Doctor Science Knows

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lewis, Tolkien, and religion; Common law and originalism

DougJ at Balloon Juice posted about Right Bloglandia getting into a swivet about a Muslim Miss USA. Tangentially, I commented:

So would it be safe to say that the LOTR books are heavily influenced by JRRT’s bizarre personal blend of Catholicism and traditionalism, but are not meant to be overly polemical, while CSL’s works are merely apologetics dressed up as fiction?

Only half right.

CSL's works *are* pretty much apologetics dressed up as fiction -- but the dressing is IM[not actually humble]O done quite well, better than usual for the genre of apologetic fiction. The Narnia books are far less dogmatic than e.g. Pilgrim's Progress, or than the kind of children's books that he+ described as "They try to be funny and fail; they try to preach and succeed."

JRRT did *not* have a "bizarre personal blend of Catholicism and traditionalism", he had a pretty standard one -- for a well-educated Catholic of his era. He felt that LOTR (and the then-unpublished Simarillion from which it derived) was *pre-Christian*: it depicted an essentially Christian universe, but before Christ had appeared. LOTR resonates with Christianity, and specifically with Catholicism: the veneration of Elbereth, for instance, has no counterpart in CSL but is very familiar to any Catholic who's prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It's surprising to me that conservative Catholics wanted to claim the movies for their own, because IMnahO Peter Jackson took out many of the most Christian parts of the books. Random example: in the movie (Return of the King) when Gandalf and Denethor have their confrontation, Gandalf calls Denethor "Steward!" with scorn in his voice. In the books, Gandalf reminds Denethor to be a good Steward, and says that he is one, too. Stewardship is a central Christian metaphor, and Jackson completely misses the point.

+ or maybe it was Tolkien? it's in the Essays Presented to Charles Williams, in any event.

Meanwhile at Obsidian Wings, Sebastian posted on The Supreme Court Says. My comment:

The Constitution should mean what it says, not what we wish it to say.

I've been wondering recently how this kind of originalism squares -- or doesn't -- with the common law tradition of precedent. IANAL and many of those here are, so correct me, please: isn't one of the features of common law supposed to be that it evolves and that it relies on judges (aka "activist judges") for interpretation and extension? Whereas civil law, which the US supposedly does *not* follow, relies on the letter of legislation and other documents, such as written constitutions?

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 08, 2010

SWAT and Protagonist Privilege

von, one of the conservative/libertarians at Obsidian Wings, posted about terroristic drug raids:
I was pretty pissed off at this raid of (according to the evidence) a small time dealer of marijuana. Maybe that's too mild a description of my tone. Here's an alternative: I ate the apple of the Garden in that post, and, with the knowledge so gained, declared the folks who participated in that raid "evil." (Actual quote; of mine.)
I commented:

I agree 100% with both von and Brett. Pigs are surprisingly aerodynamic.

SWAT don't exist in this country to handle dangerous hostage situations. That's a tiny fraction of their work, an afterthought.
That's why the BATF were stomping pets before Reagan, and after him. That's why drug raids get so nasty. That's why prostitutes get treated like sh*t. The terror is the point.

And that's why police sent out to do "crowd control" look like Stormtroopers (either edition). The terror is the point.

I think the only factor you guys aren't incorporating is the one from Evil "Liberal" Hollywood, which is absolutely consistent about portraying SWAT teams and similar as heroic, effective, necessary, and cool. I bet one reason this particular team was composed of part-timers is that they *wanted* to be on it, it has cachet and gives out many manliness points.

I don't know if you can change the public's mind unless storytellers -- TV, movies, video games -- start presenting agents of the police state as other than the Good Guys, who always win because of Protagonist Privilege.

Labels: , , , , ,