Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, one of his “problem plays,” has long fascinated lawyers. Yet the legal arguments in the case are preposterous. In this episode, we discuss how Shakespeare uses an absurd legal dispute to illustrate deeper religious and political conflicts and speculate about the implications of the play for America today. Perhaps the reason Merchant so fascinates lawyers is that it demonstrates uncomfortable truths about the limits of law. Listen in!
In this episode, we tackle a recent set of challenges by religious objectors in New York to government imposed vaccine mandates. We run through some of the background in these cases, examine some of the comments by New York Governor Kathleen Hochul concerning religion and these mandates, and take a look at the relevant law of free exercise and due process. Listen in!
In this episode, we look at the biggest law and religion case at the Supreme Court last term, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, and the two most significant such cases on the Court’s docket for the new term so far. The first, Carson v. Makin, looks like it could be a major case on the issue of whether the state may distinguish between “status” and “use” in deciding whether to exclude a religious school from its tuition aid programs. The second, Ramirez v. Collier, concerns a RLUIPA challenge to a Texas restriction on what ministers and clergy may do in capital cases in ministering inside the execution chamber. Listen in!
In this episode, we talk with Gerald Russello of the University Bookman about his decades-long career editing the influential conservative review of books. Gerald talks about his plans for the Bookman, the varieties of American conservatism, his own intellectual journey and embrace of traditionalism, and the future of the American right. It’s a fascinating discussion. Listen in!
In this episode, author Sohrab Ahmari joins us to talk about his just-released book, “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos.” We discuss Sohrab’s inspiration for the book, the benefits of received wisdom, and the paradox of following a tradition in 21st-century America. Listen in!
In this episode, we discuss Augustine’s City of God and its meaning for American politics today. What does Augustine’s famous metaphor of the two cities–the City of God and the City of Man–suggest about Christians’ place in 21st Century America? And what about his definition of a people as a group united by common loves? Is it correct, as President Biden argued in his inaugural address, that Americans fit this definition of a people? What common loves unite Americans today? Listen in!
In this episode, we interview Italian political scientist Lorenzo Castellani about his new book, “The Gear of Power” (L’Ingranaggio del Potere), which explores the rise of the “technocacy”–a new aristocracy, based on technical expertise, that increasingly dominates politics in the West. We discuss how claims of neutral expertise can mask underlying (and contested) moral commitments, and how the rise of the technocracy has provoked a populist backlash in Europe and America, including with respect to public-health restrictions on worship during the Covid pandemic. Listen in!
In this podcast, Center Co-Directors Marc DeGirolami and Mark Movsesian reflect on the religious imagery in last month’s inauguration and how it fits within the American tradition of civil religion. They also ask whether the new administration reflects the rise of the Religious Left: a political coalition of progressive believers, including progressive Catholics like President Biden himself. How stable is that coalition? Listen in!
By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court recently granted a preliminary injunction against New York’s restrictions on church gatherings during the continuing Covid epidemic. In this episode, we discuss the case, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, and explore its implications for similar cases pending at the Court. We also ask why these cases have provoked such a reaction in the wider public (hint: it’s politics and the culture wars). Listen in!
What is the anthropology–the account of human nature and human flourishing–that grounds the American law of bioethics? Is it an appealing one, or are there problems with it? In our latest podcast with Professor O. Carter Snead of the University of Notre Dame Law School, we probe these and related questions in his recently released book, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard University Press). Professor Snead discussed several chapters with us and our students in our Colloquium in Law and Religion. Listen in as we range over some of the deep questions covered by this important new book!