Jesus, Lamb of God

The image of Jesus as the Lamb of God pervades Christianity. The lamb is a familiar symbol for Jesus, found not only in today's gospel[1] but also throughout the New Testament as well as in art and literature. The image of Jesus as the Lamb of God reinterprets the Jewish Passover narrative, which describes the angel of death in Egypt passing over Israelite houses marked with the blood of a lamb, killing only the Egyptian first born. Thus, we have the Agnus Dei, “O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us,”[2] a part of Christian liturgies since the early fourth century.[3]

Biblical images and metaphors are often complex and confusing. For example, Biblical authors describe Christians as God's sheep, although they sometimes refer to Jews as sheep, even in the New Testament.[4] New Testament authors similarly describe Jesus as both the Lamb of God and the shepherd, two conflicting images actually found in a single verse in the Revelation of John.[5]

Ethical reflections on the death of General Suleimani

The U.S. assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani raises ethical questions that have received short shrift in the outpouring of political concern about what Suleimani’s death may portend for peace in the Middle East.

First, assassination is unethical. There are no exceptions because assassination by another name is murder. Furthermore, the United States is not at war with Iran. If the U.S. decided that Maj. Gen. Suleimani was a terrorist, then the U.S. should have aimed to apprehend him to bring him to trial. Terrorism is a crime, not an act of war. For a fuller treatment of this point, read my book, Just Counterterrorism (available for free download by following this link), or my article, Just Counterterrorism, in the journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism.

Second, whether analyzed from a criminal justice perspective (strongly preferred) or a just war perspective, for any killing to be ethical, reasonable expectations of the killing’s effect must be to aid in moving toward a more…

Predictions for 2020

Last year, I made several predictions for 2019. Below, red annotations report the accuracy of each prediction.

·US stock markets will fall more than 20% from their 2018 highs. This prediction was off by about 45% - the markets rose rather than fell.
·President Trump’s enjoyment of chaos, erratic behavior, dishonesty, and narcissism will continue to destabilize US and world politics. Accurate.
·The loyalty of President Trump’s base will erode and his base diminish in size. Many of Trump’s policies harmed his base, as I forecast, but this did not erode the loyalty of his base.
·President Trump’s legal problems will escalate. The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump; he now awaits a Senate trial.
·Brexit will happen. The Conservatives did call an election. They scored an unexpected, overwhelming victory. Brexit is now inevitable.
·The US will tighten border security, especially with Mexico, but will not build a border wall along the southern border. Accurate.
·Trump, a man of few bedro…

Merry Christmas!


Advent demands we learn patience

According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old traveler, weary from age and travel, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted the traveler, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man's feet and gave him food and drink. When the old man immediately began to eat without saying any prayer or blessing, Abraham asked him, "Don't you worship God?"

The old traveler replied, "I worship only fire and reverence no other god."

When he heard this, Abraham became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out of his tent into the cold night air.

When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, "I forced him out because he did not worship you."

God answered, "I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?"[1]

This morning’s epistle r…

Impeaching President Trump

The House of Representatives should impeach President Trump.

Evidence that the House has so far been able to collect depicts President Trump as guilty of bribery, obstruction of justice and using his office for personal gain.

Admittedly, as Professor Turley’s testimony last week before the House Judiciary Committee emphasized, the House may not have sufficiently strong evidence to convict President Trump in a Senate trial. However, President Trump has refused to cooperate with the House investigation. Legally obtaining evidence from President Trump and his subordinates in a timely manner may be impossible. Analogous to a grand jury proceeding, the House may reasonably proceed to vote for impeachment; the Senate has the responsibility to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to convict President Trump. In that venue, President Trump will not be able to hide behind his blanket refusal to cooperate – unless Senate Republicans become complicit in his obstruction of justice.

Trump …

President Trump, military justice and mililtary ethics

In the high-profile case of Navy Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, President Trump has repeatedly intervened in the military justice system. Trump pushed for the Chief’s pretrial release, pardoned the Chief for allegedly committing war crimes, prevented the Navy from demoting him and finally stopped the SEALs from stripping Gallagher of his SEAL pin.

On the one hand, President Trump is the Commander-in-Chief and has unlimited Constitutional authority to issue pardons. In the case of Chief Gallagher, Trump has not in any way violated the law.

On the other hand, President Trump’s actions have three very serious negative consequences. First, his actions directly impugn the integrity and capability of the chain of command. This happens any time that a senior repeatedly interferes with the actions of subordinates. If subordinates are competent and trustworthy, then a senior owes those subordinates appropriate freedom of action and the attendant respect that accompanies that freedom.