Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Canadian Legal Fellowship Law Student Conference

What a treat it was to be part of the CLF National Student Conference in Windsor, Ontario last weekend. The students heard from lawyers, law profs, doctors, and pastors from the US and Canada, encouraging them to follow Christ as students and lawyers.

I can't say enough about the hospitality of the CLF staff and the students who organized the event. Special thanks to Liz Sinnott, a law student who took time out from her dual-degree studies to help make the conference go.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters practicing law in Canada as they seek to follow Christ in a very important and influential ministry to their nation. Click here for more info on CLF.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More on the Death Penalty

Over at Mirror of Justice, Rick Garnett comments on an article by Walter Berns about the relationship between religion and the death penalty, in which Berns evaluates the observation of Albert Camus that a religious people have the best defense of the death penalty. To keep up the commenting, I'll comment on Rick's comment to Bern's commentary on the Camus comment.

Berns's makes his point by describing the world of Camus' The Stranger, a world in which God is dead and the protogonist kills for now reason, because he has no passion, no ground for hate, for love, for friendship-- because he lives in a world in which God dead. This is not our world, concludes Berns:

A world so lacking in passion lacks the necessary components of punishment. Punishment has its origins in the demand for justice, and justice is demanded by angry, morally indignant men, men who are angry when someone else is robbed,
raped, or murdered, men utterly unlike Camus's Meursault. This anger is an expression of their caring, and the just society needs citizens who care for each other, and for the community of which they are parts. One of the purposes of punishment, particularly capital punishment, is to recognize the legitimacy of that righteous anger and to satisfy and thereby to reward it. In this way, the death penalty, when duly or deliberately imposed, serves to strengthen the moral sentiments required by a self-governing community.
I want to add one more car to this train of thought: Relgious people have hope, rather than despair, in the face of human justice that always disappoints, always falls short of ultimate justice by its very nature. And the only way there is hope is if one knows that there is in fact, perfect justice byond this world, that criminals do not ever get off "scot free" and that innocent will be vindicated, no matter the oppression in this world.

Without this hope, our relatively miserable attempts at justice are indeed a cause for despair, and this despair will be great among those who believe that human justice is all the justice that can be. (On this point, see J. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know, and this article in First Things.)

Finally, in light of all this interesting stuff, I want to again wonder aloud about the lack of attention to special revelation among Christian anti-death-penalty legal scholars. It is abslolutely undeniable that God himself authorized the death penalty in a number of societies, according to Scripture, and that he expressly authorized its use. How, then, can it be surprising that the best arguments for the death penalty are relgious ones?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dobson and McCain and Evangelicals and Voting and . . .

James Dobson has released a short statement listing reasons that he will not vote for John McCain if he is a candidate for President. (BTW, I have just now seen theology professor Wayne Grudem's townhall article reasoning that evangelicals should support Romney. It's worth reading, but we seem to be beyond all this by now. HT: wife)

The early unwise and indiscriminate latching on to Huckabee by evangelicals, so many open primaries favoring "crossover" candiates, and the heavy role of the press have pretty much taken the debate over vision and ideology right out of the picture. I think this is bad; maybe I"m wrong. I'm just saying.

This nomination process, regrading both parties, has felt more like a hype-fest crap shoot than it has in years past. Maybe I'm getting older and it has always been that way. But sound bites, image, and press cred is a lousy way to select a presidential nominee. I think the most exciting event of the politcal season will be seeing who the Dem nominee selects as his or her running mate.