Paul L. Caron

Monday, November 20, 2023

Schizer Presents How To Save The World In Six Steps — Bringing Out The Best In Nonprofits Today At San Diego

David M. Schizer (Columbia) will be discussing How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps: Bringing Out the Best in Nonprofits (2023) at a book event today at San Diego (RSVP here): 

How to Save the World 2The U.S. has over 1.5 million nonprofits, which touch our lives in countless ways. The finest are inspiring, but unfortunately, too many let us down. Luckily, there’s a solution. How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps by expert scholar and nonprofit leader David M. Schizer is the ultimate management book for nonprofit professionals, board members, and donors.

Since the goal of nonprofits is to advance their mission—not to make money—performance can be difficult to assess. Schizer explains how this fundamental challenge makes it harder to expose unwise and self-interested choices, resolve conflicts, and evolve with the times.

In response, nonprofits need to do two challenging things really well: figure out the best way to advance the mission, and then build support for it. With entertaining anecdotes from his many years leading Columbia Law School and international humanitarian organization JDC, as well as interviews with an all-star cast of nonprofit leaders, Schizer explains how to accomplish these twin goals with the “six Ps”:

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November 20, 2023 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Was Abraham Lincoln A Christian?

Following up on my previous post, Abraham Lincoln’s Use Of The Bible In His Second Inaugural Address:  Christianity Today Book Review:  America’s ‘First Evangelical President’ Might Not Have Been a Christian at All, by Robert Tracy McKenzie (Wheaton College), (reviewing Gordon Leidner, Abraham Lincoln and the Bible (2023) & Joshua Zeitz, Lincoln's God: How Faith Transformed a President and a Nation (2023)):

Lincoln BooksTwo new books probe the mysteries of Abraham Lincoln’s public and private relationship to religion.

If Abraham Lincoln still matters to Americans in the 21st century—and he does—a major reason is that there’s much at stake politically in how we remember him. This is as true of Lincoln’s religious beliefs as for any other part of his life. In a nation deeply divided over the proper role of religion in the public square, it makes a difference whether our greatest president was a religious skeptic or an orthodox Christian, a devotee of Thomas Paine or a disciple of Jesus.

The debate began almost immediately upon his death. Although Lincoln had never joined a church, Christians typically insisted on his devout faith. Although the late president had quoted extensively from the Bible, non-Christians protested that he doubted much of what it said.

Professional historians joined the debate in the first half of the last century, but they haven’t resolved it. There are outliers, but most agree that by the time of his presidency, Lincoln was not an atheist, if he ever had been. Most agree, as well, that he was almost certainly not an orthodox Christian, if by that we mean someone able to assent wholly to one of the major Christian confessions. It’s been difficult to determine beyond this, thanks to limitations in the surviving evidence.

After his death, countless acquaintances claimed intimate knowledge of the state of Lincoln’s soul, but these testimonies are hopelessly contradictory and their objectivity is doubtful. In addition, Lincoln’s voluminous personal papers are characterized by a pervasive, seemingly intentional ambiguity. Lincoln scholars all acknowledge that he used biblical language, but the questions of why he alluded to the Bible and how much of it he believed remain unanswered—and are probably unanswerable. 

And yet we persist in asking these questions, as two major new studies of Lincoln’s religion attest.

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November 19, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Shaviro: The Rise (And Fall?) Of Neoliberalism In Tax

Daniel Shaviro (NYU; Google Scholar), The Rise (and Fall?) Of Neoliberalism in Tax (JOTWELL) (reviewing J. Bradford DeLong (UC-Berkeley; Google Scholar), Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century (2022).

SlouchingBradford DeLong’s career opus, Slouching Towards Utopia, is a very long — although, in my view, consistently illuminating and entertaining — work of economic history that only very briefly, for a few pages here and there, touches on the history of taxation. Why, then, do I regard it as offering a highly suitable subject for a Jotwell Tax column?

The broader answer to this question is that historical context is vital to understanding tax (like other) institutions and ideas and yet often is ignored, other than by tax historians. The narrower answer, illustrating this broad proposition, pertains to the particular context of the great intellectual shifts that have occurred over the last thirty-plus years, not just in legal academic thinking, including in tax, but in American intellectual and political life more generally.

Slouching Towards Utopia concerns what DeLong calls the “long twentieth century,” which he views as having run from roughly 1870 to 2010. He argues that these 140 years were “the most consequential of all humanity’s centuries” (P. 1), above all because — despite disasters along the way, such as two world wars and the Great Depression — they featured startlingly high rates of annual per capita economic growth. During this period, he estimates that annual growth averaged 2.1 percent per year, as opposed to 0.45 percent over previous centuries (P. 3), and perhaps 0.6 percent in the years since 2010 (P. 516). This rapid growth rate triggered a more than an eightfold increase in world income per capita from the beginning to the end of the “long century” — despite an immense concomitant rate of population increase — transforming everyday life around the world for the (at least materially) better, by reducing dire poverty and allowing luxury goods to be widely available, rather than being limited to people at the top of the income distribution.

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October 31, 2023 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Surprising Rebirth Of Belief In God: Why New Atheism Grew Old And Secular Thinkers Are Considering Christianity Again

Following up on last Sunday's post, America Doesn’t Need More God. It Needs More Atheists.: Christianity Today, Secular Figures Are Giving Faith a Second Look (reviewing Justin Brierley, The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God: Why New Atheism Grew Old and Secular Thinkers Are Considering Christianity Again (Foreword by N. T. Wright) (2023)):

RebirthOn one recent weekday evening, I was sitting in a circle in a concrete garage praying Compline, a traditional nighttime liturgy, by candlelight. Within our small intentional community in London, we often recite these strange, rhythmic old sentences stitched together from the Psalms.

Our visitors, though, likely found them unfamiliar. Around the flickering flames, I could see a philosopher, a Marxist (and polyamorous) political theorist, a prominent feminist, a historian of ideas, and a columnist for a major magazine. None of them would call themselves Christians, but all had willingly chosen to join this nightly ritual.

Justin Brierley’s new book, The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God, names this phenomenon, which I have experienced for several years: a new openness to spiritual matters among those we might have thought hostile. Brierley, until recently, hosted the long-standing apologetics radio program Unbelievable?, which has welcomed many serious public intellectuals. Having witnessed numerous debates between those inside and outside the church, he reports a dramatic “change in tone and substance.”

A century and a half after the poet Matthew Arnold heard the “long withdrawing roar” of the sea of faith, Brierley opens with a provocative observation: Seas don’t withdraw forever. The tides go out, and then they come back in. Brierley is betting the sea is on the turn.

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October 29, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Book Review: Rumors Of The Death Of BigLaw Are Greatly Exaggerated

W. Bradley Wendel (Cornell; Google Scholar), Rumors of the Death of BigLaw Are Greatly Exaggerated (reviewing Mitt Regan (Georgetown) & Lisa H. Rohrer (Boston University), BigLaw: Money and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm (University of Chicago Press 2021)): 

Big Law Money and MeaningMany legal profession scholars have predicted the decline, or even demise, of large law firms. But not only are they still with us, they are flourishing. Drawing from hundreds of interviews with firm partners, Mitt Regan and Lisa Rohrer offer a sophisticated explanation of the resilience of this form of organizing the delivery of legal services. Regan and Rohrer see firm managers as trying to solve a Prisoner’s Dilemma and Assurance Game in light of the risk that partners with a substantial book of business may exit the firm and take their clients to another firm. Financial and non-financial rewards, many of which are within the control of firm management, provide firm-specific capital that keep partners committed to their existing firms and prevent their defection on the lateral market. Regan and Rohrer argue that they have identified a distinctive ethical conception of lawyering associated with BigLaw that combines business logic and the logic of professionalism. This Review considers the relationship between large firm structure and compensation practices and some competing conceptions of ethical lawyering.

BigLaw is not for everyone. Regan and Rohrer do not say much about the perennial problem of work-life balance, but a few reported comments by lawyers show that families, relationships, hobbies, and even getting enough sleep are interests that must be subordinated to the firm and its clients:

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October 11, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Leipold Reviews Hamilton's Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide To Meaningful Employment

James G. Leipold (Senior Advisor, Law School Admission Council), There Are No Shortcuts, But the Road Is Getting Shorter (reviewing Neil Hamilton (St. Thomas-MN; Google Scholar), Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide to Meaningful Employment (ABA Books 3d ed. 2023)):

RoadmapNeil Hamilton continues to distill his roadmap for law students into ever more streamlined guidance on how to transform themselves from law students to fully fledged lawyers.

Hamilton’s third edition of his Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide to Meaningful Employment (ABA Books, summer 2023), is a complete revision of the second edition, wherein he has wisely condensed the work from 224 pages to fewer than 50 pages to make it even more accessible to busy law students.

This new work is more akin to a workbook, with short sections of text followed by templates that law students can readily use and adapt for their own purposes, and frankly, templates that law school career services professionals can readily use and adapt for their own purposes.

The central mission of the workbook is to guide students through four essential developmental practices that are indispensable steps on the successful journey from student to professional. ...

Roadmap is a generous contribution to both law students and the law student professional identity formation movement. Hamilton and his colleagues at the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota, namely Jerry Organ and Louis Bilionis, have been generous in sharing their important work with the legal education community.

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October 7, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, September 24, 2023

McCaulley: The Streets Sent Me to the Pulpit

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  The Streets Sent Me to the Pulpit, by Esau McCaulley (Wheaton; Author, How Far to the Promised Land: One Black Family's Story of Hope and Survival in the American South (Sept. 2023):

How FarMy sophomore year of high school, I met a girl at a party. We talked on the phone for a few weeks before finally setting a date to meet up again. She lived in the Lincoln Park projects in Huntsville, Alabama. I relied on her directions when I drove to pick her up, but I couldn’t find her house. Before giving up, I decided to get out and walk, in case she spotted me.

