A Response to “Giving Torture the Silent Treatment”

April 29, 2008

I agree with James that the evangelical community has been too quiet regarding the torture issue.  This is certainly an area where we should feel free to be critical of the current administration.  They have consistently weaseled around on the torture issue.  Even if they aren’t really authorizing terrible things, they certainly make it look like they must be.  I think this has had a huge negative impact on the way the rest of the world sees the United States, and has eroded our positive image in the world.  I can’t claim the same ignorance toward torture as James (after all I live on the California coast, where everyone seems certain that Bush is the antichrist), but I also can’t claim to have done, said, or even thought much about it. While the most compelling reasons for opposing torture are plain within scripture, I will expand on the notion that there are compelling pragmatic reasons to avoid torture.

Last fall I heard a fascinating interview on Fresh Air of a military interrogator and intelligence expert Col. Stuart Herrington, who currently teaches interrogation for the army.  He explains that a “professional” interrogator would never use brute force techniques such as torture.  This, he says, is simply not the way one gets information out of people.  It is interesting to see his take on what has been going on in military interrogations of the last few years (of which he led a classified review). The whole segment deals with portrayal of torture on TV and is also interesting.  The interview of Col. Herrington starts around minute 10, if you would like to hear just it.  I will also warn the sensitive reader that the first portion of the interview (before 10 minutes) contains a short audio segment of a torture scene from a TV show.

Finally, I want to address one of John’s comments to James’ post. John says this:

First of all, be careful of what and who you read. Just doing a little bit of ‘Googleing’ on the internet I found out that David Gushee is part of the ‘Baptist World Alliance’ group that the Southern Baptist Convention decided to not become a part of in 2004. See this article: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=17748

I found it a little surprising that John says to “be careful of what and who we read.”  It seems to me much more important to think critically about whatever we read and judge it on its own merits, rather than only reading people with whom we think we will agree.  I doubt John really meant it in this way, but I thought it was worth clarifying.  Of course it also can be useful to know a writer’s background and motives (perhaps this is what John meant).  Regarding David Gushee I might mention that he is a Southern Baptist. Perhaps John is worried that Gushee’s theology is out of whack simply because other people associated with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) have troubling views. However, the BWA has a wide variety of members (I think that’s the point).  If one wanted to get a good idea of why Gushee might feel led to take part in a group such as the BWA I would suggest reading this article (which actually doesn’t mention the BWA, but does help one to understand where Gushee is coming from).  Finally, I’ll mention that of all of the material I read for our Politics and Religion Series, Gushee’s book was the most carefully reasoned and scripturally sound viewpoint I saw.  John, I would encourage you to read his book.  Since you’ve thought a lot more about politics than James and I have, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on it.

-Matt, the elder brother


Giving Torture the Silent Treatment

April 23, 2008

I don’t anticipate to strike up as much debate as did our last post did (a review of Ben Stein’s Expelled), but I hope that you find it nonetheless interesting. I must admit that, given my general ignorance about what is going on in the world (at least until we started Consanguinity), I had heard very little about torture. I remember at least one conversation about it with a friend at work, but even then, I didn’t really know what he was talking about. Although I don’t wish to focus on the recent instances of torture committed by the United States in this blog–there is simply too much to condense here–I am operating under the assumption that the following is the case: ever since September 2001, US military abroad has become increasingly permissive about interrogation techniques, and in multiple instances, citizens of foreign governments have been tortured by men and women representing our country.

The most fascinating thing to me about this issue, though, is that I had really heard nothing about it. David Gushee suggests that the Evangelical Right has tried to play this down in order to provide full support for the War in Iraq (i.e. torture is being justified, because it aids the swiftness of finishing the war, or something like this) and to increase national security. In his book, The Future of Faith in American Politics, David Gushee insists that torture is fundamentally wrong and that we, as humans, have the right to be detained without being tortured. It troubles him, and me, that the Evangelical Right has supported (even wavered) on this moral position. Gushee tries to explain why it has come up as he writes:

Long ago, German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote about the perennial human tendency to find exceptions to binding moral rules when these obligations bind just a bit too tightly on us. ‘Hence there arises a natural […] disposition to argue against these strict laws of duty and to question their validity, or at least their purity and strictness; and, if possible, to make them more accordant with our wishes and inclinations, that is to say, corrupt them at their very source, and entirely to destroy their worth.’ (138; Kant’s quote is taken from Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals)

That is to say that when we set up a moral standard, the natural temptation is to weaken it, rationalizing it in any way that we can, because it is simply hard to be consistently moral.

