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Table of Contents

Philosophers Respect Brevity, Accuracy, and Completeness of Thought when they Write
Islam’s Ability to Prosper in Various Political, Cultural, and Religious Environments is Remarkable
Trump’s “Wall Idea” Needs to be Tailored and “Tweaked"
Is St. Gregory of Narek a Catholic Saint?
Who is Jesus Christ?
An Open Letter to the Missouri Legislature regarding a new Approach to Dispute Resolution

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Philosophers Respect Brevity, Accuracy, and Completeness of Thought when they Write

Philosophy is a much derided discipline in today’s universities. After all students say “what kind of job can you get with a degree in philosophy?”.

True enough, but philosophy teaches one to look into the whole of a thing - be it a situation, a discipline, a culture, etc. That is why there are disciplines like the Philosophy of Medicine, or Law, or Science, or the Good Life, or being, or religion, ethics, or logic, etc. Philosophy requires that one step back and consider all facets of a thing, to consider what propositions about the thing are true and what is logically inconsistent and therefore to be discarded. Philosophers ask questions like “is it true?”, “is it fair to all concerned?”, “Does it promote the common good?”, “Is it consistent with human nature?”

In short, philosophers seek the essence, the foundation, the ultimate truth. Philosophers have found that if you really know a thing, its essence can usually be expressed in relatively few words. They have also found that the tools of philosophy (logic, truth, ethics, etc.) if used throughout life will allow normal people to have a more complete and fuller life.

So while it is true that courses in philosophy might not translate into larger paychecks, those courses will allow the student to assess various situations and arguments they encounter with greater insight.

What follows are links to three essays done by Jude Dougherty, the retired Dean of the Philosophy Dept. at Catholic University, - one on the nature of Islam, - one on modern day liberals, - and one on how well formed Catholics tend to view things.

These three essays are not to be read so much for their facts and conclusions as for the density and integration of the thought process displayed. Notice the repeated references to well established authorities for support of the arguments presented. Notice to how one strand of thought will support another as elements of truth build to a conclusion(s).

One can see elements of this kind of thought in the articles of a person like Pat Buchanan. But in these three essays by Prof. Dougherty the philosopher’s mind is perhaps more fully on display.

It should also be noted that persons trained in philosophy tend to avoid ad hominem attacks and eschew the use of emotionally charged words. Philosophers wish to expose people to a coherent line of thought primarily in the hope of getter their readers (or hearers) to approach all situations in the same systematic way. In short, philosophers sincerely hope each person lives - a well considered life. .......... .... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 1/28/17)

Islam’s Ability to Prosper in Various Political, Cultural, and Religious Environments is Remarkable -

Over its 1500 year history, Islam has demonstrated considerable ability to adjust its “look” and its actions to fit the situations it encounters in its quest to bring the world to “peace through submission to Islam”.

Since Islam is both a political system and a religion, it will present itself differently depending upon the situation it encounters.

This flexibility manifests itself in several ways.

At times Islam has been militarily aggressive and followed military success with very mild discrimination(s) in the religious realm. Then recruitment of new adherents comes over many years as the mild discrimination causes people to give up their old beliefs and accept Islam as their new religion. This happened in Coptic Egypt from around 640 AD to today. When Muslim armies overran Egypt in 641 the nation was 80 to 90 percent Christian. Today Egypt is about 10% Christian.

At times Islam has advanced through the steady migration of Muslims into new regions where this migrant flow is augmented by 1) high Muslim birth rates and 2) recruitment of new adherents. This approach has been seen in France for the last 100 years as Muslims from North Africa have come to France. Today in certain Paris suburbs only Sharia Law has any force and effect. Muslims now represent more than 10% of the French population.

At times, Islam has suffered military reversals and lost its political control in a region while retaining a large number of its religious adherents. In these situations, Islam has adapted to and accepted key cultural aspects of the conquerors until Islamic women intrigued their way into marriage with the leaders of the conquering forces and then over time converted them to Islam. This approach was used on the Mongols who conquered Bagdad in the thirteen century. The Mongol leaders were all Muslims within a century.