That was a mistake. The locals noticed my car circling their block, and a group of young men came over. One of them asked, “Who are you?” His tone invited con­frontation: You have stepped into my territory. Why are you here? ...

At 16, I was a mix of compet­ing visions and possibilities, with nothing to tie them to­gether. What came next surprised even me.

“I am a Christian,” I responded.

If breath and sound could be chased down, I would have run after my words and dragged them back inside my mouth. But it was too late. I had spoken.

The boys were shocked. I could see it on their faces. They’d wanted me to say I wasn’t from there so they could be justified in resorting to violence. But to hear they were in the presence of a church kid must have thrown them off-balance. In response, they laughed and walked away.

My friends and I used to say, If you scared, go to church—meaning faith was for the weak and the cowardly who found street life too much for them. But it wasn’t fear of a violent outcome that had motivated my confession. I’d had a moment of God-given clarity. ...

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September 24, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Wheaton College Releases Report On Its History Of Racism

Christianity Today, Wheaton College Releases Report on Its History of Racism:

Wheaton Wheaton College embraced racist attitudes that “created an inhospitable and sometimes hostile campus environment for persons of color,” according to a a 122 page review of the school’s history released by trustees today.

Though the flagship evangelical institution was founded by abolitionists, over the next century and a half it turned away from concerns about racial equality. Even when the school’s leadership knew what was right, they frequently lacked the courage to “take a more vocal role in opposing widespread forms of racism and white supremacy,” the report says, and too often “chose to stay silent, equivocate, or do nothing” about racial injustice.

“We cannot be healed and cannot be reconciled unless and until we repent,” the task force concluded at the end of an 18-month study. “These sins constituted a failure of Christian love; denied the dignity of people made in the image of God; created deep and painful barriers between Christian brothers and sisters; tarnished our witness to the gospel; and prevented us from displaying more fully the beautiful diversity of God’s kingdom.”

President Philip Ryken told CT he believes the report is important and he’s glad the college will be making it publicly available.

“The record of the people of God, in so many ways, is a record of their failures as well as their successes,” he said. “I think we can be more effective in living for Jesus Christ today if we’re aware of the challenges that our brothers and sisters have faced in the past and how they have responded to the challenges and opportunities of their day.”

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September 24, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 10, 2023

WSJ: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord Of The Rings, And The Bible

Wall Street Journal, Tolkien’s Biblical Epic:

TolkienIf, in the 1930s, someone had sought to predict the bestselling English author of the 20th century, they probably would not have selected the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who died 50 years ago on Sept. 2, 1973, spent his entire professional life in the academy, yet his impact on the world reached far beyond the ivory tower. His Lord of the Rings series of novels, which launched the modern genre of fantasy literature, have sold over 150 million copies and served as the source material for the wildly successful films of Peter Jackson.

Tolkien’s fame began with a much lighter work, The Hobbit, published in 1937. A book for children, it is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a lazy creature who is suddenly startled into alacrity by a visiting wizard and an entourage of dwarves that recruit him to join their invasion of a dragon’s den. Along the way, Bilbo acquires a useful ring that allows him to turn invisible, a magical device essential to the triumph of his quest. ...

To understand the enduring enchantment of Tolkien’s works, one must comprehend a central feature of his life that the 2019 biopic Tolkien largely chose to ignore: his Catholic faith.

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September 10, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 27, 2023

NY Times Op-Ed: America Is Losing Religious Faith

New York Times Op-Ed:  America Is Losing Religious Faith, by Nicholas Kristof:

Great DechurchingWhile much of the rest of the industrialized world has become more secular over the last half-century, the United States has appeared to be an exception.

Politicians still end their speeches with “God bless America.” At least until recently, more Americans believed in the virgin birth of Jesus (66 percent) than in evolution (54 percent).

Yet evidence is growing that Americans are becoming significantly less religious. They are drifting away from churches, they are praying less and they are less likely to say religion is very important in their lives. For the first time in Gallup polling, only a minority of adults in the United States belong to a church, synagogue or mosque. (Most of the research is on Christians because they account for roughly 90 percent of believers in the United States.)

“We are currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country,” Jim Davis and Michael Graham write in a book published this week, The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going, and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?.

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August 27, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Buchanan Reviews Stewart's Tax & Government In The 21st Century

Neil Buchanan (Florida; Google Scholar), Gender Issues in the Modern Tax State (JOTWELL) (reviewing Miranda Stewart (Melbourne), Tax & Government in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press 2022)):

Tax & GovernmentWhy are gender and unpaid work issues continually marginalized in tax policy analysis? After all, feminist legal theorists have spent at least two generations trying to address questions that should be at the center of any analysis of government policy, no matter one’s political priors. People who want to turn the clock back to a 1950’s-style gendered hierarchy, for example, surely would want to know that their version of utopia (which, to be clear, I find positively dystopian) cannot possibly be created without understanding how government taxation and spending policies change people’s decisions about marriage and divorce, child-bearing and -rearing, the challenges of poverty (both sudden and chronic), and so on. Progressives are typically more aware of those connections, but somehow the “tax is different” mantra prevents many people from seeing that gender justice and tax justice are inseparable.

Miranda Stewart, a professor of tax law at the University of Melbourne, has long carried on important work to bring these issues to the fore. Her latest book, Tax & Government in the 21st Century, is a masterwork that covers the full range of issues that confront us, from savings and wealth, to corporate and business taxation, to the global digital economy, and every important issue in between.

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August 22, 2023 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Berg: Religious Liberty Doesn’t Have To Make Polarization Worse

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  Religious Liberty Doesn’t Have to Make Polarization Worse, by Thomas C. Berg (St. Thomas-MN; Author, Religious Liberty in a Polarized Age (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion July 2023)):

Religious LibertyAmericans support religious liberty—in general. But they are deeply polarized about how far the natural and constitutional right of individuals to respond to their conceptions of the divine should extend. And unfortunately, Americans tend to be reluctant to extend religious liberty broadly to views they find unsympathetic.

I think that’s sad. Religious liberty is for everyone and should be cherished by all. It’s also ironic, as I argue in my new book, Religious Liberty in a Polarized Age, because historically, the central social purpose of religious liberty was to reduce the fear and anger people feel when they’re threatened with penalties for living according to their religious commitments.

Americans support religious liberty—in general. But they are deeply polarized about how far the natural and constitutional right of individuals to respond to their conceptions of the divine should extend. And unfortunately, Americans tend to be reluctant to extend religious liberty broadly to views they find unsympathetic.

I think that’s sad. Religious liberty is for everyone and should be cherished by all. It’s also ironic, as I argue in my new book, Religious Liberty in a Polarized Age, because historically, the central social purpose of religious liberty was to reduce the fear and anger people feel when they’re threatened with penalties for living according to their religious commitments.

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August 20, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Legal Singularity: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Law Radically Better

Abdi Aidid (Assistant Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Law; Specialist, Legal Innovation, Blue J Legal) & Benjamin Alarie (Osler Chair in Business Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law; CEO, Blue J Legal), The Legal Singularity: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Law Radically Better (University of Toronto Press 2023):

Legal Singularity (Wide)Law today is incomplete, inaccessible, unclear, underdeveloped, and often perplexing to those whom it affects. In The Legal Singularity, Abdi Aidid and Benjamin Alarie argue that the proliferation of artificial intelligence–enabled technology — and specifically the advent of legal prediction — is on the verge of radically reconfiguring the law, our institutions, and our society for the better.

Revealing the ways in which our legal institutions underperform and are expensive to administer, the book highlights the negative social consequences associated with our legal status quo. Given the infirmities of the current state of the law and our legal institutions, the silver lining is that there is ample room for improvement. With concerted action, technology can help us to ameliorate the problems of the law and improve our legal institutions. Inspired in part by the concept of the "technological singularity," The Legal Singularity presents a future state in which technology facilitates the functional "completeness" of law, where the law is at once extraordinarily more complex in its specification than it is today, and yet operationally, the law is vastly more knowable, fairer, and clearer for its subjects. Aidid and Alarie describe the changes that will culminate in the legal singularity and explore the implications for the law and its institutions.

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August 17, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Ed Tech, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 6, 2023

The Awakened Brain: Faith Makes You Happier And Healthier

NPR, This Ivy League Researcher Says Spirituality Is Good For Our Mental Health:

The Awakened Brain 3[A]ccording to Lisa Miller, a professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, having a spiritual life is good for your mental health.

Miller is a psychologist and has dedicated most of her career to the study of neuroscience and spirituality. Her newest book is called The Awakened Brain, and in it she makes some really bold claims about how holding spiritual beliefs can decrease our rates of anxiety and depression and generally make us most likely to lead happier lives. I can hear your skepticism already! I get it. I'm a spiritually inclined kind of person but it's still hard for me to understand how, scientifically speaking, believing in something bigger than yourself can make you healthier and happier. ...

Lisa Miller:  I thought a mental health system minus spirituality made no sense, and that became my life's work, to understand the place of spirituality in renewal, in recovery, in resilience, and to put this in the language of science. ...

If I were to characterize the first five years of my investigation, I would say I used the data sets that everyone else knew and trusted. I only asked one new question, which was: "What's the impact of spirituality on the DSM diagnosis of addiction and depression?" The findings were jaw dropping.

