Reflections on Justice Scalia’s Passing

I was sitting and resting in bed yesterday after working at the library when I read on my Facebook feed that Justice Antonin Scalia passed away from a heart attack at a resort ranch in the town of Marfa, Texas, a small town 200 miles east of El Paso.  Scalia was not without faults (most notably his adherence to the incorporation doctrine), but he was one of the few justices on the Supreme Court who did not buy the rubbish that the Constitution was a living, breathing document that had to be interpreted with the times.

The Constitution, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, gave the federal Congress specified powers that were enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of that document.  James Madison, in Federalist No. 45, stated the following with regards to the federal Constitution:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.

It was clear that many of the powers that the new government had would be restricted and that the states would have much to say as to how their own governments were run.  This practice was maintained for all of the 19th Century and early into the 20th Century.   Even after the convulsion of the War Between the States, the federal government was very small with budgets not even reaching $1 billion a year until our entrance into World War One.   In the aftermath of the war, the country took a decidedly different direction where power would be amassed on the Potomac and that the power of the states would gradually decline throughout the century.

The expansion of federal power greatly accelerated with the Coup of 1937, where the Supreme Court abandoned its place in applying strict construction of the Constitution and began to embrace a more progressive understanding of the document.  Men like Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the theory that law like men were evolving in Darwinian terms and that the Constitution’s meaning changed over time.

Antonin Scalia rightly saw the danger in the evolving theory and stated:

The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break. But you would have to be an idiot to believe that. The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things.

Obama will now likely replace Scalia with a man that fits his vision of what law should be.  Men like Scalia are few and precious in these days and he will be missed.

The ghost of conscription

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Those words were added into the United States Constitution via the 13th Amendment which ended the formal institution of slavery after the end of the Civil War (War Between the States).  The irony of this action was that just two years before, the United Stated Congress pass the first conscription act in American history.  In essence, it meant that men being were being enslaved by the government in order for the army to free others from slavery…or so we were told.  From this time forward, the draft was used at various times in our history where men had to leave their farms and places of work to fight overseas.

In 1973, President Nixon pulled the plug on the draft and service in military once again became something that was voluntary.  A holdover from the days of the draft still remains with us and that is the Selective Service Act where men ages 18 to 25 must register with the Selective Service System.  It is possible that Congress can call a draft overnight and its odious whiff  will be once again with us.

With the involvement of women in combat, a even uglier aspect of the draft has surfaced where top men in the Army and Marine Corps recommended that women register for Selective Service as well.   It is becoming clear that our country is convulsing in a orgy of egalitarianism and that the call of women to participate in the draft is a sign that our culture is becoming more degraded every day.  Let’s end this foolishness of the draft and relegate it to the dustbin of history.

Reformed Church searching

As I settle in into Wichita Falls, I have been settling into work and exploring the landscape around the area.   One thing that I have been searching for in earnest is a good church for my family.  There are plenty of churches that no doubt are full of Bible believers and preach the gospel.  It is my hope though that I can attend a church that holds to the Reformed faith.  I firmly believe in the doctrine of total depravity and that men are unable to respond to the Gospel call as they are all dead in their trespasses.   Ephesians 2:1-5 clearly states that we were dead in sins and must be made alive in Christ by God’s Grace:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.

Good reformed churches are few and far between in this part of the state.  I have attended churches in Lawton, Oklahoma, Gainesville, Texas and Weatherford,  Texas.  The church in Weatherford is over 90 miles away, but we feel that the preaching is sound and the music prepares our hearts for worship.    We are hopeful that God will keep providing us with the means to attend church there and that a good reformed church will come to Wichita Falls in the near future.

A welcomed online network

One of the greatest things that I have experienced in my forays in online listening was coming across the Mike Church Show which is now part of the new Veritas Radio Network.  Some of the archived material is available by paying for a Founder’s Pass, but at around five dollars a month, it is well worth it.  On the network, one can listen to Mike Church, Mark Kreslins and Kevin Gutzman give you the straight skinny on the history of our country’s founding and how it all went awry.    One thing is for sure; much of what is being proposed from Washington as solutions to make our nation great are rightly derided by these people.  Only a return to limited government with a base of morality can this country turn around.

Black Friday Madness

Now that we have concluded Thanksgiving, a time where we thank God for the abundant blessings that He has given us, we now enter the Christmas shopping season with the notorious Black Friday, a day whereby ordinary shoppers go berserk and act like maddened characters from that old Star Trek episode “Return of the Archons.”   It seems pointless to me that in an age of online shopping, people should descend to the level of animals to get bargains that might save a few bucks on their bottom line.   Let us observe the Christmas with sobriety and thanksgiving for the Son that God gave to us to save us from our sins.

