Author: Patrick Clark

American Justice and Divine Mercy: Thoughts on Osama Bin Laden’s Death

Here are just a couple scattered thoughts that have come swirling into my mind in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death: First, should we consider it anything more than a blind coincidence that this momentous attack was carried out on Divine Mercy Sunday? (And coincidentally the same Divine Mercy Sunday set aside for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II, who designated the Easter Octave as a universal commemoration of divine mercy?) Second, is it appropriate to feel at least feel a little uncomfortable with the primary meaning which our President (and the media) has attached to this momentous attack, which was  set in motion on Divine Mercy Sunday, namely that  “Justice has been done” ? True: mercy and justice have always been inseparably linked in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  (“Love and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss,” as Psalm 85 famously puts it.) But is there any way of intelligibly linking the justice done to Osama Bin Laden with the divine mercy proclaimed by Jesus to St. Faustina, and through her to the whole world? Yes, justice has been done; but whose justice, exactly? Is the justice that was done to this terrorist the sort of justice that Christians should recognize and celebrate? Should Christians consider the eradication of this murderer as an act of divine mercy? If so, how do we fit together his execution with the execution of our Lord? Can we reasonably and...

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Should shame make a comeback?

A colleague friend of mine who works in Second Temple Judaism once quipped that a sure mark of an established Old Testament professor is an inclination toward public shaming in the classroom.  He then related some legendary anecdotes from his own education that backed up his claim, all of which I have to say were quite humorous.  They were humorous, of course, because of their incongruity with contemporary academic decorum, and because of the parallel incongruity we often perceive between modern and pre-modern societies where shaming was prominent, societies such as those depicted in the Hebrew Bible. Contemporary culture generally assumes the experience of shame to be a sign that something has gone wrong in the realm of human interaction.  Shame is pathological, and its source can almost always be traced back to an oppressive (and likely hypocritical) imposition of moral norms by an overreaching communal authority.  Hester Prynne bearing her scarlet “A” is often the first image that appears to the modern mind when considering whether shame is something we should endorse or condemn.  Old Testament teachers notwithstanding, we remain highly suspect of any state of affairs that would cause shame in any regular way.  Some have even criticized sex offender notification laws precisely on this basis.  Indeed, if shame has any appropriate place in our liberal society, it is reserved specifically for those who cause shame in others. That being said, a recent Master’s dissertation here at the University of...

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