Saturday, July 18, 2009


I've started reading City of God by St Augustine. Today I read his explanation of why both the Christian and the pagan suffer in the world. The pagans suffer because they are under judgment. The baptized suffer because, being too attached to the world, they fall into sin and so are judged.

This is of course completely contrary to the prosperity gospel preached by Crefio Dollar and his ilk. It also sounds quite harsh to my modern ears. That is probably good. We focus too much on the God of Mercy and forget that He is a God of Righteousness.

In modern America I find it entirely too easy to get caught in the 'keeping up with the Joneses' trap. We all need better, shinier bling.

If nothing else, I think this summer's reading will inspire me to get rid of some stuff.

Augustine firmly holds that the world is evil. I'm not so sure that to follow my Saviour I have to loathe the world. Loathe the Prince of the Air, certainly. But the world? I think we, instead, have to prioritize.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Importance Of An Advanced Degree

When I was a baby lawyer, fresh from law school and was eager and even enthusiastic, I lived in rural South Georgia. As the youngest attorney in my county I was appointed to defend every felon who could not afford an attorney. This brief excursion has left me with a rich storehouse of criminal law stories.

Typically, I would be appointed at arraignment, after the judge heard the accused's plea. The plea was almost always 'not guilty'. I'd then jot down my new client's name and make arrangements with the Sheriff to interview him at the jail. I'd also fill in the blanks on a bunch of defense counsel motions that I would hand to the assistant DA before I left for lunch. Generally he had what I filed for already and simply gave me a copy.

After lunch, I'd sign out of the office and walk the two blocks to the jail. A deputy would bring my clients to me one at a time and lock them in a cell with me. Armed with the documents the ADA gave me, I'd interview the client. I always let them tell me what they thought happened. That gave me a good feel for how credible my client was as a witness.

Nine out of ten times I would hear a cock and bull story that usually ran along the lines of my client was just sitting in his friend's car when his friend, Red, went into the convenience store and emerged five minutes later with a bunch of money. Red then drove away at high speed, but bailed out right before the police pulled the car over. My client then had to switch to the driver's seat to stop the car. I heard this story or one very similar a lot.

I used to joke with the Sheriff as to how bad a job he was doing, what with Red staying on the loose and all.

Now what made this exercise particularly awful was that I would usually have my client's signed confession, in his own handwriting, right below where he had copied out his Miranda warning in longhand. You see, the DA had to give me copies of any statements my client made to the police. That was part of the documents the ADA handed to me.

One time, my client grabbed the confession from me and ripped it into shreds. I then had to explain to him that all he had done was tear up my copy. The DA still had the original.

My criminal clients would get arrested, confess and then stew in jail for days or even weeks because they couldn't make bail. That gave them plenty of time to work on a more palatable version of events. The longer they simmered, the more passionate they became about their personal fairytale.

When I left South Georgia to be a big city tax attorney, I thought I would never hear such spin again. Until today, I was right. The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson have topped even the most fantastical of my rural felons.

I guess it pays to have a graduate degree, even in fantasy.


Seriously cool interview, video below

The Big News From Anaheim

The real news from the Episcopal Church's 2009 General Convention is the following:

Madam President

South Carolina stands before you with broken hearts. By passing Resolution D025 and C056 this General Convention has overturned the clear and consistent teaching of Holy Scripture and the Christian Church. We will have repudiated the teaching and practice of the Anglican Communion. The Communion's patience and generosity toward the Episcopal Church makes our persistent refusal to heed their requests to us to honor the called for moratoria all the more devastating.

Many of us us here this morning, and in Dioceses, parishes, and pews throughout the Episcopal Church, disavow this General Convention's actions. Will will now prayerfully seek ways to be faithful to the Anglican Communion and to the mutual responsibility and interdependence to which we are called, no matter what the cost.

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Random Thought

I've been turning over the idea that there is saturated religion, unsaturated religion and trans religion. It's the latter that's lethal, of course.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Bashing

I recently learned of a writer through a rather circuitous route. His name is 'Mike Homfray'. I disagree rather vehemently with just about everything he believes in. So I'm not linking to his blog, or his various comments throughout the Web. However, he's written a book. Like all authors he links to his book on his blog. Also like any author, he wants people to buy his book.

The name of his book is Provincial Queens: The Gay and Lesbian Community in the North-West of England. I have little to no interest in that subject. All I could make out on his blog, was the cover, which is Pepto-Bismol pink and I could not read the title, so I clicked on it, which pushed me through to the publisher's site.

Here's the meat of this story. The price of the book (full retail) in England is 34 pounds. The price in the U S is $85.95. The book is 271 pages long and is a paperback. The cost at Amazon is the same in pounds, but if you order in the US, it is $67.95. The publisher is a known semi-vanity press (that is they generally require a partial payment from the author towards publishing costs, anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds).

Now there is every reason to want to get published. Some authors think their book will be the next best-seller and are in it for the dough. That's not likely the case here. Some authors write as part of the publish or perish process in academia. To a certain extent, I suspect that may be the case here. An awful lot of academics are in the position of needing a book or scholarly paper to put on the old curriculum vitae. Peter Lang does publish some scholarly works that are cited from time to time in their fields. They publish a great many more that are not.

