generally Marianne Apostolides, The Pleasure of Pain: Why Some People Need S&M, Psychol. Today, Sept. 1, 1999, at 60.

(5) Aristotle, Poetics, 1449b27 (Bekker ed.).

(6) But see, generally, Rousas J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity 1-10 (1970).

(7) Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 850 (1992).

(8) This concern animates, for instance, William N. Eskridge, Jr.’s treatment of sadomasochism in Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet 243-263 (Harvard 1999).

(9) Other potential offenses implicated include the several forms of kidnapping (Model Penal Code § 212) and the various sex offenses (§ 213).

(10) For the historical background of the consent defense in the assault context, see Keith M. Harrison, Law, Order, and the Consent Defense, 12 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev., 477, 478-480 (1993). Note that the Model Penal Code equates attempts and completed offenses and so merges the traditional categories of assault and battery into a single offense, assault. Model Penal Code § 211.1.

(11) “The common law recognizes as not necessarily unlawful certain manly sports calculated to give bodily strength, skill and activity, and to fit people for defense, public as well as personal, in time of need. Playing at cudgels or foils, or wrestling by consent, there being no motive to do bodily harm on either side, are said to be exercises of this description. . . . But prize-fighting, boxing matches, and encounters of that kind, serve no useful purpose, tend to breaches of the peace, and are unlawful even when entered into by agreement and without anger or mutual ill will.” Commonwealth v. Collberg, 119 Mass. 350, 353 (1876).

(12) See  250 Cal. App. 2d 501, 513 (1967).

(13) See 380 Mass. 296, 310-311 (1980)

(14) Id., 380 Mass. at 309.

(15) 1 A.C. 212 (Eng. H.L. 1993). This decision was subsequently appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Laskey v. United Kingdom, 24 Eur. Ct. H.R. 39 (1997), at http://www.spannertrust.org/documents/eurofinal.asp.

(16) “The acts consisted in the main of maltreatment of the genitalia (with, for example, hot wax, sandpaper, fish hooks and needles) and ritualistic beatings either with the assailant's bare hands or a variety of implements, including stinging nettles, spiked belts and a cat-o'-nine tails. There were instances of branding and infliction of injuries which resulted in the flow of blood and which left scarring.” Laskey , 4 Eur. Ct. H.R. 39, at ¶8.

(17) Brown, 1 A.C. at 236-37 (opinion of Lord Templeton). Cited in Laskey , 4 Eur. Ct. H.R. 39, at ¶20.

(18) Article 8 guarantees a right to respect of private life, “except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Cited in Laskey , 4 Eur. Ct. H.R. 39, at ¶35.

(19) See id,, at ¶37-51.

(20) See 700 N.Y.S.2d 156, 160-163 (N.Y.App. Div. 1999)(Jovanovic I).

(21) See id., at 172; People v. Jovanovic, 95 N.Y.2d 846 (N.Y. 2000)(Jovanovic II).

(22) In a key footnote, the Appellate Division cautioned that it did not mean to imply that consent was a defense for sadomasochistic assault. “There is no available defense of consent on a charge of assault under Penal Law § 120.00 (1) and § 120.05 (2). Indeed, while a meaningful distinction can be made between an ordinary violent beating and violence in which both parties voluntarily participate for their own sexual gratification, nevertheless, just as a person cannot consent to his or her own murder, as a matter of public policy, a person cannot avoid criminal responsibility for an assault that causes injury or carries a risk of serious harm, even if the victim asked for or consented to the act [citing Samuels, Appleby]. And, although it may be possible to engage in criminal assaultive behavior that does not result in physical injury, we need not address here whether consent to such conduct may constitute a defense, since the jury clearly found here that the complainant was physically injured. Defendant's claim that there is a constitutional right to engage in consensual sadomasochistic activity is, at the very least, too broad, since if such conduct were to result in serious injury, the consensual nature of the activity would not justify the result.” Jovanic I, 700 N.Y.S.2d at 169, n5 (internal citations omitted).

(23) See, e.g., Joshua Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law 13-14 (3d ed. 2001).

(24) Jeremy Bentham, The Principles of Morals and Legislation 2 (Prometheus Books ed. 1988).

(25) Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals 17 (trans. Mary Gregor, Cambridge ed. 1996).

(26) Bentham, Principles 3.

(27) Id., at 2.

(28) Id., at 9.

(29) Id., at 13.

(30) Id., at 3.

(31) See Harrison, n10, supra.

(32) Kant, Morals 105.

(33) Id.

(34) Id., 191.

(35) One need only think of the plea for spiritual eros rather than crass physical exploitation in Plato, Phaedrus §255 (Stephanus ed.).