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August 6, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: Losing Our Religion — An Altar Call For Evangelical America

New York Times Op-Ed:  The State of Evangelical America, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

MooreThere are few evangelical Christians who have gotten as much media coverage or criticism in the last decade as Russell Moore. He previously served as the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the policy wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, and became a prominent evangelical voice opposing a Trump presidency. Moore is currently the editor in chief of Christianity Today, which The Times’s Jane Coaston called “arguably the most influential Christian publication” in the United States. I asked Moore if he would speak to me about the evangelical movement and his new book, Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Tish Harrison Warren: The subtitle of your newest book is “An Altar Call for Evangelical America.” What do you mean by “evangelical America”?

Russell Moore: What I mean by “evangelical” is people who believe in the personal aspect of what it means to be a follower of Christ. That includes the way that we understand the Bible, the way that we understand the need to be born again.

In your book, you tell a story about how an evangelical person said to their pastor: “We’ve tried to turn the other cheek. It doesn’t work. We have to fight now.” Why do certain evangelicals feel so embattled now?

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August 6, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, July 2, 2023

The Bible Does Everything Critical Theory Does, But Better

Christianity Today, The Bible Does Everything Critical Theory Does, but Better:

Biblical Critical Theory 1Many people become suspicious at the mention of critical theory, especially as it applies to controversial matters of race, gender, law, and public policy. Some see the ideologies traveling under that banner as abstruse frameworks only minimally related to real-world affairs. Others see critical theory as a ruse meant to confer unearned scholarly legitimacy on highly debatable political and cultural opinions.

Christopher Watkin, an Australian scholar on religion and philosophy, wants to reorient discussions of critical theory around Scripture’s grand narrative of redemption. In Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture, he shows how God’s Word furnishes the tools for a better, more compelling critical theory—one that harmonizes the fragmentary truths advanced by its secular alternatives. Mark Talbot, professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, spoke with Watkin about his book. ...

You mention critical race theory, which has become a flash point for some Christians and a big reason why critical theory has a bad name among them. Where do we tend to go wrong in our attitudes toward critical theory?

Critical theory does have a particularly bad name among certain groups of Christians. It also has an unusually good name among others. Both responses are problematic because Christians should not expect worldly ideology to represent either a perfect ideal for the church or the Devil incarnate.

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July 2, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, June 18, 2023

NY Times Op-Ed: My Church Was Part Of The Slave Trade. This Has Not Shaken My Faith.

New York Times Op-Ed:  My Church Was Part of the Slave Trade. This Has Not Shaken My Faith., by Rachel L. Swarns (Author, The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church (2023)):

The 272 2For more than a century, Catholic priests in Maryland held Black people in bondage. They were among the largest slaveholders in the state, and they prayed for the souls of the people they held captive even as they enslaved and sold their bodies.

So after the Civil War, the emancipated Black families that had been torn apart in sales organized by the clergymen were confronted with a choice: Should they remain in the church that had betrayed them?

Over the past seven years, I’ve pieced together the harrowing origin story of the American Catholic Church, which relied on slave labor and slave sales to sustain itself and to help finance its expansion. I am a professor and a journalist who writes about slavery and its legacies. I am also a Black woman and a practicing Catholic. As I’ve considered the choices those families faced in 1864, I have found myself pondering my faith and my church and my own place in it.

I stumbled across this story in 2016 when I got a tip about the prominent Jesuit priests who sold 272 people to raise money to save the college we now know as Georgetown University, the nation’s first Catholic institution of higher learning. Witnesses described the terrors of enslavement: children torn from their parents, brothers from their sisters and desperate people forced to board slave ships that sailed to Louisiana. It was one of the largest documented slave sales of the time, and it shattered entire families. ...

Catholic priests, who relied on slavery, did more than save Georgetown. They built the nation’s first Catholic college, the first archdiocese and the first Catholic cathedral and helped establish two of the earliest Catholic monasteries. Even the clergymen who established the first Catholic seminary relied on enslaved laborers. The inherent contradictions of praying for the souls of people held in captivity left few in leadership troubled. ... Most powerful leaders of the church supported slavery until the Union victory in the Civil War made its demise a foregone conclusion.

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June 18, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, May 29, 2023

Brooks Reviews Cui's Administrative Foundations Of The Chinese Fiscal State

Kim Brooks (Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law; Google Scholar), Where Tax Law Canno Be Found, You Will Find a Robustly-Tasked Tax Administrator (JOTWELL) (reviewing Wei Cui (British Columbia; Google Scholar), The Administrative Foundations of the Chinese Fiscal State (Cambridge University Press (2022) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya; Google Scholar) here)):

Jotwell (2023)The hard work that went into authoring The Administrative Foundations of the Chinese Fiscal State is palpable from the first page. Cui seeks to achieve two aims: (1) to tease out aspects of Chinese taxation of general interest to policy makers and social scientists in other countries (P. 3) and (2) to offer a new framework for understanding the policies and politics of taxation in China (P. 4). Both aims are accomplished handily.

Particularly fun for those of us who like tax administration, Cui claims that ground-level tax administration is essential to understanding the Chinese tax system. Focusing on tax administration, tax collection and revenue mobilization, allows Cui to show us something new about our own tax systems. He offers us the opportunity to see more clearly our own paradigmatic orientation: one that centres the importance of rule of law.

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May 29, 2023 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, May 28, 2023

More On The Life, Death, And Legacy Of Tim Keller

Following up on last Sunday's post, The Life, Death, And Legacy Of Tim Keller

Keller MemoriamNew York Times Op-Ed:  Tim Keller Taught Me About Joy, by David Brooks:

American evangelicalism suffers from an intellectual inferiority complex that sometimes turns into straight anti-intellectualism. But Tim could draw on a vast array of intellectual sources to argue for the existence of God, to draw piercing psychological insights from the troubling parts of Scripture or to help people through moments of suffering. His voice was warm, his observations crystal clear. We all tried to act cool around Tim, but we knew we had a giant in our midst. ...

On the cross, Tim wrote, Jesus was “putting himself into our lives — our misery, our mortality, so we could be brought into his life, his joy and immortality.” He enjoyed repeating the saying “Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” ...

His focus was not on politics but on “our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, that fail to satisfy us even when we get them.” ...

He offered a radically different way. He pointed people to Jesus, and through Jesus’ example to a life of self-sacrificial service. That may seem unrealistic; doesn’t the world run on self-interest? But Tim and his wife, Kathy, wrote a wonderful book, “The Meaning of Marriage,” which in effect argued that self-sacrificial love is actually the only practical way to get what you really hunger for.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  The Many Paradoxes of Timothy J. Keller, by Kate Bachelder Odell:

Ask anyone to name a story from the Bible, and you’ll likely get the answer David and Goliath. Most Americans know it as a tale about facing your fears, steeling yourself and prevailing against long odds. “I’m here to say that’s a shallow understanding, even a deceptive understanding, of how to read the text,” Tim Keller, minister of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, told his congregation one Sunday morning in 2015.

Keller, who died May 19 at age 72, then indicted what he called “counterfeit courage”—the modern idea that the way to overcome fear is to “visualize success.” Stoicism works only in “short-term bursts, mainly on adrenaline,” and most “of the acts of courage we most admire don’t come from self-assertion and self-confidence.”

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May 28, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, May 21, 2023

WSJ Book Review: Martin Luther King, Christian Radical

Wall Street Journal, Martin Luther King, Christian Radical, by Jonathan Eig (Author, King: A Life (2023)):

King A LifeToday, almost 1,000 cities and towns in the U.S. have streets named in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and more than 100 public schools bear his name. In Washington, D.C., a 30-foot-tall MLK memorial stands within sight of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. And each year, in January, we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday.

But in hallowing King we have hollowed out his legacy. We remember his dream of unity and justice without deeper consideration of the radical Christianity upon which that dream was built. King’s Christianity presents a challenge to liberals, who are often uncomfortable with religion in the public square, as well as to conservatives, who are more likely to embrace religion in politics but don’t align themselves with the implications of many of King’s core beliefs.

The popular version of King’s life story holds that he grew more radical in his later years—more like Malcolm X, more antagonistic to the American government in general and to materialism and militarism in particular. But that’s an oversimplification that leads us to downplay his most challenging ideas.

King adhered to the same Christian beliefs all of his adult life, views shaped by his upbringing in the Black Baptist church and the violently racist American South. If many Americans failed to notice King’s early radicalism, it was probably because they didn’t wish to see it, or were distracted by his readiness to engage respectfully with political opponents, or because his battle against Southern segregationists presented, to many observers, a clear-cut struggle between good and evil.

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May 21, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Bernie Sanders Calls For 100% Billionaire Tax Rate: ’People Can Make It On $999 Million'

Politico, Bernie Sanders Calls For Income Over $1 Billion to be Taxed at 100%: ’People Can Make it on $999 Million:

Bernie 2Longtime wealth tax advocate Sen. Bernie Sanders has argued that all earnings above $1 billion in the U.S. should be confiscated by the government.

In an interview with HBO Max’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, the Vermont senator was questioned about his long-standing view that billionaires should not exist.

“Are you basically saying that once you get to $999 million, the government should confiscate all the rest?” he was asked—to which Sanders responded: “Yeah.”

“You may disagree with me, but I think people can make it on $999 million,” Sanders added. “I think that they can survive just fine.”

Earlier this year, Sanders published It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism. During Friday’s show, he responded to questions on whether billionaires could actually boost the economy by creating employment.

