Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Best Legal Drama On Television

Hands down, it is The Guardian. All of you Law And Order devotees, catch your breath. I love that show, but come on: it's been on for eons and, as enjoyable as it is, it is running dry. Besides, as brilliant as it can be, it's not a pure legal drama. Ah, The Order part. So setting that to the side, The Guardian is wonderful. Simon Baker's understated performance is thoroughly enjoyable and a relief from The Practice style of lawyer. And, finally, evidence that there is a transactional side to the law and that some lawyers really don't spend all their time in court! (Maybe my relatives will start to believe me when I tell them that I negotiate deals, not represent people seeking divorces.) Now if only I can convince someone good over at Television Without Pity to do episode recaps for the show.

Tonight's episode had an interesting segment. The CEO of a company hired Nick Fallin's father's firm to help his company acquire a food products company. The CEO tells Nick that he wants to get the company at a cheap price, so Nick negotiates a deal where they buy the company excluding assets not involved in the business operation of the company, which included a jet. Exclude the assets, drop the price. Well, it turns out that the CEO really wanted that plane because he couldn't have bought one himself and the company wouldn't buy one for him to use. But if one was acquired as a by-product of the acquisition... Nick tries to get the plane back in the deal and negotiates a deal to pay a real estate developer three-hundred thousand dollars to back out of a purchase of the plane. (The company sold the plane to him after it was excluded from the asset sale.) The CEO screams at Nick, because the board of his company isn't going to approve such a payment that clearly is to get the plane. Well, someone else in the firm negotiates another deal for the client that gets him another food company that has a plane.

The episode contains hints of the problems, but mainly leads a viewer to think Nick screwed up because he wasn't paying attention to what the client really wanted. Actually, he probably was. See, the client is the company not the CEO. As much as the CEO is the practical client from a day-to-day interaction point of view, there is always the potential that the CEO's interests are not in line with the interests of the company. The CEO is not the client, but an employee of the client. (Set aside a CEO with controlling or sole equity interests for now.) It's difficult, but there could be a situation where one must go above the CEO to the board of the company to get approval for an action or advise them against an action because of the conflicting interest of the CEO. Naturally, a difficult balancing act for the corporate lawyer whose relationship and flow of business stems from the CEO, not the company. Nevertheless, that's the situation. Not entirely clear what the answer is in our fictional example, but clearly the CEO's interest in the plane is personal and not being made for the benefit of the company. Still, the company may have use for a plane (or may see the rest of the deal outweighs its cost) and they would own it. So they might still approve it even if they aren't in cahoots with the CEO's desire to have a perk.

And to think I wanted to practice criminal law.

Tales Of A Bachelor And The Supermarket

Random thoughts from my trip to the Jewel:

  • There is no such thing as "fresh" fruit and vegetables for a single person. Or at least they lose that state between the time you put them in the fridge and when you take them out to use them.


  • More men would wash their hair more often if manufacturers would sell shampoo in a bottle that a man could put in his bathroom and not be embarrassed someone might see it.


  • A trip down the frozen foods aisle reminded me of my fabulous recipe for lasagna. Here's the secret element. Transfer the lasagna from the manufacturer's tin to your own casserole dish before you cook it, not after. Trust me, it doesn't work the other way around.


  • No guilt in buying the two-for-one gourmet half-pints of ice cream. As any avid watcher of Good Eats knows, it stays fresher that way. (Less exposure to air -> less melting -> less ice crystals capturing funky freezer smells.) Keep repeating that phrase as you near the bottom of the container moments after opening it. It will get you through.


  • Joining The Conversation

    With the kind indulgence of both Sean Gallagher and Glen Davis, I have joined their dialogue. For those not following it, Sean and Glen have started a dialogue reflecting on the essentials of Christianity from both a Catholic and pentecostal perspective. Their current thread is focusing on who is a Christian, with the current subtopic being baptism. For the full background on the topic, please take a look at these three posts of Sean's over at Nota Bene and these three posts of Glen at his blog. (Naturally, some overlap between these posts.) I have entered the conversation on this subtopic of baptism, attempting to provide a couple of reflections spelling out some of the Catholic understanding of baptism and Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5.

