Friday, September 22, 2006

Notes on Some Upcoming Projects:

As time is short, some quick jottings on a few of the many items on the back burner to be worked on in the next blogging month...

---There is in the works a new installment of the "tracking the elusive so-called 'neo-con'" series -the last of which was blogged in March of this year.

---A revisiting of the theory of the three fundamental rights of man prior to this election updated to account for current circumstances. The latter theory is one that though few discuss it nonetheless does not get enough play even on this weblog where we have written about seventy-odd threads on it in the past three plus years. (Most of which were written between June of 2003 and March of 2005.){1}

---Another "miscellaneous threads" installment is due soon -indeed we started work on it recently.

---Some poetry from the Rerum Novarum Poet Lauriete{2} will be blogged in the next blogging month along with possibly a few haikus from yours truly{3} thrown into the mix.

---Some additional installments in the "points to ponder" series which have been in draft form or which have been intended to be blogged for some time. (More stuff from Herbert Butterfield, possibly Allan Bloom, Sun Tzu, and Mike Mentzer too.)

---The reinstituting of a series started in early 2005 but mothballed not long after it was started for various reasons too numerous to go into here. It is to be hoped that at least one installment in this series can be blogged in the coming blogging month which will end on your host's birthday next month.{4}

Offhand those are the ones that immediately come to mind though I will be recording some audioposts on various subjects too -basically whatever is on my mind when I decide to record the clips which means it could be on virtually any subject that this renaissance man{5} wants to discuss at that time.


Notes:

{1} If there is one thing your host is most pleased with it is not only presenting this century old plus theory to the readers over the years but also (i) developing it further in light of contemporary realities for easier application to actual situations and events and (ii) applying it to various circumstances and events to show a consistent approach is possible in dealing with the problems in society today. But I digress.

{2} Who is most assuredly not your humble servant at Rerum Novarum for whom the gift of longform poetry was not a God-given gift.

{3} We have written probably two hundred or more haikus in our lifetime -most of which have been lost and some of which were written on bar coasters when significantly buzzed.

{4} October 21st.

{5} For those constitutionally incapable of avoiding a fundamentalist hermeneutic to everything they read, this is a tongue in cheek quip which is equal parts true and equal parts intended at self-deprecation.

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On Justification and Catholic Understandings Thereof:
(With Tim Enloe)

Tim's words will be in blue font and any sources I cite in darkblue.

Shawn,

Hi Tim:

Do you have anything you could recommend I read to get a better handle on why Catholicism doesn't teach "salvation by works" in the way that Protestants mean that phrase? Years ago in one of our exchanges you cited Augustine saying that when God crowns our merits He is really only crowning His own works in us. I'd like to follow up on that, as part of my ongoing effort to divest myself of Reformed caricatures of Catholicism. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have. Thanks,


The best explanation I can give offhand is that Catholics approach a lot of things incarnationally. The notion of sacraments as channels of God's grace (to note one such example) is a logical extension of this principle. We see love of God and love of neighbour as being interconnected in such a way that one cannot exist without the other. However, we also recognize that justification is impossible without grace. The problem with trying to use a synthesis of my own to explain this is that I am liable to overemphasize one or more aspect of the puzzle to the detriment to other parts.

For that reason, I would consider the formulation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also Pope Benedict XVI's words in his first encyclical as the best sources to direct you towards at this time -starting with the CCC's section on "merit" (underlined and bolded emphasis in spots is mine):

III. MERIT

You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.59

2006 The term "merit" refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace . The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." 60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God's gifts."62

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63

IN BRIEF

2017 The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Uniting us by faith and Baptism to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Spirit makes us sharers in his life.

2018 Like conversion, justification has two aspects. Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, and so accepts forgiveness and righteousness from on high.

2019 Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.

2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy.

2021 Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons. It introduces us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life.

2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.

2023 Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.

2024 Sanctifying grace makes us "pleasing to God." Charisms, special graces of the Holy Spirit, are oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. God also acts through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.

2025 We can have merit in God's sight only because of God's free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's collaboration. Man's merit is due to God.

2026 The grace of the Holy Spirit can confer true merit on us, by virtue of our adoptive filiation, and in accordance with God's gratuitous justice. Charity is the principal source of merit in us before God.

2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

...

34 Rom 3:22; cf. 6:3-4.
35 Rom 6:8-11.
36 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1-4.
37 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1,24:PG 26,585 and 588.
38 Mt 4:17.
39 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1528.
40 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
41 Rom 3:21-26.
42 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525.
43 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 72,3:PL 35,1823.
44 Cf. Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16.
45 Rom 6:19,22.
46 Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4.
47 Cf. 1 Cor 2:7-9.
48 Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.
49 2 Cor 5:17-18.
50 St. Augustine, De gratia et libero arbitrio , 17:PL 44,901.
51 St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, 31:PL 44,264.
52 St. Augustine, Conf. 13,36 51:PL 32,868; cf. Gen 1:31.
53 Cf. LG 12.
54 Cf. 1 Cor 12.
55 Rom 12:6-8.
56 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534.
57 Mt 7:20.
58 Acts of the trial of St. Joan of Arc.
59 Roman Missal, Prefatio I de sanctis; Qui in Sanctorum concilio celebraris, et eorum coronando merita tua dona coronas , citing the "Doctor of grace," St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 102,7:PL 37,1321-1322.
60 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1546.
61 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1548.
62 St. Augustine, Sermo 298,4-5:PL 38,1367. 53
63 St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "Act of Offering" in Story of a Soul, tr. John Clarke (Washington DC: ICS, 1981), 277. [Catechism of the Catholic Church: Section on Merit (c. 1994)]