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May 4, 2023 in Book Club, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Entangled Histories Of Science And Religion

Christianity Today Book Review:  Conflict Between Science and Religion Is Always Possible but Never Inevitable, by Edward J. Larson (Pepperdine; Pulitizer-Prize Winning Author, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (Basic Books 2006)) (reviewing Nicholas Spencer, Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science & Religion (Oneworld Publications 2023)):

MagisteriaNicholas Spencer’s latest book, Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science and Religion, opens and closes with references to Stephen Jay Gould’s depiction of science and religion as nonoverlapping magisteria, or “NOMA.” By this, he meant that science is about the natural, religion the supernatural, and never the twain should meet. Each is magisterial, or authoritative, in its own domain—but not beyond it.

Gould, a popular science writer and avowed secularist, advanced this concept in 1997, at the height of America’s latest public dustup over teaching so-called creation science and intelligent design. He thought NOMA could defuse the controversy while removing religion from science education.

Neither side wholly bought NOMA then. On the one hand, proponents of secular scientism like Richard Dawkins, who want science enthroned as the arbiter of all truth in the modern mind, rejected the notion that religion is magisterial anywhere. On the other hand, theists such as the noted geneticist Francis Collins denied that religion was cordoned off from the natural world—otherwise, why would believers pray for physical (or even mental or emotional) health?

Nor does Spencer, a senior fellow at London’s Theos think tank, buy NOMA now. In Magisteria, he argues from history that science and religion are (and have always been) deeply entangled. This is nothing new. Spencer begins his book by noting that, since the 1980s, historians have uncovered a complex relationship between science and religion, and he names ten leading scholars in this enterprise. (Full disclosure: I’m listed as number six.) Spencer draws on this body of scholarship to compile a narrative history of science and religion since ancient times. His story mainly covers the Christian West but also touches on the Islamic world and the Asian context.

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April 30, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Lent: The Season Of Repentance And Renewal

Christianity Today Op-Ed:  I Met God on the Mountaintop of Ritual, by Esau McCaulley (Wheaton; Author, Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal (2022)):

McCaulleyAAs someone who came from outside the liturgical expressions of Christianity, I had a certain suspicion of the whole enterprise. I thought the liturgical tradition, with its vestments, rituals, rules, and customs, was the very thing Jesus had come to destroy. I intuited that what God wanted was a broken and contrite heart. He owned the cattle on a thousand hills; he didn’t need our formalized prayers and spiritual sacrifices. ...

The liturgical life seemed, from the outside, to stifle the Spirit. ... Jesus wanted prayers from my heart that revealed my own wrestling with God, not the repeated words of those long dead. God was, of course, on the side of the informalists and against the formalists. In the language that became omnipresent during my college years, it wasn’t about religion but relationship. Religion was shorthand for any ritual activity I was uncomfortable with.

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April 2, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, March 27, 2023

Teo Presents The United Nations In Global Tax Coordination Today At British Columbia

Nikki J. Teo (University of Sydney) presents A False Start in International Tax Coordination: The Ghost of the UN’s Past today at Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia hosted by Wei Cui (email here to attend virtually over Zoom at 6:30 PM ET): 

TeoThis talk unveils the missing history of the UN’s first attempt at international tax coordination through its Fiscal Commission (1946–1954). It dispels the prevailing myths surrounding the work of that body and reveals the heated struggles by developing countries and the UN Secretariat to negotiate and formulate more equitable international tax principles for application between developed and developing countries. This vital saga sheds light on the role of politics in shaping the international tax regime and offers insights into pressing debates about inclusiveness and multilateralism in international tax norm-setting.

The United Nations in Global Tax Coordination: Hidden History and Politics (Cambridge University Press March 2023):

The United Nations in Global Tax Coordination fills the decade-long knowledge gap in international tax history concerning the UN Fiscal Commission, which functioned as the overarching fiscal authority during the early post-World War II economic order. With insights from political economy and international relations scholarship, this critical archival examination chronicles the tenacious activism by post-colonial developing countries to preserve source taxation rights, and by the UN Secretariat in championing the development of equitable tax rules. Such activism would ultimately lead developed countries to oust the UN as a forum for international tax norm setting.

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March 27, 2023 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Brooklyn Hosts A Book Talk And Discussion Today On For-Profit Philanthropy

Brooklyn hosts a hybrid Book Talk and Discussion with Dana Brakman Reiser (Brooklyn; Google Scholar) and Steven A. Dean (Brooklyn), featuring Anne-Marie Slaughter (CEO, New America; Professor Emerita, Princeton University) on For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power & the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, & Strategic Corporate Giving (Oxford University Press 2023) today at 6:00 PM ET:

For-profit-philanthropyAbout the Book

Please join Professors Dana Brakman Reiser and Steven A. Dean for a discussion of their new book For-Profit Philanthropy (Oxford University Press, Jan. 3, 2023).

In For-Profit Philanthropy, the authors reveal that philanthropy law has long operated as strategic compromise, binding ordinary Americans and elites together in a common purpose. At its center stands the private foundation. Prophylactic restrictions separate foundations from their funders' business and political interests. And foundations must disclose more about the sources and uses of their assets than any other business or charity. The philanthropic innovations increasingly espoused by America's most privileged individuals and powerful companies prioritize donor autonomy and privacy, casting aside the foundation and the tools it provides elites to demonstrate their good faith. By threatening to displace impactful charity with hollow virtue signaling, these actions also jeopardize the public's faith in the generosity of those at the top.

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February 7, 2023 in Book Club, Books, Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, January 22, 2023

David French: How A Great American Victory Altered American Faith

David French (The Dispatch), How a Great American Victory Altered American Faith:

NonvertsLast week I read a tweet that led me to a book I’m now devouring at record speed. The tweet was from my friend Skye Jethani, and it referred to a potential link between the end of the Cold War and the rise of America’s religious nones. I’ve been thinking about the continuing influence of the Cold War on American life for a very long time. Our nation spent generations defined by the struggle against Soviet communism, and that struggle (along with its rather abrupt end) was bound to have profound effects on our national life.

The book is called Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America, by a British sociologist named Stephen Bullivant. It’s not just an important book, it’s the best-written and most readable work of religious sociology that I’ve read in a very long time.

At the risk of over-simplification, Bullivant’s book attempts to explain the ... remarkable rise of religious “nones” in the United States:

French 3Source: Grid, A Mass Exodus From Christianity Is Underway in America. Here’s Why.

... In the chart above, a distinct data point stands out—the sharp rise of young “nones” begins in the early 1990s. Why? That’s when the Cold War ended, and Bullivant argues convincingly that the end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new era of American religion.

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January 22, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain Of Loss And The Comfort Of God

Tim Challies, Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God (2022):

Season of SorrowOn November 3, 2020, Tim and Aileen Challies received the shocking news that their son Nick had died. A twenty-year-old student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, he had been participating in a school activity with his fiancée, sister, and friends, when he fell unconscious and collapsed to the ground.

Neither students nor a passing doctor nor paramedics were able to revive him. His parents received the news at their home in Toronto and immediately departed for Louisville to be together as a family. While on the plane, Tim, an author and blogger, began to process his loss through writing. In Seasons of Sorrow, Tim shares real-time reflections from the first year of grief—through the seasons from fall to summer—introducing readers to what he describes as the “ministry of sorrow.”

Seasons of Sorrow will benefit both those that are working through sorrow or those comforting others:

  • See how God is sovereign over loss and that he is good in loss
  • Discover how you can pass through times of grief while keeping your faith
  • Learn how biblical doctrine can work itself out even in life’s most difficult situations
  • Understand how it is possible to love God more after loss than you loved him before

Matt McCullough (Christianity Today; Author, Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope), ‘I Will Grieve but not Grumble, Mourn but not Murmur, Weep but not Whine’: What Tim Challies Resolved in the Wake of His Son’s Sudden Death:

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January 22, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Saturday, January 21, 2023

American Inheritance: Liberty And Slavery In The Birth Of A Nation

New York Times Book Review: Can the Country Come to Terms With Its Original Sin?, by Jon Meacham (Vanderbilt) (reviewing Edward J. Larson (Pepperdine)), American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation, 1765-1795 (2023):

American InheritanceIn Edward J. Larson’s “American Inheritance,” the Pulitzer-winning historian attempts to insert reason into a passionate public conversation.

Our own age has been hard on both reason and history. Too often the past has been deployed to fight the ideological wars of the moment, a tendency that reduces history to ammunition. And so Edward J. Larson’s “American Inheritance” is a welcome addition to a public conversation, in the wake of The New York Times’s 1619 Project, that has largely produced more heat than light.

“The role of liberty and slavery in the American Revolution is a partisan minefield,” Larson writes. “Drawing on a popular narrative presenting the expansion of liberty as a driving force in American history, some on the right dismiss the role of slavery in the founding of the Republic. Appealing to a progressive narrative of economic self-interest, and racial and gender bias in American history, some on the left see the defense of state-sanctioned slavery as a cause of the Revolution and an effect of the Constitution.” Larson, a prolific historian whose “Summer for the Gods” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998, writes that this polarity “has opened the way for rigorous historical scholarship” in the tradition of Edmund Morgan and Benjamin Quarles.

American Inheritance,” then, comes to us as an effort to step into the blood-strewn chaos of the present to calm the madness of a public stage where passion has trumped reason. As Larson argues, liberty, slavery and racism — an essential element of slavery — have always been entwined. “One way or another,” he writes, “the American Revolution resulted in the first great emancipation of enslaved Blacks in the New World.”

Yet to deny that a liberty-seeking people largely denied freedom and equality to the enslaved is to deny a self-evident truth. Mindless celebration of the American past is just that — mindless. But so is reflexive condemnation. The messy, difficult, unavoidable truth of the American story is that it is fundamentally a human one. Imperfect, selfish, greedy, cruel — and sometimes noble. One might wish the nation’s story were simple. But that wish is in vain.

