Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Lawyers Making Sense?!

A lot of sites around St. Blog's are discussing Dreher's recent NRO article on libel/defamation suits. Throughout the flurry of activity in the comment boxes on these sites, you will find a number of comments from a handful of us lawyers. And they all strike a similar theme: (1) libel/defamation cases are difficult to prove, especially where the claimed damage is damage to reputation; and (2) they rarely actually correct the harm that the plaintiff believes he suffered.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Have To Love Blogger

Blogger ate my last post. But it did so in a fashion that prevents me from editing it by screwing up the edit hyperlink. I will try and fix it, but knowing Blogger, that may take some time.

More On The Fathers

Fellow blogger Locdog (see I linked you) has posted many comments below and on his own blog about my comments relating to the Church Fathers' view of baptism and my questions as to why Glen rejects their understanding of baptism (which he recognizes as being salvific). Now, I was tempted to not make a formal post in response to Locdog's arguments. Mostly, because my intuition suggests that Locdog just enjoys an argument and isn't that interested in clarifications or dialogue. However, his recent post in the comments box here at Integrity and at Nota Bene made me reconsider. In that comment, Locdog points out some difficulties in Hermas' view of the Trinity. (I'm setting aside for the moment his quote from Justin Martyr as he doesn't bother to take the Trinitarian quote that Sean cites into the mix.) His post gave me some insight into what Glen might have been talking about in his use of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity as an explanation for why he has no issue rejecting the Church Fathers' position on baptism. (We'll get to the flaws in the analogy in a moment.)

Now, I am neither a patristic scholar nor a church historian. So I am somewhat unequipped to address Locdog's comments about Hermas. I suppose it was good luck on his part that I chose to quote from Hermas as one of the Fathers supporting a salvific view of baptism. If Hermas was so wrong on the Trinity, why take his word on baptim, or so the argument would go.

Of course, there is a limit to how far to take that argument. As I told Locdog, in no way am I presenting each Father as infallible. Also, each Father didn't address all aspects of doctrine. They didn't always speak explicitly about things that weren't in dispute (yet). The reason for presenting the Fathers stemmed from the fact that Glen and I had differing views on interpreting John 3:5. I presented the Fathers as an example that the early Church thought similarly to the Catholic Church of today when it came to interpreting John 3:5 and whether baptism was just a symbol.

Locdog doesn't give you much background on Hermas. If you would like some, check out this link. One of the things Locdog doesn't tell you is that the book is of the apocalyptic and visionary genre. Accordingly, it is one that needs some care to interpret. You can see this in part from the very passage that Locdog quotes suggesting that Hermas equates Christ and the Holy Spirit. He selectively leaves off the start of that passage which would tell you that the the person saying "I wish to explain to you..." isn't Hermas but the "angel of repentance" which the text tells us was speaking to Hermas. Second, the work is not primarily a doctrinal work but an ethical one, especially focused on repentance and penance. Given that and the genre of the writing, most scholars are a little more forgiving when addressing Hermas. Other passages of Hermas suggest he does see the Father and the Son as two persons. Nevertheless, I will readily agree that The Shepherd contains a view of the Holy Spirit which is muddy at best. And, as Locdog, I am sure would point out, there were others of that time who struggled to understand the Holy Spirit. The question wasn't settled until the defining of the doctrine of the Trinity at the later council.

That, however, is the key point: a council was called that defined Christian doctrine on the point, namely, the Trinity. For the development of the Trinity doctrine to be an analogy for development of the doctrine of baptism, it would seem then that a council would have been in order. Especially given that many of the Fathers teaching a salvific baptism were heads of local churches, not mere theologians separated from the common Christian faithful. A council would have been appropriate to correct the wrong and establish that baptism is merely an external sign. However, I'm not aware of any such council. So the analogy appears to be inapt.


