Endings … and religious beginnings

All The Presidents’ Lawyers is no more

Josh Barro and Ken White are ending one of my favorite legal podcasts, All The President’s Lawyers, loosely based on the premise that "all Presidents have legal problems, but some [read: Donald Trump] have more than others."

The podcast, I admit, was getting more than a bit repetitive if one was looking to learn about how the law operates, but it had turned into sort of a serial low-key comedy routine, with stock questions and caricatures like

  • Ken, is this RICO?
  • Ken, is Michael Avenatti a good lawyer?
  • … thumb-headed henchman Lev Parnus …
  • And just "Roger Stone," with no adjective needed,

that I found amusing.

The occasion of ending the podcast, though, is that Barro is leaving KCRW, the public radio station sponsoring ATPL. Since I don’t like being a freeloadeder, I once or twice sent KCRW a financial token of appreciation for ATPL and for a second Josh Barro podcast, Left, Right and Center (to which I ceased listening a while back). It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the emails and letters from KCRW to cease, since I now have no reason to send it money. If the mailings from the National Right to Work Committee to my dead father (who had a pretty good reason for disliking labor unions; I, in contrast, think we could stand to see their renewed vigor) for years after his death are any indication, it may be a long time.

Barro and White are concocting some kind of new podcast independent of KCRW, and I look forward to giving it at try.

Individualism is not the solution

Tocqueville, unlike so many of his current conservative and progressive readers, understood that individualism was not the solution to the problem of an increasingly encompassing centralized state but the source of its increasing power.

Patrick J. Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed

Professional restraint

The prosecutor in the Ahmaud Arbery killing trial surprisingly did not dwell on race, racism, or sending any message to … well, whatever you care to call people like the Defendants.

In her rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument — the last word before jurors were sent off to decide the fate of thee three men — Ms. Dunikoski made an appeal to common sense, offering up a general rule of life that she said the defendants had violated: “Don’t go looking for trouble.”

She had already told them that Mr. Arbery was killed because he was Black. Now she was telling them that the case wasn’t about whether the men were “good or bad people.” Rather, she said, it was “about holding people accountable and responsible for their actions.”

How a Prosecutor Addressed a Mostly White Jury and Won a Conviction in the Arbery Case

This prosecutor seems to have a very solid professional focus. She has declined interviews so far, too.

Despite our shared profession, something in me very much wants to see the defendants as "bad people," not just as people who need to be held accountable, but I know her way would be better for my soul — and I’d venture there’s a fair chance it struck a chord with the jury.

Self-Flagellation Day

Thanksgiving Day is here, and as is the fashion, it’s taking a beating. “What is Thanksgiving to Indigenous People? ‘A Day of Mourning,’” writes the onetime daily Bible of American mass culture, USA Today. The Washington Post fused a clickhole headline format with white guilt to create, “This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.” Even the pundits who didn’t rummage in the past in search of reasons for Americans to flog themselves this week found some in the future, a la the Post’s climate-change take on Turkey Day menus: “What’s on the Thanksgiving table in a hotter, drier world?”

MSNBC meanwhile kept things festive by reminding us, with regard to the now-infamous Pilgrims, that “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence” …

Where’s all this headed? In the space of a generation America has gone from being a country brimming with undeserved over-confidence, to one whose intellectual culture has turned into an agonizing, apparently interminable run of performative self-flagellation.

Matt Taibbi, ‌Thanksgiving is Awesome

Not Making This Up

1492 needs a trigger warning: The Women’s March issued an apology so perfect that I cannot summarize it. It has to be printed in full. This is a real apology sent out by the Women’s March.

We apologize deeply for the email that was sent today. $14.92 was our average donation amount this week. It was an oversight on our part to not make the connection to a year of colonization, conquest, and genocide for Indigenous people, especially before Thanksgiving.

Nellie Bowles

Escaping a flawed religious heritage

Alan Jacobs throws down a gauntlet:

Hannah Anderson in Christianity Today:

Just as we do not choose our biological families of origin, there’s a sense in which we do not choose our religious families of origin either. Those of us who have been birthed or shaped by evangelicalism will never not be affected by it. You can be a former evangelical or a postevangelical. You can be a neo-evangelical. You can be a recovering evangelical — even a reforming evangelical. But you will never not be defined by your relationship to evangelicalism.

At the same time, acknowledging your evangelical roots does not mean turning a blind eye to the challenges facing the movement, nor does it mean defining evangelicalism so narrowly that you can absolve yourself of responsibility for it. To extend the family metaphor, evangelicalism may be comprised of your crazy cousins, embarrassing uncles, and perhaps even dysfunctional homes, but it’s still your family.

One thing that I almost never see in the current Discourse about evangelicalism is an acknowledgement by people who were raised evangelical that their upbringing might have provided something, anything to be grateful for. When I hear people denouncing their evangelical or fundamentalist “family,” I often think of something Auden said about Kierkegaard: “The Danish Lutheran Church may have been as worldly as Kierkegaard thought it was, but if it had not existed he would never have heard of the Gospels, in which he found the standards by which he condemned it.”

As an Orthodox Christian, formerly Evangelical, I appreciate his point — and bits of Hannah Anderson’s comments as well. But I do not call myself exvangelical, former evangelical, postevangelical or even recovering evangelical. I think the claim that "you will never not be defined by your relationship to evangelicalism" is self-congratulatory if not delusional. I am an Orthodox Christian, and there’s just too little point of contact between truly historic Christianity and evangelicalism for the latter to be much of my Christian identity, though it’s part of my history.

But amidst much criticism of Evangelicalism, I’ve given credit where credit is due. See, most notably, the material in the section "Epiphany 1" in this longish blog post. My status as evangelical was tried and tested (see "Epiphany 2") but survived unequivocally to my late 20s or early 30s, when I embraced Calvinism (see the first seven paragraphs of "Epiphany 3").

And, yes, in evangelicalism I found the standards by which I now condemn it — including a lot of scriptures that evangelicals don’t underline in their Bibles if they notice them at all, and the clear context of some they do underline.


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