This flexibility is seen even in the early behavior of the Prophet Mohammad. When he started the Holy Koran he was being persecuted in Mecca, so the siras written there emphasized peaceful co-existence of all people. Later when he was starting to gather money and an army in Medina while continuing to put down his revelations from God, the passages take on a more belligerent, warlike tone. The Muslims learned early the situation dictates the strategy.

The only time Islam was unable to use one of the forgoing strategies was in the Iberian peninsula following the fall of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold, in 1492 to Ferdinand and Isabel. At first, these Christian rulers tried to reach an understanding with the Muslims who had been defeated. However, in the end the Spanish government demanded that each Muslim either 1) convert to Catholicism or 2) leave by migrating to a Muslim land. Of course, it is theoretically a death sentence for a Muslim to leave Islam after the age of 12 so many choose to leave and go to North Africa.

Islam, after several failed attempts to conquer western Christianity by force of arms, has now chosen the migration method to bring “peace through submission to Islam” to western Europe and North America. The western response is still in formation even as the west itself is uncertain about its basic values and beliefs. When Islam conquered North Africa and the Middle East in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries it encountered societies weakened by earlier struggles both internal and external; today Islam is encountering a western Europe and North America weakened by cultural upheaval. If the west doesn’t get its act together soon, it is likely that the hijab will be required women’s head garb in one or two centuries across the west ............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/4/2017


Trump’s “Wall Idea” Needs to be Tailored and “Tweaked" -

There is no question that the semi-open boarder policy pursued by the US government for over a century with regard to the Mexican border has been a failure. So Pres. Trump is correct to call for a “wall”.

But certain serious design questions arise regarding the wall as it traverses the many specific geographic features along the route.

Along the Rio Grande it would be wrong to deny Americas access to the river and it would be wrong to insist Mexico build a wall or barrier that denies their citizen access on the other side of the river.

Perhaps a system of retaining walls, dikes, and bermes might be created along the river with access points every three of four miles for citizens who wish to approach the river. These access points would require close 24 hour per day monitoring.

In remote mountains perhaps a parallel set of chain link fences with patrolling guards in jeeps would suffice. It might also be good to encourage mountain cats to make their homes in the area between the fences.

In flat dessert areas an actual “heavy duty wall” makes sense with many small openings so patrolling offices can see what’s going on just beyond the “wall” from their moving vehicles.

Of course, the foregoing is mostly about physical, constructed things, but, the ultimate success of the “wall” or “barrier” is about steady manning and law enforcement along its entire length.

To provide more certain policies regarding the funding of the boarder patrol (and perhaps ICE as well) it might be a good idea to put these agencies under a leader whose term is ten years and whose tenure can only be ended early by impeachment. Approaches of this type are currently used at the FBI, the SEC, and the Federal Reserve Bank . Regarding funding, perhaps the revenues from the new border trade adjustment taxes might be ear-marked for the construction, maintenance and proper manning of the barrier. This money might also be used to catch and process visa over-stayers and to place extra ICE agents in sanctuary jurisdictions to take info from informants, monitor police communications, and go quickly to arrest illegals that the locals might wish to release. ............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/7/2017)

Is St. Gregory of Narek a Catholic Saint? -

St Gregory Narek was placed in the list of Catholic saints, with a feast day on Feb 27, sometime in 2015 or early 2016 with no fanfare. Then Pope Francis announced he was a doctor of the Church in conjunction with his trip to Armenia in 2016.

It would be good to know what miracles accompanied St Gregory’s canonization. It would also be good to know how web sites like Catholic OnLine and Catholic-saints-info both failed to pick up on St Gregory’s canonization and his feast day assignment to Feb 27.

It would particularly be good to know how a monk in the Arminian Apostolic Church, a church that had never accepted the teachings of the 5th century Council of Chalcedon (Christ was one person with two natures), could get one of their 10th century monks declared both a Saint and Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church .

This leaves an important question unanawered. Should Catholics prepare to accept Luther, Calvin and Herny VIII into the ranks of the canonized saints? ...... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/28/2017


Who is Jesus Christ? -

(Note: This title was suggested by a friend. So the author agrees to try. However, given the fact that Pope Emeritus Benedict spent thirty years to create a three volume set entitled Jesus of Nazareth dealing with this same subject, this treatment can only hope to be superficial.)