Certainly, a demonstration that Hermas may have been wrong on the doctrine of Trinity is support for your idea that the Fathers were wrong on the doctrine of the Trinity, and thus may be wrong on baptism. However, I think it is important to give Hermas his due. People interested in some posted by JACK @ 7:39 PM  0 comments

Sunday, September 08, 2002

More On Baptism

Glen Davis has posted a reply to the recent posts by Sean and me regarding the meaning of baptism. I need to take some time to digest it, but some quick thoughts.

Glen starts with scripture and posits that the Bible states that salvation stems from placing one's faith in Jesus. He cites several passages of scripture to support this. Part of the difficulty, I think, is that Glen seems to view the matter as an "either/or" situation. If we speak of a baptism as something more than just a symbol, then we must somehow be discounting or ignoring the importance of faith. I'm not sure if that is true.

Taking his point of view for the moment, the scriptures I cited merely indicate that baptism is important, but not necessarily anything more than a symbol. It certainly is one possible read of the passages. However, many of the references to belief come within the context of water baptism. Take some of the scriptures that Glen cites: John 3:16-18 is set in between Jesus' dialogue with Nicodemus and baptizing people in Judea; Acts 16:31 is immediately followed by the baptism of the jailer and his household (Acts 16:33); and Galations 3:27 speaks of those who were baptized as being those who put on Christ. So, although I think Glen's view of these passages is a reasonable one, I'm not sure if I am convinced that it is the only one. And there are more explicit references to baptism than the ones I cited. Take 1 Peter 3:20-22, where Peter refers to Noah being saved by the waters of the flood, such waters being a symbol of the baptism that saves the believers.

I think part of the reason why Glen and I have different reads of what these scriptures mean may be from different concepts of faith. I suspect that Glen focuses far more on an explicit, intellectual assent by a person. I need to give some thought to a response on this point. I will try and do that later this week if I have a chance before flying to NJ to meet my goddaughter.

However, what I find of more interest is Glen's response to my presentation of the views of some of the early Church fathers. In his reply, Glen agrees that the Fathers saw baptism as something more than a symbol. But, according to Glen, they were just wrong.

I find that a touch perplexing without explanation. Let me be clear. I do not mean to suggest that each Father was infallible. But I do wonder why Glen suggests that we are to reject the collective wisdom of the Fathers on this subject. After all, we are talking about many individuals who learned the faith from the Apostles themselves or the first generation of Christians to follow them. Without further reason, I am more likely to think the Fathers correct than a modern group with a position contrary to theirs. Yes, the Church's understanding of the faith deepens over time. But what Glen suggests is more than that; it suggests that the Church may change course altogether. To go from belief that baptism is a sacrament to belief that it is only a symbol is hard to describe as a "development". Given that, one must wonder what else the Church might change its mind on in the future. If I may be so bold, I think Glen recognizes this, which is why he finishes with the caveat that there may have been early Church theologians with views on baptism more agreeable to his own.

Update: A reader suggested in the comments box that I unfairly presented Glen's position on the Church Fathers when I said that he believed "they were just wrong." A fair point. Let me make clear that it wasn't an intentional slight. Glen does present the brief sketch of an analogy drawn from the doctrine of the Trinity. As I replied to the reader in the comments box, I don't find that analogy to be on point. Check out Nota Bene for more on that. So I am happy to make this clarification as I didn't intend to suggest that Glen had not presented such an analogy. The problems that result in trying to post a quick response late at night. However, I do think my questions are still relevant. And, contrary to locdog's suggestion, I ask them as an effort to dive further into the issue and understand how Glen's view plays out, not merely as a debater's retort.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

I Will Make You A Deal

Clearly, Nihil Obstat must have posted about Integrity again because my site statistics have a few too many referral references from N.O's blog for that not to be the case. Oh, I'm sure the post makes sure to insult me with some overblown remark instead of merely pointing out some typos. Hey, Nihil, I'll make you a deal. I don't have time to proof-read this blog so closely, but you clearly do. Send me an email with the appropriate information and I will give you full permissions to Integrity so you can correct, and not just call attention to, my typos all you want. I only ask that you limit your changes to Integrity just to that.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

The Fathers And John 3:5

Sean Gallagher and I have been having an interesting conversation with Glen Davis about the differences in the Catholic and pentecostal understandings of baptism and, in particular, John 3:5.