Moral arguments aside (for now), the greatest argument against US-implemented torture is that the US is a signatory to all of the major human rights declarations against torture (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Third Geneva Convention-Article 17 (1949), the UN Convention Against Torture (1985)), and not as a nominally assenting bystander, but as a major proponent and advocate for human rights (126). The stance we have proclaimed to the world on torture is not what we have been practicing. As a nation, we have a responsibility to live up to our word, lest all faith in our honesty go out the window.

From this point on, I wish to summarize Gushee’s moral argument against torture. He makes six distinct points, which I have quoted below. I will briefly explain each of them:

  1. Torture violates the intrinsic dignity of the human being, made in the image of God.
  2. Torture mistreats the vulnerable and thus violates the demands of public justice.
  3. Authorizing any form of torture trusts government too much.
  4. Torture invites the dehumanization of the torturer.
  5. Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures.
  6. Torture risks negative consequences at many levels.

1. Torture violates the intrinsic dignity of the human being, made in the image of God (130).

We, as humans, were made in God’s image; inasmuch as we consider others to be God’s handiwork, we must realize that they are precious to him, regardless of how morally corrupt they might seem, or how destructive of actions they take. Although some argue that there are limits to how far this natural right applies, it does seem clear, as Christians, that it is the rule, and the foundation from which we should build our moral framework on torture.

2. Torture mistreats the vulnerable and thus violates the demands of public justice (131-2).

The Bible preaches frequently against taking advantage of the weak and oppressed. As Jim Wallis points out in his book God’s Politics, it is actually one of the main themes of the Bible, with regard to relative frequency. When someone is imprisoned, he is at his greatest vulnerability. They should experience love and care from our hands, not injustice. God never sides with the oppressor, but the oppressed.

3. Authorizing any form of torture trusts government too much (132-3).

“All like sheep have gone astray…” None of us is immune to temptation. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 10:12 that we should be extra careful not to stumble when we think we are standing firm in our faith. In the same way, people–fallen people–simply cannot handle the power to torture prisoners. What will stop them from giving in to excessive violence? In support of this reason, it has been shown that secret detention facilities are more likely to treat their prisoners worse, since there is no accountability.

4. Torture invites the dehumanization of the torturer (133-4).

Gushee provides an excellent quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who won the Nobel Prize for making the world aware of the horrors that the Soviet Gulag commited in their labor camps. He wrote “our torturers have been punished most horribly of all: they are turning into swine, they are departing downward from humanity” (134). The tortured suffers bodily harm; the torturer suffers spiritual harm.

5. Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures (134-5).

As Americans, we have a collective moral identity and character to uphold. Torture simply stands in the face of the identity we inherited from our forefathers. Do we really wish to reject their example in exchange for a new, grimmer one?

6. Torture risks negative consequences at many levels (135-8).

Gushee is hesitant to even embrace the utilitarian terms that justifying torture necessarily assumes, but he does so to meet his opponents on their own moral ground with more arguments against torture. People who are tortured may talk (and lie, or make something up) just to end the torture. Also, terrorists are only motivated to commit more horrific acts of violence against our nation because of what we are doing to them. Furthermore, Gushee lays aside (for the most part) the ticking bomb scenarios that torture proponents like to use, claiming that they are really only a thing of the movies, not of reality. If such a case should arise, however, the necessary action (torture) should be committed Jack-Bauer stlye without the support of the government.

It was mortifying for me to read about what happened recently at “Abu Ghraib, Gabgram Air Base in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and apparently in CIA “black sites” in various unknown locations,” but perhaps the most shocking thing about it was that I hadn’t really heard about it before (123). Why hasn’t the Evangelical community responded more openly against torture? It just seems wrong.

Changing Gears:

April 19, 2008

Well, we are quickly coming to the end of our series on Politics and Religion. It is amazing how quickly the time has gone by. This series’ final post will be released in the next few days. We have covered a number of topics (defining government, civil disobedience, Iraq war, global warming, etc.), although this has by no means been a comprehensive assessment of the important political issues today. We are sure to revisit this topic as the 2008 Presidential election draws closer. We hope you have enjoyed reading our posts and learned as much as we have writing them.

