Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation Day

Do you know what October 31st is? Right. Reformation Day. On this day in 1517 (big anniversary in 12 years--mark your calendars) Martin Luther, upset by corruption in the Catholic (meaning "universal") church, nailed 95 theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. Originally intended merely for debate among his priestly brothers, a copy found its way into the hands of a man named Gutenberg, and soon all of Europe was engulfed in the flames of controversy. Thus began the Protestant Reformation, one of the greatest events in history.

But Luther's integrity sparked something else: The Great Reformation of the Catholic Church. Whatever you may think of that body, it is certainly not so dogged by corruption as it was 500 years ago. In response to the Protestant Reformation and the departure of the faithful to other churches, Rome began to return somewhat to the church's founding documents (scripture), and rejected at least the worst of its human traditions (like the selling of indulgences, forgiveness you could buy throughout October, allowing you a hedonistic All Hallow's Eve, without fear of eternal damnation....) Ironically, Luther, who eventually married a nun and moved on, never intended to leave the Catholic church.

And what interests me for the purposes of this website is the Reformation of the Catholic church. The American Government faces various heresies today, but I would never suggest abandoning it. I would love to see a Great Reformation, however. We can eradicate some of the wrong views that have crept in, and return to our roots, our founding documents. And while I don't believe anything we face is as corrupt as the selling of indulgences or the Inquisition, there is a tremendous danger in the allegedly "modern" views that would tear the Constitution loose from its moorings and set it adrift on a relativist sea. That is, we face great threats from those who argue it is a "living" document--because they mean it can change with the times, supporting law the founders not only never intended, but would have rejected altogether if given the chance. Such a view leaves only the Court to determine the law of the land, and what the Constitution may say becomes all but irrelevant. Then we are no longer a democracy, practicing majority rule. Suddenly we are ruled by an oligarchy of nine judges appointed for life. Something tells me that arrangement breeds corruption.

Here's to Luther (not perfect, I know) and Reformation Day. May our nation be blessed with its own Great Reformation.


Blogger J Holden said...

steven - what checks and balances (if any) were set up for the Court?

meaning, what or who stops the courts from basically rewritting the law and the Constitution?

12:44 PM  
Blogger Steven Wales said...

No one, as I understand it. That is, the check on the Court is the conscience of the judges or their deaths. The greatness of it is that the Court is insulated from faddish politics, because they usually outlast the politicians, especially presidents. And there are only nine of them. But this was set up with an understanding that the judges would make every effort to follow the law. There have been several efforts by presidents to stop the judges, Jefferson and FDR primarily.

But there is no real check on their power other than an impeachment--which is unlikely in almost any scenario.

That's why choosing people with a commitment to the integrity of the law and the democratic process that produced it is so important.

2:15 PM  

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