Recently, Sean added a reflection on John's use of "water" in his Gospel. I thought that I would add a post to our discussion on how some of the early church Fathers interpreted the reference to being "born of water and spirit" and what importance they put in water baptism. Unlike Sean, I'm not a historian, but I play one on TV.

Hermas-- who tradition tells us lived around 140 A.D. and was the brother of Pope St. Pius I -- speaks in The Shepherd of baptism as a regeneration of life and water plays a key role in that:

"'They had need,' [the shepherd] said, 'to come up through the water, so that they might be made alive; for they could not otherwise enter into the kingdom of God, except by putting away the mortality of their former life. These also, then, who had fallen asleep, received the seal of the Son of God, and entered into the kingdom of God. For,' he said, 'before a man bears the name of the Son of God, he is dead. But when he receives the seal, he puts mortality aside and again receives life. The seal, therefore, is the water. They go down into the water dead, and come out of it alive.'"
St. Cyril of Jerusalem -- who tradition tells us lived between 315-386 A.D. and wrote his Catechetical Lectures around 350 A.D. -- speaks at length to water and spirit being part of one baptism:
"Since man is of a twofold nature, composed of body and soul, the purification also is twofold: the corporeal for the corporeal and the incorporeal for the incorporeal. The water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul. Thus, having our heart sprinkled by the Spirit and our body washed with pure water, we may draw near to God. When you go down into the water, then, regard not simply the water, but look for salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. For without both you cannot attain to perfection. It is not I who say this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter. And He says, 'Unless a man be born again' -- and He adds the words 'of water and of the Spirit, -- he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' He that is baptized with water, but is not found worthy of the Spirit, does not receive the grace in perfection. Nor, if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but does not receive the seal by means of the water, shall he enter into the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine; for it is Jesus who has declared it."
St. Basil the Great -- one of the great Eastern fathers who lived between 330-379 A.D. --, in his work The Holy Spirit around 375 A.D., directly connected the phrase "born again of water and spirit" with water baptism:
"This then is what it meas to be born again of water and Spirit: just as our dying is effected in the water, our living is wrought through the Spirit. In three immersions and in equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the sould of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water but from the Spirit's presence there."
Other Fathers give us additional background on the importance of water. Tertullian -- who tradition tells us wrote his treatise on Baptism around 200-206 A.D. -- paints a picture of water resting at the core of the battle of good versus evil:
"A treatise on our sacrament of water, by which the sins of our earlier blindness are washed away and we are released for eternal life will not be superfluous. Vipers and asps, as is true of serpents in general, are found in dry and waterless places. But we, little fishes, are born in water after the manner of our Jesus Christ; nor can we be otherwise saved, except by abiding permanently in the water."
Similarly, he draws on all of history and tells us:
"The Spirit who in the beginning hovered over the waters would continue to linger as an influence upon the waters. ... All waters, therefore, by reason of the original sign at their beginning, are suitable, after God has been invoked, for the sacrament of sanctification. The Spirit immediately comes from heaven upon the waters, and rests upon them, making them holy of Himself; and having been thus sanctified they absorb at the same time the power of sanctifying. Even so, there is a similitude well-adapted to the simple act: that since we are defiled by sins, as if by dirt, we are washed in water."
These quotations can be found in William Jurgens collection The Faith of the Early Fathers.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Best Legal Drama On Television

Hands down, it is The Guardian. All of you Law And Order devotees, catch your breath. I love that show, but come on: it's been on for eons and, as enjoyable as it is, it is running dry. Besides, as brilliant as it can be, it's not a pure legal drama. Ah, The Order part. So setting that to the side, The Guardian is wonderful. Simon Baker's understated performance is thoroughly enjoyable and a relief from The Practice style of lawyer. And, finally, evidence that there is a transactional side to the law and that some lawyers really don't spend all their time in court! (Maybe my relatives will start to believe me when I tell them that I negotiate deals, not represent people seeking divorces.) Now if only I can convince someone good over at Television Without Pity to do episode recaps for the show.