It is always difficult to change gears from one thing to another, but we must now be getting on to another season in the life of Consanguinity. It is not clear to us, however, where we should go next. As this is largely determined by you, our readers, we would like to poll you about what potential topics/series you would like to see us address in the future. We would greatly appreciate your feedback, so feel free to comment on this post and share your thoughts with us. For the interim period between the end of this series and the beginning of the next, we plan to insert another short-story project.

-Matt and James, the brothers

Expelled: an Intelligent Discussion (Brother Tag-Team)

April 19, 2008

Given the recent hype surrounding the documentary Expelled, we decided that it would make useful fodder for blog-posting. Thus, we are writing a joint post discussing the movie.

First I will give a brief synopsis. The movie tells the stories of a number of scientists who are proponents of intelligent design (ID). These scientists claim to have been discriminated against and ostracized for their views on ID. In the film, Ben Stein interviews scientists on both sides of the issue, and paints a picture of an atheistic scientific establishment suppressing freedom of thought, attempting to protect itself from attack by silencing critics, and warring against religion. The film provides criticisms of both evolution and the scientific establishment – ultimately suggesting links between evolution and genocide.

As a scientist and a Christian, I find myself daily straddling the supposed divide between science and religion. I feel that the debate on this subject has become increasingly shrill, with each side trying to out-yell the other. In many cases, it is vocal minorities at the fringes of the science and religion camps that get the most press. The film has interesting and important points to make, but because of the aggressive approach used I fear it may become yet another escalation in the shouting match. The debate has many players: scientists who are aggressive naturalists, fundamentalist young earth creationists, agnostic scientists who believe aliens created life on earth, Christian scientists who accept most of the modern scientific framework but think that design is evident in nature, agnostic scientists who presume that ID is yet another propaganda campaign of the fundamentalists, Christians who reject ID as valid science, and the list goes on. All of this variety adds to the confusion. One of the key problems in the entire debate is that for many years young-earth creationists have twisted and misused science, presenting flawed scientific arguments that are attractive, seemingly reasonable, and readily accepted by many Christian audiences who are not equipped with the science background to refute them. As a result of this campaign, scientists have grown increasingly suspicious of anything which smacks of creationism. When ID arrived on the scene, mainstream science was unwilling to listen. As a result, very few scientists have really thought critically about intelligent design. They just assume that it is a tool used by fundamentalist Christians to try to promote a theocracy. However, I will not put all of the onus here on the Christian community. There are equally belligerent scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, who embrace a “religious” atheistic faith and claim that their position is a direct result of science and rationality. In my view, Dawkins has as much faith in atheism as any young-earth creationist does in 6-day creation. Thus we find ourselves in the shouting match. It is this shouting match which provides the environment for the sort of discrimination alleged in the film.

ID has various forms, but it is essentially a theory that “irreducibly complex” biological systems exist or may exist. An “irreducibly complex” system is one that has such a complex and interdependent framework that it could not have been created through random means. For a detailed expose on this concept see Michael Behe’s book, or material on the Discovery Institute’s website. While many of the proponents of ID may have non-scientific motives, I think that ID isn’t inherently unscientific. In fact, one of the earliest proponents of the ID concept in it’s contemporary form was Fred Hoyle, who was an agnostic Nobel laureate astronomer who believed that life originated somewhere other than earth. A couple of years ago I had the privilege of eating dinner with Owen Gingerich, author of God’s Universe before he gave a talk at UCSC. God’s Universe is a short and enjoyable book on the relationship between science and religion. Gingerich is both a respectable scientist and a respectable Christian. His book nobly tries to transcend much of the nastiness of the previous debate. However, I think he goes a bit too far. He argues that ID is not scientific, claiming that science deals only with efficient causes and not final causes (more detail on Aristotle’s causes here). While eating dinner with him, I asked a question about science and final causes. Namely, it seems that many historical sciences (specifically archaeology and anthropology) deal with questions such as, “Was this object designed by someone?” and “What was the purpose of this artifact?” Gingerich’s demarcation of science would leave these questions outside the line. His response to my question was, “Hmm…I’ve never thought of that before. I would have to think about it.” While an acceptable answer for dinner conversation, I don’t feel that I have yet heard an answer to this question that is philosophically satisfying from anyone in the debate. Asking whether something is designed seems to me to be an inherently scientific question. Arguably, however, this question becomes much more difficult to answer when you move to the realm of design of biological organisms. What does a designed organism look like? Perhaps the ID advocates have thus far done an insufficient job of exploring this question. However, while difficult, I don’t see any reason why this question should be labeled as unscientific. My impression is that the scientific community labels it unscientific because of who it is coming from.