A key lesson from Larson’s narrative is that ages past were not benighted by a lack of knowledge of the immorality of race-based slavery. To me, Larson’s unemotional account of the Republic’s beginnings confirms a tragic truth: that influential white Americans knew — and understood — that slavery was wrong and liberty was precious, but chose not to act according to that knowledge and that understanding. ...

Wall Street Journal Book Review:  ‘American Inheritance’ Review: How Bondage Shadowed Freedom, by Harold Holzer (Hunter College):

Mr. Larson, a Pepperdine University historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for a book on the 1925 Scopes trial, submits enough evidence in his newest work to indict almost all the Southern (and some Northern) Founders for, if nothing else, insensitivity to the human beings they held in chains while rebelling against the British for enslaving the American colonies.

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January 21, 2023 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, January 16, 2023

Invitation: ABA Virtual Tax Book Club On Tax Law And The Environment

Tax Law and the EnvironmentThe next virtual meeting ABA Tax Policy and Simplification Committee Book Club will have its next meeting on Thursday, January 26, 2023 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET (registration). The book to be discussed is Tax Law and the Environment: A Multidisciplinary and Worldwide Perspective (Roberta F. Mann (Oregon) & Tracey M. Roberts (Samford) eds. 2020):

Tax Law and the Environment: A Multidisciplinary and Worldwide Perspective takes a multidisciplinary approach to explore the ways how tax policy can is used solve environmental problems throughout the world, using a multi-jurisdictional and multidisciplinary approach. Environmental taxation involves using taxes to impose a cost on environmentally harmful activities or tax subsidies to provide preferred tax treatment to more sustainable alternatives to those harmful activities. This book provides a detailed analysis of environmental taxation, with examples from around the world. As the extraction, processing and use of energy use resources is has been a major cause of environmental harm, this book explores the taxation and subsidization of both fossil fuels and renewable energy. Its analysis of the past, present, and future potential of environmental taxation will help policymakers move economies toward sustainability, as well as and informing students, academics, and citizens about tax solutions for pressing environmental issues.


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January 16, 2023 in ABA Tax Section, Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, January 2, 2023

In The New Year, We Must View Time Through A Divine Lens: To Dust We Will Return

Christianity Today:  To Dust We Will Return, by Jen Pollock Michel (Author, In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace (2023)): 

In Good Time 6In the New Year, we must view our time through a divine lens.

Just as there once was sacred space (in the medieval cathedrals, for example), there was also once sacred time. Kairos time, as the Greeks called it: this time existing beyond the veil of a day and the standardized unit of an hour. In fact, prior to the Reformation, we looked to the monks and nuns to renounce earthly pleasures and commit themselves to prayer. They lived the Lord’s time for the rest of us.

Today, of course, no one really lives the Lord’s time. All we’re left with is chronos time and the successive moments “which we try to measure and control in order to get things done.” ... All we’re left with is ordinary time—and the relentless goad of productivity. The untested assumption today is that getting things done is an infallible good, never mind the relative worth of those “things” and the predictable irritability involved in the striving.

Perhaps one of the most important discipleship endeavors today is reforming our relationship with time—and encouraging practices of living time more fittingly, more faithfully, more joyfully, more hopefully. The habits of “higher time” don’t have much to do with traditional time management advice, tips and tricks, or techniques and tools.

There is an important difference between improved executive functioning—and the practice of time—faith.

Habits of higher time have little to do with time-savvy. Calendaring may be involved, but mostly these habits involve a “labor of vision,” to borrow a phrase from another writer. Despite our best efforts at productivity, our lives will fog, and then evaporate, like winter breath. We will die.

As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field” (Isa. 40:6, ESV throughout). We will not finish all we’ve begun, will not accomplish all we’ve intended. Life will chill, the days shorten, and our bodies will catch in death’s wind and fall like autumn leaves.

Dust to dust. We will get no second chances on mortal time and its gifts.

If we fail to see time stretching beyond the final shudder, beyond the final slow wheeze of life, we are people to be pitied.

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January 2, 2023 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Friday, December 30, 2022

The Myth Of American Income Inequality

Wall Street Journal Book Review:  Believe Your Eyes, Not the Statistics, by Charles W. Calomiris (Columbia; Google Scholar) (reviewing Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund & John Early, The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate (2022)):

Myth 3According to Mark Twain, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that ain’t so.” “The Myth of American Inequality,” by Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund and John Early, quotes that wisdom, then offers 250 pages of analysis proving it. ...

Media commentators and politicians seem to believe that little progress has been made in raising average American living standards since the 1960s; that poverty has not been substantially reduced over the period; that the median household’s standard of living has not increased in recent years and inequality is currently high and rising (“a truth universally acknowledged,” according to the Economist magazine in 2020).

The authors—a former chairman of the Senate banking committee, a professor of economics at Auburn University and a former economist at the Bureau for Labor Statistics—show that these beliefs are false. Average living standards have improved dramatically. Real income of the bottom quintile, the authors write, grew more than 681% from 1967 to 2017. The percentage of people living in poverty fell from 32% in 1947 to 15% in 1967 to only 1.1% in 2017. Opportunities created by economic growth, and government-sponsored social programs funded by that growth, produced broadly shared prosperity: 94% of households in 2017 would have been at least as well off as the top quintile in 1967. Bottom-quintile households enjoy the same living standards as middle-quintile households, and on a per capita basis the bottom quintile has a 3% higher income. Top-quintile households receive income equal to roughly four times the bottom (and only 2.2 times the lowest on a per capita basis), not the 16.7 proportion popularly reported.

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December 30, 2022 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story Of Dan Markel's Murder

In October, I blogged the release of the fascinating book Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story of Acclaimed Law Professor Dan Markel's Murder (Oct. 9, 2022). The author, Steve Epstein, a litigation partner at Poyner Spruill (Raleigh, North Carolina), has published excerpts of the book on The Faculty Lounge:

  1. Extreme Punishment 4Friday, July 18, 2014, 10:50 a.m.

What happened in FSU law professor Dan Markel’s garage that fateful summer morning shook the Sunshine State’s capital city, Tallahassee, the entire Florida State community, and the legal academy writ large to its core.  Why on earth would a revered criminal law professor—the co-founder of PrawfsBlawg and prolific punishment theory scholar—be shot and killed in broad daylight?  Was this the act of a deranged madman or part of a coordinated plot to eliminate him?  And if the latter, who could possibly have been angry and desperate enough to do that?

To those who knew him—and there were literally thousands who did—they can recall with precision to this day, eight years later, exactly where they were and what they were doing when they received the news of Dan’s horrific slaying.  There aren’t many murder cases that result in international media attention and a cult-like following of people who devour every TV documentary, podcast, YouTube video, and news story about even the most minute pieces of evidence related to the murder or developments in the criminal case.  Yet something about this story—many things likely—have struck a chord that resonates with ordinary people as much, if not more, than those inhabiting the legal world and faculty lounge.

In EXTREME PUNISHMENT, I rewind the clock all the way back to the 1970s, when Dan Markel was growing up in Montreal and Toronto, and the 1980s, when Wendi Adelson was being raised alongside her two brothers in Coral Springs, Florida by her former schoolteacher mom, Donna, and dentist dad, Harvey.  Despite having grown up worlds apart, their paths to becoming law professors were incredibly similar, both having experienced transformative post-college fellowships and a master’s education at Cambridge University prior to attending law school.

With two Harvard degrees, a Ninth Circuit clerkship, and four published law review articles in hand, Dan had hoped and expected to land a position at an elite law school.  That he ended up at FSU—ultimately obtaining a job for Wendi there in a new legal clinic—is actually a huge part of why he ended up with two bullets in his head in July 2014.  Over the next few weeks, I will share additional snippets from EXTREME PUNISHMENT, telling just enough of this fascinating story to whet your appetite and convince you to read it all.

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December 28, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Inazu: How Can Christian Faculty Be Interfaith Leaders?

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), How Can Christian Faculty Be Interfaith Leaders?:

Proper 2In an earlier post, I discussed the importance of pursuing interfaith engagement without compromising core religious values. In contrast to some interfaith efforts that ignore or downplay differences, I suggested that meaningful interfaith relationships acknowledge and work across deep differences. This commitment grounds my friendship with Eboo Patel, the founder and president of Interfaith America.

Last month, Interfaith America (where I serve as a Senior Fellow) announced a new initiative with The Carver Project (an organization I founded five years ago). The initiative, which we’re calling the Newbigin Fellows, brings together cohorts of Christian faculty working at non-Christian institutions. These cohorts meet monthly over Zoom and then convene in person with the goal of cultivating relationships with one another, reflecting on the theory and practice of interfaith engagement, and developing interfaith activities on their respective campuses. ...

We’ve named the Newbigin Fellows after Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), who developed a theology of interfaith engagement as a missionary in South India and later in life working in a largely dechurched London. His life and work form a useful lens through which to consider the role of the fellows.

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December 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

May It Please The Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education

Patricia E. Salkin (Touro), May It Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education (Touro University Press 2022):

May it please the campusThis is a groundbreaking study on the important and little known role that lawyers have played as leaders in higher education.

The book traces the history of lawyer campus presidents from the 1700s to present, exploring dozens of topics such as: where lawyer presidents went to law school; the percentage of lawyer presidents serving at public, private, community, HBCUs, and religiously affiliated institutions; geographic concentrations of campuses led by lawyers, women lawyer presidents, pathways to the presidency for lawyers, commonalities in backgrounds, and more. The author explores reasons for an exponential increase in lawyers serving as campus leaders examining the growth of legal education and myriad legal and regulatory issues confronting higher education.


