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Monday, April 24, 2017

On a New Era Dawning in the E.U. State of France


With Emmanuel Macron finishing first on the first-round of voting for the head of state in the E.U. state of France, the media declared a new era in the state politics was already a foregone conclusion. Yet the support of the political elites at both the state and federal level could be read as tempering any such landmark announcement.
The full essay is at "Macron in Europe." 


Friday, April 21, 2017

On the Spread of Private Governments in a Democracy: Should Churches and Universities Have Their Own Police Forces?

In mid-April, 2017, Alabama’s Senate approved a bill that would authorize Briarwood Presbyterian Church to create a police department. At the time, the church hired off-duty police employees to provide security-- “a common practice among nonprofit organizations.”[1] With 4,000 congregants, a K-12 school and thousands of events on its land each year, church officials had difficulty finding enough off-duty cops who were available. More important than being able to make up for any shortages, the proposed law “would empower a religious group to do a job usually performed by the government.”[2] That the group is religious in nature whereas police power is governmental (i.e., “church and state”) is less important than that the “job” had come to be viewed societally, as per the quote from The New York Times, as usually performed by government. In other words, the slippery, subtle slope is itself a red flag.

The full essay is at "Private Police Forces."



1. Ian Lovett, “Alabama Church Wants Police Force,” The New York Times, April 17, 2017.
2. Ibid.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Transgender Europeans: Activated by Political-Correctness or Human Rights?

The European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on April 6, 2017 “in favor of three transgender people in France who had been barred from changing the names and genders on their birth certificates because they had not been sterilized.”[1] I submit that the use of the term sterilization is misleading. Such a framing gives the erroneous impression that human rights are at issue. In other words, it is possible for a human-rights activism to go too far.



The full essay is at "Transgender Europeans."



[1] Liam Stack, “European Court Strikes Down Required Sterilization for Transgender People,” The New York Times, April 12, 2017.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Company Police-States: United Airlines Attacks a Passenger

A manager of United Airlines boarded on the ground in Chicago to have three security employees of the Chicago Department of Aviation bloody and drag a physician off the plane to make room for an employee not on the flight’s crew. Although the airline was technically within its rights to forcibly remove the man for refusing to give up his seat, which he had paid for, removing paid passengers at the last minute to make room for additional, non-essential staff showed a lack of judgment. Accordingly, the police-power of the company is problematic and should be dialed back. In fact, the power of the industry, including its companies, may need to be reduced.

The passenger, a physician, was the victim of a disruptive and belligerent company manager and his henchmen. (Source: CNN)

The full essay is at "United Airlines Attacks a Passenger."


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Strategic Use of Regulation in Government: A Proposal to Split-Up the Big Banks

The strategic use of regulatory reform is no stranger to businesses—especially to the strongest both financially and, relatedly, politically. Such proposals of more regulation are crafted not to benefit the macro economy or even the industry; rather, the point is to enhance a dominant firm’s competitive advantage over rivals. It follows that such proposals are not counter-factual to the thesis that republics are susceptible to the gravitational pull of plutocracy, the rule of wealth. A case in point is the U.S. Trump Administration’s consideration of a legislative proposal to reinstate the main content of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated commercial and investment banking such that a bank could not do both.

The full essay is at "A Proposal to Split-Up the Big Banks."

Gary Cohn, former number two at Goldman Sachs, talking to U.S. senators on behalf of the Trump Administration.
(source: Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

International Response to a Chemical Attack in Syria: Beyond the U.N.

In the wake of the chemical-weapons attack in Syria on March 4, 2017, Russia blocked a condemnation and investigation into the source by vetoing the U.N. Security Council resolution. Meanwhile, the American administration’s view of the Syrian government was shifting. President Trump told reporters, “my attitude toward Syria and Assad . . . has changed very much.”[1] Cleverly, the American president would not disclose whether the United States would respond against the Syrian government. The question of whether an empire like the U.S. or an international organization like the U.N. should respond hinged on the question of whether the latter was institutionally hamstrung on account of the power of national sovereignty in the organization. In short, if the U.N. was impotent, then the moral imperative could shift to the major powers in the world, such as China, Russia, the E.U., and the U.S.


 U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley presenting evidence of the chemical attack in Syria.
(Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The full essay is at "Beyond the U.N."

1. Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, “Trump’s View of Syria and Assad Altered After ‘Unacceptable’ Chemical Attack,” The New York Times, April 5, 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spirituality as Distinctively Religious

While it may be alluring in the business world to conceptualize spiritual leadership as being essentially ethical leadership, this convenient tact would not do justice to the distinctly religious sphere in which spirituality is based. The same error would be entailed in treating evil as though it were merely bad. Therefore, rather than foisting spiritual from its native domain and redefining it to fit within a secular context in order to apply the concept to leadership in business, we can relate the religious and secular concepts to each other with due deference to their respective natures.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Craft a Non-Partisan Constitutional Court: The Case of the U.S. Senate Confirming Justices

In interpreting a constitution, justice is best carried out when the justices are non-partisan rather than politically ideological. To be sure, every living and breathing human being has a political ideology, even if implicitly. Even so, the institutional process by which justices are chosen can mitigate this point by being oriented to non-partisan candidates. In other words, a system can be designed so as to minimize the likelihood that a partisan of one political party or another will sit on a constitutional court. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court can provide some insights in this regard.

The full essay is at "How to Craft a Non-Partisan Court."

The U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee meeting on Gorsuch's nomination on April 3, 2017. (NYT)

On the Impact of the Mind’s Infallible Assumptions in Declarations of Religious Belief

In religious affairs, we don’t typically notice the sheer declarativeness in the assertions of belief. In passing, we don’t isolate the underpinning assumptions. We are all human beings relative to the divine, and yet distinctions within our ranks are asserted or declared to be so, even if implicitly. All too often, the human mind overreaches with impunity. Rarely are the leaps themselves the subject of attention and thus subject to critique. Much more commonly, the substance of the religious belief is noticed and debated. I submit that the assumptions typically involved in making religious statements—even the very nature of the declarative assertion—are more worthy of note on account of the human mind’s vulnerabilities that are rarely noticed, much less subject to rebuke.

The full essay is at "Infallible Assumptions in Religion."

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Legislature Court: A Conflict of Interest Averted in Venezuela

Fundamentally, a court differs from a legislature, so it would be strange were a state’s supreme court to take it upon itself to act as the state’s legislature as well. In late March, 2017, Venezuela’s Supreme Court did exactly that, ignoring the qualitative difference between interpreting contested law and legislating. The court wrote that lawmakers in the legislature were “in a situation of contempt,” and that as long as that situation lasted the justices would “ensure that parliamentary powers [are] exercised directly by this chamber, or by the body that the chamber chooses.”[1] Understandably, Julio Borges, the head of the legislative Assembly, exclaimed, “They have kidnapped the Constitution, they have kidnapped our rights, they have kidnapped our liberty.”[2] Luisa Ortega, the Attorney General,” wrote that the court’s decision represented “a rupture in the constitutional order.”[3] This was true both in regard to the basic, or fundamental distinction between judicial review and legislating and democracy itself.

The president and chief justice of Venezuela. A conflict of interest in the making?  (Source: Reuters)

The full essay is at "A Legislature Court."


[1] Nicholas Casey and Patricia Torres, “Venezuela Muzzles Legislature, Moving Closer to One-Man Rule,” The New York Times, March 30, 2017.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.




Friday, March 31, 2017

Life in Prison for Killing a Cow: Law and Religion in Gujarat


At the end of March, 2017, the state of Gujarat in India extended the punishment for slaughtering cows from seven years in prison to life-imprisonment. The penalty for transporting beef was also raised to a maximum of 10 years, from three. The severity hinges on religious assumptions presumed to be beyond questioning or reproof.





The full essay is at "Life in Prison for Killing a Cow."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Regain Reputational Capital: The Case of Wells Fargo


How does a firm rebound from the toll taken in reputational capital from a track-record of unethical practices? Paying $175 million to settle accusations without admitting any wrongdoing, such as Wells Fargo did in 2012, does not suffice, but neither does merely admitting culpability without real change going forward. The case of Wells Fargo may provide an explanation for how reputation recovers.

The full essay is at "How to Regain Reputational Capital."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Young Russians Protest Government Corruption

Russia witnessed the largest anti-government protests in more than five years on March 26, 2017. At the urging of Aleksei Navalny, “tens of thousands of Russians—many of them in their teens and 20s—poured into the streets in scores of cities . . . to protest endemic corruption among the governing elite.”[1] The police responded by beating protesters—a barbaric and psychologically pathological response to peaceful protest—and arresting more than a thousand. As the protests were not directed against Putin, but, rather, corruption, the Kremlin should have been a cheerleader rather than antagonist to the protests.


The full essay is at "Young Russians Protest."

