December 11th, 2006


Piling up those melons

Well, I gave my pitch to the Scouts and their parents tonight for Yellowstone. The boys are cranked for it. Ten Scouts said they'd at least consider going right now. Parents and leaders, of course, need to think about this. The biggest concern for leaders is taking two weeks off for such a trip. I can do that, easily, but not everybody can. Still, I think it'll go. And I'm so looking forward to going out West again.

That said, I have now reached my maximum load of watermelons.* There is room for no more in the cart labeled 2007. Next year, I am already committed to the following:
Starting 13-week confirmation class right after New Year's;
Starting 6-week leadership seminar right after New Year's;
Move into rehabbed parsonage end of January;
Doing God & Me for 1-3 Grade kids some time in March or so;
Teaching the District Lay Speakers course two weekends in March;
Doing all the conditioning and shakedown stuff to prepare for Yellowstone;
Go hiking in the Adirondacks in May;
Attend the Annual Meeting of NAUMS June 1 in Atlanta;
Annual Conference in June;
Youth Mission trip in June;
Yellowstone trip in July;
Take some extended time in August to work on my cabin and holler.

That's it. That's the year's work. The answer to everything else is No.

*Years ago, I was buying watermelons for a church camp, and piled them way high on my shopping cart. As I came out of the store and started down a sloped parking lot, the melon on top began to wobble and I sprang up to stabilize it with my hand. I wound up splayed across a mound of watermelons on a moving cart, gathering speed toward a line of parked cars. It was an anxious moment. Ever since then, "too many watermelons" is our family code for having too many things going on.

Harsh realities

In 1688, the Glorious Revolution kicked off in England. James II left the country, and certain Gentlemen from Parliament invited William of Orange, husband of Mary Stuart (daughter of James) to take over. William set about trouncing James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689, and that was that -- except for the interpretation of the event.

Parliament wanted to install Mary on the throne as Queen with William as a kind of Prince Consort (anticipating Victoria's husband's position years later). William refused to be "his wife's gentleman usher." So they made them joint monarchs. William then had to put up with MPs saying, "We have made you king." That was, of course, the meaning of the Glorious Revolution as it was understood by Parliament and as it has been handed down ever since in History and Political Science texts.

William understood the matter rather differently. He asserted that he had made himself king, by right of conquest. After all, he had invaded, he had beat the old king in battle, and nobody else had an army to tell him he wasn't king. In the end, Parliament's official interpretation won out, but there's little doubt that William's military position made them more amenable to giving him co-title to the throne.

Nowadays, we try to make things legal and consult the people when we do revolutions. The right of conquest is not much invoked any more; nevertheless, it remains solid international law. For no other reason than conquest do the Turks control what used to be known as Constantinople, and Hagia Sophia is therefore a mosque rather than a church. California, Arizona, New Mexico, and a whole bunch of other territory is part of the USA by conquest. You can call the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo a sovereign agreement between two nations, but let's be honest: we took it, then made it legal.

And at some point, it seems to me, debating the Right of Return of the Palestinians ought to be simply dumped on the scrapheap. They've had nearly sixty years in which to make peace. Israel has withdrawn time and again from land they have conquered in an attempt to tamp down the violence. At this point, I'd say, let Israel take what they think they need and assert the right of conquest to it, and unilaterally declare a settlement. Let them build a wall and abjure further legal quibbles. Stick a fork in it, and declare it done.

And if that is too harsh for anybody, well then, let them give a deadline. Publish the new boundaries, give the Palestinians twelve months to settle on that basis (or some other), and then announce that if the other side can't get their act together, it's a done deal.

All this is not to excuse any of Israel's faults, of which they have about as many as any other country. But merely existing as a country is not a fault. Ahmadinejad of Iran wants to undo the 1948 UN action which created the State of Israel, and have Europe give the Jews a homeland there. The answer to that, ultimately, is, the Jews have conquered what they have, and are able to keep it, and so Ahmadinejad's words are vain.