Dr. Salkin’s important book is original, engaging, provocative, comprehensive, and data driven. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about academic leadership and the future of higher education at a time when the only constants are accelerating change, daunting (often unexpected) crises, and proliferating regulation and legal challenges. Dr. Salkin provides us an invaluable resource for finding the right kind of lawyers who have the ‘Swiss-army-knife’-type professional tool kit and temperament to handle the myriad demands of academic administrative jobs.

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December 14, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Bono: 'Too Christian For The Mainstream, Too Mainstream For Christians?'

Christianity Today, Bono’s Punk-Rock

BonoGrief and God have been part of U2’s story from the start.

We got this invitation once,” Bono tells me. He speaks the next sentence with a tone of reverence: “The Reverend Billy Graham would love to meet the band and offer a blessing.”

We’re on a video call, and the frontman for U2 is sitting on the floor in front of a green couch, his computer on the coffee table in front of him. It’s golden hour in Dublin, and the just-setting sun makes the room glow. It’s almost theatrical. There’s a twinkle in his eye, too. He knows he has a good story.

“He’s the founder of Christianity Today,” he reminds me, grinning. “I didn’t know that then, but I still wanted the blessing. And I was trying to convince the band into coming with me, but for various reasons they couldn’t. It was difficult with the schedule, but I just found a way.”

This was in March 2002, just a few weeks after U2 played their legendary Super Bowl halftime show and days after their single “Walk On” won the Grammy for Record of the Year.

“His son Franklin picked me up at the airport,” Bono says, “and Franklin was doing very effective work with Samaritan’s Purse. But he wasn’t sure about his cargo.” He laughs. “On the way to meet his father, he kept asking me questions.”

Bono reenacts the conversation for me:

“You … you really love the Lord?”
“Okay, you do. Are you saved?”
“Yep, and saving.”
He doesn’t laugh. No laugh.
“Have you given your life? Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?”
“Oh, I know Jesus Christ, and I try not to use him just as my personal Savior. But, you know, yes.”
“Why aren’t your songs, um, Christian songs?”
“They are!”
“Oh, well, some of them are.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, why don’t they … Why don’t we know they’re Christian songs?”
I said, “They’re all coming from a place, Franklin. Look around you. Look at the creation, look at the trees, look at the sky, look at these kinds of verdant hills. They don’t have a sign up that says, ‘Praise the Lord’ or ‘I belong to Jesus.’ They just give glory to Jesus.”

For four decades, Bono has found himself in conversations like this one, responding to Christians who aren’t quite sure what to make of him or U2. ...

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November 27, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Colin Diver: Are The U.S. News Rankings Finally Going To Die?

New York Times Op-Ed:  Are the U.S. News College Rankings Finally Going to Die?, by Colin Diver (Former Dean, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Former President, Reed College; Author, Breaking Ranks: How the Rankings Industry Rules Higher Education and What to Do About It (Johns Hopkins University Press 2022) (more here):

Breaking Ranks 6Yale’s law school made the stunning announcement last week that it would no longer participate in the influential rankings published annually by U.S. News & World Report. Given the outsize importance attributed to the rankings by prospective applicants and alumni, Yale’s decision sent shock waves through the legal profession, and indeed all of higher education. Yet the law schools at Harvard, Berkeley, Georgetown, Columbia, Stanford and Michigan [and Duke and Northwestern] quickly followed suit. Will the universities of which they are a part join the boycott? Will other colleges and professional schools do the same? Could this be the beginning of the end for college rankings?

I sure hope so.

Since their emergence in 1983, the U.S. News college rankings have grown into a huge juggernaut. They have withstood decades of withering criticism — from journalistsuniversity presidents and the U.S. secretary of education — that the methodology ignores the distinctive character of individual schools and drives institutions to abandon priorities and principles in favor of whatever tweaks will bump them up a notch or two.

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November 22, 2022 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Tim Keller: Forgive — Why Should I And How Can I?

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), Tim Keller on Forgiveness:

ForgiveMy past two newsletters have examined the topic of forgiveness [Pandemic Forgiveness and The Incomprehensible Witness Of Forgiveness]. ... I thought the topic merited one more engagement, so I reached out to my friend, Tim Keller. ...

Tim’s latest book, out just this month, is Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? [blogged here]. It explores the power of forgiveness and how we can practice it in our lives.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation.

John Inazu: What prompted you to write this book now?

Tim Keller: Two reasons. First, as a pastor I’ve spent decades teaching and counseling about this subject. It is one of the main resources that Christianity provides. But secondly, it seems that forgiveness is “fading” in our society. Some on the Left says that forgiveness is a way for oppressors to stay in power so we shouldn’t grant it to them. Others on the Right are now complaining that we cannot go into the public square with compassion—rather, we should be tougher, less forgiving. But social relationships cannot be sustained without forgiveness. Marriages, families, friendships—they all require forgiveness in one way or another. ...

JI: We know that forgiveness does not always require a Christian or even a theological framework. For example, Nelson Mandela did not base his forgiveness on religious commitments. But your new book argues that the Bible teaches “human forgiveness must be based on an experience of divine forgiveness” and “we must consciously base our forgiveness of others on God’s forgiveness of us.” How do you account for the Mandelas of the world? 

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November 20, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WSJ: Ten Books To Read On Faith In The Modern World

Wall Street Journal Bookshelf, 10 Books to Read on Faith in the Modern World:

A set of recent books—as seen through the eyes of Wall Street Journal reviewers—as fascinating, thought-provoking and various as the shades of contemporary belief.

I have blogged five of these ten books:

WSJ Books

After Disbelief: On Disenchantment, Disappointment, Eternity, and Joy
By Anthony T. Kronman | Yale

America’s Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911
By Mark A. Noll | Oxford

God, Grades, and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success
By Ilana M. Horwitz | Oxford

How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
By David DeSteno | Simon & Schuster

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November 20, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, November 6, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Black, Christian And Transcending The Political Binary

New York Times Op-Ed:  Black, Christian and Transcending the Political Binary, by Tish Harrison Warren (Priest, Anglican Church; Author, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep (2021) (Christianity Today's 2022 Book of the Year)):

Compassion (2020)Justin Giboney is a lawyer and political strategist in Atlanta who grew up in the Black church. He says his theological foundation came from his grandfather, who was a bishop in a Black Pentecostal denomination. Giboney is also the president and a co-founder of the AND Campaign, a Christian civic organization meant to represent people of faith who do not fit neatly into either political party [and co-author of Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign's Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement (2020); see also The Faithful Voters Who Helped Put Biden Over The Top].

I’ve written before about how I’m intrigued by people and movements that defy our prescribed ideological categories. The AND Campaign, which is based in Atlanta and has 15 chapters across the United States, is one of those. Led almost entirely by young professionals, artists, pastors and community leaders of color, the group advocates voting rights and police reform, leads what it calls a “whole life project” dedicated to reducing abortion and supporting mothers, endorses a “livable wage” and champions other issues that break left and right, in turn.

As we approach the midterms, Giboney graciously agreed to speak with me about the state of our politics from the perspective of a person of faith who is also a person of color — what it’s like to embrace traditional Christian theology while also opposing the political stances of many white evangelicals, and what it’s like to be committed to social justice in ways that differ from those of many secular progressives. ...

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November 6, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Dean Presents For-Profit Philanthropy Today At UC-Hastings

Steven Dean (Brooklyn) presents a chapter from For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power & the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, & Strategic Corporate Giving (Jan. 2023) (with Dana Brakman Reiser (Brooklyn; Google Scholar)) at UC-Hastings today as part of its Tax Speaker Series hosted by Heather Field and Manoj Viswanathan:

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
— The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

The size of the US philanthropic sector hints at the pivotal role it has long played in American society. Americans gave almost $485 billion to charities in 2021 alone, a record-breaking outpouring of generosity sparked by the global pandemic but not out of step with typical annual totals. The nonprofit sector employs well over 10 percent of US private workers, and grantmaking foundations hold more than $1 trillion in assets, with billions more held by operating charities.

Disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic bring the contributions of this sector—to research, public health, job training, and community support—into sharp relief. Philanthropic institutions have the power to change lives and shape policy, fueled by a combination of private funding, government subsidies, and public goodwill. It has been a hallmark of American society since Alexis de Tocqueville identified it as unique in the 1830s. Yet, for all its power, a crisis now looms over the future of the philanthropic sector itself.

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October 25, 2022 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story Of Dan Markel's Murder

Less than a month after the release of a book on Dan Markel's murder by his mother, Steve Epstein (a litigation partner at Poyner Spruill (Raleigh, North Carolina)) has published (last Sunday, on what would have been Dan's 50th birthday) Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story of Acclaimed Law Professor Dan Markel's Murder (Oct. 9, 2022):

Extreme PunishmentA devoted father. One of the most accomplished criminal law scholars in the country. Someone wanted him dead. But why?

On the morning of July 18, 2014, 41-year-old Florida State law professor Dan Markel dropped his boys off at preschool, hit the gym, and headed home to his quiet, tree-canopied neighborhood. Within seconds of pulling into his garage, two .38-caliber bullets fired from point-blank range were lodged in his brain.

His brutal slaying defied explanation. The case went stone cold for nearly two years before dogged pursuit by the Tallahassee Police and the FBI resulted in the arrest of two life-long criminals who had driven 10 hours from Miami with one singular purpose: to murder the esteemed professor. Were his ex-wife Wendi Adelson and her South Florida family the masterminds behind this horrific crime?

EXTREME PUNISHMENT is the riveting story of a divorce between two law professors that spiraled out of control, wealthy in-laws hell-bent on revenge, an unlikely love triangle, and the relentless quest to bring Dan’s killers—all of them—to justice.

“EXTREME PUNISHMENT is the book those of us who have been mesmerized by the search for justice in Dan Markel’s murder have been waiting for. Steve Epstein takes the reader through all the twists and turns of this remarkable case and provides richly textured insights into the lives of the people involved in, and affected by, this American tragedy.”
—Paul Caron, Dean of Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law and Founder of TaxProf Blog, a leading source of information about Dan Markel’s murder

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October 12, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, October 9, 2022

WSJ Book Review: How Christianity Became More Conservative And Society More Secular

Wall Street Journal Book Review:  ‘Christianity’s American Fate’ Review: The Faith and Its Keepers, by D.G. Hart (Hillsdale College; Author, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism (2011)) (reviewing David A. Hollinger (UC-Berkeley; Google Scholar), Christianity's American Fate: How Religion Became More Conservative and Society More Secular (2022):

CAFWhatever happened to fundamentalism? When Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell Sr. were alive, people knew that the former, a poster boy for evangelicalism, was winsome, and the latter, a fundamentalist TV preacher and head of the Moral Majority, was not. That was also a time when journalists classified Islamic terrorists as fundamentalists. Now “evangelical” carries most of the baggage fundamentalists packed. In elite academic and media circles, white evangelicalism is often associated with Christian nationalism, white supremacy, misogyny and distrust of science.

In “Christianity’s American Fate,” David A. Hollinger, a distinguished historian at the University of California, Berkeley (now retired), equates these terms. He begins by claiming, correctly, that fundamentalism was parent to evangelicalism. He leaves out that evangelicals tried to correct for fundamentalist cussedness with a kinder, gentler version of conservative Protestantism. Mr. Hollinger cannot accept that rebranding because 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016. For that reason, evangelicals threaten the intellectual and cultural norms of the mainstream. It’s debatable whether evangelicalism, interpreted carefully for 40 years by reputable scholars, deserves to be lumped in with bigoted Protestantism. In any case, Mr. Hollinger adds another to the pile of recent books that interpret support for Mr. Trump as evidence of evangelical toxicity.

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October 9, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Stewart: Tax And Government In The 21st Century

Miranda Stewart (Melbourne), Tax and Government in the 21st Century (Miranda Stewart (Melbourne) ed., Cambridge University Press 2022):

Tax & GovernmentWith an accessible style and clear structure, Miranda Stewart explains how taxation finances government in the twenty-first century, exploring tax law in its historical, economic, and social context. Today, democratic tax states face an array of challenges, including the changing nature of work, the digitalisation and globalisation of the economy, and rebuilding after the fiscal crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart demonstrates the centrality of taxation for government budgets and explains key tax principles of equity, efficiency and administration. Presenting examples from a wide range of jurisdictions and international developments, Stewart shows how tax policy and law operate in our everyday lives, ranging from family and working life to taxing multinational enterprises in the global digital economy. Employing an interdisciplinary approach to the history and future of taxation law and policy, this is a valuable resource for legal scholars, practitioners and policy makers.


Miranda Stewart's outstanding book is unique in providing a broad overview of taxation in the 21st century, with an emphasis on how tax shapes the relationship between a democratic state and its citizens. It should be read not just by tax specialists but by anyone who is interested in the crucial challenges globalization poses to maintaining sovereignty, democracy and the social insurance safety net.
Reuven S. Avi-Yonah — Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law, University of Michigan

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October 8, 2022 in Book Club, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sunday, October 2, 2022

NY Times: F3 (Fitness, Fellowship, Faith) — A Cure For Middle-Age Male Loneliness?

New York Times, For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith:

By day, Glenn Ayala is a 50-something account manager who spends much of his time behind a desk. But at Rick Rice Park in the early morning darkness, doing push-ups and jogging with a 20-pound rucksack on his back, he is known as K9, and he is with his people.

One Friday in August, Mr. Ayala joined about 20 other men in what they called the predawn “gloom” for the group’s regular workout. They grunted and hooted un-self-consciously, razzing one another and shouting encouragements, using nicknames generated by the group. (Mr. Ayala got his because he trains dogs in his spare time.)

The members also often gather to pray together and talk, building friendships that have extended into their daily lives: When Mr. Ayala separated from his wife, members of the group helped him move. When his relationship with his adult son floundered, they texted him Garth Brooks songs to buoy him.

This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie. After its founding in 2011 as a free, outdoor group workout, its popularity exploded during the pandemic, expanding to some 3,400 groups across the country from 1,900, aiming to solve, as John Lambert, a.k.a. Slaughter, the network’s chief executive, put it, “a problem that society at large and men definitely didn’t even know they had: middle-age male loneliness.” ...

I first heard about F3 through a few acquaintances in Texas, men who spoke about their local groups with the zeal of evangelists. It reminded me of how urban women used to talk with me about SoulCycle, only these guys were suburban fathers.

Its no-frills formula inspires fervent devotion. “F3 has changed my life,” Mr. Ayala said. He first attended last year, when a friend repeatedly nudged him to try it — or in F3’s baroque jargon, put him in an “emotional headlock.” He was hooked immediately. About a year ago, he got an F3 tattoo on his chest. ...

In F3, there are no facilities, no formal gear and no membership fees. Popular in the South, where outdoor workouts are pleasant most months of the year, the groups are ostensibly nonsectarian, in the style of Alcoholics Anonymous, though many have a Christian emphasis. Some men describe the group as complementing and expanding on their experiences in church.

F3 is also the rare setting devoted to male bonding. It means you “have guys to do life with,” said Pastor Giraud, a.k.a. Baby Shark, who works out with Mr. Ayala. “To really care for others and be cared for, to acknowledge others and be acknowledged.” ,,,

Many F3 men want to be traditionally strong providers, but also be more active and attentive in their family lives than their own fathers were.

David French (The Dispatch), A Short Story of Men:

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October 2, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, September 29, 2022

What Trump Gets Right About Harvard

Politico Magazine: What Trump Gets Right about Harvard, by Evan Mandery (CUNY; Google Scholar; Author, Poison Ivy: How Elite Colleges Divide Us (2022)):

Poison IvyClad in his trademark red sweater, Hall of Fame college basketball coach Bobby Knight introduced Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to an enthusiastic audience of supporters in late September 2016. “I’ll tell you one thing for damn sure,” Knight bellowed. “I know how to win and he’s going to be the best winner we’ve had in a long time.”

Trump emerged to the theme from Rocky, praised Knight’s incredible winning record, and then launched into a diatribe about elite colleges and universities. Two months earlier, Hillary Clinton had proposed to make public college free for middle-class families. Trump would have none of that. “Universities get massive tax breaks for massive endowments,” Trump said, to boos and catcalls. “These huge multi-billion-dollar endowments are tax free,” he explained. “But too many of these universities don’t use the money to help with tuition and student debt. Instead, these universities use the money to pay their administrators or put donors’ names on buildings or just store the money, keep it, and invest it.” The chorus of boos loudened. “In fact, many universities spend more on private equity managers than on tuition programs.”

Trump’s persistent attacks on elites were a major component of his electoral strategy and remained a key part of his message during his presidency and subsequent exile. Condemning elites — particularly in higher education — has long been a part of the GOP playbook, but it’s even more key today. Last November, Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance delivered a half-hour speech at the National Conservatism Conference titled, “The Universities are the Enemy.” Vance accused universities of pursuing “deceit and lies.” To applause, he said, “I think if any of us want to do the things that we want to do for our country and for the people who live in it, we have to honestly and aggressively attack the universities in this country.” Vance’s would-be Senate colleagues Josh Hawley — like Vance, a graduate of Yale Law School — and Ted Cruz — a graduate of Harvard — routinely attack elites and elite institutions.

To some extent, elite colleges are simply collateral damage in the culture war. Indeed, the thrust of Vance’s speech is about the need to break through the indoctrination of the liberal intelligentsia — via what he calls “red pilling,” a reference to The Matrix — where the “fundamental corruption” at the root of the system, as Vance put it, can’t be unseen once seen. “So much of what drives truth and knowledge, as we understand it in this country,” Vance said, “is fundamentally determined by, supported by and reinforced by the universities in this country.”

But that’s not the whole story. Another line of attack is about access. It’s about who gets to be part of the elite, and whether America has gotten a fair return on the massive investment that it has made in elite colleges. For, difficult as this might be for liberals to hear, almost everything Trump said to the crowd Bobby Knight had warmed up was true.

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September 29, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Dickerson Reviews Brown's The Whiteness Of Wealth

A. Mechele Dickerson (Texas), Shining a Bright Light on the Color of Wealth, 120 Mich. L. Rev. 1085 (2022) (reviewing Dorothy A. Brown (Georgetown; Google Scholar), The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It (2021)):

Michigan Law Review (2022)Professor Dorothy A. Brown boldly asserts in The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It  that “whiteness has consistently and continually played a serious role in wealth building” (p. 20). Using stories from her life and the lives of other Black taxpayers, Brown methodically exposes how the same tax laws and policies that help whites build intergenerational wealth impoverish Blacks. Although readers who lack a business or legal background may not grasp the intricate technicalities of the Internal Revenue Code sections that Brown dissects, that does not matter. The clarity of Brown’s writing, her storytelling, and vivid examples involving her parents (Miss Dottie and James) and other ordinary Black taxpayers convey complex points—think tax policy preferences for horizontal equity or the lock-in effect—with ease.