Aleksei A. Navalny at a court in Moscow on Monday. He told reporters that he was “amazed” by the number of cities and by how many people had taken part in demonstrations. Source: Denis Tyrin/Associated Press




1. Neil MacFarquhar and Ivan Nechepurenko, “Aleksei Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader, Receives 15-Day Sentence,” The New York Times, March 27, 2017.

Making a Joke Out of Liberty: Unmasking a Political Travesty


“Land of the free” is a ubiquitous expression that Americans use to describe the United States. Presumably those states esteem liberty as a political value even though it is oxymoronic for a government to voluntarily limit its own power over the governed. Hence, ratification of the U.S. Constitution was predicated on a Bill of Rights quickly to follow. Declaring governmental power to be limited was not enough. That many States have had “mask laws,” many still on the books as of 2017, testifies as to how invasive government power can be precisely at the expense of personal liberty wherein no one is harmed.
The full essay is at "Making a Joke Out of Liberty."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Perspective on the European Union

At the signing of the Rome Declaration at the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Community on March 25, 1957, E.U. leaders expressed their intention to further strengthening the federal Union. Even as “regional conflicts, terrorism, growing migratory pressures, protectionism and social and economic inequalities,” as well as Britain’s upcoming secession provided a sense of pessimism, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch, said, “Let us not lose perspective.”[1] I submit that this advice was at the time very important.


The full essay is at "Perspective on the European Union."


[1] James Kanter and Elisabetta Povoledo, “E.U. Leaders Sign Rome Declaration and Proclaim a ‘Common Future’ (Minus Britain),” The New York Times March 25, 2017.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Great Wall

William has come to China for rumored gun power, but what he really needs is trust. Therein lies his vulnerability, even if he views it better not to trust. Yet it could be that he is just afraid; Commander Lin Mae thinks so. The protagonist wants one thing, but in order to get it he must overcome a critical flaw. This is the basic form, or dynamic, of a screenplay. I submit that because film is an excellent medium in which philosophical principles can be explored and wrestled with, the protagonist’s vulnerability, raised to a principle, can efficaciously be more salient in a film than merely in the immediate struggles of the protagonist. In other words, the principle at issue in the protagonist’s flaw can play a more expansive role in a film, deepening it in the process.

The full essay is at "The Great Wall."


Saturday, March 18, 2017

European Officials at the G20 Grapple with a New American Trading Position: Beyond the Joint Communiqué

It is perhaps only natural---only human—for us to take ourselves and our produced artifacts too seriously. Diplomats and other government officials, for example, fret arduously over mere words. When those words are etched in governmental or treaty parchment, the effort is understandable. The flaw of excess is evident in all the time and effort that go into the joint communiques of international conferences and meetings. I submit that the real politic at such occasions is much more significant even if nothing shows from it for some time.
At the March 18, 2017 meeting of the Group of 20, which includes the E.U. and U.S., the joint statement “became an unlikely focus of controversy” issuing in “a tortured compromise stating, in effect, that trade is a good thing.”[1] I submit that the use of such language is spurious—certainly much less than the attendees and even their principals back home supposed. The real politic was instead that the U.S. was “overturning long-held assumptions about international commerce,” and such transformational change takes time even just to register in minds ensconced in the status quo. That is to say, the real shift in power would need to play out in actual negotiations on trade, rather than in how to word a meeting’s joint statement.


A European official, Wolfgang Schauble, perhaps straining at the meeting to understand the new American position. (source: NYT)

The full essay is at "European Officials at the G20."


1. Jack Ewing, “U.S. Breaks With Allies Over Trade Issues Amid Trump’s ‘America First’ Vows,” The New York Times, March 18, 2017.

A Religious Stockholder-Test for Wells Fargo: Confronting Mediocre Accountability

Orienting executive compensation to accountability is easier said than done. For example, it might be supposed that the cause of accountability was aptly served by John Stumpf’s forfeit of $41 million in unvested stock when he resigned under pressure as Wells Fargo’s CEO because of the bank’s systemic overzealousness in signing customers up for unwanted services. Unfortunately, he “realized pretax earnings of more than $83 million by exercising vested stock options, amassed over his 34 years at the bank, and receiving payouts on certain stock awards.”[1] In other words, the man who presided over unethical business practices at the expense of customers received double that which he was forfeiting. How can accountability have any meaning against $83 million? This figure connotes reward rather than punishment. Tim Sloan, who succeeded Stumpf as the bank’s CEO, received compensation in 2016 of $13, up from the $11 million in 2015. Interestingly, it may have been religion to the rescue.







