Paul L. Caron
Dean





Sunday, November 27, 2022

David French: An Open Letter To Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith Because I Support The Respect For Marriage Act

Following up on last Sunday's post, Christian Colleges And Universities Support Senate-Passed Bipartisan Respect For Marriage Act With Protections For Both LGBTQ Rights And Religious Freedom:  David French (The Dispatch), An Open Letter to Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith:

FrenchIt’s been an interesting few days. Ever since I wrote (first in The Atlantic and then on Sunday here in The Dispatch) in support of the Senate version of the Respect for Marriage Act, I’ve been subject to an absolute torrent of online criticism, mainly from fellow Christians. The culmination of the critiques came from Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who took to the pages of World Magazine to pen a piece called “The Parable of David French.” 

“This is how conservatism dies,” he wrote. “This is how marriage is surrendered.”

That’s dramatic! But it’s not as extreme as other critiques, including those who questioned whether I am truly a Christian, who told me I should face church discipline, and who compared my support for the Respect for Marriage Act to support for slavery. I kid you not.

Whew. That’s a lot. It’s always a struggle to know when to keep addressing an argument and when to just move on, but given the continued attacks—now running into their sixth day—I think it’s important to go one more round. And this time I’m going to take a bit of a different approach. I’m going to address directly, from the ground up, why the debate is so confused and why the distinctions between Christian marriage (what I’ll call “covenant marriage”) and civil marriage matter so very much.

I’m particularly interested in the various allegations of apostasy, especially given my agreement with the orthodox creeds and confessions of the church, including doctrines relating to sex, sexuality, and sexual morality. In fact, in 2019, I signed the controversial Nashville Statement, in large part because I thought it was important for Christians to offer a clear statement of orthodox Christian theology on matters of sexual controversy.

The intent of the Nashville Statement, as I understood it, was not to write a model law for a secular state, but rather to clear up confusion in Christian churches about the basics of Christian doctrine. Despite its explicitly religious purpose, it is still very helpful to the debate because it clarifies where I think discussions over marriage often go so very wrong. 

Here’s the definition of marriage taken directly from the statement itself: Marriage is the “covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.” Other faiths might have other definitions of marriage, but this is among the best Christian definitions I’ve read.

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November 27, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

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?”
“Yep.”
“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

Auditing Scientology: Reexamining The Church's 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption Eligibility

Taylor C. Holley (J.D. 2022, Texas Tech), Comment, Auditing Scientology: Reexamining the Church's 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption Eligibility, 54 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 345 (2022): 

ScientologyThe Church of Scientology is one of the most discussed religions of the modern era, and its beliefs and practices have been shrouded in controversy since its emergence in the 1950’s. Shortly thereafter, the Internal Revenue Service recognized Scientology as a valid religious organization, thus granting certain governmental protections and benefits afforded to religious organizations in this country, including tax exemption. After a decades-long battle between the Church and the IRS, the IRS eventually granted a blanket tax exemption to all Scientology organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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November 27, 2022 in Faith, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Thursday, November 24, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Even Your Political Enemies Deserve A Slice Of Thanksgiving Pie

New York Times Op-Ed:  Even Your Political Enemies Deserve a Slice of Pie, 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)):

Warren 3Just as some friends have inside jokes, my best friend, Woody, and I have an imaginary holiday. We call it Interdependence Day, an intentional play on Independence Day. The point is to recognize how we are all in this together. We mention it from time to time — things we hope to celebrate on Interdependence Day, people we want to honor on Interdependence Day, how we should get together for Interdependence Day. ...

I think that Thanksgiving, at its best, is something like Interdependence Day. The practice of gratitude asks us to acknowledge how our very existence depends on others. This yearly reminder of that reality is needed now more than ever.

Americans often cling to a myth of utter self-sufficiency. The hero is the self-made man. But if we are truly self-made, gratitude becomes impossible. In the 19th century, while visiting the United States, the French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville observed a tendency for Americans to forget their larger community and past. In the now-classic “Democracy in America,” he wrote that the American citizen he saw was “thrown back forever upon himself alone” and confined “entirely within the solitude of his own heart.”

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November 24, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

A Wall Street Journal Thanksgiving

Wall Street Journal editorial, The Desolate Wilderness:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love. ...

This editorial has appeared annually since 1961.

Wall Street Journal editorial, And the Fair Land:

Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

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November 24, 2022 in Faith, 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

Christian Colleges And Universities Support Senate-Passed Bipartisan Respect For Marriage Act With Protections For Both LGBTQ Rights And Religious Freedom

Carl H. Esbeck (Missouri), Everything You Need to Know About the Respect for Marriage Act:

CCU Logo 0This week, the Senate advanced the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA). The law tries to balance the unquestionable goodness of traditional marriage with America’s changing views on same-sex relationships. Some conservatives will undoubtedly treat the act as a loss. But others will take the view that, in a morally pluralistic society, a few concessions yield a win for the common good. I’m one of them.

The history of RMA goes back to late June, when the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overruled its predecessor Roe v. Wade. Buried in a concurring opinion by justice Clarence Thomas was his suggestion that the court make a clean sweep of things by reconsidering the 2015 Obergefell decision finding a constitutional right to gay marriage. That comment unsettled the tens of thousands of Americans who had entered same-sex unions, which in conservative states are dependent on Obergefell remaining good law.

In response, the US House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, or H.R. 8404. But it failed to safeguard religious liberty for churches, universities, and other institutions that believe in traditional marriage.

Rather than just say no to RMA, a small collective of faith groups moved quickly in the Senate to see if the act could be brought into balance. A few senators from both parties who were keen on doing just that helped. After adding in a measure of religious liberty protections, the Senate substitute of the House bill passed the higher chamber earlier this week, 62–37.

In order of significance, here’s what you need to know about the Respect for Marriage Act:

Section 6(b) of RMA recognizes that religious nonprofits and their personnel have a statutory right to decline any involvement with a marriage solemnization or celebration—including a same-sex one. This federal right would preempt any state or local law to the contrary. It means clergy can refuse to officiate a gay wedding. A church can decline to be the venue for these unions. A Christian college can deny use of its chapel for the same reason, and a Christian summer camp can refuse use of its lake and nearby pavilion, as well. ...

All in all, RMA is a modest but good day’s work. It shows that religious liberty champions and LGBT advocates can work together for the common good. It says to the original House bill, “If a bill is about us, it has to be with us.” And it shows that Congress can still legislate, not just be a gaggle of egos who go to Washington to perform but never fix.

Daily Citizen, Christian Groups Clash Over Religious Freedom Provisions in the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’:

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November 20, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Inazu: The Incomprehensible Witness Of Forgiveness

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), The Incomprehensible Witness of Forgiveness (Part Two):

Emanuel MovieSeven years ago, I wrote about the extraordinary acts of forgiveness extended by family members of the black churchgoers massacred by Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina on June 15, 2015. I titled that piece, like this one, “The Incomprehensible Witness of Forgiveness.” What struck me then—and now—is how offensive the idea of forgiveness sounds to so many.