There are several views of Jesus Christ: as the solution to man’s most basic needs, as a participant in the Godhead, as a person in history; Christ is a prophet for instance he foretold the destruction of the temple ... He was a priest as seen in the events He orchestrated on Holy Thursday and Good Friday .... He is a king as the name Christ indicates.

This person can also be understood by considering His many titles. A glance at Wikipedia shows: Christ, Lord, Master, The Logos (Word), Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David, Lamb of God, the Second Adam, Light of the World, King of the Jews, Rabbi, the Faithful and True, the Alpha and Omega, Morning Star, Savior, Messiah, and Advocate.

The foregoing just faintly traces the outlines of this person’s importance to human history.

Perhaps an historical overview might be the best way to begin this limited investigation of Jesus Christ. What follows speaks of God but keep in mind that Jesus Christ is a part of the Godhead. Let’s look at God’s creation of man, and God’s subsequent involvement with man. When God created man he gave him free will, a sense of right and wrong, knowledge of his eventual death, etc. The creator wanted his creation to chose to love God, to follow God’s plan, and to eventually come to heaven. When man sinned and left the Garden of Eden, God devised a long term plan that would allow fallen man using his free will to opt for God (or in the alternative against God). This plan included giving man guidance on making the right choices.

As an aside, it should be noted that God knew Adam and Eve would choose to sin, so this plan was probably there from before the original creation and the original sin. (That would explain the rebellion of the bad angels and the temptation of Eve.)

So what was this plan? Well it involved setting aside a special people, the Jews, who would create a history replete with prophecies that pointed to a Messiah to come. This 2000 year story was designed to be compelling, it contained exciting ups and downs and instructive prophets showing both the good and bad in man’s nature, but again, most of all, to establish these many pointers to a Messiah that was to come.

But why did God create such a convoluted narrative leading to the birth of Christ? The answer is not for man to know with certainty, but probably God wanted to redeem man and yet leave man in a seeking mode where each man had to learn, to use his free will, and to make decisions for or against God and God’s plan. Thus when Jesus, the God - man, entered human history, He had many delicate tasks to execute:

. 1) He had to fulfill the prophecies set out over the prior 2000 years,

. 2) He had to act so man feels redeemed, feels there is now a way to deal with the guilt and consequences of his personal sin,

. 3) He had to set for mankind new simplified guidelines for future behavior (“love God, love your neighbor”), and

. 4) He had to educate a significant group of people about Himself and the new guidelines so that through missionary activity all people on earth could be exposed to God’s new guidelines for using their free will in accordance with God’s will.

Christ had some major hurdles to overcome accomplishing these delicate tasks.

. 1) The redeeming act had to be dramatic enough so fallen man really feels redeemed.

. 2) The new message of “simple love” was/is so different from the prevailing human tendency toward “dominance and selfishness” that Christ’s miracles have to inspire adherents to risk a break from the old paradigm. And yet

. 3) these miracles have to be muted and clouded just enough so that each man through history is not overawed, but still has to overcome doubt and seek, using his free will, striving for the gift of faith and understanding.

. 4) Additionally, Christ must become a man in history to satisfy the Old Testament prophecies and be convincing as a savior and messiah, thus the need for the Crucifixion .

So Christ must endure birth, growing pains, doubts, sufferings, and death. He must recruit followers, devise a basic framework for an institution (the church) and its tools (the sacraments) to help men in the future, and set out simple, easily comprehended standards for future behavior (love God, love your neighbor). Christ left certain men, guided by the Holy Spirit, to work out the details. And those details continue to be worked out in the Church and by each Christian person in his own life and circumstance as he seeks union with God..

Preservation and respect for man’s “free will” pops up again and again in this narrative. Why? It seems God wants each man to have a free will so man can elect to either love God with his free will or to turn away. Accordingly, Christ acts to provide redemption without having such a grand show of power and grandeur so as to effectively deprive man of his free choice regarding these matters.

