• Cocktails,  Literature,  Theology

    Christmas: Cocktails and Crime, Choirs and Cool

    A few notes, as Christmas is upon us. First, what to drink? I don’t care for Bloody Marys; they’re too acid.  The best Christmas drinks for morning or lunch are milk punch and the French 75. Here is a Garden & Gun article about (and recipe for) milk punch: And, just this past Thanksgiving, I shared notes about the French 75: Second, what to read? This blog dwells on crime fiction, so consider these “best of 2017” lists from the New York Times — — and from The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and The Rap Sheet. Third, what to listen to? I first read about jazz pianist David Ian…

  • Books,  Literature

    13 Books Every White-Collar Lawyer Should Read

    Of the making of lists of books, there shall be no end. Nevertheless, here is one more. Set out below are 13 works that every white-collar lawyer – defense counsel, prosecutor or judge – should read. Why take on such a presumptuous project? Three good reasons. First, lists start conversations. Although law is (or was) a “learned profession,” relatively few lawyers in my experience have read broadly or deeply since college.  The press of work does not allow otherwise.  Our professional learning is utilitarian, narrow, cramped and quickly (or gratefully) forgotten. Second, the proponent of such a list (that is, me) must review, reconsider or even reread works first encountered…

  • Theology

    Christmas Movies and Serial Killers

    Today is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, a time in which Christians traditionally prepare themselves by reflection and prayer for the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, God made flesh.  Ultimately, of course, Jesus was sacrificed upon the Cross for our sins, and “sacrifice” is a fit subject for Advent reflection: We may think of sacrifice in its patriotic or collective sense, as when we attended a Veterans’ Day parade or when an earlier generation watched a movie about World War II hero Audie Murphy (1925-1971). More commonly, we talk about sacrifice in its individual or instrumental sense, as when we say that an athlete has made sacrifices…

  • Cocktails,  Crime Fiction,  Theology

    Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction

    Pop culture and theology mix fruitfully in pulp-crime fiction. Here’s a four-part course from 2012: Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction          . Here’s the blurb that went with the class: Crime fiction, in its varied forms, both illuminates and counterpoints the Gospel.  Crime fiction correctly presents and analyzes the sinful human condition, even where its conclusions are horribly wrong.  And, in crime fiction as nowhere else, the law is most definitely the Law: God did not get after Cain for shoplifting. So: four classes’ worth of dark human hearts and blazing Gospel light, interspersed with mayhem, Augustine, detectives, 1930s pulp novels and the overlooked theological punch from the opening line of The Postman Always Rings…

  • Compliance,  Crime Fiction,  Theology

    Criminals In Ties: Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

    The interplay between law — especially criminal law — and theology is more subterranean and nuanced than many give it credit for.  The same is true of civil law, as here:  Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs A contract is an exchange of promises: “I promise to do x if you promise to do y.”  Each party must undertake an obligation—called “consideration”—for the contract to be binding.  A simple unilateral promise with no consideration (“I will give you my car on Monday”) is not usually binding.  These law-rules about obligations in our daily lives provide a contrast to the covenant that the Lord makes with David and to the way that…

  • Crime Fiction,  Theology

    John D. MacDonald and King Saul

    We worked John D. MacDonald’s private eye, Travis McGee, into this discussion of King Saul and the young David:  Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs.  I most recently read The Quick Red Fox, which I was thinking about for the Saul and David post. MacDonald had fine PI prose: “We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge” (Darker Than Amber (1966)).