After a long digression on ID, I will now return to the movie. In general I felt that much of it was overdone. Especially regarding the imagery. It felt like the conservative equivalent of a Michael Moore conspiracy film. However, it did instill a certain amount of fear and inspiration, and I think in many ways it was correct to depict a primae facie rejection of ID within the scientific community, a general lack of free discussion on the topic, and a stigmatizing of anyone who touches the subject . In my experience with the scientific community ID is most commonly mentioned as the butt of a joke. Perhaps my chief criticism of the film is its general aggressive nature, not only in the film itself but also the aggressive methods used by the producers to get their footage. In the name of intellectual honesty and freedom they knowingly deceived a number of prominent evolutionists into thinking that they were interviewing for a pro-evolution film. This troubles me.

I will mention that the viewer who wishes to be well-informed will also take a good look at the counterarguments offered by http://www.expelledexposed.com/. I hope that the movie will lead to much needed rational discourse on the subject. I fear it will lead to a knee-jerk backlash by the scientific community. In closing, while writing this post I find myself asking the question, “Did I just jeopardize my scientific career?”

-Matt, the elder brother

Interestingly enough, I had not even heard of Expelled until last week when John mentioned something about it on our blog. After watching the trailer, I was definitely interested in seeing it, as it was so utterly provocative. It is much harder for me to comment on the actual climate within the scientific community, because, well, I study Greek and Latin, but hopefully I have some of my own useful commentary to contribute.

My first reaction to Expelled was that it was entertaining. I laughed at least once every few minutes, usually because of the black-and-white films that they would so comically insert into the documentary sections, which acted as a kind of silent, moral narrator. When you consider this on a serious level, though, I’m not sure that these interjections (particularly in such frequency) are entirely appropriate for a documentary. They trivialize the debate, reducing the opponent’s ideas to a joke, which is just a subtle straw-man. When you go to the movie theaters, you are usually going to see a drama, an action movie, a love story, etc., and you are fully aware that what you are seeing is not true. When you go to the movies to see a documentary, though, you have a general assumption that everything being told you is i) true and ii) objective. While Ben Stein doesn’t necessarily cross over this first boundary by making up ridiculous lies about the evolutionist side, he definitely does not present both sides in the same light. I was slightly disturbed by the fact that they framed the interviews of evolutionists to seem wicked or dumb, sometimes even using very dark, spooky lighting. Honestly, after seeing all of that footage of Richard Dawkins, I think I would scream and run if I actually saw him in real life. The ID proponents were the clear martyrs, being directly compared to the Jews in the Holocaust. I mean, seriously, how much more dramatic of an analogy could Mr. Stein really have chosen? If he is accusing the other side of all-out war on ID scientists, it is unfair that he has failed to unveil his own underhanded war-strategies. At one point, the scientist who met Ben in Paris said that he thought there should be a much greater attitude of scientific self-criticism. Unfortunately, Ben Stein’s movie has weighed in fully on one side; it is, in a way, one hand clapping. These propaganda devices were clearly effective in the audience we were in, because Allison and I heard frequent comments from people applauding this attack on evolution. At the end, everyone clapped, which was troubling to us both, because Expelled will probably polarize American society (hopefully a better-informed scientific community will be more immune to this).

