Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Neither Original, Nor Copy.

There's a concert tonight if you're interested.

However, it's not the 70s rock band whose music will be played.

It's not even the tribute band for the 70s rock band whose music will be played.

The advert said the concert would feature members of the tribute band. They couldn't even assemble the full tribute band. Sad.

At least, they gave full disclosure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Robert Duvall Moment.

In the film, A Civil Action, Robert Duvall's character--a trial attorney--gets up from counsel's table, picks up his distressed briefcase and walks out of an ongoing trial. Duvall departed early because he managed to get his client dismissed while the case was pending as to other parties.

I had one of those moments last week.

We had a mini-trial on an threshold issue set in federal court. At the same time, I had scheduled a motion requesting that the Court dismiss my client. Through the motion, I hoped to educate the Court and the opposing party that there was no merit to the claim against my client, and thereby engineer a pre-trial dismissal. While the motion represented an uphill battle to get a court-ordered dismissal at that time, the Court "got it" and used his tentative ruling to warn the opposing side about keeping my client in the proceedings.

At the end of the ruling, the judge said that he hoped his ruling would provide "guidance" to the other side, and that any "willful deafness" to his admonition would be viewed harshly.

Amazingly, the other attorney did not recognize the "guidance" in the ruling and requested that the Court educate her some more. With a thinly veiled smirk, the judge said that he had thought the ruling was quite clear as to the nonviability of the claim, but said that he would elaborate.

The federal judge remarkably said that the other attorney's head was "on a chopping block" and that--this time--the proverbial "blade missed [her] neck by one-quarter of an inch."

Recognizing the opportunity, I suggested that it would be an appropriate time for my client to be dismissed from the case. The other attorney agreed to do precisely that on the record before testimony commenced. Upon the dismissal, which I had orchestrated through my pretrial motion, the Court's parting shot was "nice knowing you gentlemen." The Court's comment came as my client and I strode out of the courtroom to handshakes and backslaps from the other counsel representing other defendants who had not yet extricated themselves from the case.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Film as Worship: Heaven's Gate?, Part III of III.


Peterson cautions: “It would be simplistic to argue that what was done in the earliest churches is automatically a norm for us today.”[1] Given that we who are created in God’s image are designed to be creative, and moreover, because the New Testament provides for flexibility and innovation in worshiping God,[2] one cannot exclude or dismiss out-of-hand the use of film as a potential means to worship God simply because it is (obviously) not part of the ancient Church.

Once surmounting this preliminary hurdle, it is appropriate then to examine whether films link up with the characteristics of New Testament worship as outlined above.

A. Film Viewing Is Primarily a Corporate Activity, Lending Itself To Fellowship

Films are probably best experienced in gatherings. There is nothing like the experience of going to a movie theater and enjoying a film in the company of others. Communally laughing at the same lines or gasping at other scenes is a satisfying part of the movie-going experience. “Large numbers of cinema-goers (most?) go with friends. [foot note omitted.] However, whether people arrive in groups or individually, watching a film in a cinema is a shared experience. Cinema-going is therefore religion-like in being an experience enjoyed in the company of others….As Martin Scorsese has commented: ‘… I can … see great similarities between a church and a movie-house. Both are places for people to come together and share a common experience.’”[3]

Likewise, the community or corporate aspect of film-viewing can be experienced in the discussion that inevitably follows going to the movie theater with others. Bonds can be formed through the shared experience as well as the exchange of ideas as each interacts with the film on his or her own terms. This social interaction can exist whether or not the movie is seen together. “When one goes to a party and must make conversation with new people, is it not a recent movie that provides the smile of recognition and the conversation starter?”[4]

B. Because Films Engage Viewers on an Emotional Level, They Engage the Heart

Virtually all films contain music or songs. This is just one of the tools in the film-makers’ box to engage viewers on an emotional level. Films often engage viewers vicariously and viscerally, such as evoking an emotional connection or response.[5] In this regard, film can break down the barriers to feeling that are often erected in the day-to-day grind of life. The emotional reaction does not exist for its sake, however. Clive Marsh correctly argues that theology can interact with a film’s emotion and sentimentality in a theological framework.[6] Marsh observes: “Theology is one important conversation partner in the task of structuring emotional responses by viewers to film.”[7]

Moreover, an emotional tug can open the door to action to assist those who are needy. It worked for Jesus who felt compassion for the distressed and downcast and healed “every kind of sickness.”[8]

C. Films Engage the Mind

Like scripture reading and teaching, films come at viewers with material to engage the mind. Mostly, this comes in the form of story, which is also how much of Scripture is constructed. “Christians have recognized the power of story ever since the ministry of Jesus himself. The Scriptures Jesus used (the Old Testament) are overwhelmingly narrative—well over 75 percent. The gospel is at its core a story—God acting in history to reveal his love by saving humans. Jesus consistently used parables to communicate truth. Abstract proposition was not his trade. Rather, compelling stories triggered the reason, imagination and emotion of his listeners as they were invited to deepen their faith and understanding.”[9]

Dr. Johnston echoes this theme in another book he authored on theology and film, Reel Spirituality, as follows: “Christianity is, at core, not an abstract philosophy, but a story; not pure factual reportage, but a recounting of one life in order that other lives might be transformed.”[10] In this regard, films and Scriptures operate similarly.

However, it is not enough that films engage viewers’ minds. “A good story, thought [C.S.] Lewis, should do more than offer an engaging plot or produce excitement. In a good story, plot is important, but as a ‘net’ to catch something else. The story should mediate something more, or other, than what we are conscious of in our day-to-day existence.”[11] In other words, stories should be told with a larger purpose—namely to point to God and His truth. The next point fills in this gap.