[1] Stacy Cowley, “Wells Fargo Leaders Reaped Lavish Pay Even as Account Scandal Unfolded,” The New York Times, March 16, 2017.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The E.U.’s Central Bank: Beholden to State-Level Politics

Faced with the rise of anti-euro candidates for state offices throughout the E.U., Mario Draghi, the president of the E.U.’s central bank deemed it politically prudent to depart from the light world of cool economic data to mount a spirited defense of the euro and even free trade in March, 2017. With the UK having voted to secede from the Union, he could not assume that the state of the Union would continue to be inherently viable. Indeed, some political candidates at the state level were “questioning the whole idea of a united Europe and the European Central Bank’s fundamental reason for being.”[1] Were such questioning to reach the mainstream across the E.U., the ECB would face an existential crisis. The E.U. itself may have been in such a crisis since the British voted to secede—much like the U.S. faced an existential crisis during the Lincoln administration. Fortunately for the E.U., only one state had voted to secede, so I think the existential crisis facing the E.U. had been overblown since the British referendum. Nevertheless, the political climate in the E.U. was such that Draghi felt the need to take heed of political criticism.




[1] Jack Ewing, “As E.C.B. Charts Economic Course, Politics Complicate the Picture,” The New York Times, March 9, 2017.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Disentangling a Worsening Trade Deficit: Sector-Specific Industrial and Macro Economic Policy


The U.S. trade deficit rose 9.6% in January, 2017, to the highest level since 2012. The gap of $48.5 billion of exports exceeding imports looks daunting, yet the story is more complex at the sector level.[1] According to Neil Irwin of The New York Times, “What really matters is not whether the trade deficit is rising or falling. What matters is why?”[2] Distinguishing macro factors such as a strengthening dollar from sectoral strengths and weaknesses is thus necessary.
The full essay is at "Disentangling a Worsening Trade Deficit."


1. Neil Irwin, “The Huge January Trade Deficit Shows Trump’s Hard Job Ahead,” The New York Times, March 7, 2017.
2. Ibid.




The Port of Oakland (Source: Jim Wilson/NYT)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Federalizing State Warheads in the E.U.: The Problem of Excessive State Power in a Federal System

Only months after Donald Trump became the federal president in the U.S., an idea, “once unthinkable,” was “gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program.”[1] The arsenal in the state of France would be “repurposed”—which is to say, federalized in American terms—to protect the European Union rather than merely one of its states. The command of the weapons, as well as the funding plan and defense doctrine, would be federal. Even though the question of whether the E.U. could continue to count of American protection—there being dozens of American nuclear weapons in the E.U.—was at the time most tantalizing, I submit that the matter of federalism in the case of the E.U. is salient too.



[1] Max Fisher, “Fearing U.S. Withdrawal, Europe Considers Its Own Nuclear Deterrent,” The New York Times, March 6, 2017.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Uber Tricking Law Enforcement: An Unethical Corporate Culture Externalized

A company with a culture in which in-fighting and heavy-handed treatment of subordinates are not only tolerated, but also constitute the norm can have good financials. With operations in more than 70 countries and a valuation of close to $70 billion in 2017, Uber could be said to be a tough, but successful company. Yet the psychological boundary-problems that lie behind such an organizational culture can easily be projected externally to infect bilateral relations with stakeholders. In the case of Uber, those stakeholders include municipal law enforcement. Even more than as manifested within the company, the external foray demonstrates just how presumptuous “boundary issues” are. Such presumption can blind even upper-level managers to just how much their company has overstep. In reading this essay on Uber’s program to evade law enforcement, you may be struck by the sheer denial in the company.

The full essay is at "Uber Tricking Law Enforcement."

Thursday, March 2, 2017

On the Vatican’s Conflict of Interest Regarding Accountability on Sex-Abuse


Integrity is arguably essential to the credibility of religious functionaries—even and especially those with considerable organizational power. So it was significant that Marie Collins, whom Pope Francis had appointed to the Vatican’s commission on sexual abuse by clergy and herself had been a victim of such abuse, resigned on March 1, 2017 due to “fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.”[1] Notably, the commission suspended Peter Saunders a year before, “after he accused the panel of failing to deliver on its promises of reform and accountability” even including recommendations that the Pope had approved.[2] What is the basis of the problem? I submit that the conflict of interest that is inherent in having the clergy of a religious organization hold each other accountable is, much like industry self-regulation, culpable in this case.

The full essay is at "On the Vatican's Conflict of Interest."



[1] Elisabetta Povoledo and Gaia Pianigiani, “Abuse Victim Quits Vatican Commission, Citing ‘Resistance’,” The New York Times, March 1, 2017.
[2] Ibid.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Biblically-Based Investment Funds: A Matter of Priorities

Is it biblical to say a Christian can serve both God and money? In the Gospels, Jesus speaks to this point directly; it is not possible. In early 2017, Inspire Investing established two new exchange-traded funds having a “biblically responsible” approach to investing—meaning that they would avoid buying shares in companies that have “any degree of participation in activities that do not align with biblical values.”[1] That such activities include even tolerance for gay employees raises the question of just how practical an evangelical investment strategy is after the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in all of the 50 republics making up the U.S.

The full essay is at "Biblically-Based Investment Funds."



1. Liz Moyer, “Alongside Faith in Investing, Funds Offer Investment Rooted in Faith,” The New York Times, February 28, 2017.

China and Russia Protect Syria’s Assad on Chemical Weapons: A Matter of Priorities


All bets are off when it comes to regulating war. Such a condition is virtually by definition beyond the confines of law. Even international law is but an impotent dwarf next to the raw force of a governmental regime at war—whether with its own citizens or another country. To be sure, the International Criminal Court had by 2017 made a dent in holding some perpetrators of atrocities such as genocide accountable for their deeds. Such efforts were still the exception, unfortunately, when Russia, China, and Bolivia vetoes a resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would have penalize Syria’s Issad regime for having used chemical weapons on Syrians. The reasons for the vetoes—and the fact that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan all obstained—implies that holding perpetrators accountable by international means had not yet become a priority at the international level.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Virtual Reality: Not Coming to a Theatre Near You

Virtual reality may be coming your way, and when it hits, it could hit big—as if all at once. The explosion of computers and cell phones provides two precedents. “Technologists say virtual reality could be the next computing platform, revolutionizing the way we play games, work and even socialize.”[1] Anticipating virtual reality as the next computing platform does not do the technology justice. I submit that it could revolutionize “motion pictures.” Even though the impact on screenwriting and filmmaking would be significant, I have in mind here the experience of the viewer.


The full essay is at "Virtual Reality at the Movies."

1. Cat Zakrzewski, “Virtual Reality Comes With a Hitch: Real Reality,” The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2017.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Should Same-Party-Affiliation Exclude Investigations on an Elected Official’s Misconduct?

A survey taken in February, 2017 of 1,571 political scientists on democracy in America reveals a possible problem regarding the extent to which government officials are sanctioned for misconduct. More than half of the respondents believed that the United States only partly meets or does not meet this criterion, whereas about 80 percent of the scholars insisted that the criterion is essential or important to democracy.[1] I submit that partisanship is a major obstacle to performance being able to meet expectations.

The full essay is at "Same-Party-Affiliation and Misconduct."



1. Claire C. Miller and Kevin Quealy, “Democracy in America: How Is It Doing?The New York Times, February 23, 2017.







Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Cure a Dysfunctional Company Culture: The Case of Uber

Valued at close to $70 billion and operating in more than 70 countries, Uber was giving traditional taxi companies a ride for their money in early 2017 when it came to light just how Hobbesian the company’s culture had become. In February, an engineer who had left the company two months earlier “detailed a history of discrimination and sexual harassment by her managers, which she said was shrugged off by Uber’s human resources department.”[1] Crucially, she claimed that “the culture was stoke—and even fostered—by those at the top of the company.”[2] Interviews with other employees and reviews of internal emails, chat logs, and tape-recorded meetings revealed incidents typified by one manager groping a woman coworker’s breasts at a company retreat, a director shouting an anti-gay slur at a subordinate during an argument, and another manager threatening to beat an underperforming subordinate’s head in with a baseball bat. The operative question is whether anything can be done about the accepted pathology.

The full essay is at "Dysfunctional Company Culture: Uber."



1. Mike Isaac, “Inside Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Workplace Culture,” The New York Times, February 22, 2017.
2. Ibid.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Holding Back the E.U.: What Is It?

In addressing the E.U. Parliament in February, 2017, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Tradeau, claimed that the E.U. “is a truly remarkable achievement and an unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation.”[1] The only problem with the compliment is that it is not true. The U.S. is the precedent, as it was formed as an alliance in part to stave off war between its member states.
The full essay is at "Holding Back the E.U."