I also had mixed feelings about the connection drawn between Darwinism and eugenics, as if all evolutionists are in favor of euthanasia, mass sterilization and social-breeding. Again, the connection to the Holocaust (which is in many ways a legitimate one) nonetheless suggests that if we allow our scientific community to be ruled by evolutionists, then we are going to end up committing some atrocity, such as the Holocaust. So fängt es immer ein (That’s how it always starts). This is obviously stark übertrieben (grossly exaggerated, to balance one German expression with another). I do appreciate the connection drawn between science and world-view, however. Frequently these associations are kept low-profile, but one cannot ignore that embracing a Darwinian anthropogeny leads down a slippery moral slope. If we are here only by accident, how can anything be right or wrong? Absolute morality, in its very essence, implies some telos (final cause). Where Expelled goes too far, though, is that they imply that all evolutionists, if not already, are quickly changing into spineless, heartless, amoralists who don’t care about anything or anyone, as if the average evolutionist would have no moral qualms with murdering his own mother, granted that it led to a higher state of evolution (isn’t that a kind of morality, anyway?) This straw-man is absurd. Although evolutionists no longer have a firm moral ground upon which to build a system of ethics (a point I’m very glad was made in the film), they do not reject all sense of right and wrong. Moral relativism and a de-privileging of human live are certainly a danger that can easily lead to supporting abortion, cloning, and possibly social breeding, although this last one is probably going too far.

There were two moments in the documentary that I particularly enjoyed. The first was during the interview with one of the ID scientists in Seattle, who said that there are two possible routes to take when examining where human life came from: one with design, and one without it. Scientifically, there is no reason to reject one out-of-pocket, but that is effectively what the scientific community has done. I felt like this was a very level-headed analysis of the academic climate. Another quote I appreciated was from a British scientist who said that it is not science that comes before the world-view, but the world-view that lays the foundation for how scientific data is interpreted. Scientists must recognize this and provide their own world-views as a disclaimer to their scientific research. It is impossible, and equally irrational, for a scientist with a firm belief in God to somehow exclude this bias from his scientific research; in the same one, a devout atheist cannot, and should not, do science without framing her research in terms of her larger understanding of the universe. It seems that religion and science are not only inseparable, they are in fact married in a way; for if God exists, then science is a clear path to understanding his nature through how he created the universe (in fact, science must have been designed for this reason); if God does not exist, then the religion of atheism (or lack of religion) carries the day, and science is a cold, impersonal description of the world around us.

On a closing note, I resonate with Matt’s desire for the scientific community to debate these things through good research and open-minded discussion. I fear that Expelled will only throw oil on the fire. There is no doubt a Berlin Wall is running right through the scientific community, but it is not clear yet whether Ben Stein has helped to tear it down or build it up higher.

By the way, we have presented our own preliminary thoughts about this documentary, but we would greatly appreciate feedback and questions from you, as there is no doubt more to be discussed here.

-James, the younger brother

Global Warming is a Life Issue

April 11, 2008

Many politically-involved Christians, such as Dobson, have made the argument that the environment shouldn’t be an important part of their agenda because it pales in comparison to other values issues such as abortion. In fact, I held this stance for quite some time in the past and considered myself a one-issue voter. When I was in college, I was fond of saying that I felt in politics I had two poor choices: kill babies, or trash the environment. Given those choices, I would trash the environment. That was really my view of the two parties as these were the two issues that seemed most important to me. However, I have come to think that this simplified view is simply wrong. I think that this type of view has promoted a culture of callousness within the Christian right toward many other important issues, such as the environment.

I do agree that many environmental ‘save the whales’-type issues fall well short of the importance of abortion. Dying humans are more important than dying whales. However, this is precisely where the environmental debate has changed over the last few years, and I think many Christians have been woefully late to realize this. Global warming is a human life issue. More and more, climate scientists have been coming to a consensus view (something it is very difficult to get scientists to do). The consensus is: 1) Observable global increases in temperature have been occurring at least over the last 50 years, 2) This warming has an anthropogenic cause, namely humans are dumping large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the environment, 3) We are at a crucial point in time where we can possibly limit the effects of rapid climate change, 4) Climate change will result in increased weather extremes – causing wet regions to become wetter, dry regions to become drier, and extreme weather events (such as hurricanes or heat waves) to become more severe. Thus, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny that our neglect of this environmental issue will result in a significant decrease in quality of life in many regions and a significant increase in mortality due to increased drought, famine, extreme weather events, and disease. Those who will be most affected by this are those who are already marginalized and have few resources available to adjust to these changes. For example, Africa is likely to be particularly hard-hit, as large regions are expected to have drought and a significant decrease in agricultural productivity. Some of these effects are already unavoidable, and significant changes are already predicted for as early as 2020.  Hundreds of millions of people will be affected in significant ways.

While the effects of global warming are difficult to quantify exactly, as they span a range of severity for different regions, and predictions still have some uncertainty, I have begun to think that this issue is on par with abortion (where 1 million babies are aborted each year in the US).  Climate change will not be as disastrous for most humans as abortion is for aborted babies, but for some it will be, and it affects a lot more humans than does abortion.  I don’t buy Dobson’s argument that promoting this environmental issue will detract from the pro-life issue.  On the contrary, in order to have a consistent ethic of promoting human life we must also act to reduce the effects of climate change as it is likely to result in many deaths of the young, old, and helpless.

The lack of support among Christians in the United States for reducing climate change has another negative effect.  The US is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, yet we are not the ones likely to feel the worst of the negative consequences.  It appears we are absorbed in our own self-interest – unwilling to inconvenience ourselves in order to help others.  This is certainly a poor witness, particularly since many in the world view us as the “Christian” nation, and connecting this self-interest to our Christianity is only a small leap. While this appearance may not be correct, its effects are real.

It is useful to think about why we have a tendency to ignore environmental issues.  I think for most Christians, it isn’t really our self-interest.  For some, it may be a loyalty to the Republican party platform, which promotes other values that we feel are important.  Remember that our loyalty should be to Christ.  For others, it may be a sense that God is in control, and he won’t let us create a major global disaster.  However, if we look through the story of the Bible we see that God constantly gives us choices, and constantly allows humans to make poor choices which can have dramatic consequences.  Think of Eden.  He refuses to save us from ourselves if we don’t let him.  Yet another factor is a  general suspicion of science among Christians.  I think this suspicion is not only misplaced but damaging (perhaps the subject of another post). Another possible reason might be a belief that Christ will be returning soon, and that therefore we shouldn’t worry about destroying the environment.  We’re going to get a new one.  This argument seems pretty tenuous as well.  Christ says that no one knows the day or the hour.  Should we knowingly degrade the lives of potential future generations?  Do we promote being poor stewards in other areas of our life?

I’ll leave you with one final thought – that of the parable of the good Samaritan.  I think that we should look at our political stance on climate change and ask ourselves, “Are we the good Samaritan, or are we the priest?”

-Matt, the elder brother

Free at Last (for a week, at least):

April 4, 2008

Hey ya’ll. I thought that I would share some photos and stories from our recent trip to the Panama City area with the Covington-Schaefer-Huneycutt-Seaman clan. First of all, no one knew that we were coming (except mom, dad and Lisa), so everyone was shocked to see me and Allison climb out of the car when we got there. We didn’t know that we were going to get to go until the last minute (a week before). Allison had finished the better part of her thesis, and her adviser told her that her work was really good, which is what allowed us the opportunity to do nothing over the break and relax.

Me and my sweetie. We were very glad to be away from school and on vacation.

If this pose looks slightly familiar (really, it must run in our gene-pool), well…let’s just say that it’s not an accident.

Allison and I are both wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day (aka mom’s B-day). Although we were really glad to be celebrating mom’s birthday with her there in Florida, that is not why Allison is smiling. It’s either because her food has not come out yet, or because I just traded with her. Apparently the one food that Allison doesn’t like is gorgonzola cheese, and needless to say, it was all over the gigantic salad she ordered. Now she knows, and I guess I learned that it’s not so bad, on account of having to trade her what I ordered. Honestly, I’ve never seen Allison so disgusted when eating something. Never.

Chillin’ on the beach. From the hair, you may notice that we are being bombarded with severe winds, which made it moderately difficult to read. The water was too cold (and dangerous) to get in, but it was fun being outside, reading a little, visiting and watching the kids play in the sand.

Hannah and I became good buddies while in Florida. She seems to have lost all of the former feelings of terror and anxiety she would experience anytime I came near. In fact, we played a lot together and had a fun time laughing and being silly. If you surveyed the hundreds of pictures taken by the photographers in our family (Lisa has recently acquired this addictive habit), you might notice that the camera was frequently pointed at us.

James, the younger brother