Ontology and Sacraments

I’ve been continuing to ponder things sacramental, which is always likely to get me into trouble.  I realised recently that I have been teaching the Orthodox view of ordination all wrong, mixing it in with the Catholic view. In this discovery, I realised that opposition to the ordination of women has a different basis on either side of the Great Schism. From this I realised that there are significantly differing views on the ontology of (at least some of) the sacraments.

No doubt there will be theologians, professional and amateur, most of who would never bother to visit this blog, who would say (if they were to visit it), “Well, duh.” Those would of course be Valley Girl theologians, but there would be other theologians who would have a similar, if less blonde, response, incredulous that I have not already explored this in some depth and embarrassed for me that I even feel the need to write about it and demonstrate my ignorance.

I already knew that Orthodoxy did not subscribe to the Catholic idea of the indelible priestly character. However, I hadn’t thought about the implication of this being that in Orthodoxy a woman may not be a priest, whereas in Catholicism a woman cannot be a priest.

I suppose this is why the idea of deaconesses is considered seriously in some Orthodox circles. If it were demonstated (as some attempt to do) that deaconesses were the female equivalent of deacons at some time in the ancient past, then the precedent has been established in Holy Tradition that could eventually lead to such an equivalency being re-introduced. It seems to follow from this that the only thing preventing women priests in Orthodoxy is that it has never been done that way. Admittedly, this is a pretty high wall when it comes to Orthodoxy.  It does however, remove the ontological impossiblity. (While I have been writing and editing this, there has been a related discussion on Deacon Steve Hayes’ Khanya blog.)

One thing I don’t get is how the Catholic Church only sees three of the sacraments as unrepeatable, viz., Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. I seems to me that Marriage should fit in this category as well. After all, Catholic theology does not recognise remarriage after divorce. Does this not make the sacrament of marriage unrepeatable? It also seems like there should be an indelible married character, that there is an ontological (as opposed to a merely economic) aspect to becoming one flesh.

I don’t know if Orthodoxy considered ordination, not being indelible, to be unrepeatable. Can a laicised Orthodox cleric be re-clericised? I’m sure there is a textbook answer to such a question.

Fewer Men in the Judiciary

The Times claims today that women “are finally breaking through the glass ceiling of senior judicial appointments.” A Telegraph headline asked last month, “Why are there so few women in the High Court?” Of course I’m going to ask the opposite question: why are women more successful in getting on the High Court?

There were 22 High Cout posts available in the latest round of appointments. Five of the successful candidates were women. That’s nearly 23% of the posts given to women. However, there were only eleven female applicants, so the success rate for women was 45%. There were 118 male applicants from whom were filled the remaining 17 posts, so the success rate for male applicants was 14%.

While the Government claims that all judicial posts are filled on merit, this would appear to be more discrimination based on gender. Just like they are intent on having a certain number of female MPs, but to a certain extent are dependent upon the electorate. The judiciary is different. They are appointed by the Lord Chancellor.

But don’t expect things to change when the Tories take power at the next election. David Cameron already has a policy of forcing more women on safe and key marginal parliamentary seats. I have no doubt his Lord Chancellor will follow the same affirmative action policy.

Palin the Pro-Choice Candidate

Sarah Palin is pro-choice.

With all the political rhetoric and ideological shorthand being thrown around some people may have missed this. She believes that women should have the right to choose representatives close to home who can decide law and public policy, not nine judges in Washington picked by the President. She supports their right to choose, even if they choose differently than she would, since she would like women voters to exercise their right by choosing representatives who will protect all innocent human life.

That’s because she believes that women temporarily housed and fed inside someone else’s body should have the opportunity to spend their lives making all sorts of choices, even though all of them will make good choices and bad choices, and will have to live with the consequences of their choices. She holds the view that they should have those opportunities even if their father was a really bad person. Some people actually think that one man’s choice – even though that choice led to creation of their daughter’s life – should take away her right to ever make one. Fortunately Sarah Palin doesn’t hold such an extreme view. She doesn’t think a child should be punished for their parent’s crime, and especially not with the death penalty.

For those men or women who will have limited choices in life because their genes have limited some of their abilities, Sarah wants to protect their right to choose as well.

Sarah Palin also realises that everyone has their choices limited by law. Everyone that endangers innocent human life uses their body. She’s not pro-choice when it comes to gang violence. She’s not pro-choice when it comes to armed robbery. She’s not pro-choice when it comes to drunk driving (even though her husband was once charged with it 22 year ago, before they were married).

Some women are saying they want the government to keep its hands off their wombs. It seems to me that Mrs Palin is perfectly happy to keep the government’s hands (or anyone else’s for that matter) off their wombs. It’s only when someone starts putting their hands on it that anything bad happens. Sarah definitely has a hands-off policy when it comes to wombs. That’s the only way to protect the unique human life inside it.

Without a judge-imposed law, both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden know that there will be more women in the United States to make more choices. That’s why Joe Biden, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has opposed the appointment of judges who would limit their own perogative to choose for the American people. He knows that as many as half of the 4,000 people each day in America who permanently lose their right to choose are women. He knows that many women voters in many states will want to protect the right of every human to choose and he want to continue to keep them from having that right.

That’s why I’m supporting Sarah Palin – the pro-choice candidate.