The manner in which these are synthesized in a practical manner was explained in Pope Benedict's first encyclical from January of 2006 (again, all emphasis is mine):

Love of neighbour is...possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbour which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be "devout" and to perform my "religious duties", then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely "proper", but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its real- ism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a "commandment" imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love. Love is "divine" because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a "we" which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is "all in all" ( 1 Cor 15:28). [Pope Benedict XVI: Deus Caritas Est section 18]

As there is a lot there, I will try to summarize it all in brief:

---without grace we are incapable of performing anything of merit

---love of God and love of neighbour cannot be separated

---authentic love of neighbour cannot exist in the abstract but must somehow be manifested in reality

---works of charity are necessary to manifest love of neighbour and thus love of God

---works performed in and of themselves are of no avail therefore, only works performed "in God" (or "works of charity") can be efficacious

---as works of charity are performed "in God" and are impossible without God's gratuitous bestowal of grace upon us in advance, we rely on salvation from God's grace without which it is impossible

---grace by its very nature cannot be earned but instead is given

---salvation therefore is by grace alone -a good shorthand formula of sorts would read "salvation by grace alone, through Christ alone, by faith working in love" (cf. Bob Klaus).

Let me know if what is noted above suffices or if you want more. There are a lot of interconnected threads in this puzzle and I hope this treatment adequately represents them all.

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"Excerpts from Classic Literature" Dept.

A new series was conceived of last week whereby we will post from time to time excerpts from classic literature. The sources will vary and will depend to some extent on our moods but certainly any readers who have something in mind in this area, we will take requests as part of the ongoing attempt by your humble servant at Rerum Novarum to cultivate the intellectual plate of our readers. The inaugural except will be from Miguel de Cervantes' classic Don Quixote de la Mancha and is the picture your host has of certain kinds of pundits, agenda provocateurs, and apologists of varying stripes and how they see the world around them. Without further ado, let us get to it...

"Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped our desires ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; for this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth."

"What giants?" said Sancho Panza.

"Those thou seest there," answered his master, "with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long."

"Look, your worship," said Sancho; "what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go."

"It is easy to see," replied Don Quixote, "that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat."

So saying, he gave the spur to his steed Rocinante, heedless of the cries his squire Sancho sent after him, warning him that most certainly they were windmills and not giants he was going to attack. He, however, was so positive they were giants that he neither heard the cries of Sancho, nor perceived, near as he was, what they were, but made at them shouting, "Fly not, cowards and vile beings, for a single knight attacks you."

A slight breeze at this moment sprang up, and the great sails began to move, seeing which Don Quixote exclaimed, "Though ye flourish more arms than the giant Briareus, ye have to reckon with me."

So saying, and commending himself with all his heart to his lady Dulcinea, imploring her to support him in such a peril, with lance in rest and covered by his buckler, he charged at Rocinante's fullest gallop and fell upon the first mill that stood in front of him; but as he drove his lance-point into the sail the wind whirled it round with such force that it shivered the lance to pieces, sweeping with it horse and rider, who went rolling over on the plain, in a sorry condition. Sancho hastened to his assistance as fast as his ass could go, and when he came up found him unable to move, with such a shock had Rocinante fallen with him.

"God bless me!" said Sancho, "did I not tell your worship to mind what you were about, for they were only windmills? and no one could have made any mistake about it but one who had something of the same kind in his head."

"Hush, friend Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "the fortunes of war more than any other are liable to frequent fluctuations; and moreover I think, and it is the truth, that that same sage Friston who carried off my study and books, has turned these giants into mills in order to rob me of the glory of vanquishing them, such is the enmity he bears me; but in the end his wicked arts will avail but little against my good sword."

"God order it as he may," said Sancho Panza, and helping him to rise got him up again on Rocinante, whose shoulder was half out; and then, discussing the late adventure, they followed the road to Puerto Lapice, for there, said Don Quixote, they could not fail to find adventures in abundance and variety, as it was a great
thoroughfare. For all that, he was much grieved at the loss of his lance, and saying so to his squire, he added, "I remember having read how a Spanish knight, Diego Perez de Vargas by name, having broken his sword in battle, tore from an oak a ponderous bough or branch, and with it did such things that day, and pounded so many Moors, that he got the surname of Machuca, and he and his descendants from that day forth were called Vargas y Machuca. I
mention this because from the first oak I see I mean to rend such another branch, large and stout like that, with which I am determined and resolved to do such deeds that thou mayest deem thyself very fortunate in being found worthy to come and see them, and be an eyewitness of things that will with difficulty be believed."


"Be that as God will," said Sancho, "I believe it all as your worship says it; but straighten yourself a little, for you seem all on one side, may be from the shaking of the fall."

"That is the truth," said Don Quixote, "and if I make no complaint of the pain it is because knights-errant are not permitted to complain of any wound, even though their bowels be coming out through it."

"If so," said Sancho, "I have nothing to say; but God knows I would rather your worship complained when anything ailed you. For my part, I confess I must complain however small the ache may be;
unless this rule about not complaining extends to the squires of knights-errant also."


