Friday, November 30, 2012

Hirsch, Meaning, and Hermeneutics – Part 2

Part 1 is here.

By taking Hirsch’s two categories of meaning/implication and significance and dividing them into three categories of meaning, implication, and significance, all of the necessary components of interpretation are maintained, the willed type of meaning is not required to be an affair of the unconscious and thereby possibly fuller than the author intends, and the relationship of meaning to any given situation is allowed to remain limitless. Therefore, I proposes the following structure.

Meaning should be defined narrowly to be what the (human) author intended consciously to communicate in a given utterance through his choice of signs. It does not demand that the author understand or be conscious of all or any of the implications of his statement (though he might be). It only demands that he be conscious of, at the least, his primary truth intention. Meaning is discernable by considering the text itself, in light of the author’s historical context. It is determined solely by reference to the author’s immediate sitz im leben, (i.e., his historical particularity)[1] at the time of his writing. Meaning should be the same for every interpreter.

Implication would be the array of ramifications (Hirsch’s submeanings) that a particular meaning has. Implications are inseparable from the meaning. They are necessary corollaries and are consistent with meaning. The author may or may not be aware of implications. Implications however are not themselves drawn from the text (for then they would be meaning). Nor are they necessarily connected with his historical particularity though they might be. They are the necessary ramifications that a text has and are determined by the text itself. This distinction between meaning and implication allows for meaning to be an affair of consciousness and does not jeopardize the very concept of intentionality by including the possibility of non-intentionality. This allows for a text to have implications that an author might not be aware of and at the same time prevents having multiple or an additional unintended or unconscious meanings. Similar to meaning, the field of possible implications should be the same for every interpreter though two individual interpreters might find two differing yet equally valid implications.

Significance would be the application of a meaning and its implications to any given situation to which it might have relevance. It is determined within the reader/interpreter’s sitz im leben. It is limited to what can be drawn out of the legitimate meaning and implications of the text (legitimate interpretation). It is arrived at by determining the timeless value of a given utterance and its related implications and extracting those principles to the current situation. Significance is limited only by the interpreter’s sitz im leben. It does not have to be the same for every interpreter.

The benefit of such a solution is summed up easily. Contra Hirsch, this solution does not have to equivocate on “unconscious intentionality.” It can assert that meaning is an affair of the consciousness (a willed type) while preserving the innate existence of implications that the author might not be aware of. Significance remains largely unchanged.

“Why it Matters” still to come.

[1] “Historical particularity” is borrowed from Gordon Fee (Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), p. 17. It is used to indicate the occasioning context of a particular utterance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hirsch, Meaning, and Hermeneutics – Part 1

Here’s something a little heavier than normal for you. I post it because it was recently brought to my mind, and I am interested in some feedback on it. In  a nutshell, I am proposing that E. D. Hirsch (Validity in Interpretation) inadequately dealt with implications. This has particular significance (no pun intended) for biblical studies with respect to the divine/human authorship of Scripture.

Hirsch’s definition of meaning

Hirsch’s definition of meaning proves a good starting point for discussion. He says, “Verbal meaning is whatever someone has willed to convey by a particular sequence of linguistic signs and which can be conveyed (shared) by means of those linguistic signs.”[1] Hirsch stresses several factors necessary to meaning. First, it must be reproducible, i.e., able to be actualized by someone else. This is very similar to his use of shared.[2] Second, it must be determinate, i.e., possess a boundary that “discriminates what it is from what it is not.”[3] Third, it must be willed, i.e., “a distinction between what an author does mean by a word sequence and what he could mean by it.”[4] Therefore, reproducible (sharable) puts meaning in the realm of communicable (able to be understood by the recipient); determinate puts it in the realm of discriminatory (what it is vs. what it is not); and willed puts it in the realm of specificity (what is actual vs. what is possible). Kaiser adopts Hirsch’s definition for his own use in biblical studies.[5] Meaning therefore is inseparably tied to the author and his communicative intention and cannot be separated from him.

The difficulty of such a definition is that an author did not record his intentions directly for us. Therefore, it is somewhat of a problematic goal to attempt to enter the thought process of an author who, in the case of Scripture, is dead and cannot further comment on his work. However, here the “intentional fallacy”[6] objection is shown to have an inaccurate understanding of meaning. While the author’s thoughts cannot be ascertained, his truth intention is understood by the signs he chose to convey his intention. Therefore, while an author might say, “I want you to get a book,” his deeper intention (or intention behind his proposition) is of little consequence to his meaning; what he intended to communicate was his desire that the interpreter get a book. Had additional explanation been necessary to his willed type,[7] he would have chosen a more definitive set of signs with which to communicate his intention. In other words, because of the supposition that intelligible and rational communication is possible through a chosen set of signs that communicate reproducible, determinate, and willed ideas, the author chooses the set of signs that he believes will accomplish his intention. The search for intention behind the text may be loosely related to the child who asks “why?” From the parent he receives the reply that a reason is not necessary; obedience is. In the same way, an author communicates a truth intention of any sort through a set of signs. Further explanation as to his intent, while it might be interesting, is not necessary to understand the meaning.[8] For now, Hirsch’s definition will be accepted though it will later be refined slightly.

Hirsch’s definition of significance

Hirsch defines significance as “a relationship between that meaning and a person, or a conception, or a situation, or indeed anything imaginable.”[9] Later he says, “Significance is always ‘meaning-to,’ never ‘meaning-in.’ Significance always entails a relationship between what is in a man’s verbal meaning and what is outside it, even when that relationship pertains to the author himself or to his subject matter.”[10] As Hirsch defines significance, there is “virtually no limit to the significance of the shortest and most banal text.”[11] Hirsch’s significance is most clearly communicated by the word application, the relationship of a text to a situation outside of the text. Osborne calls this “derived meaning.”[12] In this conception, meaning is limited to a narrow corridor of authorial will or truth intention, where significance is broadened to encompass any conceivable situation to which a truth intention might have a relationship.

Hirsch’s definition of implication

For Hirsch, implication is an inherent part of meaning. Since he conceives of meaning as a “whole,”[13] an implication is a

… component within a larger whole. The distinction is between a submeaning of an utterance and the whole array of submeanings that it carries. The array, along with the principles for generating it, I call the “meaning” of the utterance, and any submeaning belonging to the array I call an “implication.”[14]

An implication is not therefore, necessarily stated, or even a product of conscious thought.[15] The determining factor for a valid implication is that it falls within the determinacy (the boundary that separates what it is vs. what it is not) of an utterance. Implications of an utterance are not limitless as significances are. They “lie within the meaning as a whole and are circumscribed by some kind of boundary which delimits that meaning. … An implication belongs within a verbal meaning as a part belongs to a whole.”[16]

Tensions involved in Hirsch’s definitions

The tension in Hirsch’s conception of meaning/implication and significance comes from his assertion that a meaning is a willed type and his inclusion of unconscious implications in meaning. For Hirsch, a type is “like a class, though it has the advantage of being a more unitary concept.”[17] A type can “always be represented by more than one instance,”[18] which he calls traits.[19] These individual instances may or may not be products of the consciousness, yet according to him they still can be considered objects of the will. “If a text has traits that point to subconscious meaning (or even conscious ones), these belong to the verbal meaning of the text only if they are coherent with the consciously willed type which defines the meaning as a whole.”[20] He likens a willed type to an iceberg of which only the top shows; however, underneath it hidden by the water is a massive foundation. The visible part is the consciousness of the will; the invisible part is the subconscious or unconscious.

The difficulty of resolving such a conception is that it is difficult to imagine that an unconscious implication (trait, submeaning) can be ascribed to a voluntary choice in anything other than a purely conceptual sense. He says, “… will involves not merely choices and goals, but voluntary choices and goals, and again our habits of language remind us of the conscious element of will.”[21] So while admitting the conscious element of will, he apparently admits an unconscious element as well and ascribes to this unconscious element an equally binding intention. However, it cannot very well be conceived that an affair of the unconscious can be a “voluntary choice.” It might be said to be consistent with the conscious as well as vitally connected to the conscious. Yet it seems tenuous at best to call it an intention since by definition, to intend is “to have in mind something as a purpose; plan; purpose.”[22] Intention similarly is “an intending, determination to do a specified thing.”[23] The question that must be wrestled with is precisely this: How can an unconscious or sub-conscious implication meet the qualifications of a voluntary, willed intention? Can something that is less than conscious (whether un- or sub-) be placed in a category of intent which is by definition an act of the mind? Does an unconscious meaning become an unintentional intention? It seems to this author that such a construct is at best tenuous, perhaps even inconsistent.

The significance of this is that there are implications in the biblical text that were unknown to the human author, but known to God as the divine author. This lays the foundation for sensus plenior, the idea that there is a fuller sense of the passage than the human author was aware of, fuller than the human author intended to communicate., but fully consistent with what God ultimately intended, particularly in light of later revelation.

Part II to come.

[1] Hirsch, Validity, p. 31.

[2] Ibid., p. 31, 44. He says, “… reproducible, that it be always the same in different acts of construing” (p. 46.)

[3] Ibid., p. 32. See also pp. 44ff.

[4] Ibid., p. 47.

[5] Walter C. Kaiser, “Legitimate Hermeneutics,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman L. Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), p. 119. He cites Hirsch’s definition from an earlier chapter: “Meaning is that which is represented by a text; it is what the author meant by his use of a particular sign sequence…” (Hirsch, Validity, p. 8).

[6] See Payne, “Fallacy,” and Norman L. Geisler, “The Relation of Purpose and Meaning in Interpreting Scripture,” GTJ 5 (Fall 1982): 229-245. It is not possible to discuss the Intentional Fallacy in this treatment. However, the thrust of the argument is that the quest for intention is to try to get behind the text to some elusive prior determiner of meaning. See also D. A. Carson (Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996], pp. 134-35) who warns of attempts to “psychoanalyze one or more of the participants in a past event, without having access to anything more than fragmentary records of the event” (p. 134). He relates this to redaction critical study that searches for reasons behind changes.

[7] See later discussion on willed type.

[8] There are exceptions to this general rule because of the possibility of misunderstanding. However, such misunderstanding does not negate the rule; it rather supports it. If multiple meanings or truth-intentions were possible from a single set of signs, then the recipient would act on what his interpretive response and the author would have no basis to disagree with the interpretation for one would be as good as another. Hence, the authorial control over language is magnified and confirmed by misunderstanding.

[9] Hirsch, Validity, p. 8.

[10] Ibid., p. 63.

[11] Ibid. He continues, “Not only can its verbal meaning be related to all conceivable states of affairs … but it can also be related to at different times to changing conditions in all conceivable states of affairs. … [it] is by nature limitless.” (p. 63).

[12] Osborne, Hermeneutical Spiral, p. 395. This is an unfortunate choice of words since meaning is held to be single while significance can be many.

[13] Hirsch, Validity, p. 42.

[14] Ibid., p. 62.

[15] He says, “the one negative characteristic common to all varieties of unconscious meanings is that the author was not aware of them. Obviously, this definition is not very reassuring since there is no limit to what an author may not be aware of” (p. 51).

[16] Ibid. p. 64.

[17] Ibid., p. 50.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid., p. 54.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid., p. 53, emphasis his.

[22] Webster’s New World Dictionary, s. v. “Intend.”

[23] Ibid. s. v. “Intention.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Think?

I am not taking any joy in the misfortunes of others experiencing these devastating floods.

But this sign is ... well ... funny to me.

Here are some great pictures of the floods in Australia from one of my favorite sites..

Friday, November 23, 2012

“It’s a God Thing”

With the current mainstreaming of theology, we have an increasing amount of people claiming that God is at work, or “It’s a God thing.” They talk about “God moments” or “God being at work.”

In one sense, they are certainly right. The God of the universe is “in the heavens, doing whatever he pleases.” What some often fail to note is that that includes both the good stuff and the bad stuff. He is always at work; he never sleeps. (And remember, a lot of your “good stuff” which is a “blessing from God” is hurtful and painful to someone else.) It is the basic doctrine of God’s sovereignty.

But in another sense, they have no idea what they are talking about. One of the unique things about Christianity is that through the Bible God has equipped us with everything necessary for life and godliness.

But part of that equipment does not include the right to attach God’s name to whatever we think is in our best interest, or whatever turns out the way we want it to.

And herein is where deep problems come in a hurry.

You see, there’s a commandment, usually designated as the Third Commandment, which says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

Most people who grew up in in legalistic type culture view this command in a George Carlin type way, as in the seven words you can’t say on TV. And so they grew up with a list of “vain” words.

They included the obvious ones, alongside the sanitized ones like gosh, and golly (and who can ever hear that with seeing Gomer Pyle), and the like. (Of course, most people who grew up in a legalistic culture don’t know who George Carlin is.)

Now that they have broken free of such sinful legalism, it is not uncommon to see them let loose with a few words here and there. It always makes me roll my eyes and laugh because it’s like being in junior high again. But I digress.

One of the great failures of the legalistic type culture is just how poorly it taught people the real meaning of Scriptures.

You see, people grew up thinking the third commandment was about words you couldn’t say.

What so many have failed to understand is that the third commandment is not about a list of words. It is about the trivial use of God’s name. It is about illegitimate name dropping. It is about using God’s name for something he wouldn’t is it for.

Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where George is buying a new pair of glasses? (Shame on you if you do. Someone only told me about it, if you know what I mean.)

Kramer sends George to a particular shop and tells him to “mention my name.” Of course George does it, in a sly way (which is kind of funny in itself, or so I am told). But the shop owner has no idea who Kramer is. The name means nothing to him.

Every parent has experienced something like this, but for a different reason. My son comes to me wanting to do something, and he says, “Momma said I could.” Now, I can usually tell whether or not he is using momma’s name in vain because I know momma well enough to know what she thinks he should or should not do. But he thinks attaching momma’s name to it is a permission slip, a hall pass, a get out of jail free card.

Here’s the warning: When you claim something is a “God moment,” you better make sure you know what you are talking about. Because the Lord will not hold you guiltless for such trivial use of his name to further your own agenda.

Playing the God card is among the worst forms of spiritual abuse because it sends the message that everyone who doesn’t agree with you doesn’t know God.

The mere fact that your desired outcome happens does not mean that it is a “God moment.” And your claiming such may make you a blasphemer.

And God will not hold you guiltless, no matter how noble you think your cause is.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The NFL Does It Again

Only in the totally stupid world of the NFL can today’s game happen. The Texans score a touchdown after a guy was indisputably down. And the NFL totally blows it again.

By rule, all scoring plays are reviewed by the replay booth. This rule was established to get the biggest calls in the game correct.

By rule, certain plays are reviewable when the coaching staff decides to take one of their two flags and take a chance on being right on a missed call. This rule was established to give chances the coach to get bad calls corrected during the game.

But in the inane and stupid world of the NFL, these two cancel each other out. A play that should be reviewed and easily overturned by two rules established for the exact purpose of getting calls right turns out to be reviewable by none.

As a result, a touchdown stands and the Lions lose in OT.

In an even more bizarre twist, Mike Perreira (former head of the NFL officials) says in a tweet that if the ruling had benefited the Texans, it could have been reviewed.

And for some reason, the NFL continues to be the biggest sport in the country even with this bizarre turn of events.

Hopefully the NFL comes out and admits their error. In the real world, they should disallow the touchdown, and change the records of the Texans and the Lions to the results of the play on the field.

In a league not known for common sense and integrity, it is unlikely that will happen. We will likely see them double down on the stupidity.

Schwartz is known for not blaming the officials or the rules.

If he doesn’t do it this time, he is dead wrong.

He should throw an absolute fit both at the game officials and at the rules that allowed this to happen.

The Lions have underachieved this year to be sure.

But even the Lions deserve better than this.

The NFL has to get this right.

When you have a system designed to get the calls right, you shouldn’t be stupid enough to refuse to get them right.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Around the Horn

Al Mohler has a good piece here on believers vs. leaders.

Here’s a good set of interviews with Andy Stanley and Tim Keller connected to their recent books, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (Stanley) and Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Keller) . Some interesting perspectives here. And speaking of Andy Stanley, here’s an interesting article on the younger Stanley in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It covers a decent amount of ground for a short article and in it, Andy talks frankly about his split with his father over his father’s divorce. If you don’t like Andy, this article won’t help, and if you like to bash Andy, this will give you some material. But in any case, it’s an interesting small window into the man.

R. Scott Clark writes about a front porch conversation with a Roman Catholic who showed up at his house. It is interesting to see how he handled it.

And here’s a story so bizarre, you think it comes from The Onion. PETA sued a township for catching and releasing a live possum during its New Year Celebration. A federal judged ruled the city must stop.

“Hunters must afford wild animals the same right Patrick Henry yearned for,” Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. wrote in his order. “’Give me liberty, or give me death!’”