In 2015, I was responding in part to New York Times columnist Roxane Gay, who insisted that some acts like the Charleston massacre are “beyond forgiving” and that she personally was “done forgiving.” Curiously, Gay still expressed “deep respect” for those family members who forgave, all of whom acted out of their Christian commitments. But as I wrote in response to her essay:

If forgiveness really merits condemnation or skepticism, then why not focus on those who gave it instead of deflecting, deconstructing, or downplaying their acts? The scandal of forgiveness does not lie with the media or the narrative—it lies with the very nature of Christian forgiveness: “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” And when Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus replied, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

If the kind of forgiveness commanded by Jesus is indeed incomprehensible, it should be unsurprising that many people will reject it as misguided or even immoral. The challenge for those whose faith commands forgiveness—Christian or otherwise—is to show why it matters.

Last week, my post about “pandemic forgiveness” engaged with Emily Oster’s Atlantic article, “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty.” I also reflected on the nature of forgiveness by drawing upon many of the same sources I referenced in my earlier piece on Charleston. While I wasn’t sure what pandemic reconciliation would look like on a social level, I suggested that we might look first to our individual relationships with friends and family whose pandemic choices created relational rifts.

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November 13, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WaPo: A $100 Million Campaign Aims To Fix Jesus’ Brand From Followers’ Damage

Washington Post, A $100 Million Campaign Aims to Fix Jesus’ Brand From Followers’ Damage:

A $100 million effort launched this year is blanketing cities and the web, aiming to redeem Jesus’ brand from the damage done by some of his followers.

Billboards with messages like “Jesus let his hair down, too” and “Jesus went all in, too,” have been posted in major markets like New York City and Las Vegas. And ads featuring black-and-white online videos about Jesus as a rebel, an activist or a host of a dinner party have been viewed more than 300 million times, according to orgnizers.

The He Gets Us campaign, funded by the Signatry, a Christian foundation based in Kansas, will expand in the next few months, with an updated website, an online store where people can get free gear if they forgive someone or welcome a stranger, and an outreach program for churches, all leading up to a Super Bowl ad.

Jon Lee, one of the chief architects of the campaign, said organizers hope to start a movement of people who want to tell a better story about Jesus and act like him.

“Our goal is to give voice to the pent-up energy of like-minded Jesus followers, those who are in the pews and the ones that aren’t, who are ready to reclaim the name of Jesus from those who abuse it to judge, harm and divide people,” said Lee, a principal at Lerma, a cross-cultural advertising agency based in Dallas.

Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, a branding firm based in Grand Haven, Mich., said the movement hopes to bridge the gap between the story of Jesus and the public perception of his followers. The campaign has done extensive market research and found that, while many Americans like Jesus, they are skeptical of his followers. ..

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November 13, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Yeshiva University Announces New LGBTQ Club While Continuing Its Legal Battle With The Existing One

Inside Higher Ed, Yeshiva University Announces New LGBTQ Club While Continuing its Legal Battle With the Existing One:

Yeshiva Pride LogoA recent move by the Yeshiva University administration has revealed fractures among students, faculty and staff members regarding what LGBTQ inclusion on campus should look like and who has the right to decide. Administrators at the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution announced plans two weeks ago to create a new LGBTQ support club, sanctioned by the university and its rabbis. At the same time, the university continues to refuse to recognize the existing LGBTQ club formed by students, the YU Pride Alliance. The two have been mired in a messy and ongoing lawsuit for over a year.

The new club, which currently has no students and has yet to be formed, would be called Kol Yisrael Areivim, a Hebrew phrase meaning “all Jews are responsible for one another.” The announcement says the club will be a place for LGBTQ students to “gather, share their experiences, host events, and support one another while benefiting from the full resources of the Yeshiva community—all within the framework of Halacha [Jewish law]—as all other student clubs.”

“We are eager to support and facilitate the religious growth and personal life journeys of all of our students to lead authentic Torah lives, and we hope that this Torah-based initiative with a new student club tailored to Yeshiva’s undergraduate LGBTQ students will provide them with meaningful support to do so,” Rabbi Ari Berman, the university’s president, said in the announcement. ...

Reactions to the announcement ranged from celebration to outrage to head scratching.

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November 13, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Inazu: Pandemic Forgiveness

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), Is it Time for Pandemic Forgiveness?:

Tutu 4Earlier this week, Emily Oster caused quite a stir with an Atlantic essay titled “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty.” As Oster noted, the uncertainty and frenzy in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that people took different sides on almost every conceivable policy response. ... Oster noted that those who ended up being right “may want to gloat” while those who got it wrong “may feel defensive and retrench into a position that doesn’t accord with the facts.” She suggested instead that we forgive each other and work on solving the social problems highlighted and created by COVID and the responses to it.

Reactions were swift and . . . unforgiving. Predictably, they came from both sides. ...

[F]orgiveness is only one side of reconciliation, which also requires repentance. I noticed an absence of repentance in Oster’s piece and wondered whether a differently framed essay might have better modeled the possibility of reconciliation. ... I was also struck by the lack of grace in the responses to her piece. For starters, Oster is clearly right that we’ve all made pandemic mistakes.

I remain uncertain how reconciliation should unfold in the wake of this pandemic. It may be that public commentators and public officials should convey forgiveness and repentance to one another and, when appropriate, express repentance to their constituencies. Ideally, political consequences would follow from the more egregious and harmful policy decisions, including those from conservative politicians who ignored compelling evidence about COVID mitigation and liberal politicians who ignored compelling evidence about the relatively low risks of in-person schooling.

But perhaps it is more plausible—and more actionable—to think about forgiveness and repentance in our individual and interpersonal relationships. Like you, I have friends and family whose pandemic choices have complicated and in some cases wounded our relationships. In many of these cases, forgiveness is far preferable to holding grudges or keeping score. ...

The interconnectedness between personal and political forgiveness is powerfully demonstrated in Desmond Tutu’s No Future Without ForgivenessTutu explores the importance of forgiveness to the Truth and Reconciliation process that unfolded in South Africa in the 1990sImportantly, the failure of widespread repentance by white South Africans to match the costly forgiveness of black South Africans precluded genuine reconciliation on a societal level. But that political failure does not negate the importance of personal forgiveness in the South African story.

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November 6, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

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

FiveThirtyEight: How Much Power Do Christians Really Have In The U.S.?

FiveThirtyEight, How Much Power Do Christians Really Have?:

There’s a sense ... that the country is in the midst of a reckoning over what it means to be Christian in America. On one side, there are the people who see Christians as the victims of a successful campaign to infuse the country with secular values, forcing Christians — particularly conservative ones — to accept values they violently disagree with. But many Americans think Christians occupy a very different role. In their version of the country’s current drama, Christians are the villains, ensconcing their own beliefs in law and politics even as their numbers dwindle. There’s a thread of unease on both sides — as if the one thing everyone agrees on is that these two ways of thinking about Christianity in America simply can’t coexist.

FiveThirtyEight/PerryUndem/YouGov survey of likely voters shows just how deep this fissure runs. In this second installment of our exploration of invisible divides — the differences in worldview that shape how people vote and think about their place in America — we found profound disagreements about how much power Christians really have, and the role they should play in the country’s politics and culture. Like the other divides we’re exploring, these divisions track fairly neatly along partisan lines and help explain why the gap between Republicans and Democrats sometimes feels unbridgeable: It’s because their ways of thinking about the world are increasingly irreconcilable.

