Sunday, November 11, 2012

Barak Obama and the US Supreme Court

Perhaps the worst thing about Barak Obama’s re-election is that he has an excellent chance of making appointments to the US Supreme Court, so that it has a liberal majority.  Here’s an excellent commentary by Half Sigma, an American blogger, on this topic.  

A certain commenter said that it doesn’t matter who appoints Supreme Court Justices because the current Supreme Court hasn’t declared Obamacare to be unconstitutional and they haven’t overruled Roe v. Wade, so it doesn’t matter.

This viewpoint is incredibly wrong. And based on a misunderstanding of the philosophy of the conservative justices, which is basically:
(1) uphold stare decisis (in other words, previous Supreme Court precedent);
(2) enforce the original intent of the Constitution, unless that conflicts with stare decisis, and
(3) enforce statutory intent, unless of course that conflicts with the first two.

And you know what? The conservative Supreme Court has done this for the last three decades!

Do you know what happened before we had a conservative Supreme Court? We had a liberal supreme court which ignored precedents, ignored the Constitution, and ignored statutory intent, in order to implement their liberal vision.

Liberal control of the Supreme Court meant that the Court could move society to the left even though there was not enough support to get laws passed that would do that. ... They discovered a constitutional right to contraception. And then a constitutional right to abortion.

It’s foolish to think that if liberals get control of the Supreme Court, they won’t revert to their earlier ways and use that power to do liberal things that can’t get done though the regular political process. What is likely to happen?

Among many other changes, it will become unconstitutional to deny gays the right to marry.

And freedom of speech won’t apply to “hate speech.” And then this blog gets outlawed. The end.


Monday, November 5, 2012

First thoughts on the Book of Daniel

I’ve been trying to read the Book of Daniel recently.

It's structured on seven visions.  First, three dreams/ visions are given to other people and the interpreted by Daniel, each vision being followed by a brief story.  And, secondly, Daniel himself is given four visions.

I’ve glanced at several commentaries and none of them make this point.  It seems a basic structural feature, and I think this confirms C S Lewis’ assessment that most modern scriptural commentators miss very obvious literary features (in his essay, “Fern Seeds and Elephants”). 

The first three dreams/visions involve a progression.  The first dream tells the Babylonian king, that his empire is splendid but will be followed by lesser empires at some unspecified time.  The second dream is more threatening, telling the king that he will lose his sanity but will later be restored to his throne.  And the third vision tells the king’s successor that he will lose his throne the same night as the vision appears. 

Perhaps there's another progression involved, with each vision being less hidden than before.  In the first, the king doesn't remember the dream, and Daniel has to reveal both the dream and its meaning.  The king remembers the second dream, and Daniel again reveals the meaning.  But the third vision is more public still – written on the walls of the king’s banquet hall.  

Or at least, following my childhood picture Bible, I’ve always assumed that everyone saw the writing.  Actually, we’re told that the king saw it (Dan 5:5) and that the wise men “could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant” (Dan 5:8).  I think the wise men could see the letters but could not decipher them, let alone provide an interpretation.  But I’ll accept that it’s an open question and perhaps the writing was seen only by the king (and by Daniel). 

It could perhaps be like the situation where Daniel later sees the angel at the Tigris River.  His companions cannot see the angel, although they sense there is something there and flee in terror (Dan 10:4, 7).