1. James Kanter, “Trudeau, Praising the E.U., Doesn’t Mention ‘Brexit’ or Trump,” The New York Times, February 16, 2017.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

On the Value of Business-Societal Linkages: Facebook’s Zuckerberg Opposing President Trump?

In a public letter in February, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, linked his company’s product, the online social network, to the societal and indeed global level in claiming that “progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.”[1] The New York Times took this to mean that the CEO “stepped into the raging debate about globalization.”[2] Taking sides in a political or cultural debate can both advance and harm a business, hence the matter of the stepping into is worthy of analysis in its own right.



1. Mike Isaac, “Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Bucking Tide, Takes Public Stand Against Isolationism,” The New York Times, February 16, 2017.
2. Ibid.

Kierkegaard’s Socratic Task: Delivering a Christianity of Inward Faith

Kierkegaard learned from Socrates the value of (being) the single individual, especially in the subjective pursuit of truth. Before Socrates, truth (and morality) was to be found externally, in culture and tradition, and thus in an objective sense. Kierkegaard learned from Socrates the value of the individual’s subjectivity in the pursuit of truth; that truth can be internal without devolving into relativist nihilism. The Danish philosopher appropriated what he had learned from Socrates methodologically in the self-declared “Socratic task” of auditing “the definition of what it is to be a Christian.”[i] Behind Kierkegaard’s authorship is “the task of becoming a Christian.”[ii] This applies to helping others—as a Socratic midwife!—to become Christian and, relatedly, to Kierkegaard’s own willingness accept the inexpressible grace of being sacrificed by the Danish Church—those self-declared Christians actually oriented to money. Kierkegaard ironically exclaims, “I am not a Christian.”[iii] Such irony! “I do not call myself a Christian,” Kierkegaard wrote strategically, “but I can make it manifest that the others are that even less.”[iv] Herein lies the acceptance of being sacrificed in the interest of truth. Kierkegaard observed that “’Christendom’ lies in an abyss of sophistry that is even much, much worse than when the Sophists flourished in Greece.”[v] The success of comfortable pastors justifying their earthly wealth theologically under the auspices of the Prosperity Gospel renders the Socratic Kierkegaard still relevant today.[vi] Fortunately, Kierkegaard would assure us that the individual Christian can still find truth within rather than outwardly comprehending the doctrines that the pastors, whose claim to being Christians is dubious at best, claim to know. In this essay, I show how Kierkegaard appropriates Socrates’ method in service of this point. The Danish philosopher gained from his Greek model the tools with which to undercut the doctrines as knowable (by the theologians and pastors), so he could privilege becoming and being a Christian as a matter of personally discovered inward faith yet without positive epistemological content getting in the way.

The full essay is at "Kierkegaard's Socratic Task."



[i] Soren Kierkegaard, The Moment, in The Moment and Late Writings, Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, trans.  (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 341.
[ii] Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View: On My work as an Author, the Point of View for my Work as an Author, Armed Neutrality, Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, trans. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 55.
[iii] Soren Kierkegaard, The Moment, in The Moment and Late Writings, Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, trans.  (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 340.
[iv] Ibid., 341.
[v] Ibid.
[vi] On the historical shift in theological interpretation from anti-wealth to pro-wealth, see Skip Worden, God's Gold (Seattle, WA: Amazon, 2016).

Saturday, February 11, 2017

One-Party Rule at the State Level: Federalism at Work

With Congressional Republicans appearing “flummoxed by the complexities of one-party rule, struggling with issues from repealing the Affordable Care Act . . . to paying for President Trump’s promised wall on the Mexican border, rising party leaders in the states seem far more at ease and assertive. Republicans have top-to-bottom control in 25 states now, holding both the governorship and the entire legislature, and Republican lawmakers are acting with lightning speed to enact longstanding conservative priorities.”[1] Not yet even a month after Donald Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017, Republicans in Kentucky had “swiftly passed laws to roll back the powers of labor unions and restrict access to abortion,” and were planning “sweeping changes to the education and public pension systems.”[2] In states from New England to the Midwest and across the South, Republican lawmakers had “introduced or enacted legislation to erode union powers and abortion rights, loosen gun regulations, expand school-choice programs and slash taxes and spending.”[3] That the media spotlight at the time was so focused on the federalism says something about just how eclipsed federalism itself had become on the national stage.

The full essay is at "One-Party Rule."



1. Alexander Burns and Mitch Smith, “State G.O.P. Leaders Move Swiftly as Party Bickers in Congress,” The New York Times, February 11, 2017.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.