Monday, October 31, 2005

Today's Historical Moment

What is so significant about today, October 31st? Oh, don't say Halloween. Halloween may be a fun time to dress up, load up on sweets and prepare for All Saints Day on November 1st (like so many of us do THAT). But such frivolity didn't change the face of Western Civilization. Nope, it's something far more grand and contentious at the same time. Tired of guessing? The Reformation! Woohoo!

Today is Reformation Day, the day Martin Luther pounded his 95 Theses or declarations to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral in 1517. In doing so, he threw down the gauntlet in the hopes that the Pope and his minions would engage him in debate. Luther argued for sola scriptura, sola fides, and sola something else. In English that means the church is not over scripture but under scripture. Therefore, the Catholic Church should be held accountable by and to God's Word, or Holy Scripture. Luther also clarified that we are saved by faith alone with God's grace. We cannot earn our salvation through the buying of indulgences or the doing of good works. Luther never intended to split from Catholicism but only wanted to reform it, to bring it back to Biblical truth. Popel Leo X would have none of it and declared Luther a heretic. And thus, the Reformation was born and the domination of the Catholic church and its popes weakened.

Two men were precursors to Martin Luther but with a similar message: John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. Wycliffe was the first to translate the Bible into the English vernacular so that the common man could read it for himself. For centuries the Bible was only in Latin and the only people who could read it were those who were highly educated, not a large percentage of the population. He was also against the church being in charge of governmental or temporal affairs and condemned it's use of the sword against its enemies. He believed that it corrupted the church. For his troubles, Wcliffe was posthumously burned as a heretic. Jan Hus was also burned at the stake as a heretic for propagating the beliefs of Wycliffe in Bohemia or modern day Czech Republic. Both these men sowed seeds that would be harvested by Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others.

We live with the legacy of the reformation in many ways. One big way is that it opened the way for the separation between church and state. So everyone living in America owes these first Protestants a huge Thank You for bucking the establishment or the system or "the Man" if you will to follow their conscience and the truth. To this day, the Catholic Church believes the Protestants broke off from Church tradition. However, Protestants believe they continued what was started in the early years of the Church and it was the Catholic Church that diverged from the truth. And yet, more than ever there's an ecumenical spirit growing between Catholics and Protestants (and even the Orthodox, but that's another story).

Take a moment and give a prayer of thanks for these men and the positive changes they wrought on the world.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Can insects get fat? or reptiles? I would venture a guess that insects expend so much energy capturing and eating their food that they're always treading a fine line between life and death. I have no scientific evidence or knowledge to support that theory, but that's what I think. Now reptiles I could see getting fat if they were pets, but again not if they're part of the food chain of eat or be eaten. And yet, perhaps insects can get fat. A spider has set up shop near our back porch and been doing a brisk trade. Everyday fat bundles are stuck in his web. I fear the spider's abdomen is getting larger. I fear the spider will leap at my face the next time I walk by. The web is beautiful and an engineering marvel (if I remember my science textbook correctly). But. The spider is getting bigger. I must resist the urge to destroy it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Historic Moment in Turkey

For years, the Turks refused to allow the Kurds the freedom to express their Kurdish identity. It wasn't until June 2004 that the government even permitted TV programs in the Kurdish language. Until last year or so, Turkey has been committed to the reforms Ataturk enacted early in the 20th century to forge the descendents of the failed Ottoman Empire into one homogenous people group. So for the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to say the following is a HUGE step in the right direction.

In a recent speech in Diyarbakir, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the government has mishandled relations with the Kurds, and their long-standing grievances need to be addressed through
greater democracy, not repression.
In this largest city in the nation's
troubled Kurdish region, the crowds applauded wildly. "The significance of his
words can't be underestimated," said the chairman of Diyarbakir's influential
Bar Association. "It's the first time any Turkish leader has admitted to
wrongdoing on the part of the state." Since Erdogan came to power in 2002, his
party has enacted sweeping reforms allowing Kurds to broadcast and publish in
their own language as well as to teach it in private courses.
However, not everyone is happy with Erdogan's comments. I'm assuming Erdogan made these comments because he desperately wants Turkey to get into the EU and they have to show they're serious about protecting human rights. Keep your eye on this country for I'm sure there will be interesting developments for good or for ill in the next couple of years. They're a petri dish with Islam and Democracy being the microbes and everyone wondering if the two can work together. Admitting guilt is a step towards better democracy. However, as I mentioned below there's still the threat of imprisonment for Ophan Pamuk because of his statement about the government's complicity in the Armenian genocide. Obviously they're not a perfect democracy just yet (none of them are), but at least they're working at it.

Harry Jaffa Speaks!

If you're in Orange County Friday night check out Harry Jaffa speaking at Trinity Law. He's Professor Emeritus of government at Claremont McKenna college, founder of the Claremont Institute, and author of A New Birth of Freedom. His talk is on The Moral Foundations of the Law. An important issue considering today's political, legal, and social landscape where morals are considered mere opinions as opposed to absolute and objective knowledge. If anyone does attend, please post your comments about his talk here. And it's FREE.

The Trinity Law and Trinity Graduate Schools
2200 N. Grand Ave. Santa Ana CA, 92705
Friday Night Speaker Series
Date: 14 OCTOBER 2005
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Where: Room #200

Monday, October 10, 2005

Harriet Miers

Is Harriet Miers another Sandra Day O'Connor? It's looking that way. Stanley Kurtz of National Review has been digging into her past as the head of the Texas Bar Association, here are some of his conclusions:

The most telling thing about Miers is that she sees membership in the Federalist Society as excessively “political,” yet doesn’t think twice about associating herself with a lecture series that invites the likes of Gloria Steinem, Pat Schroeder, and Susan Faludi. That’s because Miers’ political career is based on being the one member of the conservative Texas establishment that liberal feminists can best work with. Miers has spent a lifetime being the sort of conservative who tries to swim within the “mainstream.” Miers would rather make a partnership with the far left, than risk being called an outsider on the right. Her almost obsessive silence about her political views probably derives in part from the fact that her own support base comprehends everyone from pro-life evangelical conservatives to Susan Faludi-like feminists.

Even when Miers went out of her way to make a conservative point–as in the drive for ABA neutrality on abortion–her underlying purpose was to keep her Texas group connected to the national center of “mainstream” liberalism (and her formal position was mere neutrality). And even if Miers’ advice to the White House to go slow on affirmative action and stem cells was based on a political calculation, it was a calculation that fit very comfortably with Miers’ long-term intellectual-political orientation. Whatever her personal views, Miers doesn’t feel comfortable openly positioning herself to the right of what liberals call the “mainstream” on social issues. My sense is that this makes Miers into something of a Sandra Day O’Connor figure–someone who could go either way on the big social issues. On the one hand, Miers’s personal instincts are conservative. On the other hand, she is used to working in coalition with, making concessions to, and often sympathizing with, feminist liberals. (David Frum's excerpts from Miers's writings broadly support this point.)

On abortion, Miers is clearly opposed personally, yet her history is that of working with, and making concessions to, feminists to her left. So I’d say that one’s a toss-up. In short, given her history of building coalitions with liberal feminists, I think Miers is likely to be an O’Connor-like figure, who could break either way on all the big social issues.

I'm not keen on the Miers nomination. I wanted and think we needed the fight that could've happened over a real nominee with stellar credentials. I'm really curious to see if Republicans will bork Miers. If they do, it would be a huge testament to their belief in the importance of ideas over the strictly political. We'll see....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Mister

How do I know my mister loves me? He surprised me with pork chops stuffed with a cheese, spinach and garlic mixture when I came home from work. Nothing is so sexy as a man who cooks and has it waiting for you after a grueling day. You may be thinking what's the big deal. But food is a contentious issue in our home. If we argue about anything, it's about what we're going to eat. We can have yelling matches about what restaurant to eat at or what take out to get (usually because we've been dithering for an hour and are near starvation by the time we decide). Neither of us likes to make food decisions because neither of us wants the other to be disappointed with the choice. And if we're talking about making food, it was usually my responsibility since my mister didn't know how to cook. But lately I've been tired of cooking, thinking about food or trying to figure out what's for dinner that night. My mister had never cooked prior to marrying me five years ago. And in those five years, I could count on one hand the number of meals he made from scratch.

Yet his endeavors this past month have me counting on both hands now and that's a big deal in our household. Not only that, but all the speciality meals he's made have turned out fantastic. For a beginner, he's marvelous. His lasagna, chicken picata, and now stuffed pork chops have all been winners. And pork is a difficult meat 'cause it dries out so quickly. Not these chops. Moist, succulent, and oh so tasty! If you have a mister or a misses who doesn't know sauteing from stewing give them Cooks Illustrated. It's the best magazine for beginners since they give detailed instructions from start to finish and explain all the science behind the technique.

My mister loves me 'cause he's willing to do what I hate to keep me happy and us both nourished. Left to me, it would be cereal every night with a boiled egg thrown in for protein.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Keep an eye on this guy....

He wrote Snow and My Name is Red. Now he's saying what no Turk has dared to say: That the Turkish government was responsible for the Armenian genocide from 1915-1918. For almost a century, Turkey has refused to admit any guilt for the extermination of the Armenians. Their history books ignore it, their politicians deny it, but Orhan Pamuk is apologizing for it. A famous Turkish writer is airing his country's dirty laundry that has moldered for almost one hundred years. As a result he faces up to three years in prison for speaking the truth about his government's sordid past. Pamuk isn't speaking to the world, he's speaking to his own people who have their hands clapped over their eyes, ears and mouth when it comes to problems in Turkey's past. Let's hope that with the upcoming EU talks, Turkey will think twice about imprisoning Pamuk for what the rest of the world already knows to be true.