But maybe the original author knows what the lyrics meant

October 29, 2007 § 3 Comments

(HT: Cordelia’s Shoes)

Three Understandings of Sola Scriptura

October 29, 2007 § 48 Comments

Recent discussions with respect to textual positivism and postmodernism, while less productive in themselves than one might have hoped, have led me to the realization that there are really three quite distinct attitudes toward sola scriptura among various Christians. For the purposes of this post I’ll take sola scriptura as a very general doctrine about the Biblical text: a doctrine which asserts that for the purpose of working out one’s salvation everything which is necessary can be deduced fairly straightforwardly from the text of the closed Canon alone.

The first understanding is of course acceptance of sola scriptura in some form. For Catholics this is, I think fairly straightforwardly, not an available option; not even if one doesn’t particularly understand the intellectual reasons why it is not an option. (That one’s salvation does not implicitly depend upon philosophical reasoning from first principles is I think a wonderful feature of non-sola-scriptura Christianity. Heaven is open even to the illiterate.)

The second understanding is one of rejection of sola scriptura as something specifically problemmatic when it comes to religious revelation and only religious revelation. The idea here seems to be that sola scriptura is not an instance of some general intellectual error about meaning in general, but rather is a particular problem only because the class of truth we are dealing with is Divine revelation. Religious revelation isn’t true in the way that other things are true, so sola scriptura (the doctrine that for certain generalized purposes every necessary truth is straightforwardly deducable from some closed written canonical text alone) is perfectly fine in (some) other disciplines even though those disciplines, and indeed all disciplines, also necessarily make – and require the making of – true or false assertions about their objects.

The third understanding is that sola scriptura represents a fundamental error about the basic nature of truth and more specifically the nature of the relationship between written text and meaning. Sola scriptura with respect to the Bible isn’t really a unique case, it is just a particular case of a very general kind of error.

It won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog that this third understanding is the one that I think is correct.

Pope Benedict on Legal Positivism

October 26, 2007 § 8 Comments


The pontiff also pointed out a problem that many modern democracies are facing. “What dominates today is a positivist conception of law” according to which “humanity, or society, or in effect the majority of citizens, become the ultimate source for civil legislation.”

“When,” the Holy Father proceeded, “the fundamental essentials are at stake: human dignity, human life, the institution of the family and the equity of the social order (in other words the fundamental rights of man), no law made by men and women can subvert the norm written by the Creator in man’s heart without society itself being dramatically struck … at its very core.”

A little fact-facing about labor pools

October 25, 2007 § 17 Comments

It isn’t altruism or Christian charity or the desire to treat all men equally that fuels big business’ backing of open immigration policies. Businessmen admit this in whispers among themselves all the time, and every now and then one of them lets it slip in public. Once in a great while one even has the — I don’t know if the word is ‘audacity’ or ‘foolishness’ – to propose a policy which makes this impossible to ignore.

I’ll add that it isn’t just the price-point of wages which incents business to support as much open immigration of unskilled labor as possible. It isn’t as though there isn’t enough unskilled labor right here, in the form of our own countrymen. It is just that in addition to being relatively more expensive than immigrant labor in terms of direct wages, these countrymen of ours are also – though one has to be delicate in how one says this, ironically in order to avoid a charge of racism for having the audacity to consider the possibility that our own countrymen are employable even though they are not white – objectively more difficult to employ, leading to greater expense and uncertainty, two things which American capitalism is designed to ruthlessly minimize.

I’ll emphasize, though, that this latter labor pool consists of those who are already our neighbors and countrymen, to whom as an objective matter we have a greater obligation than we do to men from other lands. “Jobs that Americans won’t do” is at least in part code for “jobs it is easier and less expensive to hire unskilled immigrants to do than it is to hire inner city Blacks to do”. (Oddly, the Time article misses the elephant in the room entirely).

Business isn’t the only faction in favor of open immigration, of course, though without business as bedfellow it seems unlikely that the push for ever more open immigration would be politically practical. And I’m sure plenty of businessmen tell themselves bedtime stories about family values and the Rio Grande. But don’t kid yourself about what is fueling the boilers in the engine room, and don’t kid yourself that you have no indigent countrymen who are harmed by the wedge that more pliable and easily employable immigrant labor drives between these countrymen of yours and escape from conditions which make Dickens look like a peaceful oasis.