Russell Kirk

I have been waiting to read the new biography of Russell Kirk by Brad Birzer for many months and am hopeful to read it very soon.  Russell Kirk was one of the old style conservatives who wrote The Conservative Mind in 1953 which was a trend setter for the modern conservative movement. According to Brad Birzer, Kirk was rather disinterested in politics with two lone exceptions.  The first was in the late 1950s and 1960s when he advised Barry Goldwater who was in his early terms as a senator for Arizona and supported his nomination for President 1964 which was unsuccessful.    Dr. Birzer wrote a piece in the Imaginative Conservative that goes into detail on how Kirk supported Goldwater.  The next time he involved himself in the political realm was toward the end of his life when he chided the neoconvervatives for their support of the First Gulf War.   As Gerald R. Russello stated in 2004 in the New York Sun:

He did not believe that the complex of customs, traditions, and norms we know as constitutional democracy could be packaged and exported to other cultures, especially under force.

Kirk died in 2004, but not before he left us with a great legacy and a pile of wisdom that will take years to pore over.  Brizer’s biography on Kirk is available from Amazon.com in hardback and Kindle formats.   It is an essential read and I hope many will enjoy its pages.

Peter Hitchens’ take on the George Bell Controversy

Peter Hitchens, a columnist for the Mail on Sunday, has written a very able defense of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester in the November issue of the London Spectator.    It is remarkable that the accuser in this incident has remained anonymous and the evidence against Bell has remained out of public view.   Without collaborating evidence, the matter should not be brought out into the open.  The  Church of England has violated the Bible’s own standards of testimony by taking the word of just one witness.  2 Corinthians 13:1 states as follows:

Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

English Common Law is the foundation for our right to a jury trial where one is tried by due process with a jury of one’s own peers.  In this day and age, the standards of common law in England have been under attack by professed “reformers” such as Simon Jenkins, columnist for the Guardian, who stated in 2013 “Juries should go the way of ducking stools and vestry duty.”    It seems that fair hearings are going the way of the dodo and George Bell’s indictment and conviction on the testimony of one person without a jury seems to be a sign of the decline of liberty in the West.

 

The Life of Karen Carpenter

A few years ago, I wrote a book review for Amazon on the life of Karen Carpenter.  She was part of the Carpenters, a soft rock duo that was very successful in the 1970s.  As with many groups in pop culture, the Carpenters were no different in encountering many trials in their lives that were a result of their fame.  The pressure was too much for Karen as she starved herself and died at the age of 33.  I still listen to her music and some people say that such music was only fit for a certain time and is “corny,” but it seems to me that such opinions are from people who cannot appreciate the harmonies of the music and the lyrics that seem quaint today.  Hopefully her memory will carry on for years to come.

Trashing a Forgotten Hero

To many here in America, the Reverend George Bell is a mystery.  Only those who have read the about the exploits of Dietrich Bonhoeffer come across the name.   It was Reverend Bell, the Bishop of Chichester, who was Bonhoeffer’s greatest English ally in his battle of defiance against the anti-christian activities of the Nazi regime in Germany.   Bell also conveyed to the British government that it should recognize a provisional German government in the event Hitler was ousted during the war with the help of Bonhoeffer.

Bell also was a humanitarian and spoke out against the aerial bombardment of civilian targets in Germany in a speech in the House of Lords.  After the war, he spoke mainly on nuclear disarmament and was a pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement.  Bell died in 1958 and he was remembered as a man who stood on  principle even as his chances to become Archbishop of Canterbury diminished due to his unpopular criticism of aerial bombing.

Just a few days ago, an article appeared in the Guardian stating that George Bell engaged in the sexual abuse of a young child.   The witness has remained anonymous and a sum of money was paid to that person.  Without cross-examination of this person or defense given by a man who has been dead over a half century, the fact that Bell has been given the “abuser” label without any formal jury trial smacks of character assassination by a media which takes any sort of accusation as gospel truth.  We may rue the day when an accuser comes after any of us without any collaboration and be branded an abuser for the rest of our lives.    Peter Hitchens said it best in his October 25, 2015 column when he said:

I know the C of E [Church of England] has had real problems with child abuse in recent years, and has a lot of apologising to do. No doubt. But was it wise or right to sacrifice the reputation of George Bell, to try to save its own? Who defended the dead man, in this secret process?