The Court of Star Chamber

Who do we hear from that the ‘infamous’ Court of Star Chamber was bad news?  According to Wikipedia, we might hear it from lower English courts, the powerful who could escape the judgment of lower courts (perhaps because they were on their own manor!), or who could get off on a technicality(!), libellors (sp?) and traitors and conspirators and rebels (ie, usually those who put themselves above the Common Good and loyalty and honor), the landed gentry, (big) landowners in Wales, of course its convicts and their partisans, Sectarian Protestants including Puritans (who of course later themselves tried “witches” and mutilated “blasphemers” and “adulterers/esses”!), early news media(!)….  Later on, Classical Liberals and modernists, American Revolutionaries and (small-R) republicans, Whig historians – ie, the dominant kind – on both sides of the Pond….

Of course, I don’t defend abuse of power, and the justice system has “come a long way, baby.”  But we tend to forget – or not know – four things:

  1. Constitutionally in Commonwealth Realms the Monarch is the Fount of Justice, a role they traditionally took very seriously and personally, especially regarding the depredations of their rivals for power, the nobility and the ‘politicians’ of the era, against us lower sorts and the Common Good.  In fact some say before Anglo-Saxon kings were rulers per se, they were supreme judges, and even early-on in the Middle Ages spent more time hearing cases than any other duty.  Now they delegate most of that responsibility to trained, (ideally) impartial judges, and juries when applicable.  But for a monarch to be that involved in justice – for good or for ill – was not unusual in that day and age.  (For that matter, Monarchs were still considered able to even make law by themselves, without running it through the Houses of Parliament!  Technically they still may, but normally wouldn’t risk it!!)
  2. The judges of Star Chamber were Privy Counsellors.  To this day the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council functions as a supreme court for the UK, and the supreme court for several other Commonwealth countries and territories, ie, The Queen in Council.  Not so weird there either.
  3. There was little if any sense of “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” before the Stuart Restoration and religious toleration (of Protestants) – late 1600s, post-Star Chamber.  Before that, active opposition to the Monarch in any way at all was considered disloyal, a sentiment sadly we’re not unfamiliar with in the States still today!  A king would’ve been seen as weak, and possibly taken further advantage of – even to the detriment of the Common Good and public order – if he didn’t prosecute those who undermined his policy.  Today Commonwealth democracy relies on Loyal Opposition to help it work right, so it’s easy to forget … and a lesson extreme partisans of the Chief Executive of the day in “presidential republics” would do well to learn.  (What does religion have to do with it?  After a century of tumult between “No bishop, no King,” and Puritan dictatorship, England was ready for the idea that people could disagree in good conscience without betraying the Realm.  Mostly-nonviolent, conscientious Quakers, a dissident sect who differed with, but got along with, both Cromwell and Charles II, had something to do with it.)
  4. A main purpose for Star Chamber was equity, justice when ‘the letter of the law’ failed to render justice.  Today most courts in England and America have been mandated to judge according to equity if necessary.

Just some things to think about….

Ontario Elections: Funding “Christian” private schools?

That’s one proposal of the province’s Progressive Conservative Party.  I’m not there, and don’t have time to research the matter more fully, but here’s the PCs’ page on it, here’s the Liberals’, and here’s another groups’, pro-funding.  The Liberals seem to fear diverting funding from currently-funded schools with less demand, such as in rural areas or Francophone communities.

First of all, I take exception to the proponents differentiating “Catholic” and “Christian/faith-based”: Catholics consider themselves Christian and faith-based, even if conservative Protestants don’t, so that’s a bad sign right there.  And this cursory examination leads me to believe we’re mostly talking about conservative Protestants, not primarily Jewish or Muslim schools like they’re making it out to be: could this be a “Tory” sop to their new Reform / Alliance constituency?  I don’t know about Catholic schools in Canada, but as a child I got *my* anti-Protestantism outside of parochial school; what are Ontario “faith-based” schools teaching their students about Catholicism, I wonder?  I can only guess….

Second and not unrelated, they forget that where there’s a Catholic school system, the non-Catholic school system in a Protestant-majority province is already Protestant, at least traditionally, though probably a bit more diverse today than in former generations in Old “Orange” Ontario.  Just like in Northern Ireland.  In both places minority Catholics didn’t want Protestantism pushed on their kids.  So is this an intra-Protestant struggle after all’s said and done?

Thirdly, concern about Muslim education in this volatile time is not necessarily misplaced, especially with Saudi Arabia exporting Wahabbism to North America.  And what do Jewish schools teach about Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians (of all sects), etc.?  I honestly don’t know: maybe they’re OK, especially in Canada, especially in Ontario.

All that said, I prefer another approach for here in the States: let’s fund ALL education – child-care, pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary, graduate, religious, not-explicitly-religious, secular, atheist, liberal, technical, vocational – except that promoting (or teachers or sponsoring organizations / sects / clergy promoting) racism, bigotry, violence, intolerance, misogyny, bullying, and (violent) revolution or war against the United States or its treatied allies, and possibly, explicit parish / congregational ministry training (eg, priests / pastors / rabbis / imams as such, preachers for whom that is their only job or training, unlicensed religious counselors, missionaries / proselytizers, youth ministers, etc.).  Let’s hold that this doesn’t constitute “an establishment of religion.”