    First, let me give well-deserved credit to Sean and Glen for beginning this dialogue. I think it is one of the best things I have read in St. Blog's for some time now. Also, note that it is a dialogue, not a debate. It's a conversation between two (now three) Christians hoping to understand better what the other believes and wanting to help the other understand better what one believes. I have always felt that this type of dialogue is wonderful. Having been involved in evangelical groups during my college and law school days, I have had a chance to participate in some before. I think, at times, Christians worry about engaging in dialogue such as this because they know differences and disagreements will surface. That's a shame. If done with the respect and honesty that Sean and Glen have shown, I think the end result is two Christians more aware of what they share and a deeper love for one another as brothers in Christ, despite the doctrinal differences. I'm also thankful to participate given my own experiences in Chi Alpha, the campus ministry of which Glen is a part. Call me a bit nostalgic for those college days. I have a great respect for Chi Alpha and the work they do, and treasure the role they played in my own deepening conversion during college.

    Now I don't intend to make myself a nuisance in this dialogue. Too many cooks could make it cumbersome. Instead, I will add thoughts or questions where I have some relevant ones and try to respond to questions raised by Glen. Otherwise, I plan to play second fiddle to Sean. And I will be posting any future comments of mine here at Integrity.

    Wednesday, August 28, 2002

    Prayers

    Earlier this month I posted a piece regarding Catholic devotional life and the direction my prayer has taken over the years. I invited comments from people regarding the structure and form of their prayer and devotional life. As mentioned last week, I've converted my prayer book into an electronic file, mainly so I could print it out and have a text that was easy to read. In the comments box to that post, Gregg the obscure expressed interest in seeing some of the prayers. So I thought I would post some.

    As I explained in that first post, my prayer book has a thematic, 12-part structure. Many of the prayers would be familiar to you; I tried to use traditional prayers of the Church where possible so as to have a link to the prayers of Catholics throughout the ages. So I won't bother posting those; you can find plenty of them at sites like EWTN and others on the Web. A fair number of prayers were written by me. Some because I couldn't find an appropriate prayer on the subject (e.g., prayers regarding certain saints); others because of a particular concern of mine or burden on my heart. Anyway, for what it is worth, here is a sample:

    O Jesus, good Lord, protect and keep safe all who profess and teach the true faith of your holy Catholic Church. Holy God, guard us from all who wish that we turn away from the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. Merciful Christ Jesus, turn Thine eyes of mercy on all, especially those who have strayed from your Church; may your Church be ready and eager to embrace and kiss them on their return. O Holy Spirit, escort all who proclaim the Lord Christ Jesus as their savior safely back to the one true fold. Amen

    Prayer to Sts. James, Greater and Lesser

    Sts. James, Greater and Lesser, apostles of our beloved Savior, pray for us that we might follow Christ Jesus always and stand ready to suffer persecution meekly and gladly for Him. Son of thunder, one of the favored three, share with us the rich lessons of the miraculous raising of Jairus’s daughter, the Transfiguration, and Christ’s sorrowful agony in the garden. Brother of the disciple whom Jesus loved, pray for all who share your zeal, ambition, and temper that the Holy Spirit would take reign over these traits and place them at the service of the Kingdom of God. Brother of St. Jude, O James the Just, pray for the faithful that we might, because of Christ, patiently persevere adversity and that we might let our faith in Christ both fill and motivate good works. Amen

    Prayer to St. Andrew

    St. Andrew, disciple of John the Baptist, and blessed apostle of our Lord Jesus, pray for us that we might follow Christ every moment of our lives. O great introducer, upon recognizing Jesus as the Messiah you raced to introduce your brother, St. Peter, the first Vicar of Christ, to our Savior. With that same eagerness, introduce to Christ Jesus those souls here on earth who have yet to encounter with open eyes the love God always has poured out for us. O enticer of miracles, it was you who mentioned to Jesus that there was a boy nearby with five loaves and two fish, even though you could not see how those meager provisions could feed five thousand. Taking the loaves and fish into His sacred hands, Jesus replaced frustration in the lack of worldly solutions with hope in the almighty power of God. St. Andrew, present to the Lord those petitions for miracles heard daily from all the ends of the earth. Amen

    O Loving Jesus, as I approach you, hidden but truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, bestow upon me the perspective of Holy Simeon, the just and devout man of Jerusalem whose life would not end until his eyes had beheld You. Like Simeon, may I be in awe that my hands are permitted to hold my Savior. May I rejoice in Your gift to us of Your very Self and persevere in prayer until the day that I may be with You in the glory of Heaven. Amen.

    O My Lord, how weak am I! Have I truly so little devotion to You that I cannot go even one full day without committing some sin? Lord, I am dependent on Your grace and Your mercy. For without Your grace, I can do nothing and would surely fail. For without Your mercy, I would have no hope! Lord, forgive me and take pity on me. Help me to turn away from sin and live a life pleasing to You. Amen

    O Merciful Father, strengthen the bishops who serve You through Your Holy Catholic Church. Each day, may they rise and renew their commitment to be good shepherds of Your people, treasuring them as their very wealth. May they rise early to seek Your Wisdom, eager to be instructed and to heed Your laws. Make Your bishops wise in Your ways and courageous witnesses to the Truth, willing to bring the message of salvation to all, with boldness, honesty and love. Rescue them from the temptation to be held in esteem by a world that has deceived itself into believing evil is good. Amen

    My Lord and my God, let me join Your prayer that all Your people may be one. Christ Jesus, I pray for all my separated brothers and sisters in Christ, who do not see what I now see, may their faith be strong, with eyes focused on You. In their search for a church that preaches Your Word, may they one day ask You which church You founded, and discover Your Holy Catholic Church. Never again will they feel that they have no home! In their search for members of Your Body with whom they can pray, may they one day remember Your humble servants, the Saints, on whose constant intercession we rely for help. Never again will they feel alone in prayer! In their search to know you, O Lord, may they one day realize that you are with us always, present – body, blood, soul and divinity – in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Never again will they feel that God is not near! Amen.

    Prayer to St. Christopher

    St. Christopher, Holy Helper, strong, simple and kind, after your conversion you sought a way to use your talents for the greater glory of God. Having no gifts for preaching, fasting or prayer, you gave of your strength by carrying travelers across the dangerous currents of a river. Pray for us that we too might place all our gifts, whatever they might be, at the service of the Kingdom. Christ-bearer, dedicated to serving the Lord by serving your fellow man, pray that we not fail to show charity to those strangers we meet each day, knowing that hidden within each we may find Christ, the One who created the world. Amen.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2002

    Last Installment On The Dreher Piece

    Dale Price has an interesting take on the back-and-forth about the Dreher piece. He disagrees with my take that it results, in part, from a clash of cognitive approaches, suggesting instead that it is a clash of those who emphasize cardinal versus theological virtues.

    First, a point of clarification about my original piece. I did not mean to suggest with my title that I was describing one camp's position as being of "compassion" and the other's as being based in "reason". Dale understood this, but others may miss my point. My premise was that the different modes of thinking about a problem have resulted in the different perspectives.

    As for Dale's argument, I think there is something to it. There clearly are those that are emphasizing the theological virtues and, hence, their disagreement with some of the urgency and lack of patience reflected by the position of the other side. But that doesn't describe things all that well. For example, I don't think it describes my position at all. I would argue that my position is founded in the very same cardinal virtues Dale sees behind his own. Justice: I would argue that those who equate justice for the victims with automatic removal of priests, bishops, etc., aren't really focused on true justice. Read below my comments about the justice/vengeance line. Prudence: that it might not be so easy to find proper replacement bishops and to install them in a manner that solves, versus creates, problems is an argument from prudence. Temperance: to suggest that some are letting their frustration lead them to make harsher criticisms of the Vatican and its action/inaction than are due is an argument from temperance.

    This is part of what I think has been overlooked by those who have raced to Dreher's defense.