Are Christians victims? It depends on who you ask. Nearly half (46 percent) of survey respondents told us that discrimination against Christians is a problem in American society today, while a majority (54 percent) think it’s not. They were also divided along similar lines about whether far-right Christians are trying to impose their beliefs on other people: A majority (56 percent) agreed they are, while another 33 percent disagreed, and 10 percent weren’t sure. The political fissures on this question are as wide as religious divides, like church attendance, and sometimes wider — signaling that anxiety about what it means to be Christian may be shaped as much by people’s political allegiances as their religious ties.

538

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November 6, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, October 30, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: How To Keep The Sabbath And Fight Back Against The Inhumanity Of Modern Work

New York Times Op-Ed:  How to Fight Back Against the Inhumanity of Modern Work, 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)):

Warren 3When a careerist culture meets a digital revolution that allows unlimited access to work, something’s got to give. And in America, that something tends not to be work demands but is instead the human soul. The rise of digital technology requires us, as a culture, to re-examine what it means for work to be humane. As we do so, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us in the labor movement. They offer us a model for how to begin this re-examination.

The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries birthed the labor movement, which attempted to curb the excesses of capitalism and new technology. There was a time when hunter-gatherers and then farmers worked only as much as they needed to survive, which, according to a report by NPR, was often less than 40 hours a week. With the introduction of factories, work hours grew longer and less flexible. The labor movement fought to change both culture and policy to limit our work weeks, and the 40-hour week eventually became a norm. What’s clear is that people didn’t suddenly become lazy and want to work less. Instead, a change in technology created a new way of work that demanded a response. We find ourselves facing this again with today’s digital revolution.

In the early labor movement, a broad and diverse base of religious people found common cause around Sabbath laws. These laws (often called blue laws) are now usually seen as examples of antiquated, puritanical, even theocratic impulses: prim religious people running around trying to make sure no one enjoys a beer on a Sunday afternoon. Advocates of Sabbatarianism, however, saw their work as an act of resistance to greed and a fight for the laborer.

When Philip Schaff, a 19th-century Swiss German theologian, immigrated to the United States, he was impressed by the ability of ideologically disparate religious groups to collaborate politically to solve social ills. For Schaff and many others, a key issue in the burgeoning industrialist economy of the North was the preservation of time for worship, rest and family life to preserve the dignity of the worker. They looked to Sabbath laws, in part, to help achieve this. Schaff stressed that keeping the Sabbath wasn’t merely a religious observance but served a civic function. It was a practical way, through time itself, to treat workers as valuable humans with whole lives to be lived.

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October 30, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

‘Alternative’ or ‘Sham’? Yeshiva U. Created A New LGBTQ Club — But Won’t Recognize The One That Sued

Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘Alternative’ or ‘Sham’? Yeshiva U. Created a New LGBTQ Club — but Won’t Recognize the One That Sued:

Yeshiva Pride LogoYeshiva University on Monday announced the creation of a new undergraduate student club “for LGBTQ students striving to live authentic Torah lives” [FAQ]. Yeshiva’s move is the latest in an escalating legal battle between former students and the Modern Orthodox Jewish university, which reached the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

Members of the YU Pride Alliance took the university to court in April 2021 over its refusal to recognize the LGBTQ student group as a club. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the university to recognize the Pride Alliance while it appeals a June ruling by a New York court against Yeshiva in the case.

Then the university temporarily suspended all student activities, and the Pride Alliance agreed not to seek official recognition until the legal battle has concluded.

The university said in a statement on Monday that it would not recognize the Pride Alliance because of its association with other chapters nationally, and that forming a new, unassociated club was the only path the university would accept. The new club is positioned as “an Orthodox alternative” that upholds an uncompromising approach to Halakha, or traditional Jewish law.

“Pride Alliance is a recognized movement in colleges throughout the country that not only fights anti-LGBTQ discrimination, a cause which we fully support, but also promotes activities that conflict with Torah laws and values,” the university’s statement reads.

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October 30, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Samford University Denies Student Application To Form Cumberland Law School LGBTQ Group

Update:  Law.com, Samford University Refuses to Recognize Cumberland Law School's LGBTQ+ Group as Official Organization

AL.com, Samford University Denies Student Application to Form LGBTQ Group:

When Angela Whitlock, a Cumberland Law student at Samford University, was looking for student groups to join last year, she noticed something was missing.

There were groups for Black, Hispanic and Native American law students, student athletes, women, and various political organizations. But none were for LGBTQ students.

So last fall, she and more than 50 students at Cumberland formed OUTLaw, an identity-based organization that aims to support and affirm LGBTQ students.

“We just tried,” she said, “Because why not? There’s nothing that we’re doing that is going to hurt anyone.”

OUTLaw chapters are currently present on other Alabama college campuses and across the country, but Samford, which houses the private, Christian law school, refuses to acknowledge the organization – and has denied others like it in the past.

“It’s not shocking because it’s more of the same of what we’ve seen, insofar as discriminatory practices,” said Brit Blalock, a 2008 graduate who leads Safe Samford, an unofficial group supporting LGBTQ students. “But what’s particularly strange about this is it’s happening inside the law school, which has not been bound to the same student organization process that the undergrads have.”

In a letter on Oct. 20, Samford President Beck Taylor informed Whitlock that the university had formally denied her application. ... "[E]xtending official university recognition to a student organization that advocates for beliefs and behaviors contrary to the religious values of Samford would be inconsistent with my responsibilities as president.”

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October 30, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, October 23, 2022

French: Christianity, Morality, And Hypocrisy

David French (The Dispatch), How Hypocrisy Drives Unbelief:

This newsletter is a bit ambitious. I want to explore a question that’s pervasive in American Christian discourse. If we all know that Christians aren’t perfect, why does Christian sin and hypocrisy drive so many people from the faith? After all, many of the giants of the faith committed dreadful acts. Can we demand that our pastors be better than, say, Peter or Paul?

To answer as best as I can, I want to tie together two seemingly unrelated strands of news. Last month, Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries published their biannual theological survey of American Evangelicals. The results were sobering. While an overwhelming percentage of Evangelicals believe in traditional Christian sexual morality (for example, 94 percent agree that sex outside of traditional marriage is wrong, and 91 percent say that abortion is a sin), a majority also misunderstand the nature of Jesus Christ himself, believing that he is “the first and greatest being created by God.” In fact, a surprising 43 percent of Evangelicals say that Jesus was a great teacher, but not God at all.

Both of these assertions flatly contradict scripture, which unambiguously states in John 1 that “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Nicene creed is likewise clear: “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.”

Second, as I referenced in my newsletter last week, a fascinating study of 57,000 American undergraduates at 159 top universities found that “Homeschooled and parochial schooled undergraduates are as or more likely to identify as LGBT or non-binary as those from public or private school backgrounds.” ...

This finding is interesting in part because many families homeschool (or send their kids to parochial schools) precisely because they want to insulate their children from the influence of contemporary sexual norms.

This all leads me to the complex relationship between theology, morality, and hypocrisy—and to how hypocrisy is particularly damaging when Christians are clearer about their moral stands than they are about even the identity of Jesus. When religion is primarily experienced as a moral code, moral failure undermines the faith itself.

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October 23, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Hamill: Moral Reflections On 21st Century Tax Policy Trends

Susan Pace Hamill (Alabama), Moral Reflections on 21st Century Tax Policy Trends, 52 Cumb. L. Rev. 1 (2022):

Focusing on individual taxpayers, this article offers moral reflections on state and local and federal tax policy trends during the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Although tax policy decisions are made by politicians (who often rely on economists), determining the best tax policy is ultimately an ethical issue and serves as a barometer revealing the true moral compass of any community.

I started thinking about ethical tax policy while studying theology at the Beeson Divinity School, a conservative evangelical seminary that is part of Samford University. At Beeson, I noticed for the first time the gap between “walk and talk” in my home state of Alabama—although more than 90% of Alabamians claimed to be Christians, its regressive state and local taxes and paltry K-12 funding harshly impacted the most vulnerable and powerless Alabamians. In 2002, I published my thesis that condemned this as biblically immoral and urged all Christians in Alabama, especially political and religious leaders, to support reforms [An Argument for Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics, 54 Ala. L. Rev. 1 (2002)].

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October 23, 2022 in Faith, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Herschel Walker And The Platform of Cheap Grace

Bonnie Kristian (Christianity Today), Herschel Walker and the Platform of Cheap Grace:

A recent campaign ad for Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate candidate in Georgia, is titled “Grace.”

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is “a preacher who doesn’t tell the truth. He doesn’t even believe in redemption,” Walker says about his opponent in the clip. “I’m Herschel Walker, saved by grace, and I approve this message.”

The messaging, leaning on Christian language around forgiveness, is part of Walker’s campaign among Christian conservatives in Georgia. And it came two days after the former NFL and UGA football star dismissed a Daily Beast report that he urged a then-girlfriend to get an abortion after he impregnated her in 2009.

It’s a neat trick: I didn’t do it, Walker’s overall messaging says, but if I did it, you should forgive me if you believe in God’s redemption. You should give me grace. ...

Politician brazenly lies and conceals his past misdeeds is a dog-bites-man kind of story, so absent more context, this might not be particularly interesting for those of us outside Georgia.

But there’s the question of the evangelical vote: Will pro-life Georgia Republicans, many of whom consider themselves evangelicals, stick with a candidate who claims he’s “always” been pro-life with “no exception” (except for his own unwanted child)?

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October 23, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, October 16, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Why Religious Freedom Matters, Even If You’re Not Religious

New York Times Op-Ed:  Why Religious Freedom Matters, Even if You’re Not Religious, 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)):

Warren 3When David French and I first met around 2010, our friendship felt unlikely. He was deeply involved in Republican politics and had served in Iraq. I had never voted Republican and was committed to nonviolence. But his courage of conviction and kindness amid disagreement made us fast friends. (David became an independent in 2016, after Donald Trump received the Republican presidential nomination.)

When I met him, David was a religious liberty and free speech litigator, a role he held for over two decades. He is now a senior editor for The Dispatch and a contributing writer to The Atlantic. Some of the most discussed Supreme Court cases last year involved religious liberty disputes. As a new Supreme Court term [began] on Oct. 3, I asked David to speak to me about the state of religious freedom in America. ...

Beto O’Rourke, who is currently running for governor in Texas, where I live, has said that religious institutions — including schools and charities — should be stripped of their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage.

How would you reply to him?

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October 16, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WSJ Op-Ed: St. Thérèse's 'Little Way' To Heaven — Small Deeds Done With Great Love

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  A Canonized Saint Who Began as an Everyday One, by Mike Kerrigan (Hunton Andrews Kurth, Charlotte, NC):

Little WayI am apparently called to be a saint. That was a somewhat disconcerting revelation for a cradle Catholic in his late 40s. But according to a homily during Mass some years back, this is the purpose for which I was born.

With further reading, I learned this vocation doesn’t require me to be declared a capital-S Saint by the Catholic Church. I just need to be holy, or set apart for God—a lowercase-s saint. It’s no simple task, though, to close the gap between who I am and who I am called to be. This is where the wondrous St. Thérèse of Lisieux, or the “Little Flower,” has shown me a way.

Before dying of tuberculosis in 1897 at 24, the cloistered Carmelite nun pledged to spend her time in heaven doing good on the earth. ... The Little Flower left assurance for all who feel, as she did, they lack the heroic excellence in their own littleness. She looked at the saints who went before her and felt herself a grain of sand in comparison to the towering mountains of their lives. St. Thérèse of Lisieux needed another way to get to heaven, so she prayerfully came up with one: the “Little Way.”

Perfecting her Little Way to sanctity amounts to remembering that “our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even their difficulty, as the love with which we do them.” The occasion to do great deeds, after all, may never come to pass, or when it does it may find us wanting in courage. Small deeds, on the other hand, are everywhere, and when done with great love, they cease to be small.

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October 16, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Independent And Overlapping: Institutional Religious Freedom And Religious Providers Of Social Services

Kathleen Brady (Emory), Independent and Overlapping: Institutional Religious Freedom and Religious Providers of Social Services, 54 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. __ (2022):

Roughly two decades ago, scholarly interest in the limits of government involvement in religious institutions exploded. Scholars explored distinctions between the spiritual and temporal dimensions of human activity and identified numerous individual, social, spiritual and civic goods associated with independent religious groups, and from these foundations, they defined and refined areas of protection and immunity from government intervention. A shared premise of much of this work was that religious matters belong to religious believers and their institutions and that the internal governance and operations of these institutions must be kept from state interference. In 2012 this scholarship bore fruit when the Supreme Court recognized a “ministerial exception” from employment discrimination laws and again in 2020 when the Court construed this exception expansively and grounded it in a “broad” and “general principle of church autonomy.”

In recent years, however, the rapid acceleration of culture war battles over family, sexuality and reproductive choice has been pushing a new set of issues before courts and scholars, and these issues have involved aspects of institutional governance that are at once internal and outward-facing. The most vexing conflicts, and those that are the focus of this paper, arise where religious and government entities are working together to advance the public good through programs that are funded by the government or through highly regulated areas of joint activity like health care and child welfare. In these shared areas of activity, both religious groups and governments have important interests as stake, and the values of religious independence and inclusion must also be preserved.

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October 16, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: Humility Is A Virtue. But Can Humble People Succeed In The Modern World?

New York Times Op-Ed:  Humility Is a Virtue. But Can Humble People Succeed in the Modern World?, by Peter Coy:

BVThe Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, a friend of Adam Smith, called humility one of the “monkish” virtues, and he didn’t mean that as a compliment. ... I kind of see Hume’s point. If progress in capitalism is fueled by people’s pursuit of their self-interest, we’re not going to get very far if everyone is into mortification, self-denial and so on.

On the other hand, we are taught from childhood to be humble. Humility is a core virtue in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religions. From Tuesday evening until Wednesday evening is the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, which includes the prayer “Here I am, poor in deeds.”

I did some reading and came to the conclusion that humility and capitalism aren’t necessarily in conflict. They can actually go together quite well. Although it partly depends on what you mean by humility.

Humility is a tricky virtue to talk about. If you say you’re not humble, you’re probably telling the truth. On the other hand, if you say you are humble, you’re probably not, because people who are humble don’t go around bragging about it. Then there’s the paradox that to be humble is good but to be humbled is really bad. Tricky, right? ...

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October 16, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, October 9, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Why The Christian Music Of Rich Mullins Endures, 25 Years After His Death

New York Times Op-Ed:  Why the Music of Rich Mullins Endures, 25 Years After His Death, 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)):

Warren 3Few outside the world of evangelicalism and contemporary Christian music have heard of Rich Mullins. But inside that world, he’s a legend — a singer-songwriter, poet, prophet and teacher whose legacy endures 25 years after his death in a car crash at age 41. Amy Grant described him as “the uneasy conscience of Christian music.”

Mullins’s life and art defy the dichotomies and assumptions that many of us bring to faith. In the conservative, buttoned up evangelical culture of the 1980s and ’90s, he was unflinchingly honest about struggles with temptation, loneliness, and discouragement. Yet these struggles did not lead him to abandon his faith. If anything, they seemed to make Jesus grow more luminous to him. Amid growing wealth and fame, he took up voluntary poverty and eschewed celebrity because of his convictions about the call of scripture. In front of white, conservative crowds, he sang songs about injustices done to Native Americans and criticized the materialism and insularity of evangelical leaders of his time.

Yet he never deconstructed his faith and, till his dying day, loved the church and Christian orthodoxy. (On one of his last tours, he even encouraged his tour mates to read G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy,” a defense of Christian faith that was one of his favorite books.) His life continues to offer a model for how one can acknowledge both the reality of darkness and also the goodness of God, how one can be both honest and faithful, and how one can admit and grieve the failings in the church yet remain committed to it.

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October 9, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

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

Jack Thomas, Journalist Who Poignantly Wrote Of His Terminal Diagnosis, Dies At 83

Boston Globe, Jack Thomas, Journalist Who Poignantly Wrote of His Terminal Diagnosis, Dies at 83:

ThomasA reporter, columnist, city editor, and ombudsman during more than four decades at the Globe, Mr. Thomas wrote a powerful Sunday Globe Magazine essay last year when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was 83 when he died Saturday in his Cambridge home. ...

[H]e wrote in July 2021:

As the saying goes, fate has dealt me one from the bottom of the deck, and I am now condemned to confront the question that has plagued me for years: How does a person spend what he knows are his final months of life?

After I die, I’m not expecting the world, but this business about the afterlife is more complicated than what they describe in the Bible. The experts say more than 100 billion humans have died. If you’re looking for a buddy to have a beer, like jazzman Dave McKenna or writer Jerry Murphy or possibly Peter Falk who played Columbo, how are you going to find him in a mob of 100 billion people?

As death draws near, I feel the same uncomfortable transition I experienced when I was a teenager at Brantwood Camp in Peterborough, New Hampshire, packing up to go home after a grand summer. I’m not sure what awaits me when I get home, but this has certainly been an exciting experience. I had a loving family. I had a great job at the newspaper. I met fascinating people, and I saw myriad worldwide wonders. It’s been full of fun and laughter, too, a really good time.

I just wish I could stay a little longer. ...

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October 9, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Pepperdine Law School Dean Is Now Speaking Openly About His Lifelong Stutter

Inside Higher Ed, Pepperdine Law School Dean Is Now Speaking Openly About His Lifelong Stutter:

Inside Higher EdSome of Paul Caron’s most vivid childhood memories are about his stutter: disappearing to the restroom whenever the server came to his family’s table at a restaurant so his parents would order for him; children laughing at him in fourth grade when the teacher asked him his name and he couldn’t say it.

Today, Caron is dean of law at Pepperdine University. He still stutters: he participated in speech therapy as a child and again at the behest of his law firm early in his career, but the speech disorder remained. What he calls the “daily terror” associated with speaking lingers, as well. But recently Caron has begun to talk openly about his stutter, in an effort to live more authentically, for his own sake and for that of students.

“I’m not doing this for attention, right?” Caron smiled during a recent interview prompted by a post he wrote, called “Deaning While Stuttering,” on his blog, TaxProf. “I’m just hoping that it’ll help folks to kind of see what struggles I have as dean and sort of how I’ve been able to overcome them.”

Academe hasn’t historically been hospitable to vulnerability. Many would say this is still the case and argue that higher education remains ableist, in particular. Perhaps that’s why there is so little available data on—and so little representation of—leaders with disabilities in higher education, as religious and disabilities studies scholar Darla Schumm pointed out in a recent opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed. “Why does higher ed need leaders with disabilities?” Schumm wrote. ...

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October 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | 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

What Christian Colleges Can Glean From The Supreme Court’s ‘Yeshiva’ Case

Christianity Today, What Christian Colleges Can Glean from the Supreme Court’s ‘Yeshiva’ Case:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe United States Supreme Court’s decision in Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance may seem like it spells trouble for Christian colleges that hold conservative positions on sexuality and gender identity.

After all, the court held that the orthodox Jewish university must formally recognize an LGBT student group. But a more complete reading of the decision forebodes a favorable outcome for Christian higher education in the future.

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October 2, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

What Football Can Teach Us About Death: Fathers Are Fullbacks

The Federalist Op-Ed:  What Football Can Teach Us About Losing A Loved One, by Mike Kerrigan (Hunton Andrews Kurth, Charlotte, NC):

Two close friends, Greg and Michael, lost their fathers earlier this summer. I never met either of their dads, but I know they were good men from the sons they raised. ... For the first time when they look up, their fullback is not out in front blocking. It’s unsettling at any age because clearing a path is what good fathers do. They quietly take the hits so their children can achieve things they never imagined for themselves. It’s what John Quincy Adams was articulating when he said, “I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.” ...

Greg and Michael are not children anymore. They have their own families for whom they’ve sacrificed for years. ... [M]y friends are no longer running backs. They are fullbacks now, permanent blockers. A gradual, lifetime transition is made official. ... Each knows embracing their new roles is the best way to honor the legacy of their fathers.

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October 2, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 25, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: Parents, Dementia, Memory, And God

New York Times Op-Ed:  Our Memory Is Flawed. Luckily, God’s Isn’t., 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)):

Warren 3Mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She knows who we are and remembers everyone’s names. She can tell you who her third-grade teacher was, but not what happened a week ago or a month ago or 10 minutes ago. ... I wonder in the months and years to come what she will continue to remember about her life, about who she used to be.

Memory, for all of us, speaks to our inherent limitations. Forgetting is part of what it is to be human. That becomes more evident when facing Alzheimer’s. But even for those of us who do not have dementia, almost all of our days have faded from view.

What was I doing three years ago today? Or five? Or ten? What conversations did I have? Who was I with? Did I find joy or discouragement that day? I have no idea. I can only tell you the broad outline: where I lived, where I worked, how old I was. The details — those invaluable and ordinary conversations, coincidences and choices that make up each day of our lives — are lost to time. There are, of course, beautiful memories that we hold onto, moments that glow amber in our minds. And dark moments that we may rather erase. But even our most precious days may eventually be forgotten. ...

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: The Life We're Looking For

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), The Life We're Looking For:

Life 3Last week, I participated in a public dialogue organized by The Carver Project with my friends Andy Crouch, Tish Harrison Warren, and Michael Wear. We focused on Andy’s new book, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World. Following Andy's framing comments, the rest of us applied the book to the three areas of The Carver Project’s mission: university (me), church (Tish), and society (Michael). We had all read Andy’s book, but none of us had much of an idea of what the others were going to say. Yet it all seemed to work. And I think it worked because we trusted each other. ...

These themes of friendship and trust called to mind Tish’s recent New York Times piece on marriage [I Married The Wrong Person, And I’m So Glad I Did]. Tish shares vulnerable reflections on her own marriage including fights with her husband and lots of counseling, noting that at times they stayed married “sheerly as a matter of religious obedience and for the sake of our children.” ... [S]he offers an alternative to the cultural trend:  "I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. But I want to simply offer that choosing to stay in a marriage for all kinds of unromantic reasons is a good and even a brave choice."

The New York Times Twitter crowd was not pleased with Tish’s suggestion. ...

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Cardozo Law School Fights Fallout From Yeshiva University LGBT Club Case

Following up on last Sunday's post, Supreme Court (5-4) Denies Yeshiva University Request To Block State Ruling On Recognition Of LGBTQ Club; Yeshiva Responds By Canceling All Student Groups:  Reuters, Cardozo Law Fights Fallout From Yeshiva University LGBT Club Case:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is taking steps to distance itself from the policies of its parent institution Yeshiva University, after Yeshiva's legal efforts to block an undergraduate LGBT student group reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than 50 Cardozo law faculty have signed a letter opposing the university's ban, and the law school is launching a six-week course devoted to the LGBT civil rights movement, which it announced to students as the Supreme Court was weighing the case.

"Cardozo Law School will continue to support our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, administrators and alumni fully and without reservation," Cardozo spokesperson John DeNatale said on Monday. He declined to comment on the Yeshiva litigation.

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September 25, 2022 in Faith, 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.

Editor's Note:  If you would like to receive a weekly email each Sunday with links to the faith posts on TaxProf Blog, email me here.

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

Supreme Court (5-4) Denies Yeshiva University Request To Block State Ruling On Recognition Of LGBTQ Club; Yeshiva Responds By Canceling All Student Groups

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, Supreme Court Declines Yeshiva University’s Bid to Deny Recognition of Gay Student Group:

Yeshiva Pride LogoThe Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Yeshiva University’s emergency request to block New York state court orders requiring it to recognize an LGBT student club, but left room for the Orthodox Jewish institution to object again in future proceedings.

The YU Pride Alliance and several students sued the university in state court last year after administrators refused to recognize the undergraduate group as an official student club.

A trial judge, finding Yeshiva’s position violated New York City’s Human Rights Law, ordered it to recognize the Pride Alliance on the same terms as other student clubs. After state appellate courts declined to block the ruling’s implementation while the university appealed, Yeshiva filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

Last Friday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the judicial circuit including New York, granted a temporary stay while the justices weighed the request.

The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, lifted that stay Wednesday and said in an order that Yeshiva had yet to exhaust its options in the state court system [Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance, No. 22A184 (Sept. 14, 2022)]. ... Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson were in the majority.

New York Times, Yeshiva University Halts All Student Clubs to Block L.G.B.T.Q. Group:

Yeshiva University abruptly announced on Friday that it had placed all undergraduate club activities on hold, the latest maneuver in the legal battle by the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution to keep from recognizing an L.G.B.T.Q. student group.

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September 18, 2022 in 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

Inazu: On The 21-Year Anniversary Of 9/11, What Unites Us?

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), What Unites Us?:

911 Photo[Today] marks the twenty-first anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I’ve previously reflected about my experience in the Pentagon that morning as a young lawyer working for the Department of the Air Force. In this week’s newsletter, I’d like to focus on a different dimension of 9/11: the fleeting but genuine sense of unity in the days and weeks that followed, and how we might think about that unity today. ...

A unity built on tragedy, fear, and a common enemy cannot sustain a people—at least not without great cost to others. ...

Last week, President Biden attempted to tap into American unity in a primetime speech to the nation. Biden relied on tragedy (the January 6th assault on the Capitol), fear (current and prospective threats to the Democratic process), and naming a common enemy (“extreme MAGA Republicans”). In doing so, he neglected appeals to political compromise or gestures of goodwill toward his non-MAGA political opponents. As with much of the post 9/11 rhetoric, Biden’s speech offered little positive vision for American unity.

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September 11, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times: Justice Sotomayor Says Yeshiva University Can Bar LGBT Student Club — For Now

Following up on my previous posts:

New York Times, Yeshiva University Can Bar L.G.B.T. Club for Now, Justice Sotomayor Rules:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said on Friday that Yeshiva University in Manhattan can for now disregard a state court ruling that ordered it to recognize an L.G.B.T. student club — a case she said could be considered by the full Supreme Court.

The ruling in State Supreme Court in Manhattan in June was celebrated by gay students and their supporters but was condemned by administrators at Yeshiva, America’s most prominent institution of Modern Orthodox Jewish higher education. They derided it as an attack on religious freedom and vowed to appeal; the university applied for an emergency stay late last month.

On Friday evening, Justice Sotomayor granted it. The justice, who has jurisdiction over the lower court, wrote that the state decision was “hereby stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the court.”

The ruling suggests that the Supreme Court, which has taken an increasingly broad view of religious freedom in recent years, may take up the university’s case. Since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court in 2020, petitioners in religious freedom cases have almost always prevailed there. ...

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September 11, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, September 4, 2022

NY Times: A Catholic Podcasting Star Says Theocracy Is Not The Way

New York Times Magazine, A Catholic Podcasting Star Says Theocracy Is Not the Way:

Father MikeThere are things that, at first blush, might appear marginal but are in truth major. Since it was introduced by the Catholic priest Mike Schmitz, who goes by Father Mike, in January 2021, the little-heralded “The Bible in a Year (With Fr. Mike Schmitz)” has been the most popular Apple religion podcast for a majority of 2021 and 2022 and has even, on two occasions, reached the No. 1 spot among all podcasts on Apple’s platform. The show has been downloaded 350 million times and an average of 750,000 times a day. Its popularity is easy to understand — the show goes down smoothly. Each 20-to-25-minute installment, designed according to a study plan developed by the Catholic biblical scholar Jeff Cavins, features two or three short scriptural readings and a pithy reflection by Father Mike, an affable 47-year-old Midwesterner whose upbeat and self-deprecating manner — not to mention regular-guy good looks — exude strong Ted Lasso vibes. The staggering success of the podcast has helped turn its host, whose day job is as a chaplain at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the director of the youth ministry for the Duluth diocese, into a kind of celebrity. He travels the country giving speeches, and some of his YouTube videos have racked up millions of views. This all comes at a moment, of course, when the church, like so many of our institutions, finds itself firmly at the heart of roiling social tensions — a fact of which Father Mike is keenly conscious. “I know a lot of my own brokenness and faults,” he says about the challenge of becoming a public figure. “I hate the idea of misrepresenting God or the church because of them.”

Before you and I spoke, I asked if you could send me the names of some books that were important to you, all of which I then read. And I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while and watching your YouTube videos. I also read almost all the books you've written [Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church (2017); Beautiful Hope: Finding Hope Everyday in a Broken World (2018); How to Make Great Decisions (2019); Pray, Decide, and Don't Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God's Will (2019); A World Undone: Finding God When Life Doesn't Make Sense (2020); Untroubled by the Unknown: Trusting God in Every Moment (2022); The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume I (2022); The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume II (2022); The Bible in a Year Companion, Volume III (2022)]. There’s a lot of love and beauty in so much of it. But I can’t, as you put it, wrap my heart around any teaching saying that gay sex is “disordered,” or that because of an abortion ban at six weeks, a 10-year-old girl who was impregnated via rape should have to travel from one state to another to get one or that women with ectopic pregnancies could potentially be denied procedures. Can you help me understand where the heart is in that?

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September 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

French: The Christian Case Against Biden’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan

David French (The Dispatch), Is There a Christian Case for Biden’s Debt Relief Plan?:

Biden’s [student loan debt forgiveness] plan is not a legislative proposal. He’s not asking Congress to enact this reform. He’s initiating it through the executive branch only, asserting that the so-called HEROES Act, passed after the 9/11 attacks, grants him the authority to forgive student debt “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.”

The reaction was intense, even for our polarized times, and part of that intensity was directly related to faith. ... 

The concept of debt forgiveness—including the forgiveness of monetary debt—is all over the Bible. ... Roger Nam, a Hebrew Bible professor at Emory’s Candler School of Theology wrote a helpful piece for the Religion News Service in which he described the Old Testament’s commands of debt forgiveness as embodying a “spirit of compassion” that helped lift the poor from grinding poverty, debt slavery, and oppression. ...

Debt forgiveness figures directly in one of Jesus’s most famous parables—the parable of the ungrateful servant. It relates the story of a servant who begs for his king to forgive a crushing loan debt, the staggering sum of 10,000 talents. The king forgives and the servant rejoices, only to immediately refuse to forgive a tiny sum owed him.

It’s a lesson in forgiveness that’s grounded in a reality that the people of Israel would understand. Forgiving debt can be an indispensable element of biblical justice. But does that mean it always is? Does that mean Christians should support Biden’s policy?

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September 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Helfand: Illegal Discrimination Or Religious Freedom? Understanding Yeshiva University’s Case Against The YU Pride Alliance

Following up on my previous posts:

CNN, Yeshiva University Asks Supreme Court to Let It Block LGBTQ Student Club:

Yeshiva University filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking to block a court order requiring the New York university to recognize a "Pride Alliance" LGBTQ student club.

In court papers, the school says that "As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values."

Lawyers for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing Yeshiva, argued that the lower court's order is an "unprecedented" intrusion into the University's religious beliefs and a clear violation of Yeshiva's First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court has asked for a response to the school's petition by Friday.

Forward, Yeshiva University LGBTQ Group Responds to School’s Emergency SCOTUS Petition:

The school wants to turn a case it lost in June into a First Amendment showdown

The Yeshiva University Pride Alliance responded Friday afternoon to the school’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to block the LGBTQ student group.

The group’s response challenges the university’s escalation of the dispute from a Manhattan courtroom to the U.S. Supreme Court largely on procedural grounds. It mostly does not address YU’s framing of the case as a First Amendment question in the emergency petition it filed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday.

“Applicants’ extraordinarily premature application blows past all prerequisites to this Court’s jurisdiction and its orderly review of state court orders,” the Pride Alliance wrote in its 48-page response, which Sotomayor had requested by end of day Friday.

Forward Op-Ed:  Illegal Discrimination or Religious Freedom? Understanding Yeshiva University’s Case Against the YU Pride Alliance:, by Michael Helfand (Pepperdine; Google Scholar):

YU’s constitutional claims in its case against the undergraduate LGBTQ club are strong, but it’s not clear that SCOTUS will choose to intervene

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September 4, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, August 29, 2022

Deaning While Stuttering

UpdatePepperdine Law Dean On Why His Stutter Didn't Keep Him From His Calling

As a life-long stutterer, I found this New York Times video, I Stutter. But This Is What You’re Not Hearing. with writer John Hendrickson (What Joe Biden Can't Bring Himself to Say), particularly compelling:

As my fellow stutterers will understand, I have endured the daily terror of fearing the next time I will be required to speak. As far as I know, I was the only student in my elementary school, high school, college, and law school, and the only lawyer in my law firm and professor in my law schools, with this speech disorder. I am forever grateful for the teachers, professors, lawyers, and faculty who saw something in me that I never saw in myself and gave me the opportunity and unspoken encouragement to succeed as a student, lawyer, and law professor.

As you can imagine, deaning has made the daily terror particularly acute, with meetings and speeches filling my calendar. But for the first time in my life, I have begun talking about it with others, first in my presentation to the Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty when I ran for dean. I closed my remarks by saying:

There are many reasons why you may decide that I shouldn’t be dean.
But one of them shouldn’t be how I talk.
Because how I talk has made me the man that I am.

I have since shared my story with old and new friends, usually over dinner. Their reactions encouraged me to talk about my struggle at our Baccalaureate Service for our Christian students and their families the night before graduation in May. We give a Pepperdine Caruso Law-branded Bible to each of the graduates, inscribed with their name and the five Bible verses from my message on Purpose, Perseverance, and Psalm 139 Post-Pepperdine. I explain how these verses have equipped me to not only survive but thrive in my dean role despite the difficulties I face. I encourage the graduates to lean on these verses when they face the inevitable challenges that will come their way. Among those in attendance at the service this year was Frank Biden, the brother of the President. One of the most unexpected twists in my dean journey was becoming friends with Frank, due to our shared faith and shared struggle with our speech.

In July, I was invited to be one of six "experienced" deans to lead the annual workshop hosted by the ABA for all new law school deans. My assigned topic was Leadership and Management, and I spoke on the ten things I wish I had known when I had become a dean five years earlier. My last item was Leading Through Weakness, and I shared the challenges I have faced deaning with my stutter. I closed by telling the new and experienced deans about what I had said to the faculty when I ran for dean, and what I have learned since then. I talked about an expression that originated in the computer industry in the 1970s: programmers found what they thought was a “bug” in some software, but when they dug deeper, they realized that it was a “feature” intentionally added by the developer to serve an important purpose that was not apparent on the surface. I said that if I could go back in time, I would change my message to the faculty to:

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August 29, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (10)

Sunday, August 28, 2022

God, The Bible, And Hamilton

Longtime readers know of my obsession with interest in Hamilton, especially the faith aspects of the play (see C.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton and the links below). I just came across these great books and article:

Kevin Cloud, God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton and the Broadway Musical He Inspired:

God and HamiltonDiscover Spiritual Truths from the Smash Broadway Hit Hamilton that Will Transform Your Life

Hamilton―the hip-hop musical about a forgotten Founding Father―is the most compelling musical of our time. But if you watch it without understanding the spiritual themes of Alexander Hamilton’s life, you only get half the story. Discover how Hamilton is a modern-day parable that will:

  • Lead you into a deeper experience of God’s grace
  • Help you battle guilt and shame
  • Challenge you to forgive
  • Inspire your faith
  • Engage you in the struggle for human equality

God and Hamilton impressively weaves together insights from the musical itself, the lives of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, and the story of Scripture into a tapestry that challenges people of faith to reexamine their lives.

God and Hamilton turned me inside out and revealed a side of Hamilton I had never thought to explore.Lauren Boyd, Hamilton Broadway Cast

A wonderful example of drawing from contemporary culture to understand how God works…I cannot recommend it more highly!―Mike Breen, Founder, 3DM; Author, Building a Disciplining Culture 

A bold and creative exploration of the themes in life that matter most. In this beautiful book, Kevin Cloud helps us see, listen, and open to the all-consuming love God pours out to us.―Phileen Heurtz, Founding Partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

For all who struggle with doubt, depression, and despair, God and Hamilton offers an inspiring way forward. Kevin Cloud’s book made my heart sing!Craig Detweiler, President, Seattle School of Theology and Sociology

Christianity Today, Here’s Every Biblical Reference in ‘Hamilton’:

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August 28, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

French: Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down

David French (The Dispatch), Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down:

Three things are true at once. First, the United States is the most Christian advanced democracy in the world. Even with declining rates of religious belief and declining rates of church attendance, a solid supermajority (65 percent) of Americans identify as Christian. ...

Second, both the Republican and Democratic parties are utterly dependent upon their most devout members for their electoral success. As I’ve noted before, nonwhite Democrats (and especially black Democrats) are among the most God-fearing, churchgoing members of American society. At the same time, the Republican Party would be irrelevant without its own white Evangelical base. ...

Third, American political culture is a toxic, hyperpartisan, corrupt, and increasingly violent mess. Given the first two factors mentioned above, this should not be. After all, Jesus could not have been more clear. In John 13, he declared, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” That’s the dream. Here’s the reality

French

Again, remember that both of these coalitions are chock-full of Christians. It is not the case (at least not yet) that America has one religious party and one secular party. The mutual loathing you see comes from people who could recite every syllable of the Apostles’ Creed side-by-side and believe wholeheartedly in the divine inspiration of scripture.

How does this happen? The longer I live the more convinced I am that our Christian political ethic is upside down. On a bipartisan basis, the church has formed its members to be adamant about policies that are difficult and contingent and flexible about virtues that are clear and mandatory.

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August 28, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Inazu: Interfaith Doesn't Mean Compromise

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), Interfaith Doesn't Mean Compromise:

Uncommon GroundOne of the things I most appreciate about my friend Eboo Patel and his colleagues at Interfaith America (where I serve as a Senior Fellow) is that they take seriously the religious differences that divide us. I remember interfaith efforts when I was in college in the 1990s. Their general vibe suggested that religious differences didn’t really matter, all roads pointed to the same God, and we could do great things together if we stuck to the lowest common denominator.

That’s not how religion works for most people. It’s not how it works for Eboo or me. A genuine interfaith effort takes seriously our differences and works on relationships across those differences. ...

The reality of an interfaith America provides an opportunity for Christians like me to engage with confidence and compassion in a world of difference. This opportunity is captured in the verse that Tim Keller and I selected as the epigraph for our book, Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference. In Ephesians 4:1-2, the Apostle Paul exhorts Christians to: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.”

Paul’s charge to Christians applies to anyone seeking greater empathy and understanding without minimizing significant differences. As I wrote in Uncommon Ground:

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August 28, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Sunday, August 21, 2022

NY Times Op-Ed: The God I Know Is Not A Culture Warrior

New York Times Op-Ed:  The God I Know Is Not a Culture Warrior, 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)):

Warren 3Two Sundays ago, my church had a baptismal service. Baptisms at our church are a mixture of solemnity and unbridled glee, often full of laughter and tears of joy. Those who were being baptized or, in the case of infants, their parents, took vows to put their trust in God’s grace and love and to renounce spiritual darkness, evil and “all sinful desires that draw” us from the love of God. After the baptism, the kids in our service ran forward, giggling, trying to get sprayed with the baptismal water that our priest, Ryan, slung over the congregation as he called us to “remember your baptism.”

On that Sunday, Ryan invited anyone else who wanted to get baptized to let him know. To my surprise, after the service ended and we were all mingling, two more people approached Ryan and asked if they could also get baptized. So after a short conversation with them, he hollered for the congregation to regather and, then and there, two others joined our ranks through baptism. People cheered and applauded as they emerged from the water. I left that service feeling pensive, grateful and in awe of the beauty of God and human lives.

I have thought of that incandescent Sunday a lot the past couple of weeks because there is a perplexing difference between the way we celebrated God that morning and the way I typically hear God discussed online and in our broader cultural discourse.

The God of that baptismal service is one of joy, kindness and peace. The God I often hear about in American politics, in the news and on Twitter is one of cultural division and bickering. The God of that Sunday service seemed powerful and holy, yet gentle and beautiful. The God in our cultural discourse seems impotent and irrelevant, a mostly sociological phenomenon related to political posturing and power plays. ...

It’s not that I think God has no place in politics or public discussions. Faith touches all areas of life, and issues such as abortion, religious liberty and the relationship between church and state are important. But when we primarily talk about God in the context of political or ideological debate, believers’ actual experience of God, worship and faith — not to mention spiritual virtues like humility, gratitude and kindness — often gets lost. God becomes merely another pawn in the culture wars, a means to a political end, a meme to own our opponents online or an accessory donned like a power tie. ...

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August 21, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times Op-Ed: New York’s Hottest Club Is The Catholic Church

New York Times Op-Ed:  New York’s Hottest Club Is the Catholic Church, by Julia Yost (Senior Editor, First Things):

YostAs senior churchmen seek to make Catholicism palatable to modernity, members of a small but significant scene are turning to the ancient faith in defiance of liberal pieties. The scene is often associated with “Dimes Square,” a downtown Manhattan neighborhood popular with a pandemic-weary Generation Z — or Zoomer — crowd, but it has spread across a network of podcasts and upstart publications. Its sensibility is more transgressive than progressive. Many of its denizens profess to be apolitical. Others hold outré opinions, whether sincerely or as fashion statements. Reactionary motifs are chic: Trump hats and “tradwife” frocks, monarchist and anti-feminist sentiments. Perhaps the ultimate expression of this contrarian aesthetic is its embrace of Catholicism.

Urban trends can shape a culture, as millennial Brooklyn did in its heyday. The Dimes Square scene is small, but its ascent highlights a culture-wide shift. Progressive morality, formulated in response to the remnants of America’s Christian culture, was once a vanguard. By 2020, the year of lockdowns and Black Lives Matter protests, progressivism had come to feel hegemonic in the social spaces occupied by young urban intellectuals. Traditional morality acquired a transgressive glamour. Disaffection with the progressive moral majority — combined with Catholicism’s historic ability to accommodate cultural subversion — has produced an in-your-face style of traditionalism. This is not your grandmother’s church — and whether the new faithful are performing an act of theater or not, they have the chance to revitalize the church for young, educated Americans.

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August 21, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Why Alexander Hamilton Gave His Heart To Jesus At A Texas Church

Longtime readers know of my obsession with interest in Hamilton (see links below). Religion News Service, Why Alexander Hamilton Gave His Heart to Jesus at a Texas Church This Weekend:

Hamilton ChurchAlexander Hamilton, right, gives his life to Jesus in The Door Church’s unauthorized production of the musical “Hamilton,” in McAllen, Texas. Video screen grab

When offered a chance to save his soul at a Texas church this past weekend, Alexander Hamilton did not throw away his shot.

During a slightly adapted production of the hit musical “Hamilton” at The Door Church, a large, diverse congregation, the main character bowed his head, closed his eyes and gave his life to Jesus.

“What is a legacy?” the actor playing Hamilton said, according to a recording of the show obtained by Religion News Service. “It’s knowing you repented and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ that sets men free.”

There was just one problem. The church did not have the rights to perform “Hamilton” or post videos from a performance online.

“‘Hamilton’ does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to The Door Church,” a spokesperson for the musical told RNS in an email. 

After learning about the unauthorized performance on social media, the producers of “Hamilton” sent a cease-and-desist letter to the church.

But I'm not afraid,
my hope is in Jesus.
If you could just give him a chance today
That would be enough."

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August 21, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink