image: University of Chicago Magazine - logo

link to: featureslink to: class news, books, deathslink to: chicago journal, college reportlink to: investigationslink to: editor's notes, letters, chicagophile, course work
link to: back issueslink to: contact forms, address updateslink to: staff info, ad rates, subscriptions

  > > Editor's Note
  > > From the President
  > >
  > >
  > > e-Bulletin: 06/14/02

Scalia scathed

I was disappointed (but not surprised) to read the puff piece on Justice Scalia ("Chicago Journal," April/02). There are some well-known people who have University associations that I am not proud of; Justice Scalia is one. He has remained one of the most reactionary, antidemocratic voices on the Court. Among other "lowlights" is his dissent (with now Chief Justice Rehnquist) in Edwards v. Aguillard, where the seven other justices struck down a Louisiana law mandating equal time for the teaching of creationism. As Stephen Jay Gould wrote, "'creation science' is nothing but a smoke screen...invented as sheep's clothing for the old wolf of Genesis literalism...a partisan theological doctrine, not a scientific concept at all." (Rocks of Ages, 1999). Justice Scalia's opinion is antithetical to everything that Chicago stands for as both a great research institution and a College providing a liberal education.

Victor S. Sloan, AB'80
Scotch Plains, New Jersey

Your coverage of the Pew Forum conference on the death penalty was disturbing. Not because Justice Scalia favors the death penalty-that was to be expected-but because of his (apparently serious) citation of Romans 13:1-6 in favor of his position.

Scalia's use of the passage betrays a profound misunderstanding of it. That passage (particularly the words, "...for God has appointed [the civil authorities] as his tool to bring wrath upon evil-doers...") has exercised scholars for centuries. Some argue that Paul was treating the civil authorities in similar fashion to the way the ancient Hebrew prophets treated Cyrus of Persia-as an unwitting instrument of God's will. Some argue that Paul is telling Christians they must, simply for their own well-being, obey Godless infidels when those infidels are in position of civic authority. But whatever Paul means, no reputable modern scholar interprets it in the simplistic, all-embracing way that Scalia apparently does: as carte blanche for the state to execute prisoners. This is such a breathtakingly naive reading that I am stunned. How can a well-educated, highly intelligent man read it so simplistically? And in the face of an obviously contrary reading by nearly 100 percent of the hierarchy of the Church to which he gives his allegiance-including the Pope himself.

Years-long study of the great thinker and apostle Paul has shown me that he was not a believer in God's wrath. My fear is that Scalia's simplistic reading, published in your magazine, will cause the unwary to be confirmed in this misunderstanding of Paul's message. In fact, even your reporter has already been misled: "Scalia's voice thundered through the passage about divine vengeance and punishment."


That's not what that passage-or any passage in Paul-is about.

William F. Love, MBA'72
Hinsdale, Illinois




  JUNE 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 5

  > >
The End of Consulting?
  > > Records of a Revolution
  > >
Campus of the Big Ideas
  > >
You Go Girl!

  > > Class News

  > > Books
  > > Deaths

  > > Chicago Journal

  > > Chicago Report

  > > Investigations



uchicago ©2002 The University of Chicago Magazine 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637
phone: 773/702-2163 fax: 773/702-2166