(Cross-posted at What’s Wrong With The World)

"Procreation Camp"?

October 25, 2007 § Leave a comment

My ignorance of things Russian knows no bounds, but this is creepy.

(HT: Pertinacious Papist)

It is a lie that Dumbledore is homosexual

October 24, 2007 § 7 Comments

Well, not really. But it could be a lie: it could in principle be the case that Rowling did not write Dumbledore as a homosexual character, but rather made that up after the fact to support some other agenda. For example, the agenda which drove her to go on to say:

‘”I know that it was a positive thing that I said it for at least one person because one man ‘came out’ at Carnegie Hall,” Rowling told reporters in Toronto Tuesday morning.’

Soon there will be a market for “I came out because Dumbledore cast a spell on me” T-shirts.

But the point is, if it is possible for it to be a lie that Dumbledore is homosexual, it is also possible for it to be true.

Sola Deathly Hallows

October 24, 2007 § 1 Comment

Dumbledore is not homosexual, or if he is his homosexuality is not relevant, the theory goes, because his homosexuality is not verifiable (using some unspecified procedure) in the canonical text.

Haven’t I heard this song before?

If Dumbledore isn’t really gay…

October 23, 2007 § 5 Comments

…because his homosexuality isn’t in the original canonical text, does that mean that Gandalf isn’t really a Maia?

Meanwhile, on the sharp end of the cultural spear made by J.K. Rowling, a Herald columnist comments:

Well, the cat is well and truly out of the bag now. Like every writer, Rowling has a back story for her fictional characters and – unlike Noddy and Big Ears – there can never more be any doubt about Dumbledore. On balance, I think his gayness is a good thing and its revelation has been cleverly executed. First, Rowling built the character layer by layer. She built him to be the acme of all that is wise and kind; dutiful and virtuous. She put him in a position of trust; headmaster of a mixed boarding school. She made him a champion of the underdog and a protector of the excluded. She even killed him off in a final heroic act of self-sacrifice[1]. And having placed him as far beyond criticism as her fertile imagination would allow; abracadabra – she revealed that he was gay.

Let the prejudiced, the gay bashers, the bigots try as they might; they won’t be able to tear this icon off his pedestal. Rowling has held a literary mirror to their narrow-mindedness to let them see for themselves how purposefully blind it is. And as they wrestle with the invisible knots she has tied them in, they’ll hear, if they listen, her metaphorical laughter. It’s the laughter of a Pied Piper as she leads their spellbound children to the broad sunny uplands of tolerance.

Anyone taking bets on Rowling “correcting” any of this?

[1] Link redacted in this post.

Harry Potter and the Homosexual Headmaster

October 22, 2007 § 16 Comments

It turns out that according to J.K. Rowling, Dumbledore is homosexual.

Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.

Rowling, finishing a brief “Open Book Tour” of the United States, her first tour here since 2000, also said that she regarded her Potter books as a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and urged her fans to “question authority.”

Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.

Note that the audience was public schoolchildren. I think it is going to be tough to roll up this new revelation and the context in which it was made into the “Christian Story” meme.

UPDATE: Apparently Rowling made an oblique joke about bestiality in connection to Dumbledore’s brother while talking to an eight year old girl at the same talk:

Question: This was easily the funniest question of the evening. A little girl asked what improper charms Aberforth Dumbledore had used on goats.

Answer: Rowling looked stunned, and then asked, “How old are you?” (I believe she was eight.) Then Rowling blushed slightly and said that there might have been any number of charms one might use on a goat, such as a charm to keep the goat clean, or to keep its curly horns – “and that is my answer to you.” The older audience members got the joke and had quite a laugh, but the little questioner seemed quite satisfied, too.

This was immediately prior to the Q&A “outing” Dumbledore. Nice.

(HT: Sacramentum Vitae)

Brings New Meaning to "Blue Screen of Death"

October 19, 2007 § 2 Comments

The computer error which almost destroyed the world, and the man who saved the world: read about it here.

(HT: Veritatis Splendour blog)

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