(36) Kant, Morals, 62.

(37) Id.

(38) On the historical construction of secularism in early modern Europe, see Stephen L. Toulmin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity (Chicago 1991).

(39) My own interviews confirm that this true of local groups in Columbus, OH.

(40) See Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, 192-194 (1986). I am aware than this decision may be overruled this summer, but until then, Hardwick stands as good law.

(41) See Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

(42)  “Our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. Our cases recognize the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. at 850 (internal cites omitted); accord Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972); accord Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 169-170 (1973).


Good Friday

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et seplutus est.

I was thinking the other day that the Crucifixion seems like such a long time ago. Then I though how quickly the past year has flown, how "much" I've learned, and how "little" I've been able to read (of hearts no less than books). And then suddenly 1,973 years didn't seem so distant.

* * *

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthanai

O Kritoon, tooi Asklepiooi opheilomen alektruona, alla apodote kai mee ameleeseete.

Perhaps in the man himself, we discern something of the image of his father. The simple fact of demonic possession would account for the terrible persona of Socrates: his uniquely spotless character, his superhuman temperance, his insufferable pride. More than all of the long speeches in Plato, Socrates' power over our imagination stems from his heroic death. Yet in his death do we not see a sham of the death of Christ? He would have us not fear death, but look upon it as either an eternal sleep or as the realization of our best dreams. Whereas the Galilean is followed by a crowd of weeping women, Socrates dismisses his female relatives lest they be less than bravely dry-eyed in the face of death. His dying words have not the revelation of purpose, but almost the smile of irony. The Athenian, simply, exults in a sort of death-in-life and life-in-death: he does not cry out, he does sweat blood, he mocks and does not have compassion upon ordinary human weakness.

* * *

My children, when you were little, we used to sometimes go for walks in our pine woods. But you used instinctively to give me you hands as we entered the woods, where it was darker, lonelier, and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening. In this book I am again giving you my hands. I am leading you, not through cool pine woods, but up and up a narrow defile between bare and steep rocks from which in shadow things uncoil and slither away. It will be dark. But, in the end, if I have lead you aright, you will be able to make out three crosses, from two of which hang thieves. I will have brought you to Golgotha--the place of Skulls. This is the meaning of the journey. Before you understand, I may not be there, my hands may have slipped from yours. It will not matter. For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman, and child on earth, you will be wise.

, p. 22

sunt lacrimae rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt



     From my mother, an appreciation for the fine arts, music, and poetry, for expectations of the best domestic order, and for life itself.
     From my father, a sense of duty, a taste for good food, and an equanimity which endures so many little wounds with so much good cheer.
     From a schoolmaster, a passionate love of ideas, first forcibly impressed, kindled and rekindled tirelessly on the damp stuff of my spirit, until a lust for philosophic knowledge burned of its own accord.
     From a wise, old bachelor, a vision of the stars and a sense of the whirl of all the things which lie between my county line and the empyrean.
     From an proud Enlightenment man, wizened old before his time by nicotine and too many late nights, an example of the tenacity and intelligence demanded by what is perhaps the last great adventure, the scientific enterprise.
     From a crusty Lithuanian expatriate, a doctor of Political Science, the lesson that to read a page is not to move the eyes but once from top to bottom.
     From Shakespeare, what it means, in the deepest sense, to be human.
     From Augustine, a model of how to use the world and all its wisdom, without losing sight of a better country.
     From Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, a blood sacrifice which propitiates my wrongs, and the disorder of the whole cosmos.
     From God, all things, even all sensible benefits, all conceivable truth, all imaginable beauty, the final end of every cause, and being itself.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Amongst these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of Fire.
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.


The war is effectively over. Thanks be to God that the American entrance into Baghdad resembled more the collapse of a house of cards than anything like a "Mesopotamian Stalingrad." One good analysis is here.

Does anyone know anything about Carl Schmitt (The Concept of the Political, Political Theology)?

IMHO, The Hours was the best film qua film of the last year. But it ultimately glorifies autonomous escape from normative social relationships (i.e., into homosexuality and suicide). For a very good article arguing that the film and book are ultimately inconsistent with Woolf's modernist vision, see Carol Iannone's article in Commentary.

Ladies should check out this personality test: Which of Henry VIII's wives are you? I'm a guy, but I tried to take it, only to come out as Katherine Parr. LOL



I found a truly great book in a used bookstore (Wycliff's) the other day. Sanford Levinson, Constitutional Faith (Princeton University Press, 1988), xii + 250 pp. His thesis is basically that the American Constitution and its SCOTUS interpreter play the same roles in American civil religion as did the Bible and the Church in Western Christianity.