A Quick Recap
Hey, Nathan here. I’m the guy who writes and draws this thing.
The other day, my mother made a gentle comment about my comic that astonished me. It astonished me because I’ve always been under the impression that she’s never read the thing. (So far as I can tell, my own wife and kids don’t read it. And that’s fine.) But apparently my dear sweet mother had read some of it recently, and she’d read enough to comment on it. Her comment was something along the lines of “what the heck is going on? I’m lost.”
Fair enough. We are, after all, in the middle of a digression on a digression. Sometimes you have to tell one story before you can tell the main one. I remember a supervisor back in my Special Narcotics days, Bobby Re, who’d call me “A Story Goes With It” Burney, after a Damon Runyon character who- …but I digress. Anyway, it occurs to me that some readers might appreciate a little recap of where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.
So here you go!
At the moment, we’re wrapping up a quick lesson on how the ancient Hebrews accidentally invented “law as we know it” while accidentally inventing monotheism. This lesson begins at p=7014.
So far, this lesson has covered such things as the Code of Hammurabi… Bronze Age Canaanite religion… how a neighboring storm god named Yahweh got adopted into the pantheon, and eventually became its main god… how Jerusalem became a kingdom, then made Yahweh its only state god, then got erased by Babylon… how returning exiles made Yahweh their political sovereign… how they wrote themselves a new cultural identity with holy scriptures, filled with rules and regulations… and how rhetoric promoting this new system became the reality of monotheism and of faith.
There’s just a little more to cover here, and that will take us to the next lesson.
The current lesson is only one part of a much larger History of Government in Six Revolutions, which started at p=6267. This history is covering the major innovations in human social organization, from the dawn of time through the Constitutional Convention of 1789.
The first of these innovations was the “Cognitive Revolution,” in which modern Homo sapiens evolved a brain specifically wired for language, narrative, and an intensely social “state of nature.” p=5278. This section describes the basic cognitive and emotional drives at the root of all social order, which remain at the heart of everything to come.
The second was the “Agricultural Junk Food Revolution,” starting at p=5997. In this section, people settled down to farm, and invented new narratives of family, lineage, kinship, and ancestor veneration.
We saw how these narratives enabled people to cooperate in much larger groups than is possible in our natural state, particularly with the segmentary bodies of tribe and clan, and in settlements like villages and towns.
We are now in the third section, the “Institution Revolution,” beginning at p=6267. The Institution Revolution is all about how people invented gods and government, and the institutions of the state.
Before the current lesson, this section covered the rise of religion… institutional social organization… specialization, hierarchies, and elites… human sacrifice… pristine city-state formation in Mesopotamia… and pristine territorial-state formation in Egypt.
This entire history of government is a digression, to give us the necessary background to understand the competing forces at play in the United States Constitution, and in all the hot-button social issues which form the body of Constitutional Law. These include historical forces from the colonies, England, and the European tradition. They also involve cultural differences… competing conceptions of what government is, what it’s for, and how it works… and yes, even tribal sensibilities, social emotions, and cognitive wiring.
Also, this history is the final part of a chapter on what the Framers were thinking when they came up with the United States Constitution. That chapter began here: p=4870.
“What Were They Thinking?” is the second chapter in a course on U.S. Constitutional Law (what the government can and cannot do), which begins at p=4751. The first, introductory chapter defined what is meant by a “constitution,” what Con Law is all about, and included a complete text of the U.S. Constitution with annotations.
Before Con Law, we had a course on Criminal Procedure (what law enforcement can and cannot do), covering all the details and nuances of search and seizure, self-incrimination, and eyewitness identification. It runs from p=1373 to p=4743.
And at the very beginning, we studied Criminal Law (what you can and cannot do). It started with the basics of what we even mean by “crime,” and why punishment is a thing… dove into specific categories of crime like murder, terrorism, hate crimes, rape… and thoroughly explored all the ways to think about whether and to what extent someone might be liable for an offense. It starts at p=18 and runs through p=1356.
All caught up? Great!
Let’s get back to Yahweh and his chosen faithful. I want to see what happens next!