Don Quixote could not help laughing at his squire's simplicity, and he assured him he might complain whenever and however he chose, just as he liked, for, so far, he had never read of anything to the contrary in the order of knighthood.

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On Blogging in General, What is Blogged on Subject-Wise, My Moods, Etc.
(Aka "Tales From the Crypt Mailbag" Dept.)

[Prefatory Note: This is part of a correspondence with a friend from November of 2005 which has been slightly tweaked in spots (and updated as of April of 2006 in some of my responses as far as past/present tenses go). Their words will be in darkgreen font and I believe what I noted then will explain to some extent (and in retrospect at the time) why this weblog has taken some of the approaches it has in recent years and why things are not likely to return to what they were in the first year of this weblog's existence anytime soon. -ISM]

I do believe, Shawn, that your approach on politics is very interesting and unique, but you should get back to theology :-) A good topic to work on is ecclesiology.

I actually have more experience discussing political and social issues believe it or not. What has been the focus for the past couple of years is actually not that incongruent with what I was doing long before I ever got into theological discussions. However, it is funny that you mention ecclesiology as I have long had on the backburner an idea for ecclesiology which would be unique. It has been in my mind since probably 1999 back when the first urls of what would be my treatise writing (and some stuff I eventually did not use in that work) were still in draft format. In retrospect, it is good that I never wrote on that subject prior to now because it will be quite technical and I had certain lacunas in my understanding of certain important but derivative aspects of what I wanted to write on at that time -though back then I did not realize this. (Most of those lacunas have since been serendipitously filled in by the way.) That is not to mention the subject of ecclesiology in general which I did not acquire what I consider a somewhat decent understanding of the intricacies of until probably late 2002.{1} However, there is also the issue of motivation to write on theological stuff which I will touch on in a moment.

Make an ecclesiology treatise like the one you did on Prescription. It doesn't mean you have to write a Congar type piece, but just a simple treatise. You haven't really done anything on theology in a while. You didn't lose your touch did you? :-P

This is a rather odd assertion in some respects XXXXXXXX but it is an interesting point so I will address it. You ask if I "lost [my] touch". While I have generally written on socio-political issues in recent years, there was still an undercurrent of theological subject matter posted to [Rerum Novarum]. There has not been much lately in part because I have had serious time constraints for writing and theological stuff simply has not been interesting me as much.

Part of the reason for the latter perhaps is a somewhat conscious decision on my part (the past two years in particular) to absolutely destroy the stereotype of myself as someone who "writes on 'traditionalist' issues" when I have always been far broader in my capabilites as well as in my interests viz. what I have written on or wanted to write on. Since that profoundly irritating typecasting would not fade by its own volition, I have essentially segregated Rerum Novarum from other projects completely{2} and treat them as separate projects now. As a result, my focus is rarely on those subjects anymore.

As far as other theological stuff goes, I have written on many subjects far beyond what I was "best known" for and did this deliberately; albeit not as much this year as in years past. A lot of it boils down to motivation to write and wanting to write on certain subjects. I have always been quite comfortable with geopolitical and more general philosophical/ethical issues even if for a couple of years my focus was significantly theological. With regards to the latter issues, I do know that I lost a lot of whatever motivation I still had to write on theological issues after the back to back bullshit episodes from Stephen Hand and Dave Armstrong...particularly the latter one and I will not mince words because that is precisely what those situations were. Of the two, the second one was far more significant to me for not a few reasons{3} but still, if that is what happens when two Catholics discuss theological issues publicly (particularly two friends as Dave and I were) then who needs it really XXXXXXXX??? I know I do not.

Another example that jaded me to no small degree is the refusal of certain parties who pose as willing to dialogue and then hastily throw around terms they do not have the decency to bother defining. Here are some threads on one of those subjects:

Miscellaneous Morning Musings on Blogging, the So-Called "Neo-Cons", and the Miers Nomination--An Audio Post (circa October 27, 2005)

Briefly Revisiting the Term "Neo-Con" and its Usage With Christopher Blosser (circa November 9, 2005)

I have not gotten responses from those whom I had in mind with that challenge generally speaking. The mail ones were from a fellow who is obviously opposed to catholicism and Dale Vree -albeit the latter was more indirect and serendipitous. Basically, the Catholics I made the challenge to (read: any Catholic who has recourse to those terms in a derisive or dismissive context to avoid interacting with substantive issues) have thus far proved to be such evasive cowards precisely as I knew they would. Dialogue is a two way street after all and I have no patience anymore for those who claim to be interested in dialogue and then either run from it or to not conform themselves to what the discipline itself inexorably entails. See my audiopost from October 6, 2005 where I discuss this in a brief summary format. More could be noted but that will suffice for now.

That is not to say I will not write on theological issues in the future...heck, I wrote a three part series on the subject of America's founding which had a theological subthread to it (the thread of masonry) late last year.{4} When the pope published his first encyclical, I wrote a bit on that event though that was a news item as well as a theological event. I have noted a few times before that a good part of what I write on is cued by a deliberately varied stream of influence. Or as I noted in mid 2005:

[T]here are many approaches to interacting with the views of others that do not require someone to have comments boxes at their own weblog. Your host revealed a number of them which he utilizes at various times about twenty odd months ago when the issue of personality profiles of contributers to St. [Blogs] was a subject making the rounds...

