What is this newsletter?

This is a newsletter about Protests, People, and Pluralism.

Each week, I hope to share three things:

  • In the News — Current issues and occasionally breaking news

  • In my Head — Larger issues and ideas beyond the news

  • In the World — Content that someone else has created

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I’ll have some special edition newsletters, too. They might be interviews, essays, or longer reflections.

My goal is to share something most Fridays. And possibly a few more things in between.

All content is free.

Who are you?

I am a law professor and political theorist. I teach at Washington University in St. Louis, where I am the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion.

What is your latest book?

Thanks for asking. My next book is Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect. You can read more about it in this post.

Here is the table of contents:

August: How Do We Learn Empathy? 
September: Can We Know What’s Fair?
October: What Happens When We Can’t Compromise? 
November: Can We Have Difficult Conversations? 
December: Can We See People Instead of Problems?
January: Can We Trust Faith?
February: Can Anything Be Neutral?
March: Where is the Line Between Wrong and Evil?
April: Is Forgiveness Possible?
May: Can We Be Friends?

Each chapter will also have an anchor illustration drawn by my friend and colleague, John Hendrix. The book will be published by Zondervan in April 2024 and is now available for preorder. I will be discussing some of its content in this newsletter.

Have you written anything else?

I wrote about the First Amendment’s right of assembly in my first book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly (Yale University Press, 2012). In some ways I have never left the topic. Its connections to pluralism—how we navigate living in society with deep and irreconcilable differences—undergirds two subsequent books: Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference (Chicago University Press, 2016), and Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference (Thomas Nelson, 2020) (with Tim Keller).

What is assembly?

The First Amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” This right has implications for protests, groups, associations, identity, pluralism, speech, and religion. I have written about these topics in a number of different academic articles and shorter pieces.

Assembly raises questions of what groups and institutions are, what they stand for, and how they express themselves, and the resulting differences that emerge in a world where not everyone shares the same beliefs. These are some of the ideas that inform Confident Pluralism and Uncommon Ground.

Assembly also links to the embodied community of Christian faith: the ecclesia (assembly) of the New Testament and the theological insights that follow from it. This connection is important to some of my scholarly work at the intersection of law and theology. It is also important to my personal life, as I seek to live as part of a Christian community and engage authentically and respectfully with people of other faiths and of no faith. One of the ways I do this is as a senior fellow with Interfaith America, an organization which seeks to bridge America’s religious diversity without sacrificing religious particularity and the unavoidable tensions that come from conflicting particularity.

Where can I learn more about you?

Check out my website. If you don’t trust a self-made Squarespace site, here is my official law school website.

Do you have any pat answers to other questions I may have?

You’re in luck. I list them by topical category on my website.

Anything else?

I may pre-schedule a few of these newsletters when I am on vacation, traveling for work, or otherwise occupied. That means that you might get a newsletter about some seemingly obscure or even light-hearted topic within a few hours of a major development in the news cycle or in your life. Those kinds of unintended interactions create dissonance for all of us. My advice is to focus on what’s important in the moment, which sometimes won’t be my newsletter.

Photo credit: Joe Angeles/Washington University

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Reflections on Protests, People, and Pluralism


Professor of Law and Religion | Author | Speaker