Tonight's episode had an interesting segment. The CEO of a company hired Nick Fallin's father's firm to help his company acquire a food products company. The CEO tells Nick that he wants to get the company at a cheap price, so Nick negotiates a deal where they buy the company excluding assets not involved in the business operation of the company, which included a jet. Exclude the assets, drop the price. Well, it turns out that the CEO really wanted that plane because he couldn't have bought one himself and the company wouldn't buy one for him to use. But if one was acquired as a by-product of the acquisition... Nick tries to get the plane back in the deal and negotiates a deal to pay a real estate developer three-hundred thousand dollars to back out of a purchase of the plane. (The company sold the plane to him after it was excluded from the asset sale.) The CEO screams at Nick, because the board of his company isn't going to approve such a payment that clearly is to get the plane. Well, someone else in the firm negotiates another deal for the client that gets him another food company that has a plane.

The episode contains hints of the problems, but mainly leads a viewer to think Nick screwed up because he wasn't paying attention to what the client really wanted. Actually, he probably was. See, the client is the company not the CEO. As much as the CEO is the practical client from a day-to-day interaction point of view, there is always the potential that the CEO's interests are not in line with the interests of the company. The CEO is not the client, but an employee of the client. (Set aside a CEO with controlling or sole equity interests for now.) It's difficult, but there could be a situation where one must go above the CEO to the board of the company to get approval for an action or advise them against an action because of the conflicting interest of the CEO. Naturally, a difficult balancing act for the corporate lawyer whose relationship and flow of business stems from the CEO, not the company. Nevertheless, that's the situation. Not entirely clear what the answer is in our fictional example, but clearly the CEO's interest in the plane is personal and not being made for the benefit of the company. Still, the company may have use for a plane (or may see the rest of the deal outweighs its cost) and they would own it. So they might still approve it even if they aren't in cahoots with the CEO's desire to have a perk.

And to think I wanted to practice criminal law.

Tales Of A Bachelor And The Supermarket

Random thoughts from my trip to the Jewel:

  • There is no such thing as "fresh" fruit and vegetables for a single person. Or at least they lose that state between the time you put them in the fridge and when you take them out to use them.


  • More men would wash their hair more often if manufacturers would sell shampoo in a bottle that a man could put in his bathroom and not be embarrassed someone might see it.


  • A trip down the frozen foods aisle reminded me of my fabulous recipe for lasagna. Here's the secret element. Transfer the lasagna from the manufacturer's tin to your own casserole dish before you cook it, not after. Trust me, it doesn't work the other way around.


  • No guilt in buying the two-for-one gourmet half-pints of ice cream. As any avid watcher of Good Eats knows, it stays fresher that way. (Less exposure to air -> less melting -> less ice crystals capturing funky freezer smells.) Keep repeating that phrase as you near the bottom of the container moments after opening it. It will get you through.


  • Joining The Conversation

    With the kind indulgence of both Sean Gallagher and Glen Davis, I have joined their dialogue. For those not following it, Sean and Glen have started a dialogue reflecting on the essentials of Christianity from both a Catholic and pentecostal perspective. Their current thread is focusing on who is a Christian, with the current subtopic being baptism. For the full background on the topic, please take a look at these three posts of Sean's over at Nota Bene and these three posts of Glen at his blog. (Naturally, some overlap between these posts.) I have entered the conversation on this subtopic of baptism, attempting to provide a couple of reflections spelling out some of the Catholic understanding of baptism and Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5.