This Review examines Brown’s powerful assertion that tax policies build and protect intergenerational white wealth and exacerbate the racial wealth gap by subsidizing activities and personal choices that disproportionately benefit white taxpayers. Those stunned by the enormity of this racial wealth gap will be horrified to learn that tax policies were designed to create white wealth.

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September 28, 2022 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ruth Markel Publishes Book On Her Son Dan's Murder, Sees Her Grandchildren For The First Time In Six Years

Ruth Markel, The Unveiling: A Mother's Reflection on Murder, Grief, and Trial Life (Sept. 20, 2022):

Markel Book (2022)Ruth Markel is the mother of the late Dan Markel, a noted law professor who was murdered in Tallahassee, Florida in 2014.

In The Unveiling, she describes her experiences since the day of Dan’s death from several distinct perspectives:

  • As a devastated mother with the unique human perspective of becoming a homicide survivor and victim.
  • As a woman whose attempts to achieve normalcy and live a healthy life are continually interrupted by painful reminders, a rollercoaster of hearings, frequently changing trial dates, verdicts, and appeals.
  • As an engaged citizen using what she has learned to help other victims of homicide and violent crimes recover from trauma and begin an optimistic outlook on life.
  • As an insider who shows how our collective network of family, friends, and experts—including a murder coach—have helped her family remain involved, motivated, and hopeful.
  • As a grandmother who had not been allowed to see her grandchildren in many years, she used advocacy to inspire the Florida State Legislature to pass a grandparent visitation bill.
  • And as an experienced author of nine books using the written word to effectively address the shift from grief to promise.

Toronto Sun, Mom's Quest to Solve University Professor's Murder:

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September 27, 2022 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key To A Gracious View Of Others (And Yourself)

David Zahl (Director, Mockingbird Ministries), Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key to a Gracious View of Others (and Yourself) (2022):

Low AnthropologyMany of us spend our days feeling like we're the only one with problems, while everyone else has their act together. But the sooner we realize that everyone struggles like we do, the sooner we can show grace to ourselves and others.

In Low Anthropology, popular author and theologian David Zahl explores how our ideas about human nature influence our expectations in friendship, work, marriage, and politics. We all go through life with an "anthropology"—an idea about what humans are like, our potentials and our limitations. A high anthropology—thinking optimistically about human nature—can breed perfectionism, anxiety, burnout, loneliness, and resentment. Meanwhile, Zahl invites readers into a biblically rooted and surprisingly life-giving low anthropology, which fosters hope, deep connection with others, lasting love, vulnerability, compassion, and happiness.

Zahl offers a liberating view of human nature, sin, and grace, showing why the good news of Christianity is both urgent and appealing. By embracing a more accurate view of human beings, readers will discover a true and lasting hope.

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September 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Celebrities For Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, And Profits Are Hurting The Church

Katelyn Beaty (Editorial Director, Brazos Press), Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church (2022):

BeatyMany Christian leaders use their fame and influence to great effect. Whether that popularity resides at the local church level or represents national or international influence, many leaders have effectively said to their followers, "Follow me as I follow Christ." But fame that is cultivated for its own sake, without attendant spiritual maturity and accountability, has a shadow side that runs counter to the heart of the gospel. Celebrity--defined as social power without proximity--has led to abuses of power, the cultivation of persona, and a fixation on profits.

In light of the fall of famous Christian leaders in recent years, the time has come for the church to reexamine its relationship to celebrity. Award-winning journalist Katelyn Beaty explores the ways fame has reshaped the American church, explains how and why celebrity is woven into the fabric of the evangelical movement, and identifies many ways fame has gone awry in recent years. She shows us how evangelical culture is uniquely attracted to celebrity gurus over and against institutions, and she offers a renewed vision of ordinary faithfulness, helping us all keep fame in its proper place.

With insight and empathy, Katelyn Beaty diagnoses the broken patterns of leadership we see in the church. This book shows us the isolation and loneliness and abuse that can come from, and contribute to, these expectations of celebrity. But this book is no mere jeremiad. It points the way forward to renewed visions of power, accountability, and humility.
Russell Moore, chair of public theology, Christianity Today

Christianity Today Book Review, Christian Celebrity Isn’t a Problem to Fix, But an Eye to Gouge Out:

There is such a thing as making a problem too easy. And there are times where that error can yield devastating consequences.

This thought came to mind while reading Katelyn Beaty’s book Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church. The book has much to admire. Beaty, a writer and former CT editor, is a keen observer of power dynamics within institutions and movements, for starters. She also is a good student of contemporary technological trends, with a well-developed understanding of how digital technology has transformed and exacerbated the problems of fame and celebrity both in the church and outside.

What’s more, I found her prudent counsel for how we might curb the worst excesses of celebrity to be wise and admirable. Her conversation partners in the final chapter are, if predictable, also wise: Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, Andy Crouch, Dallas Willard.

Pulling punches
Yet for all its merits, I found the book to be ultimately too moderate in its critique. While Celebrities for Jesus is a wise book, it is also, for a certain type of evangelical, a relatively pleasant book. ... As Beaty profiles the many cases of egregious moral failure and abuse of power by Christian celebrities ranging from Mark Driscoll to Ravi Zacharias to Bill Hybels, she consistently tries to keep the fact of evangelical celebrity separate from the abuse of evangelical celebrity, holding out hope that we can have one without the other. Effectively, she holds out hope that you can have the huge online platform, get the massive six-figure book deal, enjoy the luxurious mansion, and be okay as long as you recognize the dangers of celebrity and don’t abuse your power.

In one passage she writes,

Christian leaders should always ask whether their spending signals modesty or opulence—especially to those they are ministering to. The point here is not that private jets are always evil (although, on the whole, I’d argue their problems far outweigh their temporary conveniences). Or that nice meals, second homes, and expensive clothes are always and everywhere wrong. The point here is that all these things in our time signify lavish displays of wealth. To keep the worldly lure of money in check, Christian leaders should cultivate financial modesty—and ask others to hold them accountable to it.

There is a tension between discussing problems inherent to celebrity and problems dealing with the abuse of celebrity. Teasing the two apart is seldom easy. Yet it seemed like much of the book’s rhetorical firepower was fixed on the latter rather than the former. Thus there are points where Beaty’s analysis suggests that we might avoid the pitfalls of celebrity if only the celebrities themselves would cut back on ostentation and excess, instead adopting healthier habits (and even pursuing a kind of obscurity).

But this doesn’t altogether work, as the passage above illustrates: If you have a private jet, you are being opulent. There is not a modest way of buying a private jet or, to use another example Beaty offers in that chapter, a $2,000 purse. By refusing to just say no to these displays, Beaty shrinks back from saying the hard thing and gives readers an out from the problem she’s highlighting. By pulling her punches in this way, Beaty tames the force of her critique.

Yet the fuller, more assertive version of Beaty’s critique is precisely what American evangelicals need to hear today. ...

When I survey the wreckage of evangelical celebrity, I don’t see any reason for moderation. The seeker-sensitive movement and its natural descendant, online church, is the evangelical version of the eye that we must gouge out and cast into the fire before it condemns our entire movement to those flames. Yet Beaty seems hesitant to go there. Even as she ends the book she writes, “To be sure, screens are not inherently evil, nor are large churches, social media platforms, or charismatic personalities.” ...

It’s possible I am wrong, of course, and that calling on Christian leaders to distance themselves from social media, break up their megachurches into smaller neighborhood parishes, and fully repudiate the lavish lifestyles of Hillsong preachers is asking too much. But when I survey the American church today, I see no reason to think celebrity of any sort should be preserved. And I see many reasons to think it’s leading us to hell.

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September 18, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 11, 2022

WSJ: Pastor Timothy Keller Speaks To The Head And The Heart

Wall Street Journal Weekend Confidential, Pastor Timothy Keller Speaks to the Head and the Heart:

KellerDr. Keller, 71, has earned a wide following for his erudite and engaging teaching of the Gospel. Since he founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan in 1989, his appeal to young, educated professionals has helped it grow from a few dozen members to more than 5,000 weekly attendees across three locations. His sermons, which address believers and nonbelievers alike, are available on a podcast that over 2.5 million people download each month. He has also written more than two dozen books on subjects such as God, death, marriage and meaning; his new book Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? will be published in November. ...

Though he is theologically conservative, Dr. Keller is wary of calling himself “evangelical,” largely owing to the term’s political implications. “It creates images in people’s minds that don’t fit me,” he explains. Although the Bible teaches that we should welcome immigrants and help the poor, he notes that it doesn’t specify whether government should be big or small, or whether taxes should be high or low. Thus Christians shouldn’t feel they are obligated to vote for either Democrats or Republicans. He adds that politics are creating serious fissures within the church. “People are walking away from each other,” he says. “It’s quite painful.”

An introverted “egghead” when he arrived at Bucknell, Dr. Keller recalls that he felt pride in usually being the smartest kid in the room. “I didn’t realize that was killing me,” he says now. He explains that he learned from reading St. Augustine that his loves were “not ordered properly.” Seeking fulfillment from his intelligence made him susceptible to despair if he got a bad grade. By learning to love God first and making this love central, he says, he became more able to manage life’s disappointments.

“Unless you love God the most, you will turn your children or spouse or job into a kind of god that you will expect to completely fulfill you,” he explains. This is a recipe for dissatisfaction, he adds, and often alienates those we love by burdening them with unreasonable expectations. Dr. Keller often quotes C.S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in.’ Aim at earth and you get neither.” ...

Dr. Keller preaches a conservative Christianity to his cosmopolitan flock, in which marriage is between a man and a woman and abortion is murder. ...

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September 11, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink