January 27, 2008

In Austin, Texas, I pay my traditional visit to the 10 Commandment monument.

I've been here before, to show you the setting of the 10 Commandments monument that the Supreme Court — in Van Orden v. Perry — said did not violate the Establishment Clause. But I'm back here in Austin, Texas, so let's focus on the size of this thing, using me — a woman of average height — for measurement.

The Ten Commandments

Want to hear my law lecture?

The Ten Commandments


Robert Holmgren said...

Wait, this is a fake. The REAL 10 Commandments (Decalogue) didn't have a bald eagle clawing a downed American flag. And I'm pretty sure it came in two parts (if 1950s movie making can be relied upon).

Mr. Forward said...

Pardon me if I hijack the thread before it gets serious but that looks like some mighty fine stone carving.

Anonymous said...

Ann, you are a very pretty woman. And your blond hair and blue eyes are still very real Germanic.

Palladian said...

What's with the Illuminati pyramid eye?!

Not to mention the hideous faux-black letter typeface, the clumsy, confused design and the coarseness of the stone carving. It looks like a bad headstone! Did they order these up from their local Rock Of Ages franchise?

Bissage said...

Forget about that burning bush nonsense.

Moses won the Ten Commandments on “Let’s Make a Deal.”

They were behind door number one.

Who knew Althouse would make such a fine Carol Merrill?

rhhardin said...

In the beginning, freedom was ten times engraved on the tables of the Law. But we so little deserved it that the Prophet broke them in his anger.

This was followed by many court cases Litigious 3:10ff

Anonymous said...

order in the court.

Catholic order.

Over ruled by graven images.

Ralph L said...

What was the big deal--everyone knows Texans can't read.

Fen said...

This was followed by many court cases Litigious 3:10ff

Lawyers should be added as an archetype of the Apocalypse. Famine already carries scales, so what prop would the Lawyer have?

Palladian said...

A taxi meter with a few more decimal places?

Paddy O said...

I'm sure Moses and the Hebrews would really value having that eye of providence above the commandments.

It's a pyramid and a symbol of Egyptian mythology... just the thing they would use to proclaim their new found freedom and devotion to the One God.

former law student said...

I blame Congress for this ridiculous Mosaic worship. From wikip:

The House of Representatives Chamber is adorned with relief portraits of famous lawmakers and lawgivers throughout history.

In order clockwise around the chamber:

* George Mason
* Robert Joseph Pothier
* Jean Baptiste Colbert
* Edward I
* Alfonso X
* Pope Gregory IX
* Saint Louis
* Justinian I
* Tribonian
* Lycurgus
* Hammurabi
* Moses

* Solon
* Papinian
* Gaius
* Maimonides
* Suleiman the Magnificent
* Pope Innocent III
* Simon de Montfort
* Hugo Grotius
* Sir William Blackstone
* Napoleon I
* Thomas Jefferson

Not to mention the Ten Commandment tablets in the Supreme Court -- next to a sacriligeous depiction of Muhammad, by the way.

The eye, eagle, and flag take the religious curse off the gift of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Further, can the state really refuse a gift from a secular group?

Fen said...

FLS, aren't our laws merely nothing more than a codification of morality?

Ex: ancient tribal elders decide to make adultery illegal because of all the damage that "honor" killings are doing to their micro-society.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirby Olson said...

Harold J. Berman argues in his book Law & Revolution: The Impact of the Protestant Reformation on the Western Legal Tradition (Harvard UP 2003) that Lutheran law from about 1520 until about 1700 was very strongly focused on using the last 7 commandments (Lutherans count them differently) as the basis of Civil Law.

Thou Shalt Not Steal, for instance, became the basis of property law (89).

I'm not a lawyer, much less a legal historian, but I find the information in Berman's book compelling.

Bruce Hayden said...

I was trying to figure out whch version of the 10 Commandments was used. Initially, I thought that it couldn't be the Roman Catholic version, because it included the prohibition on idolatry, but according to Wikipedia, that is what it looks like was used.

When I first looked at them, it looked like there were actually 11 or 12 commandments listed. But then I noticed, when I looked more carefully, that some of what looked like commandments were actually indented, making them, I guess, mini-commandments.

So, three things make me think that this is the RC/Lutheran version:
- combining the first two commandments (according to Jews, Orthodox, and Protestants - though they all split them up a bit differently).
- Splitting the 10th (according, again, to all the other versions)
- Use of the word "kill" instead of "murder" (though this could be a recent reinterpretation).

The long version of the 10th Commandment may indicate though that this is the Lutheran version, instead of the Roman Catholic version.

Synova said...

They look like the version I learned, so Lutheran, no matter that they're next to impossible to read even from up close and despite the hugeness of the huge monument.

And the excuse about it being just like all the other monuments when it's huge and set prominently in its own place might be lame but those excuses are probably still more useful than the truth which is saying "grow some stones, wiener boy" to anyone who feels oppressed by the evidence that religious sentiment informs the concept of right and wrong for most people.

Because it does.

Putting other versions of law out there with similar prominence would be so much less oppressive. We could do with some "Eye for an Eye" eh?

Chip Ahoy said...

Those Eagles. They have the best Sunday brunches.

Plus, we need PBOE occasionally for a cornerhold in a stubborn crossword.

I can imagine the monolith in a museum, like the code of Hammurabi, which is full of stuff about how grievances about slaves are to be settled, this one crammed with Americana iconography. Were it given to the Smithsonian they would have to warehouse it.

But now I wonder, as I'm in possession of a Moche poster, which is also being warehoused, depicting one of their double-beaked clay vessels, which is also in a museum and is also completely covered with Moche iconography. Just like this slab, it tries to say in pictures all that archaic stuff rolling about in their heads. They're trying really hard, stone-hard to inculcate their values to their kids. Says so in the dedication. So I'm wondering now after visiting here if those indians sat around critiquing their vases imagining them in some distant museum or somehow otherwise out of their lives.

rhhardin said...

Bangs are Agent 99

Or maybe Mireille Mathieu

Kirby Olson said...

Luther's Small Catechism doesn't list the phrase, "Thy shall Not Make to Thyself Any Graven Images." Elsewhere, Luther wrote that Christians can make art, it's part of our freedom thanks to Christ, and that anybody can do it.

(Orthodox Jewish people -- like Muslims -- forbid it.)

At any rate, I think that this isn't the correct wording for the Lutheran version, but I'm not sure.

Who made the sculpture again, and when? And who paid for it? What is it made out of?

Kirby Olson said...

Oh, sorry, it does say on the bottom: Presented by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, whatever that is. And it's made in 1964 or 1961 (I can't read the last number).

Perhaps somewhere the sculptor listed what document they took the wording from.

walter neff said...

I certainly don't think that it's appropriate to lean against the Ten Commandments swinging your purse and looking for sailors like it's a lamppost in the Combat Zone. I can just see Edward G. Robinson in his sandals with black socks saying " What da ya think of your Moses now, see..."

Peter V. Bella said...

"For more than a century, the Fraternal Order of Eagles has had a major positive influence on our region, nation, world...and most importantly on our communities.

It was the Eagles who pushed for the founding of Mother's Day, who provided the impetus for Social Security and, who pushed to end job discrimination based on age. The Eagles have provided support for medical centers across the country to build and provide research for medical conditions — we raise millions of dollars every year to combat heart disease and cancer, help handicapped kids, uplift the aged and make life a little brighter for everyone."

The most important Commandment was left off. It could have been the version used or lack of space.

Thou shalt not get caught.

Maxine Weiss said...

Meetup: Tonight, 2a.m in the attic of the Spider House.

Be there.

walter neff said...

Meetup. 2am in Maxine's Belfry. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Contrary to a widely circulated claim (originating from anti-Catholic polemics), the "Catholic version" of the Ten Commandments omits nothing; it's a matter of how you slice and dice the Ten Words.

I might add, the Bible is the source of this: the Ten Commandments are presented in slightly different form in various places in the Pentateuch.

Maxine Weiss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ger said...

I think I'll sneak out one night and carve this on the back:

And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once at the number three, being the third number be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Peter V. Bella said...

Maxine Weiss said...
This post has been removed by the author.

This is the absolute best, number one, finest, and most intelligent post Maxine has ever made.

ron st.amant said...

Ann, I find it interesting that in the first picture you are pointing to the commandment against taking the name of the Lord in vain...coincidence? or is that the one you tend to break most often?

Personally I break the first one a lot...because I tend to worship Scotch (which by the way can sometimes lead to breaking commandments 4,6,7,8,9 and 10)

rhhardin said...

Maxine is one of the finer commenters, on the contrary.

A master of depreciative pregnancy.

``I find I have to raise a question about Ann, which I'd expect only to have to raise about the uneducated.''

walter neff said...

The question really is how many of these commandments did you break this weekend?

walter neff said...

Thou shall not kill. The last bottle of tequila.

rhhardin said...

in re Maxine con't

I fear that women who have grown old are more sceptical in the secret recesses of their hearts than any of the men; they believe in the superficiality of existence as in its essence, and all virtue and profoundity is to them only the disguising of thie truth, the very desireable disguising of a pudendum - an affair, therefore, of decency and modesty, and nothing more. Nietzsche, Joyful Wisdom

Ann Althouse said...

Walter Neff: "I certainly don't think that it's appropriate to lean against the Ten Commandments swinging your purse and looking for sailors like it's a lamppost in the Combat Zone. I can just see Edward G. Robinson in his sandals with black socks saying " What da ya think of your Moses now, see..."

Basically, I'm paying a friendly visit to a celebrity from the Supreme Court case law. But I assumed this position quite intentionally. It's my statement, and it's all about diversity of speech, and I"m doing my expression even as the Fraternal Order of Eagles did theirs. What does my statement mean? It means that I don't think this belongs on government property, but I accept Justice Breyer's idea that it's been here a long time and it would seem hostile to religion to cart it off now.

"Ann, I find it interesting that in the first picture you are pointing to the commandment against taking the name of the Lord in vain...coincidence? or is that the one you tend to break most often?"

No, it's because it's the part that most makes this monument a problem under the Establishment Clause, a subject I teach.

"The question really is how many of these commandments did you break this weekend?"

Only one.

walter neff said...

Did you covet thy neighbors ass?

I thought that was Titus's rice bowl.