Tuesday, December 29, 2015

De Wod Come fa be a Man

The Gullah people of Georgia have a unique creole language. Perhaps the most famous Gullah speaker is Justice Clarence Thomas, who grew up speaking Gullah and learned standard English as a second language. 

The Bible has been translated into the Gullah dialect. Check out this Christmas appropriate reading from the Gospel of John in Gullah while following along with the Revised Standard Version:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Friday, May 29, 2015

For a War Memorial

Traveling and starting a new job prevented me from marking Memorial Day on the blog. Below is my belated contribution

For a War Memorial
by G.K. Chesterton

(Suggested Inscription probably not selected by the Committee.)

The hucksters haggle in the mart
The cars and carts go by;
Senates and schools go droning on;
For dead things cannot die.

A storm stooped on the place of tombs
With bolts to blast and rive;
But these be names of many men
The lightning found alive.

If usurers rule and rights decay
And visions view once more
Great Carthage like a golden shell
Gape hollow on the shore,

Still to the last of crumbling time
Upon this stone be read
How many men of England died
To prove they were not dead.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Wanna Be in the Cavalry

When my dad was in the Army he started as an infantryman and ended up as a tank commander. He said he was tired of walking.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Surrender at Appomattox

Surrender at Appomattox by Tom Lovell

Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia 150 years ago today. The terms of the surrender were drafted by Gen. Ely S. Parker, seen second from right in the painting above. Parker, a Seneca Indian and an attorney, served as an adjunct on General Grant's staff. The terms were those contained in this letter from the surrender correspondence between Grant and Lee:

April 9, 1865
General R. E. LEE:
In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th instant, I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate, one copy to be given to an officer to be designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged; and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by U. S. authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Saxon Easter

The Heliand was a 9th Century Saxon language poem retelling the Gospel narrative in a Germanic context. The following is from the Resurrection narrative in the Heliand as translated into English prose by G. Ronald Murphy S.J.
Warriors were picked from the Jewish battle-group for the guard. They set off with their weapons and went to the grave where they were to guard the grave of God's Son. The holy day of the Jews had now passed. The warriors sat on top of the grave on their watch during the dark starlit night. They waited under their shields until bright day came to mankind all over the middle world, bringing light to people.
It was not long then until: there was the spirit coming by God's power, by the holy breath, going under the hard stone to the corpse! Light was at that moment opened up, for the good of the sons of men; the many bolts on the doors of Hel (Hell) were unlocked; the road from this world up to heaven was built! Brilliantly radiating, God's Peace-Child rose up! He went about, wherever He pleased, in such a way that the guards, tough soldiers, were not at all aware of when He got up from death and arose from His rest.
Fr. Murphy's commentary points out a couple of interesting inculturation elements in this account. The grave is described as dug into the ground and covered by a stone upon which the guards sat. This style of grave is similar to the mound type burials familiar to the Saxons. Light emanating from the tomb creates a road to heaven. This is an allusion to the bifrost, the shimmering bridge that allowed the Germanic gods to travel between Earth and Asgard.

I like to read the Heliand and imagine Saxon warriors hearing its recitation in their mead halls. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt.

Happy Easter!
Christus Resurrexit!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm too tired/lazy to write a proper St. Patrick's Day post right now, but I encourage you to check out the excellent St. Patrick's Day linkfest at Lamentably Sane.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Law School at Notre Dame

I haven't been blogging much since I entered law school. These have been some of the highlights of my experience at Notre Dame.

The class of 2017 has around 200 students which is somewhat larger than many of us expected, but is certainly not too large. Our mandatory 1L classes fill up the lecture rooms but the students don't feel anonymous. It's actually rather nice to have a full classroom because it decreases the chances that any individual will get cold called by the professor.

The law school experience is quite different undergrad. The main classes on legal doctrine require only reading casebooks and taking notes during lectures before one final at the end of the semester graded on a curve. In undergrad, there were many assignments, tests, and quizzes throughout the semester, and finals were often not especially challenging nor did they form the basis for a student's entire grade. Law school is less stressful during the bulk of the semester but gets intense at the end as finals approach.

Law students are not however entirely free from assignments throughout the semester. Our first semester we were required to take a one credit Legal Research class and a two credit Legal Writing class. The former required easy but somewhat tedious weekly quizzes and the latter included a number of writing assignments including an Office Memo, and a Motion for Summary Judgement. The legal writing assignments were good confidence boosters. It is nice to see a real working document of the kind that we will be producing in our legal careers with your own name on it.

Our second semester was expected to be easier than the first, but a mere half-semester one credit class made it somewhat more stressful. For Legal Writing Part II, students team up with a partner to write an appellate brief and present an oral argument before a panel of judges. We finished last week. The research and writing took a while, but it was an important skill building exercise and was a cause for camaraderie as everyone worked through it together.

Law students are expected to plan for their future career from the first semester. Students are told that they should already have a good idea of the geographical location they would like to practice, if not the specific practice area. We send out applications for summer jobs from Christmas break through April, and hope to gain valuable work experience and contacts over the summer. There is less pressure to get the perfect job in our first summer than in our second. Law students hope to get their first real post-graduation job out of their 2L summer job.

The atmosphere is the law school is congenial. Students are not overly competitive and are happy to help each other. A feeling of fellowship extends beyond the law school, and many law students are enthusiastic participants in the broader university life. Sports is one unifying factor, and the law school is always well represented in the graduate student section at home football games. Going to law school at Notre Dame, one feels a sense of history, a connection to people such as Fr. Sorin and his band of Holy Cross priests who founded the university, and Knute Rockne the greatest football coach in history. A sense of gratitude to those who came before in the university's long history is shared by students and faculty alike.

Spiritual life is fairly strong at the law school. Daily masses at the law school chapel are well attended and the chapel is packed for Sunday mass. The mass is said reverently by Holy Cross priests who are often excellent homilists. The law school is better at maintaining a Catholic identity than much of the rest of Notre Dame, and law professors are often seen at mass with students. The faculty includes important defenders of Catholic life in the public sphere, most notably Gerard Bradley. If you have ever read an article about the Notre Dame administration making its latest accommodation to the enemies of the Faith, you have probably read professor Bradley quoted as the voice of opposition.

For all its faults, Notre Dame is a great place. The campus is beautiful, and a physical testament to the faith and success of American Catholics. I enjoy walking past the famous "Touchdown Jesus" mural everyday on my way to class and seeing the stained glass windows that mark the many chapels around campus.  At night, lights are shined on the golden dome of the administration building, and it is comforting to see the golden statute of Our Lady watching over campus. It is bittersweet to behold such great symbols of faith in a campus that continues to jettison its Catholic identity, but it inspires hope for the success of outposts of orthodoxy such as the Law School.

Notre Dame Ora Pro Nobis!

Go Irish!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sports Fans and Civilization

Lots of hipsterish and nerdy types like to make fun of sports fans for their devotion to teams that don't seem to have much real relation to the fans' lives.  Passion for any particular team seems arbitrary and silly to these critics.  For example, here is an ironic T-Shirt graphic from The Onion:

To be fair, this is kinda funny.

Those who mock sports enthusiasts for their loyalty may think they are simply having a bit of harmless fun at the expense of some proles.  Not so.  By condemning communities for their arbitrary nature, the ironists are striking at the heart of human civilization.  Just about every social arrangement that exists is arbitrary to one degree or another.  Even a strong family, seemingly a natural result of reproduction, involves many traditions and arrangements that do not obviously result from any "natural" process.  In the 18th Century, there were those who argued against organized religion on the grounds that it was an arbitrary institution.  A young Edmund Burke satirized the anti-religious in A Vindication of Natural Society, which carried the anti-arbitrariness argument to its natural conclusions and ended up condemning the entire government and society of England.  Sometimes people need to simply root for their king, their church, or their football team. 

You don't have to like sports.  You do however have to accept that for people to form communities around those who participate in athletics is good, even if it the formation of such communities is rather arbitrary.  Sports are  fundamentally good activities, as is the consumption of beer and guacamole while watching them.

Enjoy the Super Bowl!