It appears this is an actual newspaper, not a satire site. And it appears this judge is a real judge, though I use the word “real” there loosely.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Theology with a Paintbrush in Hand

Not long ago, I  was laboring in the backyard with a paintbrush in hand going to work on a bookcase.

I am hoping the paint holds.

You see I was too lazy to do a little sanding. That means the previous coat may not take paint well and the coats I am putting on may not adhere well.

Time will tell.

Theology, like lazy paint jobs, typically doesn't do well if you don't have a good foundation of preparation. A lot of things look good on the surface. They preach well.

But  if you don't  do the initial work of theological preparation, textual analysis, and cultural reflection, your message will not stick. It may sound good on the surface, but it will fall short of actual preaching because it fails to proclaim truth to the hearer in their life context.

And when you fail at this task, you won't simply need to repaint a bookcase. You will be left trying to salvage the life of someone who was told to believe something that wasn't actually true.

This is why James says that not many should desire to be teachers because we will be be judged by a higher standard (James 3:1).

So dear pastor, don't forget to sand before you paint.

Some Early Election Returns

First, we need severe election reforms. Even the UN is amazed that we don’t have voter ID laws. I am quite sure there is enough voter fraud in this election to make up the difference between the candidates. I am just not sure which side it is on, though probably on both sides. But until Americans get serious about protecting the franchise, there will continue to be problems. Photo ID is an absolute must, as is preregistration, address verification, and voting in person.

Second, national elections need to be run nationally. With every state having different procedures, there is bound to be inequality. Consider even the day of voting. Congress has established it as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. And yet we have states in clear violation of that law through things like early voting and absentee voting. As Justice Scalia would say, if you want a different law, then write it and get it passed. But until such is done, it is hard for me to see how early voting is legal voting. It shouldn’t be. Having different standards for casting ballots (including all manner of provisional ballots) is nonsense. The US needs a single standard for national elections. So here’s my list:

  1. National ballots have only national issues on them. So in most cases, it is a presidential vote only. If states have other issues, have another ballot and another ballot box.
  2. Rather than one day of voting, have a three-to-five day voting period, including a weekend. This ensures that there is plenty of time to vote. Make  it thirty days if you want to staff it that long. No votes shall be cast past the time of the poll’s closing as set by law. People in line shall not vote.
  3. Each voter must show up in person at the polling place with a government issued photo ID with your current address that matches the voter roll. If you do not have one, then you do not vote. If you cannot afford to give up a pack of cigarettes every four years (about the cost of a photo ID if you don’t live in a state that gives them out for free), then you cannot vote. Period.
  4. If a citizen is out of the country, he or she can go to the nearest US Embassy or appointed polling station (such as a military base) up to 30 days prior to the election (to allow for more travel time). In addition, they can vote by online video (such as Skype) through their hometown’s election clerk so long as the clerk is accompanied by witnesses to verify the ID and to record the vote.
  5. There should be no absentee voting since it is impossible to know who actually cast the ballot. If you are invalid, you can vote by video, or by a personal visit from the city or county election clerk accompanied by witnesses to verify the ID and record the vote.
  6. There should be no electronic voting, because there is too much potential for error and fraud. Fill out a piece of paper, and drop it in the box of your choice. You should be able to see the counter go up by one (at least one and not more than one) when your slip goes in.

Third, I think it is time to do away with the electoral college. It served a purpose, but I am increasingly convinced it no longer does. I knew my vote didn’t matter because of where I live. If I lived fifty miles to the south, my vote would matter a great deal more. But in a national election, everyone’s vote should count the same. The President’s joke at the Alfred E. Smith dinner this year was on target: The election will be decided in places like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. Which leads me to ask, “What are we doing here?” (in New York).

Fourth, we  need people of character and integrity to run for office. We have learned again that ugly politics works. Both candidates engaged in blatant lies, personal attacks, misleading statements, and heavy-handedness. Why? Because it works. These are not men of integrity and character. They are pragmatists who will say anything and do anything to get what they want—elected. That probably won’t change. Everyone says they don’t like it, but no one is willing to give up the benefits it brings. That probably won’t change either.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

In Other Election News ...

The Weekly Standard reports that a Florida woman was prevented temporarily from voting because her shirt read “MIT".” Of course, MIT stands for Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The poll worker apparently thought it was a political shirt for Mitt Romney, who spells his name with two “t”s, not one.

In a bit of funny irony, the article concludes (and I am not making this up), “Fortuntaly the woman was ultimately allowed to vote.”

It’s Election Day!!!

Since it’s election day here in the US and so many people have been asking me for my predictions, … okay, well, actually no one has asked me, but it’s a day of politics and why not just make something up so I can fit in with the people on the ballot?

So what happens this election day?

My guess is that Romney wins, by a decent margin in the popular vote (probably 52-53% of the total)  and probably 280-310 electoral votes. I don’t think it is as close as some are saying. I could detail my reasoning here, but most of my readers wouldn’t follow the technical analysis, and besides, it would involve making something else up (since I don’t actually have any analysis, technical or not). Since I really want to limit making stuff up to once per post, and I have already used that once up, I will refrain from offering analysis, and just say, “Trust me on this one.”

If Romney doesn’t win, I think Obama will probably win. But I think it will be closer than if Romney wins. Obama, if he wins, will probably get less than 50% of the popular vote (probably 49-50%), but will win Ohio and Wisconsin which will put him over 270 but under 290. I am going to further predict that if Obama loses the popular vote and wins the electoral college, the Democratic calls for the abolishing of the electoral college such as happened in 2000 will probably be attributed to drunken orgies or something. They might even plausibly be attributed to the Republicans, since everything seems to be their fault.

My guess is that if Romney wins, there will be widespread accusations of voter fraud, something former Democratic chairman Howard Dean is already claiming.

If so, it will be a remarkable reversal since the Democrats have been consistently telling us that voter fraud is very rare, if it happens at all. In fact, there is no need to even worry about it, they tell us in the courts, as they fight against laws designed to protect against voter fraud.

But knowing Howard Dean as I do (he’s a politician which is all we need to know), he will have a perfectly straight face when he claims there is voter fraud and there is no voter fraud at the same time.

And then he will make some unintelligible yell at the end of it. “Arrrrgghhh!!!”

In related news, former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Obama asking if voters really want a president who will “knowingly, repeatedly tell you something that’s not true.” I would attempt to make a joke here, but it’s way too easy. I like challenges so I will skip this one.

And the answer is obviously yes, as evidenced by the fact that we keep on electing politicians.

So go vote (and don’t forget to post it on Facebook because we are all waiting to find out, you know).

And when Romney wins, remember, you heard it here first.

And when Obama wins, remember, I predicted it.

Just trust me on this one.

I have never been wrong on predicting a winner of the 2012 presidential race.

I don’t think this will be my first time.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Around the Horn

At first, Francis Chan is interviewed on his new venture after leaving his role as pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California. Chan is author of Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, a book that I enjoyed. However, this latest venture reveals an unanchored ecclesiology. He seems to have no real view of the church. For him, it’s all about mission. So you can be a part of another church, and come and be on mission with us on Sunday afternoons. He says, “So it’s a little confusing to me, honestly.” Well, it’s confusing to me as well. And not good. If modern Christianity needs anything, it is a solid ecclesiology from which to build mission.

At second, here is a fascinating interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia about his book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. He is my favorite justice, and he fascinates me once again. Of particular interest is his denial that he is a strict constructionist. He also disavows trying to determine intent as a interpretive guide for laws. He hits a bit of everything including the death penalty, Roe and abortion, the second amendment, stare decisis (come to find out it’s Latin for “water over the dam”), the confirmation process (he is in favor of it as it works now), and he even invokes Frodo.  It’s worth a listen.

At third, for all you baseball people (and those who just like a good fight), I was reminded of this classic between the Braves and the Padres. It was 25 years ago, but it is particularly noteworthy because the Braves’ pitcher who was the center of this brawl was found stabbed on November 1 in an apparent robbery in his home in the Dominican Republic. Perez was nicknamed “I-285” because he got lost on his way to Fulton County Stadium causing him to miss a start. Back in the 80s, I listened to the Braves almost every night on the radio. They were losers, and having good fights didn’t change that. But that’s why the 90s were so sweet for Braves’ fans. We who endured the 80s enjoyed the 14 straight post-season appearances, and a couple since that streak ended.

And crossing home plate today, for you political conspiracy theorists, here’s a dose of history to go along with your tin foil hat. Apparently, Republicans have won every November 6 election since 1860 when Abraham Lincoln won.