    Friday, August 23, 2002

    Compassion v. Reason

    A lot of hub-bub has been written recently about Dreher's piece in the WSJ. I've contributed my share to the war-of-words that is occurring in comment boxes all over St. Blog's. Personally, I understand the frustration Rod expresses. I would love to see the problems of the Catholic Church in America resolved too. And, yes, I would love to hear the Vatican tell us what they are foreseeing as the next steps that will be taken in addressing the abuse scandal.

    I disagree with Rod's conclusion that the Pope has failed. I think it is a bit unfair given that the Dallas policy is barely two months old. I think we will see more action to come in the future and probably the ultimate removal of some Bishops. Maybe I will be proven wrong. The big difference between me and Rod is that I started the clock on the Vatican's response with the recent scandal news. Rod sets the clock back to 1985 and naturally concludes that he's had to wait long enough. Again, I can understand Rod's feelings there, but I think it is a bit naive and presumptious. It is also a standard against which the Church cannot win. Short of massive, rapid removal of Bishops, how would you convince someone that you are responding to the crisis when they have adopted that position? It's one of the things that worries me about Rod's piece and his recent postings. I see a tone in it that is troublesome. He says he wants the Church to resolve these things, and I believe him. But I wonder if, when the Church takes its next step, will it be enough for him? Take the case of Cardinal Law. Few would argue he is without guilt in this. At best, he has shown himself to be an inept and absent manager of his diocese. At worst, you have Rod's depiction of the man, which reads to me like evil incarnate.

    But it isn't Rod's piece that interests me so much. It is the back and forth on the comment boxes. It has been fierce and fairly uncharitable. Raising questions about ZT policy or the wisdom of rapidly removing bishops and you are accused of being a child-hater and an unthinking, ignorant papal loyalist. And, to be fair, there are a number who have personally attacked the other side as being heretics and pope-haters. (Although, clearly there are a few who have no like for the pope getting their pot shots in on the threads.)

    To a certain extent I think this can be explained by people's frameworks. For example, I'm a logical thinker. By that, I don't mean the other side is illogical. By that I mean that I approach a problem, analyze it, and break it down (as best as I can) by what I know to be the rules of logic, reason and truth. Other people are emotional thinkers. They react more with their heart and emotions. I'm also a future-oriented thinker. When a crisis hits, I'm always looking at how I can fix things going forward. I can't change the past, so I don't dwell on it. I recognize it, but I try and recorrect the course. Others are past-oriented thinkers. When a crisis hits, they focus on righting the wrong. Almost to an obsession. That's part of what I think explains the different approaches and why some will say things like "throw canon law to the side in favor of the child's needs" (focusing intensely on the victim) and others of us will say that we can't just ignore the rights of the accused (realizing, to paraphrase St. Thomas More in Bolt's play, that if you cut down all of the laws to get the devil what will protect you when he turns his attention on you). And you can see that if two people operate from these different frameworks, they reach very different conclusions. For example, I posted somewhere that one didn't have to throw out canon law to help the child. All sorts of things should be done for the child that are by no means impeded by canon law. (Including putting a priest on leave from ministry by the way.) My point was that throwing out canon law could only impact how the priest could be punished and by what process. By no means was I meaning to say that the priest shouldn't be punished or that the victim's needs shouldn't be addressed. But that's how the other side read it.

    I'm not going to deny that I think those of my way of thinking on this scandal have the better approach. We don't deny the harm that has been inflicted on the victims and the Church. We are just a little less quick to assume we know the motivations of the bishops. We don't deny that they have done what they have done. (Although we may debate whether people are properly capturing the magnitude of things or are suffering from the availability heuristic in connection with what they have heard of the notorious cases). But I do hope that each side might take a step back in the future and give some time to reflecting on the words of the other person and try not to read too much extraneous stuff into them. I know I will be trying to do that. Bottom line is that we all love the Church and care for the victims. And whether you have already prepared for it or not, realistically, we all have to recognize that there is no short road to reconcilation and recovery.

    Thursday, August 22, 2002

    An Explanation

    No posts recently. The explanation: I have been taking time off to allow me to convert my handwritten prayer book into an electronic file. It was becoming difficult for me to read and unusable. Well, the conversion is done and it's some 150 pages long! Given that the original was no more than 60 pages, you can imagine how small the print was! In the next few days I may post some of the prayers.

    Tuesday, August 06, 2002

    The Devotional Life

    A number of bloggers have been discussing prayer and various devotions, particularly the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. I have to agree with this thought on Disputations: if a devotion isn't helping you advance in holiness, then maybe you shouldn't keep that devotion.

    When I rediscovered my Catholic faith during college, I began to explore the many devotions thriving in the Church today. Like many, I found the whole thing overwhelming and attempted to make too many devotions part of my life -- to the point where they weren't helping me. I'm sure I'm not the only one, for example, with a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours on my bookshelf that rarely gets used. During law school, I became inspired to fill an empty journal book a friend gave me with prayers. It quickly took a formal structure, divided into sets for each day of the week and a collection of liturgies and an extended Ave Maria to be used any time. Each daily set took the following structure:

    (1) a short acclamation of faith;
    (2) an ancient or traditional prayer of the Church;
    (3) a creed or statement of faith;
    (4) a prayer reflecting on Christ's passion;
    (5) a long prayer, usually of a saint;
    (6) a prayer reflecting on the Blessed Sacrament;
    (7) a prayer of praise;
    (8) a prayer to the Holy Spirit;
    (9) an act of contrition;
    (10) a prayer for the Church;
    (11) a prayer for the souls of purgatory; and
    (12) a prayer asking for a specific saint's intercession.
    The prayers are either traditional prayers of the Church, prayers of saints, or prayers written by me. (I've been drawn back to these prayers and am in the process of completing the final prayers.) For me, this approach seems to combine that structure I crave and need with some of the more charismatic and free-form prayer that is part of my faith journey. In the end, I find it gives me that foundation from which I am more likely to pray than any other devotion I have tried to adopt. I would be curious to hear what approaches other people have taken with respect to devotionals and giving form to their prayer life.

    Monday, August 05, 2002

    On Being a Shepherd

    A long time ago, I commented that one of the things the bishops ought to do in the wake of the recent scandals was to reflect on their role as shepherds and rededicate themselves to it. I thought this would be a positive way to address their own responsibilities; not the mea culpa everyone was clamoring for, but a positive step forward nonetheless. During my time before the Blessed Sacrament tonight, I came across this little gem in today's entry in Magnificat:

    "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (Jn 10:11) In the days of the psalmist, the flock was the shepherd's wealth. Perhaps that gives an idea of how the divine Shepherd values the troublesome sheep whom he so lovingly guards, guides, and cherishes."
    An interesting idea and one to reflect upon regarding how that attitude would shape one's approach to leadership and discipleship.

    Is It Even Worth My Time?

    It seems that Nihil Obstat has egg-shell thin skin. Let me be very open about my opinion of Nihil Obstat's site. I don't like it. I know blogging tends to gravitate towards nitpicking of the work of others and deconstruction of their arguments. But N.O.'s site is silly. The author is living in a dream world where one's credibility is determined by the ratio of misspellings to words typed. Why N.O. spends his time criticizing those who don't have a department of proofreaders and don't charge fees for their material, I don't know. (Who knows, maybe N.O. is busy sending letters off to publishing houses about their titles in between his blog posts.) Yes, I should just ignore his site. Fine, in the future I will do so.

    But, what is up with N.O.'s recent slam on Integrity? I comment in a recent post that N.O. shouldn't think of himself as the guardian of "proper" blogging and that there are flaws in his reasoning that one can't take an argument seriously if it is delivered with a typo. His response? Literally, name calling! I'm a "fool". Then N.O. posts three errors he found digging through Integrity's posts. According to N.O., my blog is "misnamed" -- a cheap shot at my integrity that is left unexplained. Arguably, it would have been better to have said that my blog was "ill-named" or something to that effect. Which, of course, is what your blog is, N.O. -- at least within the context of Catholic tradition and the purpose behind the Church's use of the nihil obstat. Given N.O.'s logic, it doesn't surprise me that he offers no answer to my critique, but instead rejects it because there exists a handful of typos on this blog. And, of course, this comes from a blogger who is so full of integrity that he refuses to provide a means by which people can send him replies or comments about his blog.