Does this approach help the Ontario discussion any?

What will happen in a Little Ice Age?

If Global Warming shuts down the Gulf Stream – not currently expected this century, but very possibly in the 22nd – will we have mile-high glaciers as far south as the Mid-Atlantic United States, the Upper Midwest, etc.?  Ocean waves freezing in mid-surge in New York Harbor?

I’m no scientist, but from what I’m reading, they’re talking in terms of a “Little Ice Age,” maybe not even this bad, but similar to just one “year without a summer,” and apparently ‘only’ restricted to Western Europe – though I have to think Eastern North America as well, since the Gulf Stream influences weather there also.

IOW, perhaps liveable climatically, but damned unpleasant even for the hardiest hockey fan!

But combine reduced agricultural output there with that coming from Peak Oil and the end of petro-fertilizer, and that could be more than unpleasant!

Lieberman Declaration of War against Iran?!!

See here, and take action against it!

Oppose GOP cheating in California

Republicans want to divvy-up Calif.’s Electoral Votes by Congressional District, instead of most states’ winner-take-all format.  If it’s such a good idea, don’t unbalance the playing field, do it nationwide!  Democrats oppose this because Calif. has (wisely) voted Democratic for President the last 4 times.

Even if you favor their proposal just for Calif., oppose it because Initiative-and-Referendum violates the Republican(!) Form of Government clause, Article IV Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution.  If Calif.’s elected state lawmakers thought it was such a good idea, surely they’d adopt it legislatively!  And if it was important enough to normal, mainstream Californians, they’d elect state lawmakers on the basis of this issue!  But I&R in Calif. (and elsewhere) usually promotes marginal causes – some good, most BAD by anybody’s measure – or is used unjustly by the (Republican) Party to drum-up turnout for other elections on the ballot: “red meat” syndrome.

Go here to register your opposition.

Global Warming denier-scientist preparing for 3 foot sea rise

Fight Global Warming, Peak Oil, and Obesity: Eat less!

(Those of us who are able, that is.)

Drink less non-human animal milk, too.  (Unless you need what’s in it, like calcium, and can’t find it anywhere else.)

See, factory farming on land – cows, pigs, chickens, etc. – may be America’s Number One source of Greenhouse Gases.  Factory farming in water – many seafoods – is a very bad scene for other reasons: diseases, unhygienic, pollution, etc.  But demand for flesh-foods of all kinds is going through the roof, with big parts of the Third World (China, India, etc.) now ‘coming online’ in that regard.  And many natural fisheries are already in danger of being ‘fished out.’  Hence, we need to eat less of all flesh foods.

But substituting plant foods is problematic because the recent “Green Revolution” was mainly wrought by petro-fertilizers, and they’re going the way of the dinosaurs, so more plants is not an option.  And I think letting GMOs out into the planetary gene pool – eg, to increase crop yields or selected nutrients that way – is way too big a threat without knowing the long-term and even very-long-term consequences; we’ve only got one planet folks!  (For now.)*  And increasing arable land by burning forest adds carbon dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases to the atmosphere, and takes away trees that help remove these gases from the atmosphere.

Hence, eat less of everything if we can.

Obviously people with eating disorders who don’t eat enough, or with malnutrition or simply true hunger (vs. psychologically-induced pseudo-hunger) or certain health problems, or perhaps who are elderly and/or frail, etc., shouldn’t worry about this.  But the rest of us, especially the 2/3 of Americans who are overweight (Canadians and Brits are up there too), could use this for extra motivation, if overeating is a problem.

Also, let’s not stop partying, people!  But is every meal a party? every supper?  Not where I come from!!!

And let’s not cold-turkey it and drive ourselves crazy and set ourselves up for failure.  Perhaps a good program to start with/build up to (in the beginning) is the Orthodox Church’s “fasting” schedule.  (That’s “abstaining,” for you Catholics and High Church Protestants.)  Most Wednesdays and Fridays of the year, the 40 days before Christmas, the 40 days before Holy Week, Holy Week itself, the period between Pentecost and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), the first half of August, and a few other “fast” days throughout the year.  (Old Calendar or New Calendar.)  Before I became Orthodox, but was considering it, I was told I shouldn’t try to fast; spiritually it wasn’t a good idea.  But I see no reason why people not currently considering Orthodoxy couldn’t adopt some or all of its fasting practices as a simple eating program.  Like I’ve said, Orthodox “ascesis” may turn out to be a great idea for the whole human race and the earth!  Fortunately or unfortunately, the decentralized structure of the Orthodox Church means there is not in every sense a uniform practice of fasting.  I could point you to websites that might seem to conflict, or in going overboard in describing the strictest forms of the fast may discourage and demoralize.  What you might want to do is consult an Orthodox parish near you; I’m sure they’d be glad to help!

(*–An experimental community should move to a bubble-enclosed island and mess around with GMOs for a few centuries to make sure they’re safe.  I mean it.  Otherwise, we could f— ourselves for good!)