Also note, the Holy Week narrative is good example of how God’s long term plan can operate in parallel with the short term plans of men, even evil men. The leadership of the Jews saw Jesus as a disruptive force that needed to be dealt with, they co opted the Romans into helping with their scheme. However, God was using the same events to accomplish a long 2000 year plan where the events of Holy Week were the final culmination. Both plans required the death of Jesus on the Friday afternoon before Passover. The Jewish leaders executed their plan because they didn’t want to see another remarkable entry into Jerusalem by Jesus as occurred on Palm Sunday. Of course, God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) needed Jesus, the man, to die as the Priests in the Temple were sacrificing hundreds of unblemished Lambs in advance of the Passover feast just as priests had since the time of Moses. Thus Jesus earned the title Lamb of God as he also earned the title Savior of the World.

Now back to the initial question, who is Jesus Christ? He is, as the Apostle Creed says, “the son of God who became man was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontus Pilate, died and was buried. He rose on the third day, ascended into Heaven from which he shall judge the living and the dead.”

Or more fully as the Nicene Creed says .

“I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father,

Through him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. .

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”

In closing a word about Christ today.

For Catholics, Christ is ever present in the Holy Mass and Eucharist. In that way, he remains physically in the world and is anxious to be unified with each man physically through communion. .

And more broadly for all Christians, including Catholics, Christ is the second person in the Triune Godhead who took on a physical body, suffered & died for each man’s sins, rose from the dead, and seeks a particular personal relationship with every person who wishes such a relationship. ........... (prepared vy Hugh Murray on 3/23/2017)

An Open Letter to the Missouri Legislature regarding a new Approach to Civil Dispute Resolution

(Note: In early March 2017 an organization called Missouri Rising began running adds urging the Missouri Legislature to revise certain legal processes in state that have unfairly disadvantaged certain small employers. This open letter is written to suggest the legislature consider another change to Missouri's Civil Procedure Statutes.)

I live in St Louis County, and have had several encounters with Missouri lawyers and legal processes.

I have a web site LegalEthicsandReform . com in which I record various ideas I have regarding:

. a) the problems with the legal system and

. b) problems with the training of and environment surrounding our lawyers.

Years ago I sent Sen Walt Mueller (R - Kirkwood) a suggestion for an improved way to handle smallish civil cases (from $5000 up to the annual salary of the Governor)....... It would have cut the need for legal services in Missouri by (I estimate) one third.

He sent the idea to the legislative bill drafting department to get a draft bill prepared. A lawyer in that department notified the the Supreme Court that the idea was circulating, and a few days later Sen Mueller got a call from the Chief Justice saying if you introduce the bill "every Supreme Court Justice will testify against it". The Sentator did not pursue the idea saying he didn't want to create such a fire storm in Jeff City.

The idea was simple. If a civil case was filed for an amount in excess of the small claims limit but less than the governor's salary. The state would appoint a neutral legal "helper" (a lawyer paid by the state) to investigate

. a) the facts on both sides,

. b) the law benefiting both sides, and

. c) organize it all into a case summary with both sides allowed to add their comments. The case summary with the additional comments would go to the judge assigned to the case and then at trial the witnesses would be questioned by the judge, the "helper", and both sides to get a complete picture of what happened. The cases would be bench trials and the rules of evidence could be a bit more relaxed.

It might improve the results if two additional judges sat through the actual trial with all three judges participating in the final verdict deliberation.

The advantage is its faster, its cheaper, and its likely to be fairer because the costs of hiring private lawyers are eliminated for both sides unless they wanted to incur unnecessary expense. Additionally forced settlements favoring the richest party to the litigation would be far less likely to occur.

So how is the "helper" to be paid ? In Germany a similar system imposes a 5% fee on all judgements to pay for the state appointed "helpers". (They think of the helpers as "junior judges in training" because that group is where they generally go to get their new judges.) Also since the state has an interest in collecting the judgements, parties are less likely to be successful evading their responsibilities by hiding assets.

Sen. Mueller and I thought we might hire a aconsultant from a European Law school in either Italy, Germany, or France to help The State of Missouri during the start up period (3 years) to advise the first group of "helpers" and the judges who handled these cases. .......... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/31/2017)

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This page hopes to bring a common sense, old fashioned view to today's news. The comments displayed on this page were prepared by Hugh V. Murray, who can be reached at hvm@aol.com