Why we really really ought care about the Presumption of Innocence.

It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.

– William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

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Avoid legal punishments as far as possible, and if there are any doubts in the case then use them, for it is better for a judge to err towards leniency than towards punishment.

– Muhammad, Sunan At-Tirmidhi

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He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

– Proverbs 18:13

The Presumption of Innocence, all by itself, creates a demand in the heart for a predictable manner, time, and place for proof of claims of wrong conduct and conforms to our expectation that any truthful accuser will bring his proof and will do so in a context where the accused, likewise, has the opportunity to counter that proof and to bring his own proof. This notion of the Presumption of Innocence and it’s ever present corollary, the Burden of Proof, is a fundamental defense against tyranny and against rule by the beastly and everywhere threatening principle that might makes right.

Without the Presumption of Innocence there is no initial enforceable demand for proof and where there is no initial enforceable demand for proof there is no process at all. It simply never arises either in thought or in fact. And where there is no process there is only mindlessness – fallen man acting out his assumption in wildness and in revenge – lynch mobs, wild west justice, and Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, killing old Priam. The avenger is not typically a thoughtful man. And both the innocent and the guilty are slaughtered.

Whether in the formality of a court of law or in the informality of our day-to-day of giving people the benefit of the doubt we are ethically obliged to carefully make the effort to search out and hear both sides of a matter before we pronounce judgment on the conduct of another.

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Toys of desperation…

"What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles o'er his base into the sea, And there assume some other horrible form, Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason And draw you into madness? think of it: The very place puts toys of desperation, Without more motive, into every brain That looks so many fathoms to the sea And hears it roar beneath."
– Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4, WIlliam Shakespeare

In this scene of Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet's murdered father, The Dane, has returned and beckons Hamlet to follow him…the ghost has an important word. Hamlet, unsure whether the ghost is divine or demonic, though clearly in his father's form, wishes to follow in spite of the worried warning by his friend Horatio. Horatio wonders aloud if the ghost will bid Hamlet jump from the cliff and into the sea below. Horatio remarks that "…without more motive…" that the cliff, the very place, puts "…toys of desperation, into every brain…" What is it that is touched on here that Shakespeare says happens universally in the mind of man? What is that toy of desperation? Its the notion that a man, not just the one openly and obviously desperate, but everyman everywhere…acutely aware of the tininess of three score and ten in comparison with the vastness of the hereafter wonders why he shouldn't just go. This is the toying with the notion that all of eternity could begin now. Step off the cliff and the preamble is over and that drama of substance – all of eternity – begins. Who am I? Really? Maybe I should just get on with it. Man…everyman, knows he is eternal and that he is only an alien in this realm.

Unless a seed fall to the ground…

In late August of the year 430, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, father to many, lay praying and dying as the Vandals laid siege to his North African home and country, and more particularly to that remnant of the failing and falling Roman Empire. Augustine had consolidated the searching opinions of the 2nd and 3rd century church fathers and prepared the church for what was soon to come. The burden of holding Western culture together had defaulted from a crumbling Rome to a church ascendant – and in that passing of authority would be revealed both dross and fine gold. The latter the clay that would come together in the Enlightenment…the pure metal, that which would shine eternal.

– Native Son, July 17, 2017

The Scrolls of the Anointed One: Reading Luke 4:14-19 in Conversation with Revelation 5

Lucas Vieira

Luke’s inclusion of the Isaiah scroll in 4:14-19 points to the son of Mary- Jesus- as the anointed one who has come to bring justice for the downtrodden and marginalized. The question then arises, how is the community of believers (aka the church) supposed to understand and act upon this prophetic announcement? Does Jesus’ proclamation of his spirit-empowered identity in any way inform those who follow him about their own identity? John’s vision of the throne room of God in Revelation 5, I will suggest, illuminates our understanding of the identity of Jesus as the Χριστός (the Christ/Messiah/Anointed One), and thus elucidates our understanding of the identity of Jesus’s followers, namely the community of believers.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came…

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My heart breaks for America, but rejoices in hope.

Lucas Vieira

I look around and see a nation divided. How did we get here? How did we get to the point where one neighbor hates another and where people on both sides of the aisle are called liars? How did we get to the point where Christians argue viciously that our only hope to “save” America is to vote for one of two candidates who, in my opinion, are both flagrantly wicked?  How did we arrive at the place in which we have begun to idolize our candidates, placing our allegiance to them over our conscience, our Scriptures, and our love for our neighbor? I have no desire to further discuss the failures of our political system, our political candidates, and the failures of our nation during this time which is filled with both anger and fear, but there is something I must say.

Though my heart breaks for America, my heart rejoices…

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Peace in the Questions

Lucas Vieira

I spend a lot of time in the little prayer chapel at my school asking God for answers.
In those moments of inquiry, confusion, and yearning, sometimes I expect Him to give me an answer right away. Yet most of the time, God doesn’t work that way. And that’s totally okay. Sometimes what we really need isn’t immediate answers- what we really need is peace in the midst of the questions. Thankfully, the lover of my soul is the Prince of Peace. He’s got me. He’s got you. Just give Him your questions, and He’ll give you his peace.

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