Life is busy. I’m at work and should start to prepare for the party soon.
The public defence of K’s doctoral thesis took place this morning. His opponent was from Yale University and was not totally aware of all the traditions of the Finnish style public defence, so it didn’t last as long as usual. It was quite entertaining though, since the foreign opponents usually have more eye for the show-aspects of the occasion instead of badgering the debater about spelling mistakes in footnote 145. Good, relevant questions, which were not too specific. Even people who were not legal historians said that it was easy to follow. The contemporary concerns and biases of Roman Law scholars in the interpretation of ancient Roman legal history was basically the subject of this morning.
And it was the first dissertation ever (the book, not the defense this morning) in which my name was mentioned! ;-) It is common to write a page or two of thanks in the beginning of the dissertation. K had thanked quite a large amount of people by name, so I was there too.
But anyway, it was a good occasion. A couple of us went to have lunch afterwards, which was nice too. One of the Swedish quests came along and I noticed again my limitations with the language. I had absolutely no problems understanding Swedish when the Finns spoke it. I even found myself speaking fairly fluently. But when this guy speaks… I have to concentrate like crazy and I still miss a considerable deal of what he is saying. He is from Skåne, which kind of explains it. (skånska is an insane dialect from Southern Sweden, for those of you not in the know.)
I didn’t see any point in trying to rush home to prepare for the evening, so I took my clothes and accessories and make-up with me here and will start prettifying myself in an hour. Have done that before and I’m sure will do it again in the future. Sometimes it is nice to dress up – although expensive. I’m using my old evening dress, but I decided that I needed at least some new jewellery. So, I went shopping yesterday evening and ended up spending 100 euros on necklaces, ear-rings, scarves, a handbag and a couple of other things (including MGM! Finally!). Insane. It’s kind of good that we are using euros these days, because in the old days I would never have spent 600 marks on things like that. Argh, I don’t even want to think about that.
I have lots of new pretty jewellery now though. All I have to do anymore is to learn to use them. ;-)
Yeah, but it’s been busy. K’s opponent gave a lecture yesterday, about the separation of Church and State and compared the situation in US and Europe (North of the Alps). It was actually really fascinating and it was interesting to hear about the fundamental differences in here and in the States. In the States, you see, there is a clear separation of Church and State and they think that they are a bastion of religious freedom. Don’t laugh yet, since there is an explanation to this. The point is, that whereas they have this institutional strong separation of Church and State, what they don’t have is a separation of religion and politics. So in the US the government is not allowed to for instance fund the churches and all religious symbols are forbidden in state schools – which is not the case in Europe. However, there religion is present in politics, government and law in a way that would unthinkable in Europe. The politicians appeal to god, in court it is possible to use the bible as an authoritative source and religious arguments are used in legislative activities. He gave an interesting example of a case where the issue was to decide whether a murderer ought to be sentenced to a life in prison or to a death penalty; the result being that he was eventually sentenced to death because of arguments based on the bible.
He explained the difference with the different role of the state in US and Europe. Here the state has taken over church functions (for instance: religious charity --> welfare state) and so the church has lost most of its power as a political as well as a moral and charismatic actor. In the US the same thing hasn’t happened and so the role of the church is far stronger, the state is not allowed to intervene in church functions (hence the strong institutional separation of church and state) and religion plays a far greater role in politics.
He stressed the fact that you can’t say which system is better than the other. From the European point of view the US-system of course sounds a bit worrysome. Especially as he said that there is this strong tendency in the world right now that religions are becoming more and more important worldwide. George W. and the republicans represent this of course, but what was interesting was the democratic party’s response to this. You would have thought that they would be putting forward an alternative, liberal, secular view, but no! Instead they are emphasising their own religious world view. Both of the parties in US are now competing on which one is the MORE religious. Scary!
Damn, I’d love to continue with this, but now I have to go and put on some lipstick and pretty jewels. Priorities. ;-) I will continue tomorrow though, because he had another good example about the principle of proportionality and the US.