Romney Muddles Abortion Stance

The truth is that Romney’s abortion stance was a muddle to start with, and this only makes things worse.

In all fairness, however, there are two "conservative" takes on the abortion issue from a legal standpoint.

The first is that the issue should have never been federalised to start with.  Had Roe v. Wade never been decided and Congress taken no action, it would have remained with the states.

The second is that a "righteous nation" should never permit abortion, thus it should be banned at the federal level.  But if this is so then our nation’s failure to protect the unborn didn’t start with Roe v. Wade but with the lack of federal legislation (or a constitutional provision) to prohibit abortion, which long antedates Roe.  (Whether the Fourteenth Amendment applies depends on the definition of life, something that Congress could propose and the Supreme Court dispose as it did in 1973.)

The Pseudosophisticates That Run the Pseudodemocracy

One thing that has always bothered me about the U.S. is the broad-based ignorance about the real workings of foreign politics and societies.  The existence of this was confirmed in no uncertain terms in the a recent Harris Poll that revealed that Americans’ ignorance of their own affairs is bad enough, but that their ignorance of foreign politics is even worse.

Although they broke down the data for domestic politics according to party and ideological affiliation, they did not do this for foreign politics.  It would be very interesting to see how this divides up.  Given the low level overall, it’s hard to envision either side having much of an advantage, which explains the simplistic "either/or" thinking about the U.S.’s foreign enemies that pervades our political life today.

It all gives the impression that we are a pseudodemocracy run by pseudosophisticates.  And it doesn’t seem that liberals are giving much of a boost in this regard, which is a major indictment of liberalism.

Church or Community?

Never was the Church meant to be an extension of the community, or a service provider, but a whole new, genuine, community. If we look at the “blueprints” found in the Bible we see that Christians are called out from the world around them to be a separate, holy, people of God. It is only when we are separated to God that we will be of any use to the world around us, but by being tied to our surrounding influences we are useless to God and Man. Each of us has a choice, and each church has a choice: Do we want to just be a temporary shelter for the poorer, or a religious watering hole for the richer; or are we willing to be the Body of the living Christ here on Earth?


All journeys must end someday

Peter Akinola’s recapitulation of the running battle in the Anglican Communion (A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008, also here) is as good of a summary as one could want.

One of the titles, however, is intriguing: "All journeys must end someday."  We’ve been conditioned to think that the journey itself is the central experience of life.  But the reality is that the objective is what’s most important.  When the journey is at an end, the goal (hopefully) is reached.

It’s obvious that the journey that Akinola speaks of is coming to an end.  But there is a more important one, and it’s the journey that’s behind all of the efforts.  It’s the journey into eternity.  This life’s journey will end someday.  What is your objective?

Military Golf

While trolling for new material for companion site, I ran across the military document UFC 4-750-01NF, Golf Clubhouses.  The U.S. Military doesn’t leave anything to chance, and this includes the design of the clubhouses for the golf facilities it operates.  Below are a few photographs of these structures, taken directly from the document.

Vandenberg AFB – California

McChord AFB – Washington

Luke AFB – Arizona

Robins AFB – Georgia

McChord AFB – Washington

Ramstein AB – Germany

Hickam AFB – Hawaii

Vandenberg AFB – California

The Anglican Calendar Script and Feast Days

Recently I received the following email from one of our visitors:

I am writing about the Anglican Calendar php program on this website. Firstly, thank you so much for creating it and sharing it! It is fantastic!

I am developing a website for my 1928 bcp church, and wanted something to put a bit of info about the current day. Your program works perfectly. However, I noticed at least one thing that I had a question about.

In checking for feast days, your program simply looks at the day of the month. But I know that sometimes the feast days are moved if they overlap with other holidays. For example, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary normally occurs on March 25th. But in 2007, March 25th is Palm Sunday, and in 2008, March 25th is the 1st Sunday after Easter.

The calendar at moves the Annunciation for both those years.

So here is my question: do you know how to tell when overlapping holidays need to be separated, how to know which takes precedence, and how far you need to push the lesser holiday (and in which direction!)?

It would be awesome if you updated your code, but if you have access to the info, I will use it to update the code myself, since the website will be going up soon.

Again, thanks for all the resources on your site, keep it up!

My response was on this wise:

As you may have noted, the calendar as it exists attempts to cover both the 1662 and 1928 BCP.  As a consequence, I had to generalise the output, and that’s why it puts out the Sundays and feasts simultaneously.

As far as the precedence issue you mentioned, I think part of the problem is that a lot of what’s actually done isn’t strictly speaking "by the book."  Part of the problem is with the book itself.

Let’s consider the example you gave, the Annunciation.  I’m looking at my 1928 BCP.  Page l of course lists the Annunciation as a feast.  But on the following page it tells us that all of the Sundays in Lent (and that includes Palm Sunday) take precedence over "any other Sunday or Holy Day," but that doesn’t apply to the First Sunday after Easter (Low Sunday.)  And it doesn’t give moving the feast as an option.

It also lists Holy Days "which have precedence of days" over certain Sundays (such as those in Lent,) but the Annunciation isn’t one of them.

Faced with this situation, I "punted" and simply had the days come up as they appeared on the calendar.

The source code of the script can be modified, as is the case with the Catholic Calendar Script. But that doesn’t solve the problem of precedence.  I’m open to comments and suggestions as to the proper method of dealing with this problem.

A Saudi Solution to a Saudi Problem

About three weeks ago, I posted The Saudis and Their Dangerous Game, where I discussed the whole business of a nation that, while propagating very tough Wahhabbi-Salafi Islam, they were then forced to deal with those who took is more seriously than they did.  This piece had enough merit to be cited in Slate.

Part of the Saudis’ response to this dilemma is documented at Saudis nip extremism in the bud.  Although many readers will recognise the nature of this kind of re-education campaign, it is geared to the specific situation that Saudi Arabia–and Islam–find themselves in today.

First, some terms: most people accurately describe Saudi Islam as Wahhabbi because its original teacher was Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab.  In 1734 he entered into a compact with the House of Saud (which included intermarriage.)  Thus his kind of Islam became the family religion, and the "national" (if that can be applied to a state like Saudi Arabia) religion of the country when it emerged after World War I.

Adherents of this kind of Islam usually prefer the more general term Salafi.  Salafi Islam is literally the Islam of Muhammad and his companions.  It represents an attempt to get back to Islam as originally practiced.  The advantage of this term is that it broadens the application of this type of Islam beyond Saudi Arabia.

As previously discussed, the problem for the Saudis now is that some Saudi Muslims don’t find Wahhabbi/Salafi Islam "fundamental" enough for their liking, and want to take things a step further.  Their idea is that there is no real Islamic state on the earth, including Saudi Arabia, so all true Muslims must fight to establish same wherever they are.

The Saudis’ counter to this–and what their re-education program attempts to convince its "pupils" of–is that Saudi Arabia is in fact a duly constituted Islamic state, doing what Islam is supposed to be doing, and that they as good Muslims don’t have any business trying to overthrow it.  They educate and counsel with the help of imams.

Will this work?  With some people, yes.  But there are the hard core on both sides.  About 1,400 jihadis have refused to enter the program.  Others in Saudi Arabia would like to skip the re-education and, neo-con style, perform a few well-placed executions to send a message to everyone.  But in a religion where vengeance is not just the province of Allah, and where you’re dealing with potential suicide warriors, this may not be as effective as one would like.

But ultimately their approach is only effective in Saudi Arabia itself and other countries where shar’ia is in force.  Without the force of law and the close relationship of mosque and state, the imams and other teachers in this program would have limited, if any, credibility.  Certainly no Western country could make this stick.  We may think jihadis are crazy, but how much credibility would an imam hired by the U.S. government have in a country where you can’t even pray in school?

A better solution would be prevention.  People in the West pine for "moderate Islam," but as long as religion and politics are a unity, the desire to implement Islam as a political system will remain.  And as long as Saudi Arabia holds itself out as a model Islamic state, conflict is inevitable.