Skeel on Making Sense of the New Financial Deal

David A. Skeel Jr. (University of Pennsylvania Law School) has posted Making Sense of the New Financial Deal. The abstract follows. – ARH

In this Essay, I assess the enactment and implications of the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress’s response to the 2008 financial crisis. To set the stage, I begin by very briefly reviewing the causes of the crisis. I then argue that the legislation has two very clear objectives. The first is to limit the risk of the shadow banking system by more carefully regulating the key instruments and institutions of contemporary finance. The second objective is to limit the damage in the event one of these giant institutions fails. While the new regulation of the instruments of contemporary finance – including clearing and exchange trading requirements for derivatives – is promising, its treatment of systemically important financial institutions is likely to create a troublesome partnership between these institutions and the government. I also argue that our financial world is just as prone to bailouts after Dodd-Frank as it was before, and that it would have made a lot more sense to focus on bankruptcy as the solution of choice for troubled financial institutions.

After this initial assessment, I discuss the CEO compensation issues that have gotten so much attention in the press. I conclude by considering the legislation from a distinctively Christian perspective.

Wardle on Protection of Healthcare Providers’ Rights of Conscience

Lynn D. Wardle (BYU – J. Reuben Clark Law School) has posted Protection of Healthcare Providers’ Rights of Conscience in American Law: Present, Past, and Future. The abstract follows. – ARH

This article reviews the past, present, and future state of healthcare providers’ right of conscience. It reviews the deeply embedded constitutional protections that recognize the right of conscience as a fundamental human right, and additionally, it shows that the constitutional doctrine of abortion privacy assumes and allows protection for the rights of conscience of healthcare providers. After reviewing the past, the present state of protection of right of conscience is set forth, including the Provider Conscience Rule adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2008. The future of the 2008 Provider Conscience Rule is considered, since there has been debate over rescinding it, and the article concludes that while it is possible to fully protect rights of conscience, full commitment is needed to honor this important, fundamental right.

Douthat on “American Theocracy”

Ross Douthat has an interesting op-ed in this morning’s New York Times about recent press coverage of Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachman and Rick Perry. Douthat argues that reporters are absolutely correct to ask candidates who “wear their religions on their sleeves” to explain how their beliefs would influence their policy decisions.  He cautions, though, that reporters should not assume that a candidate shares the most extreme views associated with his or her denomination, or apply a double standard.  If Barack Obama is not identical with Jeremiah Wright, Michele Bachman may not be identical with R.J. Rushdoony. She’ll have to explain.

I think Douthat is right on both counts, but what interests me is the use of the term “theocracy” in American public life. Traditionally, “theocracy” means government by clergy, the sort of thing that exists today in Shia Iran, and, I suppose, Vatican City.  But that is an extremely rare arrangement nowadays, and no one in America, including the overwhelming majority of conservative Evangelicals, would favor it.  I suppose “theocracy” could also mean a state in which religious law applies to civil matters. That arrangement is the norm in Read more

Protestant Aesthetics

And speaking of aesthetics, Zoë Pollock at The Dish has a very nice post on the 16-17th century Dutch painter Frans Hals (whose work is the subject of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through October), and also linking to a very knowledgeable description of the painter’s work by Morgan Meis.

“Hegel and the Infinite” (Zizek et al. eds)

Because I’ve been working a little with Hegel’s Aesthetics for a law and religion project, I was attracted to this book, Hegel and the Infinite: Religion, Politics, and Dialectic (Columbia UP) (edited by Slavoj Zizek, Clayton Crockett, and Creston Davis).  The publisher’s description follows.  — MOD

Catherine Malabou, Antonio Negri, John D. Caputo, Bruno Bosteels, Mark C. Taylor, and Slavoj Zizek join seven others—including William Desmond, Katrin Pahl, Adrian Johnston, Edith Wyschogrod, and Thomas A. Lewis—to apply Hegel’s thought to twenty-first-century philosophy, politics, and religion. Doing away with claims that the evolution of thought and history is at an end, these thinkers safeguard Hegel’s innovations against irrelevance and, importantly, reset the distinction of secular and sacred.

These original contributions focus on Hegelian analysis and the transformative value of the philosopher’s thought in relation to our current “turn to religion.” Malabou develops Hegel’s motif of confession in relation to forgiveness; Negri writes of Hegel’s philosophy of right; Caputo reaffirms the radical theology made possible by Hegel; and Bosteels critiques fashionable readings of the philosopher and argues against the reducibility of his dialectic. Taylor reclaims Hegel’s absolute as a process of infinite restlessness, and Zizek revisits the religious implications of Hegel’s concept of letting go. Mirroring the philosopher’s own trajectory, these essays progress dialectically through politics, theology, art, literature, philosophy, and science, traversing cutting-edge theoretical discourse and illuminating the ways in which Hegel inhabits them.