    First, let me give well-deserved credit to Sean and Glen for beginning this dialogue. I think it is one of the best things I have read in St. Blog's for some time now. Also, note that it is a dialogue, not a debate. It's a conversation between two (now three) Christians hoping to understand better what the other believes and wanting to help the other understand better what one believes. I have always felt that this type of dialogue is wonderful. Having been involved in evangelical groups during my college and law school days, I have had a chance to participate in some before. I think, at times, Christians worry about engaging in dialogue such as this because they know differences and disagreements will surface. That's a shame. If done with the respect and honesty that Sean and Glen have shown, I think the end result is two Christians more aware of what they share and a deeper love for one another as brothers in Christ, despite the doctrinal differences. I'm also thankful to participate given my own experiences in Chi Alpha, the campus ministry of which Glen is a part. Call me a bit nostalgic for those college days. I have a great respect for Chi Alpha and the work they do, and treasure the role they played in my own deepening conversion during college.

    Now I don't intend to make myself a nuisance in this dialogue. Too many cooks could make it cumbersome. Instead, I will add thoughts or questions where I have some relevant ones and try to respond to questions raised by Glen. Otherwise, I plan to play second fiddle to Sean. And I will be posting any future comments of mine here at Integrity.

    Wednesday, August 28, 2002

    Prayers

    Earlier this month I posted a piece regarding Catholic devotional life and the direction my prayer has taken over the years. I invited comments from people regarding the structure and form of their prayer and devotional life. As mentioned last week, I've converted my prayer book into an electronic file, mainly so I could print it out and have a text that was easy to read. In the comments box to that post, Gregg the obscure expressed interest in seeing some of the prayers. So I thought I would post some.

    As I explained in that first post, my prayer book has a thematic, 12-part structure. Many of the prayers would be familiar to you; I tried to use traditional prayers of the Church where possible so as to have a link to the prayers of Catholics throughout the ages. So I won't bother posting those; you can find plenty of them at sites like EWTN and others on the Web. A fair number of prayers were written by me. Some because I couldn't find an appropriate prayer on the subject (e.g., prayers regarding certain saints); others because of a particular concern of mine or burden on my heart. Anyway, for what it is worth, here is a sample:

    O Jesus, good Lord, protect and keep safe all who profess and teach the true faith of your holy Catholic Church. Holy God, guard us from all who wish that we turn away from the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. Merciful Christ Jesus, turn Thine eyes of mercy on all, especially those who have strayed from your Church; may your Church be ready and eager to embrace and kiss them on their return. O Holy Spirit, escort all who proclaim the Lord Christ Jesus as their savior safely back to the one true fold. Amen

    Prayer to Sts. James, Greater and Lesser

    Sts. James, Greater and Lesser, apostles of our beloved Savior, pray for us that we might follow Christ Jesus always and stand ready to suffer persecution meekly and gladly for Him. Son of thunder, one of the favored three, share with us the rich lessons of the miraculous raising of Jairus’s daughter, the Transfiguration, and Christ’s sorrowful agony in the garden. Brother of the disciple whom Jesus loved, pray for all who share your zeal, ambition, and temper that the Holy Spirit would take reign over these traits and place them at the service of the Kingdom of God. Brother of St. Jude, O James the Just, pray for the faithful that we might, because of Christ, patiently persevere adversity and that we might let our faith in Christ both fill and motivate good works. Amen

    Prayer to St. Andrew

    St. Andrew, disciple of John the Baptist, and blessed apostle of our Lord Jesus, pray for us that we might follow Christ every moment of our lives. O great introducer, upon recognizing Jesus as the Messiah you raced to introduce your brother, St. Peter, the first Vicar of Christ, to our Savior. With that same eagerness, introduce to Christ Jesus those souls here on earth who have yet to encounter with open eyes the love God always has poured out for us. O enticer of miracles, it was you who mentioned to Jesus that there was a boy nearby with five loaves and two fish, even though you could not see how those meager provisions could feed five thousand. Taking the loaves and fish into His sacred hands, Jesus replaced frustration in the lack of worldly solutions with hope in the almighty power of God. St. Andrew, present to the Lord those petitions for miracles heard daily from all the ends of the earth. Amen

    O Loving Jesus, as I approach you, hidden but truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, bestow upon me the perspective of Holy Simeon, the just and devout man of Jerusalem whose life would not end until his eyes had beheld You. Like Simeon, may I be in awe that my hands are permitted to hold my Savior. May I rejoice in Your gift to us of Your very Self and persevere in prayer until the day that I may be with You in the glory of Heaven. Amen.

