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Supreme Etiquette

In the view of CNN via the LA Times, it is problematic for the Catholic Church to denounce abortion at the "Red Mass"--a Catholic Mass on the Sunday before the Supreme Court's opening of its session, tomorrow.  A tradition since 1952, the Mass has attracted both Catholic and non-Catholic Justices, and an audience of several hundred from the local legal and political community. 

But recently "Critics have called the attendance of leading decision-makers, including members of the highest court in the land, inappropriate"--for its "unhealthy mix of politics, religion and the law."  Indeed, Justice Ginsburg stopped attended because of the tone of the remarks in recent years:  "I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion."  As a sign of atonement, perhaps next year a priest should give a homily on foreign sources of American constitutional law.

In keeping with this criticism, I propose that the Catholic Church should henceforth base homilies and readings on Hobbes' Leviathan.  The President and the Democratic Congress should ratchet up their treatment of the Court from the last State of the Union address, in order to help exorcise any demons inflicted on the five attendees (and Vice President Biden).

Categories > Courts

Discussions - 8 Comments

Is it really outrageous to have press for an anti-abortion ethos? I am outraged that someone saying, "you should not kill the innocent," is outrageous? I must be out of step the modern ethos if it does include that kind of idea. Once upon a time, even Jews and humanists said that abortion was a sad matter, regrettable, but necessary. Now to be regretful and opposed is an outrage. We must rejoice in abortion. That 10:10 commercial makes sense in this light. Killing off the undesirables, inconvenient, those off the agenda, that is right if we are "right-thinking" -- what is that called nowadays? Liberalism? What has that got to do with liberty?

Is this the ethos of the scientific and sensible?

I am stunned to read that respect for innocent life is not a universal theme. What is more universal and therefore more appropriate in a church? Oh, what a world we live in.

"outrageous to press for" or "outrageous to have" -- maybe I wished to say both.

--Why would Ruth Bader Ginsburg be attending Mass except a wedding or funeral?

--Given that the Mass is a one-off, why would one be surprised that the homily did not take the weekly lectionary as its point of departure?

--Why would one expect the homily not to concern a moral question?

--Given the audience, why would one expect the homily to concern a moral issue other than one made salient by the officious and fraudulent acts of the judiciary?

--Why can we not expect our septuagenarian judges to be something other than peurile and graceless?

I don't care about Ginsburg attending Mass. Who would? It is her public criticism that is like sand in the teeth. The implication of what she said, publicly, about the Mass was that making abortion a moral issue was outrageous. That outrages me. That a septuagenarian judge is morally tone-death, that is appalling. We expect such moral foolishness from the young, but not from the old.

Aristotle's Ethics, Book I, chapter 3: "Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a good judge. And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an all-round education is a good judge in general. Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. AND IT MAKES NOT DIFERENCE WHETHER HE IS YOUNG IN YEARS OR YOUTHFUL IN CHARACTER; THE DEFECT DOES NOT DEPEND ON TIME, BUT ON HIS LIVING, AND PURSUING, EACH SUCCESSIVE OBJECT, AS PASSION DIRECTS... For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit."


I don't know what you think the takeaway from that particular passage of the Ethics is, but could it not be said that Aristotle incites the indignation of the "young/youthful in character" by claiming them unfit for the study of politics? If they are to take him seriously, this means they must see their indignation for what it is, and thereby undergo a critical step in the philosophic conversion?

The passage is, in other words, an exhortation to the young -- an invitation, a suggestion -- and, rather than seriously discouraging their study of politics, is aimed precisely at the opposite. Politics is typified by "pursuing each successive object as passion directs," and its most ardent participants are thumotic (I guess we would say they are "partisan," or something silly). Hence, the thumotic do not take to Aristotle's words kindly.

"We expect such moral foolishness from the young, but not from the old." This closing comment of Kate was the cause of my quoting Aristotle on the passion of youth and the passion of the not-so-youthful. I think you are right in suggesting that Aristotle is inviting the young to study politics with the admonition to subdue their passion, a good habit to form as soon as possible.

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