Most authors want to be published because they wish to communicate their ideas, their story or their thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, publishing a seventy dollar paperback is not likely the way to achieve that.

There are an awful lot of vanity presses out there. If anything the Internet has helped that market to blossom. Printing on demand has dramatically reduced the cost of book production. Many books are now available in formats that didn't exist until recently, such as Kindle or PDF.

One of the more interesting new vanity presses is (disclaimer: I have no affiliation with them. I just love the name). To publish a dust jacketed hardcover book with 271 pages it costs $25. That's it. You can write the book, have them print off a copy and have the smallest print run imaginable for $25. Mr Homfray's book, in the manner and style that Lang printed it would cost about half that. There are other publishers with similar services. Now has little to no academic status, but if your desire is to get your ideas out there then Lulu or their competitors are the ways to go.

If we assume a 100% mark up between cost of publishing to selling price, then you would sell it for $25. That would be a perfect bound trade paperback of moderate length. Lang sells it for $42 more. My question is whether the rather dubious academic prestige of being published by Lang is worth $42. For some, it obviously is. But it seems a rather steep price to pay for someone on the bottom rungs of academia to climb another step on the tenure track.

All of which makes me wonder how long the Peter Langs of this world will last.

Heroes and Poor Spelling

The Atlanta Journal Constitution printed a story about a home invasion that was ultimately thwarted by a brave elderly man. It's pretty much a run of the mill affair. Except, in the article, one of the residents last name is Carlson. Under the photo, it's Carlton, repeated three times.

Here's a free tip for the AJC. Spell check doesn't solve everything. You need to have fresh eyeballs read this stuff to catch the mis-spellings and typos.

Quote of the Day

From a discussion of the new budget for the Episcopal Church, an answer to a question about $1 million allocation: "Money apportioned specifically to Title IV goes for actions against bishops. Also for education." Interesting dichotomy....

From StandFirm

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cat and Mouse

From Cute Overload, of course.

People of the Book

This is the third General Convention that I've been compelled to get all Old Testamenty and prophetic and such. And I don't mean prophetic in the GC 'lets ordain open and notorious sinners' sense either. I mean prophetic in the 'lets call down the wrath of God and grow a really long beard' sense. Which totally sucks as growing a beard is a process in perpetual facial itching and spousal alienation.

And I really do not wish to marry a woman named Gomer. Modern American culture views people named Gomer with hilarity and ridicule. Bigamy is still a felony in my home state. And my wife is both jealous and heavily armed.

Is there any chance that the Episcopal Church could pass a last minute resolution to the effect of "The 2012 General Convention shall not pass, entertain or debate any resolution, motion or canon revision that exposes anyone attending, belonging to or formerly belonging to the Episcopal Church to ridicule, derision or humiliation by such association or former association"?

I don't think so either.

The Episcopal Church Beclowns You!

Summer Reading

Back on Monday I posted that I was trying to decide which book to read for the summer. I was torn between The Consolation of Philosophy and The City of God. Per Zana's recommendation I went with the City of God.

I'm reading it slowly, so I'm only in Chapter 2 of Book 1. I can read about 300 pages a day, but in so doing I miss a fair amount. This is going to be more of a reading, meditating and pondering exercise than a race. City of God is a good choice for this because it not only has a compelling back story, but it also requires a fair amount of unpacking.

Also, as Augustine pretty much defines orthodoxy in the Christian context, I'm reading it less defensively and more openly.

On a related note, the autobiography of William Porcher Dubose is available online, for free! Is this a wonderful world or what?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Appeal to Wingnuts

I'm a rotten typist. I freely admit that. But it's oversight, not 'over site'. It's martial law, not 'marshall law'. Rouge agents are people who sell make up. What you want to say is 'rogue agents'. And we did not 'loose' the Vietnam War. No one loosed the Vietnam War. We did lose it.

Your theories about black helicopters become ever so much more plausible when spelled correctly. AND NO ONE WAS EVER CONVINCED BY A RANT IN ALL CAPS.

Just FYI.

PS. No, I am not linking to the drivel that prompted this.

Hope and Change

Canada has better health care, right?

Funny thing is, I remember it being slightly better, but equally run down.

For Rowan Williams

In re: The Anglican Communion

Here's a song for ya...

The Bigger Picture

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Decision

I'm at a crossroads and am having trouble deciding what to read. I have two candidates. The first is my old, reliable companion: The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. It is short, chock full of wise counsel and eminently readable (for those who do not know it, the Consolation may be the best selling self help book of all time). Or, I can re-read a book I haven't read in its entirety since college: The City of God by St. Augustine.

Both would do me a world of good. I just can't decide which. I also need to get serious about studying the Bible again. I've gotten out of the habit, which is horrible. Lately all I've been reading are throw away thrillers and a history of early New York. It's been fun, but not especially nourishing.

Night And Day

Alan Haley has written one of his usually erudite essays about the effect of B033. This post isn't about his. This post is a little about Frank and Cole:

It's mostly about my wife.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Headline O' the Week

Impatience Builds Over Slow Moving Stimulus.

Given the direction the economy has moved since passage, I'm rather glad it's been slow moving.