    O My Lord, how weak am I! Have I truly so little devotion to You that I cannot go even one full day without committing some sin? Lord, I am dependent on Your grace and Your mercy. For without Your grace, I can do nothing and would surely fail. For without Your mercy, I would have no hope! Lord, forgive me and take pity on me. Help me to turn away from sin and live a life pleasing to You. Amen

    O Merciful Father, strengthen the bishops who serve You through Your Holy Catholic Church. Each day, may they rise and renew their commitment to be good shepherds of Your people, treasuring them as their very wealth. May they rise early to seek Your Wisdom, eager to be instructed and to heed Your laws. Make Your bishops wise in Your ways and courageous witnesses to the Truth, willing to bring the message of salvation to all, with boldness, honesty and love. Rescue them from the temptation to be held in esteem by a world that has deceived itself into believing evil is good. Amen

    My Lord and my God, let me join Your prayer that all Your people may be one. Christ Jesus, I pray for all my separated brothers and sisters in Christ, who do not see what I now see, may their faith be strong, with eyes focused on You. In their search for a church that preaches Your Word, may they one day ask You which church You founded, and discover Your Holy Catholic Church. Never again will they feel that they have no home! In their search for members of Your Body with whom they can pray, may they one day remember Your humble servants, the Saints, on whose constant intercession we rely for help. Never again will they feel alone in prayer! In their search to know you, O Lord, may they one day realize that you are with us always, present – body, blood, soul and divinity – in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Never again will they feel that God is not near! Amen.

    Prayer to St. Christopher

    St. Christopher, Holy Helper, strong, simple and kind, after your conversion you sought a way to use your talents for the greater glory of God. Having no gifts for preaching, fasting or prayer, you gave of your strength by carrying travelers across the dangerous currents of a river. Pray for us that we too might place all our gifts, whatever they might be, at the service of the Kingdom. Christ-bearer, dedicated to serving the Lord by serving your fellow man, pray that we not fail to show charity to those strangers we meet each day, knowing that hidden within each we may find Christ, the One who created the world. Amen.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2002

    Last Installment On The Dreher Piece

    Dale Price has an interesting take on the back-and-forth about the Dreher piece. He disagrees with my take that it results, in part, from a clash of cognitive approaches, suggesting instead that it is a clash of those who emphasize cardinal versus theological virtues.

    First, a point of clarification about my original piece. I did not mean to suggest with my title that I was describing one camp's position as being of "compassion" and the other's as being based in "reason". Dale understood this, but others may miss my point. My premise was that the different modes of thinking about a problem have resulted in the different perspectives.

    As for Dale's argument, I think there is something to it. There clearly are those that are emphasizing the theological virtues and, hence, their disagreement with some of the urgency and lack of patience reflected by the position of the other side. But that doesn't describe things all that well. For example, I don't think it describes my position at all. I would argue that my position is founded in the very same cardinal virtues Dale sees behind his own. Justice: I would argue that those who equate justice for the victims with automatic removal of priests, bishops, etc., aren't really focused on true justice. Read below my comments about the justice/vengeance line. Prudence: that it might not be so easy to find proper replacement bishops and to install them in a manner that solves, versus creates, problems is an argument from prudence. Temperance: to suggest that some are letting their frustration lead them to make harsher criticisms of the Vatican and its action/inaction than are due is an argument from temperance.

    This is part of what I think has been overlooked by those who have raced to Dreher's defense.

    Friday, August 23, 2002

    Compassion v. Reason

    A lot of hub-bub has been written recently about Dreher's piece in the WSJ. I've contributed my share to the war-of-words that is occurring in comment boxes all over St. Blog's. Personally, I understand the frustration Rod expresses. I would love to see the problems of the Catholic Church in America resolved too. And, yes, I would love to hear the Vatican tell us what they are foreseeing as the next steps that will be taken in addressing the abuse scandal.

