Monday, December 19, 2005 Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe

See my archieved radio discusion of Narnia at

Narnia Movie


On December 9th, I had the happy experience of seeing the new movie, The Chronicles of Narnia. The film is a good film and I recommend that everyone except very small children see the movie. I also hope that seeing the movie leads people to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and all of the seven Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. The book is better than the film, but the film is very good.

The special effects in the movie are phenomenal. There are a variety of computer-generated creatures and animals that look almost completely real. The computer-generated battle scenes are amazing and the locations used for filming in New Zealand and Czechoslovakia are both beautiful and appropriate.

The acting done by the little girl playing Lucy was quite extraordinary. The movie successfully captured Aslan’s willing sacrifice to save the child, Edmond, and all of Narnia from the white witch. Of course, Aslan in this fictional story is the same as Jesus, the second person of the Trinity. The movie depicts what it would be like to have a land in which the rational creatures are animals and mythical beasts rather than human beings, and in which Christ assumes the form of a great lion in order to live, die and be raised from the dead for that world and its inhabitants. In spite of a few minor flaws in the dialogue, the movie captures that basic premise and communicates it successfully.

One of the remarkable things about C.S. Lewis’ works is his ability to capture the personality and character of God. Lewis seemed to really understand God’s nature and what it would be like experienced in different circumstances. Lewis understands that the second person of the Trinity was not a loopy Eastern mystic pacifist. Instead, he was God Himself in human flesh. His power is awesome but under total control. Christ emptied himself and humbled himself and allowed himself to be killed. So too does Aslan, the mighty lion. In Narnia, events follow a different course than they did in Jerusalem, but the personality of God himself is well depicted in Aslan as it is truly revealed in scripture.

All that said, I would have to say that the movie was not perfect. When the film attempts to explain the “deep magic” which is mentioned in C.S. Lewis’ original classic, it falls down by failing to use the phrases from the original book and substituting phrases which are inaccurate. The “deep magic” mentioned in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is similar to natural law, the order of creation and the sovereign decrees of God from the foundation of the world. It essentially flows from the nature of God himself and is thereby the set of ground rules by which God will function and to which everything else in creation must in some way conform or bow. The evil white witch who governs Narnia knows that this “deep magic” requires that traitors are her rightful property. But she is ignorant of the deeper magic flowing from the nature and ordinances of God himself that also provides for redemption from the dreadful curse of law that turns traitors over to the witch. This “deep magic” flows from God and therefore from Aslan as Aslan rightly says in a movie “I was there when it was written.” But in the film they imply in the dialogue that Aslan is given that this “deep magic” controls his “destiny” and that the “deep magic” is a matter of interpretation rather than something that is clearly known if one is willing to understand God and his ways. Both of these remarks are contrary to the original story, even though I don’t think that they justify any decision not to see the movie.

The Chronicles of Narnia are also somewhat controversial because Lewis uses the word “magic.” But this magic is simply the supernatural and the metaphysical, the order behind the universe. While there are magical items in the story, such as arrows that find their mark—this magic is wholesome “magic” that is based upon obedience to God’s law and order. By contrast, the magic of the white witch, which is closer to the classical occult, is completely condemned. Even though there is magic in The Chronicles of Narnia, in a sense it is not the sort of magic that will lead your children to play in the backyard with brooms, black hats or spells in Latin. It is not the kind of reference to magic that is likely to lead children into the occult or into an illegitimate search for supernatural power through the forms of occultism specifically forbidden by the Bible. Instead, other than that of the white witch and evil magic, Lewis’ magic is another way of talking about the supernatural, the wondrous, the miraculous, the delightful and the technological.

Two other criticisms I have of the film are that it weakened the metaphor of the Turkish delight and weakened Aslan himself. In the book, Turkish delight is a metaphor for sin and the way sin causes us to desire it more and more and more while at the same time giving us less and less of a return in pleasure. The same idea was depicted in a different way through the curse in the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The movie also weakened Aslan visa vie the book. Yet I understand that it is very difficult to communicate through images the sort of thing that can be directly described in words. In the book we can hear how people feel and react to Aslan. In the film it is necessary to create an image which may give us the same feelings. I’m afraid the image of Aslan in the movie was wonderful, but did not give me the feelings of simultaneous fear, awe and love present in the description in the book. All that said though, I still loved the movie. The scene where the mice free Aslan still made me cry just like it does when I read the book.

One last criticism of the movie was that the children are much less adventurous than the children in C.S. Lewis’ books. In the movie, they’re constantly wondering whether or not they should go back to England, indicating that it is far too dangerous to be in Narnia. I don’t recall that kind of questioning in the original book. I suppose though that the authors wanted to make these children more like modern children than our more adventurous ancestors.

Overall, I recommend going to see The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe early and often.

Here Come the Brides

This Weekly Standard article shows how polyamory is a real possibility. While the current Supreme Court probably will not mandate polyamory, a future court, acting consistently with precedent, could do so. In fact, the view of law students are given in many law schools will eventually require polyamory if people act consistently with their beliefs - mainly a belief in the separation of law and morality, or in the nonexistence of objective morality.

Trinity Law school is committed to the idea that law and objective morality are meant to work together. Just because someone feels like doing something does not mean it is healthy or should be legal. While law cannot ban all vice or require all virtue we should think long and hard before we unleash the social consequences of polyamory.

Friday, December 16, 2005

World Magazine AP News - Senators Feigold and Craig filibuster Patriot Act, cloture Fails

This is sad on two levels. Senate business and practical effects.
First, the house and Senate committees have been working overtime all autumn to produce a revised Patriot Act acceptable to everyone. The Patriot Act work has prevented work on other important issues like and amendment to stop judicially mandated gay marriage or legislation on bioethics issues. But now, after all the work had been done, the senator's turn it all into a waste by blocking the final product. Why couldn't they make their opposition clear up front and save the resources of the House and Senate?
Second, this result may get people killed. While the patriot Act may eventually need to be repealed, it is still of critical importance. There are still many terrorists trying to find spectacular ways to kill large numbers of Americans. The limited measures in the Patriot Act are not unreasonable under current circumstances.
The two controversial parts of the act are roving wire taps and secret document production warrants. Roving wire taps are simply bringing wiretapping into the 21st century. No one should be able to defeat a court ordered wire tap with probable cause simply by switching phones. As for the secret warrants for business record or document production two things should be noted: a judge is involved in the process, so there is a safeguard. Second, the records sought are not going to be explorations of ideology, they are going to be items that may help identify the targets of identified terrorists. If you know a man is looking for something to blow up wouldn't you want to know if he had been checking out books on a particular stadium or theme park? And if the warrant were not secret, the bird would obviously fly or go dormant, defeating the investigation and saving him for later works of evil. No, while I would not want a left wing government checking me out as a possible conservative "enemy" by listening to my phones or viewing my records, I do not think that concern outweighs the current concern over terrorism, nor do I think the Patriot act will lead to such political uses. During war American Presidents have suspended Habeas in the past. This President just wants a few reasonable investigatory tools. I think it this sad the filibustering Senators put politics ahead of saving lives.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

World Magazine AP News - Williams Execution

Last night the state executed major gang founder Stanley Williams. Williams went to his death not admitting his guilt and seeking a reprieve.

A great contrast is seen in many of the executions in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. In their final statements people often confessed their crimes and sins, testified to their hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and warned young people to learn from their example and avoid a life of crime - specifically because it lead to death by execution.

sadly, that sort of end is very rare today. And when one occurs the news media would undoubtedly debunk it. Our system of last minute appeals actually encourages people not to admit their wrongdoing. But I do not see how we could improve the system without taking away the opportunity to save someone genuinely found to be innocent at the last minute.

I hope Mr. Williams came to believe the gospel. I also hope his death will discourage those tempted to follow in his footsteps. A few children's books cannot save you from the consequences of a life of crime. But being a good example is a more noble way to enter into the hereafter.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Air Force Policy?

The News e-mail from Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian public interest group that works largely on first amendment issues in a variety of ways discussed this new case in which they are intervening:

"ADF Represents Chaplain and F-16 Fighter Pilot Seeking to Intervene on Behalf of Religious Freedom in the U.S. Air Force"
Many of you may have read in recent weeks about the latest legal efforts by the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and others to censor the Gospel among members of the United States Air Force (USAF).

These opponents of liberty have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to silence religious speech and to reverse a history of religious freedom dating back to George Washington's formation of American military forces in 1776 and in the Air Force by implementing the following proposed policy: "No member of the USAF, including a chaplain, is permitted to evangelize, proselytize, or in any related way attempt to involuntarily convert, pressure, exhort, or persuade a fellow member of the USAF to accept their own religious beliefs while on duty."

It is interesting that even the United Nations has understood that the right to proselytize is a fundamental liberty. Article 2 of the universal declaration on human rights provides that all people are entitled to their rights and freedoms without regard to status or jurisdiction. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Article 19 supports this saying: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."

If the courts of America prefer elite opinion to the words of our own constitution they should at least heed the Universal Declaration's even more specific recognition of the right to proselytize and to be proselytized. Sadly, what many want is not religious freedom, but a ban on procilizationzation so they can feel safe from hearing any ideas that conflict with their own. So much for supposed diversity and open mindedness.

I am glad that we have institutions like ADF fighting for freedom to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others, as is our right from God, recognized by our constitutiontution and even the UN. I am also glad that I can work here at Trinity Law School to train attorneys who will understand and support religious freedom - including the freedom of soldiers to share the most important truths, and chaplains to do their job while on duty.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Silent Bias

The Silent Bias

Here is a good article on how pro-cloning interests are trying to repackage the debate to avoid the truth that "therapeutic" cloning involves breeding and killing human beings.

New Questions on a Breakthrough in Human Stem Cell Research - New York Times

Here we have a description of typical adult stem cell cloning research. Let me explain it in ordinary non-scientific language. An adult cell is taken from a patient. The DNA of the cell is used to begat multiple "identical" twins with very similar DNA to the patient. These twins are then killed in order to extract some of their cells. Those extracted cells are then used for a therapy for the patient.

Once we describe what is going on in everyday language another ethical dilemma, unnoticed by the scientific community, becomes more evident. This "therapy" involves killing human beings in order to use their parts to help another human being. True, the humans being killed are very young, and were bred to be used for this purpose. But people made similar arguments in favor of slavery. Any time we try to ignore basic human dignity of some human beings we are on moral thin ice.

It is time for basic moral truths to be re-admitted into the realm of law and public policy. Truths like the fact that we are not justified in ignoring the humanity of some human beings just because killing them is useful. Human cloning for extermination and cloning for reproduction should both be illegal. The first is homicide and the second is child abuse. When will our law makers and courts catch on to this? If they wait too long recognizing the truth will only be more painful. There will be a new class, not unlike the southern slave owners of the 1800's, who have a vested interest in the status quo. Let's learn from history and ban immoral uses of technology before they become extensive industries.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Alito Assures Specter on Abortion View

Why does he keep saying that about personal views?

Supreme Court nominee Alito, when confronted with evidence of his views on issues like abortion keeps saying that personal views are not a part of what judges should do. Why is that his response and what does it mean?

Let me give you a simple version of the explanation. For over seven hundred years Anglo-American courts believed their job was to discover the pre-existing law, and apply it to individual cases before the court. In the 1800's some influential writers suggested that the courts actually made law rather than discovering and applying it. In the 1900's the idea that courts made law became common among law professors. Today there are actually judges who believe, or act as though they believe, that it is their job to make up the law as they go. They do pay some respect to statutes and precedents, but only when it fits into their own views or is necessary to maintain a veneer of legitimacy. The same judges seem to be guided in making law, not by timeless moral principles, but by the popular fads of thought in the cultural elites they either belong to or hope to belong to.

Thankfully not all judges are like that. Many still try to discover and apply the law as best they can. Judge Alito's remarks are undoubtedly meant to assure us that he belongs to the set of judges who believe their job is to follow the law, not make it. But that still leaves a large and important question unanswered. What does judge Alito consider the law to be? How does he define it? How does he find it? What does he do in the absence of a controlling precedent or statute? Where does he find "rights" to be recognized by the courts? Are some rights unalienable? Which rights are permanent and which can be removed or set aside? What is the hierarchy of rights when they conflict? Has the Supreme court created rights that are not real rights or that violate other rights higher in a hierarchy of rights?

These are the sorts of questions the Senate should ask nominees. I future posts we will discuss possible answers to such questions. Not following personal views is a good start for a judge. But what should he follow? How can he find "the law?" That is what we must know.

Thursday, December 01, 2005 Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe

What should the President look for in his next Supreme Court appointment? It is rumored Justice Stevens may resign next year. Read my article on the problem of choosing a judge with the right judicial philosophy at the link above to

BBC NEWS | Africa | South Africa to have gay weddings

Comming soon to your state?

This story on the courts of South Africa mandating same sex marriage is another evidence of the need for a constitutional amendment in the United States to protect marriage. The way law schools all over the world train future judges and future attorneys to approach the law makes judicially required homosexual marriage a high probability. It can be postponed through state legislation. But it will not be stopped unless we both amend the federal constitution and change the fundamental approach to legal education.

Over time the idea of objective moral truth that comes from God has been separated from the realm of human law. Somehow, we need to reassert, as a culture, that the only legitimate human law is that which is within the unchanging moral law of God. And we need to be honest about what that moral law approves and does not approve. God's law gives us great freedom to make different human laws. But there are certain boundaries that should be observed. Requiring the state to approve of and teach a practice forbidden by God transgresses the boundaries set for human laws by the laws of God. So no human laws to that effect should be enacted or articulated by courts or legislatures. It is also true that courts should not be making law at all. But we will save that story for as different day.