[T]o summarize the various sources in brief, they are (in roughly the order utilized):

---Weblog writings of your host on subjects of interest to him at the time from other weblogs, other websites, from books he has read, or from current events.

---Emails from readers which your host decides to respond to and posts either in commentary form or dialogual form.

---Weblog writings of others which your host decides to comment on in commentary form or dialogual form.

---Interactions with others from discussion lists that your host is part of -which are then posted to the weblog (possibly with some refining of the material) into either commentary form or dialogual form.

---Interactions with others from comments boxes at other people's weblogs -which are then posted to the weblog (possibly with some refining of the material) into either commentary form or dialogual form.

---Material from others (friends, emailers, other bloggers) which is posted in guest editorial form.[...]

---Interactions with others from message boards which are then posted to the weblog (possibly with some refining of the material) into either commentary form or dialogual form. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 6, 2005)]

I forgot to mention audioblogging also as another source for discussing issues...but then again, the audblog feature was not one I knew of when the sources were first posted on (about two years ago) and the software was having problems in June of 2005 so that is why I forgot to mention it in the above thread.{5} But anyway, those are the sources I use for coming up with material on which to blog.

However, ultimately it boils down to my moods and what I want to write about...and there has been less and less of an inclination to write on theological subjects in recent years by my own admission. However, the inclination despite waxing and waning was nonetheless always there until very recently. At the moment, there is none as I noted above for the reasons so noted. You ask if I have lost my touch for theological stuff and in all honesty: I do not know. I do know though that in the words of that great western philosopher Albert King "the feeling is gone" and only time will tell I suppose if it will return in any functional capacity.

Notes:

{1} Since that time, I have learned a lot more as well as discerned certain areas for that work where I still need to acquire knowledge as well as first hand lab experimentation to perfect. When I will get around to that I am not sure but a return to training before the end of the year going into 2006 2006 will certainly facilitate that in some respects. I will have a six month agenda to achieve very specific goals and when they are attained (there is no "if" here), I will be in a good frame of mind for starting the initial draftings of that project (eight years after it was first conceived as a viable project).

{2} This was more of an unconscious decision than a conscious one but I cannot say I am displeased with how it turned out.

{3} I experienced a combination of profound lividness and disappointment unlike anything I have had in years after that situation. Little did I know that six days after that email was sent in its original form to the person I was conversing with that my childhood best friend Chris DiSomma would die in a Mesa, Arizona hospital of heart failure. I found out two days after the event and the Armstrong situation by comparison was miniscule to say the least.

Suffice to say, Chris' passing was not quite as severe on my constitution as when my father passed on and the aftermath of that event or a couple of the two dozen odd others in recent years who have likewise exited but it was nonetheless (to a surprising degree) very close to that degree of effect. (Probably because it also dealt with a person whose roots went very deep into the fabric of my life -much deeper than I realized in fact until after he was gone.)

{4} This was something I wrote directly challenging the historical presumptions of David Jones:

On the Subject of America's Founding With Christopher Blosser and David Jones--Parts I-III (circa December 13-15, 2005)

The obvious evasions on the part of David Jones to answer my challenging of his historical account (not to mention his anachronistic reading of ecclesial policies) was of no small degree of annoyance. I thought Jones was capable or honourable enough to engage the issue here and thus far that has proved to be wanting -preferring to imitate Dave Armstrong by making assertions he does not bother to substantiate by rational argument. As David never pompously claimed that he "responds to all challenges", I was willing to cut him some slack though in light of the statements he made about the Founding Fathers, I believe he should view it as a matter of common decency to respond to what I wrote. People have the right to their good reputations (presuming that they have not by their own actions and/or statements sullied them by unethical behaviour of course) and those who are not alive to defend themselves deserve no less a consideration in this area if we are to show a proper respect for the historical record and to our ancestors.

{5} Right now it is having problems again in posting what I record...instead I am finding audiposts in the drafts folder after they are recorded and it is not making me pleased. (Hopefully it will be fixed soon...I have tampered with the blog settings and will try recording again later today or later in the week to see if the adjustments I made fixed it or not.)

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Standing on Principles Vs. Public Demagoguery and Historical Airbrushing:
(An Open Note on Dave Armstrong and the Subjects of Apologetics and General Ethics)

Any citations from Dave will be in dark yellow coloured bold font. Without further ado...

I would suggest that those who want to marvel at Dave's unsuccessful refutations of me that they consider objectively what a refutation properly so-called constitutes. That subject was touched on briefly HERE.

In a nutshell: something is not refuted on the subjective whims of anyone (be they Dave, myself, or anyone else) but by the objective criteria of the arguments advanced. This should be self-evident but I have learned over the years that logic and reason and knowing how to use them are in short supply in today's world. These are tools not taught in schools generally speaking{1} so I am not surprised anymore when I see people struggle with issues as they generally do.

The difference between Dave and I is that I will gladly explain how this stuff is ascertained and tell readers not to accept anything I say simply because I say it. To those who for some reason have an interest in this subject still, I repeat what I said before: examine the arguments themselves and from the sources -not from Dave's selective proof texts of my work.

Those who have questions can email me and I will answer them on my blog if they are good questions, are not irrelevant attempts at cheap polemic, and if I am in the mood at the time to answer them publicly. Otherwise they will be saved for a time when I am in the mood to discuss them or will be answered in private and publicly posted later on. And if an email is sent where the writer takes time to interact with my arguments, I will respect their time and seek to represent their views with the utmost of accuracy when I respond: something Dave often does not do and a significant confutation in and of itself of Dave's claims to be interested in dialogue with others.

A few points briefly and then I will leave you all{2} to your devices...

Since apologetics and sharing of faith is what I do and love, and especially since Shawn and Greg take it upon themselves to trash (on a largely or entirely groundless basis) so many of the leading Catholic apologists, who are my friends and colleagues, they deserve every criticism they get (and more).

I challenge anyone to point out the "so many of the leading apologists" I have referred to. Other than Dave, Mark, and Karl, I have not mentioned anyone else except Stephen Hand but he is not technically an apologist and I am sure he would agree with me on that if nothing else. Here is my thread from August 5, 2006 and the lack of a biblical scroll of names in it should be obvious. If four people constitutes "so many of the leading apologists" then Dave has a weird notion of "so many." But I do not expect Dave to handle these things equitably as he has shown in the past year that he is not willing to do this. That is why I decided to blog this thread for an easy future reference point for referring to Dave's rationally deficient offerings.

All of this is a pretty far cry from what he used to say about me but apparently one can go from being on the side of the angels to being the devil's hand puppet merely by disagreeing with Dave. Just ask Chris Blosser about it if you have any doubts. I have not changed much over the years except to have my views deepened with further study and thoughtful reflection on various issues. Certainly I have not changed in any significant way the past three years and virtually any position I take now is consistent with positions I took a year, two years, three years, etc. going back a decade or more (sometimes as far back as two decades). That is why this whole recasting of me from angel to devil by Dave is so puzzling. But enough on that for now as the above link which was still on the web at Dave's site until November of 2005 speaks for itself.{3}

But I am in a position to make such a criticism because I've been doing apologetics for 25 years and it is my life's work.

Considering that Dave has not been a Catholic for 25 years, it would do him better to admit that he has done Catholic apologetics for 15 years or as long as he has been Catholic. But considering how Dave has been critical of certain parties who were critical of the work of another apologist recently because of some of those persons' past affiliations (asserting essentially they had not been out of their previous affiliation long enough to be credibly critical) Dave would have a lot of temerity to even claim 15 years as a Catholic apologist. To avoid another inconsistency from plaguing him, he would be wise to cut that number down further than that. Oh and for those who wondered, I had in mind a number of people when writing this thread. I would advise that Dave consider something I wrote about recently when dealing with the subject of so-called refutations -see footnote one of the text for details.

I know what it is; I know what it involves, and I know when someone doesn't understand those things, and when they don't have any credibility to make the claims they are making, either about themselves or those whose work of apologetics and evangelism they so detest.

Again, who are the reams of people I "so detest" as Dave asserts??? I have not even said I "detest" those I have criticized. Where is it written that one cannot criticize others (even seriously at times) without detesting them as people??? But I know these kinds of caricatures is easier to use and their appearance here only vindicates something I noted last month viz. his methodology.{4} The next time anyone sees Dave whining about James White or anyone else of that ilk for caricaturing him, remember what he has been doing to me for months on end now -mostly behind my back as I find out about this stuff from others and generally do not intervene about it.{5}

So he has to distort my actual views and then quixotically blast the straw man,

Dave knows that nothing he has said has been distorted by me. I have dealt with his arguments one by one and they wilt like grass in the summer heat. He though by contrast has continually ignored my arguments and decided instead to play the proof texting card that he finds so repugnant when his favourite targets of ridicule amongst antiCatholic online apologists (i.e. James White, Eric Svendsen, etc.) try it on him. To say that I see nothing in substance different from what Dave has done with my work and what Steve Hays did with it is demonstrably true. The difference I suppose is that I did not expect Steve Hays to adhere to basic scholastic ethics the way I do from Dave: both by virtue of his being a Catholic{6} as well as his being an old friend. At the time of this unfortunate circumstance, we were friends despite various factors bubbling under the surface going back not a few years.{7} That I expected despite those things that he would act ethically should speak for itself: I treated him no differently than I have anyone else who objectively manifests a disregard for basic ethics as he did in that example.{8} Again, consistency is on my side here and unlike Dave this is a statement I can more than adequately substantiate.

whereas I am citing his own words,

Proof texting a source is not a credible citation and Dave should know that. Certainly if he mentioned to people to read my stuff in context, they would see that among the areas I criticize him for is proof texting sources. As that is fatal to the picture Dave has attempted to paint of this whole situation, he cannot have them see that so he quotes out of context bits to try and paint the most lurid picture he could of me: not exactly You cannot have them see that so you merely quote out of context bits to try and paint the most lurid picture you can of me: not exactly a noble example of Christian charity on his part there.

which is all that is necessary to fully establish the charge of intellectual arrogance, snobbery, and conceit

If that is true then Dave should be willing to send readers to the whole links without his editorial comments. Of course Dave cannot do that because in context my arguments are sustained and my consistency is glaringly evident. I realize I can be verbose at times and repeated calls to him to show basic ethics in his public writings can sound like I am arrogantly lecturing him. But I do not ask of Dave anything I do not do myself.

As far as verbosity goes, Dave can hardly claim to be completely immune to that himself. It takes time and effort to think and in today's sound byte culture, both are held up to ridicule. If Dave was interested in helping reverse the dark ages we are either entering or already in viz. the widespread inability of people to think for themselves and not be intellectually dependent,{9} he would proactively play a part in seeking to reverse that trend, not actively continue to contribute to it as he has been doing in the way he has grossly distorted the context of my writings.

I wasn't the one who set myself up as the Moral Watchdog of Apologists (all the while trashing the enterprise of apologetics).

Dave knows full well I did not do this. But apparently apologetics is something above criticism as far as he is concerned. I almost forgot: Dave is above any and all criticism. I am sure he will continue to do whatever he thinks he can get away with to maintain his Potemkin Village accounts of our past disputations.{10}

If Shawn wants to set himself up over apologists and even over all moral theologians (as his position and Greg's on nuclear war practically entails) then he is subject to the same analysis himself.

I was unaware that attempting to call apologists to refrain from certain unethical habits and abuses constitutes me "set[ting myself] over apologists and even over all moral theologians". But notice the sweeping assertions that Dave makes on these things...never feeling the need to substantiate what he says along the way. Notice also the bait and switch folks: Dave started off last year claiming the subject was a "slam dunk" (his actual words) and then when he was roundly refuted on every point of argument, he switched the subject to what the consensus of moral theologians is. And yes, for those who actually have an interest in these subjects, I will simply say this: read what Dave wrote in response to my original posting and also the other threads on both sides. Otherwise, let the issue drop as a text without context is a pretext.{11}

Getting back to the moral theologians Dave refers to, when he shows me the actual arguments these moral theologians used, that appeal may have some merit because then we can see if their arguments approach the same patterns mine do and if they take all the factors into account that I do. In other words, it is again an illegitimate form of argument to authority which is what I noted before is contained in any attempt to appeal to the opinions or conclusions of a presumed authority. This is something Dave denies doing despite fulfilling every piece of criteria whereby that fallacy is generally outlined. There is also an obvious strain of intellectual dependence in this whole line of "reasoning" on his part but that is another subject altogether.

I do not want to go into this stuff again as it was adequately done before without actual confutation by Mr. Armstrong objectively speaking. For that reason, I will simply note here my final posting from last month. I see nothing more that can be said than that so I will bow out again, this time with a shorter thread for easier reference. Indeed, there is nothing more that can be said but a bit more is needed first before this thread can be put to bed and hopefully in a definitive fashion this time.

Dave noted on one of his threads of my supposed "flip flops"{12} that "[a]s recently as 6-14-05, Shawn reported that he was reading my book, The Catholic Verses." I was unaware that merely because I was reading a book of his that such an activity constitutes either an endorsement of him or of the contents of the book itself. I have read a lot of books in my life and by no means does that mean I endorse the book or the writer. Yes I was reading the book and I noted it in a book meme from last year. What Dave did not tell his readers is this:

---I was sent the book by Dave personally with a very nice note inside of it: the contents of which blatantly contradict everything he has been saying about me for the past year. Talk about the "Mother of All Flip Flops" (cf. Saddam Hussein) if ever there was one!!!

With regards to the above bold fonted assertion, I can substantiate what I say very easily to anyone with a fax machine who wants to see the page -as he wrote it on the title page inside the cover. He sent me the book and I have intended to review it for some time...indeed I started writing a review about July of last year which remains incomplete as of this posting. It will be finished probably before the end of the year and I am not going to change my original review notes in light of what subsequently happened. Book or CD reviews are approached by your host in as objective a sense as possible: personal qualms or their lack thereof having no discernible bearing on the process. But enough on that for now except for one brief bit.

I do not find it surprising that Dave found two audiopostings from September 6th (on the importance of vetting sources) and September 16th (on reason, logic, consistency, and the importance of scholastic and ethical integrity in public discourse) to be either boring or otherwise meeting with his displeasure (an approximation of what he said). It is no coincidence that these are areas where he either did not acquit himself well last year (read: failing to vet his sources) and/or continues to come up well short of the mark as of late (read: all the subjects covered in the second audio posting).

It is never easy for someone whose public performance was so wanting in substance ala what happened with Dave last year to deal with what transpired. Furthermore, the longer he continues trying to explain away what happened, it will only be tougher still for them to look at these matters with any sense of objectivity. But at some point it is repeating oneself so while I will not say these subjects will never be touched on again, lets say that after I post a long-planned dip into the email mailbag tomorrow (which will be updated to reflect the current situation a bit), I do not foresee saying anything in the immediate future about this unfortunate saga again.

[Update: It was recently pointed out to me by a few people that the tonality of this posting detracted from the substance of the points I was making. I do not deny that I was in an irritable mood when I drafted it and my mood was hardly unjustified. However, that does not mean that the manner whereby I responded is automatically appropriate or without deficiency in prudence. So with that in mind, I decided to revisit this posting from 2006 where invective so suffused the arguments I made as to render them far less persuasive to casual readers than they otherwise could have been.

To potentially render this enterprise more fruitful, I asked someone to act as a third party editor of sorts to review the postings and make suggestions of areas to be revised and others to be removed. (This person had no part whatsoever in the original controversy and to my knowledge is on good terms with all parties involved.) They agreed to review this post and made a number of suggested corrections. In every suggestion they made, I promptly made revisions where recommended and removed material that was recommended to be removed and resubmitted the proposed adjustments to them for follow-up critique, etc. This process continued until areas originally found problematical were adjusted to their satisfaction at which time I made the adjustments to the posting itself and republished it.

The revised posting before you is far more focused on my original arguments and hopefully provides much more light than heat unlike what was written previously. And though I stand by the substance of my original critiques, I do nonetheless profoundly regret letting my anger get the better of me in how I originally responded to Dave Armstrong in this post and extend to him through this effort as well as in words a most sincere apology. -SM 10/2/13]

Notes:

{1} Particularly public schools and, as Greg has told me, Detroit is among the worst of that lot. (At least north of Mason-Dixon.)

{2} And anyone following these threads who emails me with Dave's latest stuff or whatever, kindly stop it. (I was sent this combox thread and do not know which post from Dave's blog it is attached to as I do not waste my time reading Dave's blog anymore.) I will however gladly answer questions about my views and point out why my stances are and have been remarkably consistent unlike Mr. Armstrong's.

{3} When the internet archive updates past April 2005 or so, it will be viewable by all. I of course am not worried by this in the slightest...the same cannot be said about Dave. He is in the bizarre situation of claiming that I went from being angelic to demonic in the flip of a switch when indeed I have not changed an iota in my principles. All of his claims about posting stuff from my blog as "preserving history" is a joke because I do not delete my archives!!! If I do not delete them, then they are preserved at my site; ergo Dave's assertion implying that he has to somehow preserve them is absurd.

But it is a lot easier to accuse one's opponent of deleting archives -the difference between Dave and myself is that the charge does not stick with me. This obviously does not sit well with him; ergo that attempt at historical airbrushing which will only fool those who uncritically accept Dave's accounting of events without bothering to look into these things for themselves.

{4} I have once again done next to nothing to use that medium to expand my readership base. Dave by contrast has done the opposite of what I have in that area.[...]

There is also the fact that Dave has basically done everything he can to get readership including continually trying to manufacture conflicts as people are naturally drawn to them much as they are to a trainwreck. Dave is also quite good at casting himself as the martyr. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 16, 2006)]

{5} Those who want to claim that I allowed Dave to get my goat again have a valid point and I will not dispute it. However, at the very least this is a more economical and less expository thread and therefore can serve as a better last word to some extent than the previously published last word thread from August 28th of last month.

{6} Yes, I believe Catholics should be held to a higher standard. Or as my good friend Greg Mockeridge noted in a guest editorial to this weblog in early August of 2006:

If Catholic apologetics is going to be taken seriously by those outside the Church, Catholic apologists (especially those most prominent) have to demonstrate that they are willing to hold themselves and their fellows to at least the same standard as they hold their non-Catholic opposition. In fact, I think they need to hold fellow Catholics...to an even higher standard. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 5, 2006)]

The same principle has an even wider application than what Greg originally noted; ergo my use of ellipses above.

{7} Now is not the time to detail these factors but they are important in assessing the sitz im leben of this situation adequately.

{8} "An Altered Eye Alters All Things" Dept.--Miscellaneous Musings on Integrity (circa August 23, 2006)

{9} See footnote one.

{10} Indeed I only raise this point to give Dave the opportunity to disprove it.

{11} The reason he can find stuff to misrepresent is cause I have not deleted my archives and will not. There is no need to as I can explain anything I have written pretty easily without the kinds of gymnastics that those who feel the need to revise the historical record have to engage in. Or as I noted recently:

The way my body handled various life traumas from 2000-2002 was a gradual cognitive breakdown of sorts: a process that started probably in late 2000 but I did not notice it until the aftermath of my father's death and funeral in June of 2001. By November of that year, it was so bad I took a four month web sabbatical and when I returned in March 2002, it had not improved much. By October of 2002, things were pretty close to back to normal but I can see some quite noticeable inconsistencies in my archives from August and September of 2002 viz. post quality. (Some in early October and a bit perhaps in November too.) Nonetheless, they remain as they were posted because it was what it was and I will not pretend that things were differently out of a respect for both honesty as well as historical accuracy. Would that more people were concerned about those things but I digress. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 14, 2006)]

{12} To look at some of the areas where moral theologians were substantially in agreement in the past only to be completely reversed later on by actual church teaching would be an interesting endeavour to discuss: maybe sometime I will do this. Other than to note that such an exercise would not do this argument of Dave's any favours that is all I will say on it at this time.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Points to Ponder:

[Christ] thought hypocrisy was bad but not so much for the deception as for the bad behavior that it masked. And he cautioned people that they should still listen carefully to what the teachers of the law had to say, and follow those teachings. Today, we've created more of a "saint or shut up" approach to hypocrisy. We tend to approach the issue with the opposite set of assumptions as the rabbi from Nazareth. [Jeremy Lott]

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Miscellaneous Musings on Various Tidbits--Part IV (On Mentoring, Briefly on Distributivism and Capitalism, and on a Not Often-Realized Logical Inconsistency in the Economic Weltanschauung of Socialists)

this is an audio post - click to play

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Miscellaneous Musings on Various Tidbits--Part III (On Knowing One's Limits and on Being a Mentor)

this is an audio post - click to play

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Miscellaneous Musings on Various Tidbits--Part II (On Being Attacked and on the Football Season and the Seahawks Thus Far)

this is an audio post - click to play

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Miscellaneous Musings on Various Tidbits--Part I (On the Problem With Trying to Lose Weight When One Gets Older and on the Election and the Absurd Washington Primary Process)

this is an audio post - click to play

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Points to Ponder:
(On Faith and Reason)

[E]ven in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (???????? - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (???? ????) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry. [Pope Benedict XVI: Speech On Faith, Reason, and the University at the University of Regensburg (circa September 12, 2006)]

It is pleasing to see such serendipitous congruence between the words of Pope Benedict XVI and what we recorded in the morning hours of the sixteenth of September on faith and reason -along with how well we interpreted His Holiness' intention with the speech later that same day before we had read it. (Serendipitous with the first recording because we did not know of the speech until twelve hours after it was recorded.) Here are those recordings again for those who are interested:

Miscellaneous Midnight Musings on Reason, Logic, Consistency, and the Importance of Scholastic and Ethical Integrity in Public Disputation--An Audio Post (circa September 16, 2006)

Miscellaneous Musings on Reason and Logic Revisited, Pope Benedict XVI, and Islam--An Audio Post (circa September 16, 2006)

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Points to Ponder:
(On Public Opinion)

Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God. [Mark Twain]

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Miscellaneous Sports Predictions

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On the Subject of "Refutation of a Theory or Thesis" Revisited:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The present writer is aware that certain parties-who-think-everything-is-about-them{1} will view this posting as all about them but in reality, this is a subject that we have intended to write on again{2} for some time. As is often the case, contemporary events or circumstances often provide the pretext for writing on issues which have both a transient as well as a permanent value to them and this subject is no different{3}; ergo, we have chosen to write on it again at this time.

An on line dictionary defines the word refutation as the act of refuting and the word refute as follows:

Refute \Re*fute"\ (r?*F3t"), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Refuted; p. pr. & vb. n. Refuting.] [F. r['e]futer, L. refuteare to repel, refute. Cf. Confute, Refuse to deny.] To disprove and overthrow by argument, evidence, or countervailing proof; to prove to be false or erroneous; to confute; as, to refute arguments; to refute testimony; to refute opinions or theories; to refute a disputant.

The most germane words in that definition are these:

To disprove and overthrow by argument, evidence, or countervailing proof; to prove to be false or erroneous; to confute.

In other words, a refutation or confutation of an argument must involve objective proof by rational argumentation that said theories or viewpoints or assertions are false or otherwise erroneous. Many who write self-styled "refutations" make references to what they believe to be a refutation or some equivalent which is actually an out of context injunction on their part and properly classified as normative argumentation and thus subjective. This will never do because a refutation properly speaking is non-normative and requires therefore objective criteria for being able to be accurately assessed as to its veracity or lack thereof.

In other words, something is not refuted/confuted or not merely because this writer or anyone else says it is. No, this is assessed the only way it legitimately can be: via the objective assessment of the arguments advanced in the attempt to disprove a position, principle, hypothesis, thesis, theory, or whatever.

Or as your host noted last month in a points to ponder installment at Rerum Novarum:

Any response to a viable theory constitutes a "refutation" in the minds of mindless sycophants or others incapable of (or unwilling to use) sound rigorous logical thought and rational analysis in striving to ascertain the merits or demerits of said theories thereof. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 9, 2006)]

So remember this readers whenever anyone presumes to assert audaciously that they have "refuted" anything your host or anyone else has written: the proof is in the pudding.{4} Unfortunately we have seen way too much normative (read: subjective) opinion coupled with selective prooftexting of an unethical nature passed off as a presumed "refutation" of our work or the work of others.{5} And nothing written recently that we have seen even remotely approaches the threshold of a refutation/confutation of any assertions we have made or arguments we have advanced in recent months.{6}

In summary, we always encourage people to read all sides of an issue out of confidence that our assertions are adequately sustained and our critics tilt at windmills like Don Quixote de la Mancha in one of Miguel de Cervantes' classic stories.{7} But then again, that is common for those who are trapped in the mental prisons of solipsistic narcissism so we are not surprised by it (sad as it admittedly is notwithstanding).

Notes:

{1} To mention names would be to give unnecessary attention to them; suffice to say, there are about three or four people who erroneously think we have them on our mind constantly. The correct view is that the problems we often outline here or the subjects we write on are generally broader in scope and to which said individuals may or may not coincidentally have a connection to in at least a remote or proximate fashion. (Or to paraphrase a common movie disclaimer: any resemblance to the views of any persons living or dead is generally coincidental.) But we are used to presumed "adversaries" taking on Quixotic characteristics so little more needs to be said about it than that at this time.

{2} The subject of "refutations" is one we have written on in the past many times including HERE.

{3} See footnote two.

{4} Points to Ponder on The Proper Way to Make and Present Arguments (circa July 24, 2006)

{5} Or as someone quoted in the "points to ponder" series last year (in retrospect, somewhat ironically on their part):

“It is an old lawyer’s tactic: when one has no case, attempt to caricature the opponent, obfuscate, and appeal to emotions rather than to reason.” [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 11, 2005)]

{6} Unless it is our sports predictions on which we resolutely plead the fifth amendment on.

{7} A story that we were reading from the Great Books of the Western World series in third grade for those who are interested. (The rennaissance man schtick in the side margin is not without some truth to it but we digress.)

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