    I disagree with Rod's conclusion that the Pope has failed. I think it is a bit unfair given that the Dallas policy is barely two months old. I think we will see more action to come in the future and probably the ultimate removal of some Bishops. Maybe I will be proven wrong. The big difference between me and Rod is that I started the clock on the Vatican's response with the recent scandal news. Rod sets the clock back to 1985 and naturally concludes that he's had to wait long enough. Again, I can understand Rod's feelings there, but I think it is a bit naive and presumptious. It is also a standard against which the Church cannot win. Short of massive, rapid removal of Bishops, how would you convince someone that you are responding to the crisis when they have adopted that position? It's one of the things that worries me about Rod's piece and his recent postings. I see a tone in it that is troublesome. He says he wants the Church to resolve these things, and I believe him. But I wonder if, when the Church takes its next step, will it be enough for him? Take the case of Cardinal Law. Few would argue he is without guilt in this. At best, he has shown himself to be an inept and absent manager of his diocese. At worst, you have Rod's depiction of the man, which reads to me like evil incarnate.

    But it isn't Rod's piece that interests me so much. It is the back and forth on the comment boxes. It has been fierce and fairly uncharitable. Raising questions about ZT policy or the wisdom of rapidly removing bishops and you are accused of being a child-hater and an unthinking, ignorant papal loyalist. And, to be fair, there are a number who have personally attacked the other side as being heretics and pope-haters. (Although, clearly there are a few who have no like for the pope getting their pot shots in on the threads.)

    To a certain extent I think this can be explained by people's frameworks. For example, I'm a logical thinker. By that, I don't mean the other side is illogical. By that I mean that I approach a problem, analyze it, and break it down (as best as I can) by what I know to be the rules of logic, reason and truth. Other people are emotional thinkers. They react more with their heart and emotions. I'm also a future-oriented thinker. When a crisis hits, I'm always looking at how I can fix things going forward. I can't change the past, so I don't dwell on it. I recognize it, but I try and recorrect the course. Others are past-oriented thinkers. When a crisis hits, they focus on righting the wrong. Almost to an obsession. That's part of what I think explains the different approaches and why some will say things like "throw canon law to the side in favor of the child's needs" (focusing intensely on the victim) and others of us will say that we can't just ignore the rights of the accused (realizing, to paraphrase St. Thomas More in Bolt's play, that if you cut down all of the laws to get the devil what will protect you when he turns his attention on you). And you can see that if two people operate from these different frameworks, they reach very different conclusions. For example, I posted somewhere that one didn't have to throw out canon law to help the child. All sorts of things should be done for the child that are by no means impeded by canon law. (Including putting a priest on leave from ministry by the way.) My point was that throwing out canon law could only impact how the priest could be punished and by what process. By no means was I meaning to say that the priest shouldn't be punished or that the victim's needs shouldn't be addressed. But that's how the other side read it.

    I'm not going to deny that I think those of my way of thinking on this scandal have the better approach. We don't deny the harm that has been inflicted on the victims and the Church. We are just a little less quick to assume we know the motivations of the bishops. We don't deny that they have done what they have done. (Although we may debate whether people are properly capturing the magnitude of things or are suffering from the availability heuristic in connection with what they have heard of the notorious cases). But I do hope that each side might take a step back in the future and give some time to reflecting on the words of the other person and try not to read too much extraneous stuff into them. I know I will be trying to do that. Bottom line is that we all love the Church and care for the victims. And whether you have already prepared for it or not, realistically, we all have to recognize that there is no short road to reconcilation and recovery.

    Thursday, August 22, 2002

    An Explanation

    No posts recently. The explanation: I have been taking time off to allow me to convert my handwritten prayer book into an electronic file. It was becoming difficult for me to read and unusable. Well, the conversion is done and it's some 150 pages long! Given that the original was no more than 60 pages, you can imagine how small the print was! In the next few days I may post some of the prayers.