The Republicans Now Have the Hottest Ticket

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wasn’t expecting Sarah Palin to get the nod for the VP spot on the GOP ticket. The Democrats may have had the first woman to run for Vice President, but the Republicans have the hottest woman to ever be a VP nominee. Yep, we just won the photogenic stakes.

I think this actually matters. Let’s face it, Joe Biden – as nice a guy as he is, and yes, I cried during his son’s introduction at the Demo Convention – does not bring anything to the ticket. None one is going to vote for Obama because of Biden’s got more experience in foreign policy. The VP is not the President’s chief foreign policy advisor. That’s why he hires a Secretary of State. Then he’s got a Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, National Security Advisor, and a host of other hopefully really smart people.

No one is going to vote for Obama because he’s got an old guy on his ticket as well. No one is going to think, sure, Obama’s young, but there’s an older man who will go from being one of the most powerful men in the Senate to being the tie-breaking vote, in case there ends up being a 50-50 party split.

On the other hand, people will vote for McCain because he has a younger pretty woman on the ticket. She will attract Hillary supporters who wanted their woman on the Demo ticket. It’s the politics of gender. There are those for whom having a woman on the ticket is as important as it is for others to have a black man. And youth balances out McCain’s years in a way that age does not work for Obama. When people are looking for heroes they want Batman and Robin (or Batgirl, in this case), not Batman and Alfred. It doesn’t look good for the side-kick to appear more qualified that the principle.

But Sarah Palin doesn’t just bring women on board. The irony is that not only will she attract Hillary supporters, she will also attract some of the most virulent Hillary haters. She is rock solid conservative. She’s a member of the Assemblies of God. She is a poster-mother for the pro-life movement.  She is the answer to everything Republican voters questioned about John McCain’s conservatism.

And she is a lot better looking than Hillary. She doesn’t look strident. She doesn’t look aggressive. She’s feminine and unlike Hillary, she doesn’t have to work hard to look that way.

Oh, and she has held elective office for longer than Hillary. After all, Hillary claimed to be the candidate with experience. And she could claim this, having served in the Senate four years longer than Obama. Of course, Obama had those eight years in the Illinois Senate and Clinton had never held any other elected office. But I digress. . . Palin has held elective office since 1992 – five years before Obama – though she was out of office between 2002 and 2006. However, during 2003-04, she was Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Unique amongst all the names on the two major tickets, she is the only one to have held office in the executive branch of government.

As a brief aside, I should mention that despite the whim of a group of editors on Wikipedia, the First Lady is never “in office“. Despite her delusions of grandeur, or her ability to henpeck her husband, she is never a member of the executive branch of goverment.

Last night, I thought Tom Pawlenty was both the best and most likely choice. I’m glad I was wrong. Palin has all the advantages of Pawlenty and more. Put another way, she is Mike Huckabee without any of the baggage acquired during the primary season. Sarah Palin makes me want to come back to the States and start canvassing voters.

Feeling Harrassed, Love?

Acts of Parliament are nice and all, but hardly necessary most of the time. There is a reason that the system of government in this country is called an elective dictatorship. Women and Equalities Minister Harriet Harman has once again demonstrated how this works.

Using a statutory instrument, which is basically ministerial fiat, she has decided that rules about sexual harrassment are going to change. Employers will now be held responsible for the acts of customers. I say “acts,” but the amount of action required to support a demand for compensation is quite minimal.

Calling a barmaid or a shop assistant “love”, “darling”, or even “young lady” will be enough. Since this is common parlance for a large segment of society, it will not take long for it to happen three times. That’s the minium for making a claim. Not three times from the same customer, or three times in the same day – just three times total.

It is anticipated that large notices warning customers will be posted everywhere on business premises. However, given that pubs, as well as restaurants and other leisure environments where alcohol is served, deal with a significant number of customers whose inhibitions have been reduced, it may be difficult for them to restrain themselves from such sexual harrasment, not to mention more egregious violations, such as asking a female staff member on a date.

Any claim made will be assumed to be proved. The burden of proof will be on employers to prove that they were not at fault. And remember, what is or is not harrassment is entirely up to the subjective feelings of the person claiming to have been offended. The employer doesn’t even need to have had prior notice that the employee would find a particular familiarity by a customer to be offensive.

This will all be enforced by tribunals run by the Government’s Commission for Equality and Human Rights. More bureaucrats.

The Cost of Coffee in Saudi Arabia

An American businesswoman is fearing for her life after she was arrested for having a coffee with a male workmate in a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia.

Yara, a 37-year-old mother-of-three, said she was strip searched and forced to sign false confessions while in custody. A judge then told her she would “burn in hell” before she was released on Feb 4.

I don’t like to meta-blog, but I’m a bit short on time, due to marking exams. However, the full story is worth a read.

Dangerous Reforms

The Saudis are planning to give women the right to drive cars. Is this really a good idea?

Clearly they missed the recent news that women (and gay men) are the worst drivers. I mean, I’m all for women having equal rights with men, but clearly when there is an issue of public safety perhaps there needs to be a little more care taken in all of this liberalism sweeping the Arabian peninsula.

Then there’s the moral implications: “Allowing women to drive will only bring sin,” a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. “The evils it would bring – mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women – outweigh the benefits.”