D. Films Express and Expose Truth

Dr. Robert Johnston ably summarizes how movies can reveal truth, even without an overtly Christian message or theme. “Movies can provide their viewers both experiences of life and greater understanding of their culture. But what do these have to do with theology? Until a Christian is convinced theologically that movies are an important resource for faith and life, there is little point in proceeding further with our discussion. Let me suggest six responses to this question, six theological reasons why a Christian should enter into a dialogue with film. We need to explore these in some depth if we hope to interest the Christian in serious and ongoing dialogue with film. (1) God’s common grace is present throughout human culture. (2) Theology should be concerned with the Spirit’s presence and work in the world. (3) God is active within the wider culture and speaks to us through all of life. (4) Image as well as word can help us to encounter God. (5) Theology’s narrative shape makes it particularly open to interaction with other stories. And (6) the nature of constructive theology is a dialogue between God’s story (Christian tradition, and a particular worshiping community) and our stories (the surrounding culture and life experiences).”[12]

Thus, under Johnston’s reasoning and the doctrine of “common grace” even films made by nonChristians can illuminate truth for believers.[13] “The power of film can change lives and communicate truth; it can reveal and redeem.”[14] In turn, believers can even encounter God through the process of watching and dialoguing with movies.[15] “Stories are metaphorai—mass transit vehicles…Not only do they allow us to enter another’s life in order to learn something about our own, but they also use the ordinary experiences of living to usher us into the realm of the spirit. It is not just, or even primarily, the stories of angels and demons that are rightly labeled ‘spiritual’. Rather, God is more typically encountered in the everyday, in the stuff of life. When we truly experience forgiveness, reconciliation, alienation, or friendship at the movies, that is a spiritual experience.”[16]

These types of responses to God—to His nature and to His revealed truths--are clearly a form of worship under the broad definition set forth above.

However, it is necessary to distinguish encountering God through the story and revealed truth in film from worshiping the film or its images. The later would implicate the Second Commandment’s prohibition on “graven images”. Even The Passion of the Christ, a film overtly about Jesus, does not cross this line, as Dr. Mark Roberts has explained: “The second commandment prohibits the making of any image that is to be an object of worship. In a word, it forbids idolatry. So then, if Mel Gibson intended for the character of Christ in The Passion of the Christ to be worshipped, then he violated the second commandment. I think it’s clear, from the movie itself and from everything Mel Gibson has said, that he never intended his visual depiction of Christ to be an object of worship. On the contrary, he hopes that people will be inspired by his art to offer worship to the true, triune God. Therefore I do not believe that The Passion of the Christ does in fact contradict the second commandment.”[17]

Some have historically been suspicious of images in films or otherwise. “The Protestant suspicion of image, its reverence for the rational word and its concentration on redemption theology to the sometimes exclusion of creation theology have all combined to have a major dampening effect on this church’s engagement with Hollywood. If a full-orbed conversation between theology and film is to go forward, it will be necessary for the Protestant church to recover a more adequate theology of image, one rooted in experience and grounded in creation itself. As David Harned colorfully expressed it, we must ‘prevent the reduction of the Genesis account to a sort of dubious archeological appendage to Christian faith.’”[end note omitted.][18]

Thus, although films traffic in images, this fact does not necessarily translate into a violation of the Second Commandment. In fact, the very emphasis on images can be movies’ strength. These filmic images, if skillfully done, can cause viewers to see truth they otherwise would have been blind to see or deaf to hear.

E. Because Films are Integrated into Modern Life, Worship Is Not Dependent on a Sunday Experience in a Church Building

As discussed above, worship is to be an all-encompassing experience of life.[19] It is to be routinely part of our lives. It is not to be segregated to only Sundays or in church buildings. Film offers this type of accessibility. Films are generally available to be viewed at any time and in many contexts—not just the movie theater. This availability therefore broadens the horizon of potential worship experiences.


This final section will provide some concluding comments about how best films may be used within worship or for worship. Clive Marsh offers three examples of the use of film within worship. “The first and most obvious use is film as text. A film-clip is here used in the same way as a reading may be used in a sermon.”[20] (Emphasis in original.)

Second, film is used in worship for “liturgical enhancement.”[21] (Emphasis in original.) Marsh explicates that example includes “the use of film-clips at appropriate points within a structured service which amplify what is going on at that particular time.”[22]

Third, Marsh offers another use of film, which he calls the most controversial: “mood setting.”[23] (Emphasis in original.) “It could equally be called ‘preparation for worship’, although mood-setting is not confined to what happens prior to worship. The mood of worship can be set at various points throughout the service.”[24]

As to all of these examples, however, Marsh concedes that the use of film-clips implicates the charge that the “full power of film depends on good quality screen images, high quality sound, a context in which viewers can be attentive and, above all, a setting in which the whole of a film can be watched. Film-clips by definition limit film’s power, especially if shown in contexts not conducive to appropriate attentiveness.”[25] (Emphasis added.)

Nevertheless, Marsh ultimately rejects this criticism because, in formal terms, the use of a clip is like using a lectionary passage from the Bible—a small part is used without its broader context, and because the film-clip is not intended to stand in place of the whole.[26]

Using film-clips in sermons to illustrate points duly recognizes the pervasiveness and power of film to communicate a truth that straight prose might not fully convey. However, it should also be recognized the viewing of film—in its entirety—can also constitute worship because it can evoke a response to God on His terms. It can allow the worshiper to grasp truth—God’s truth—and integrate it deeply into his or her life.

[1] Peterson, 160.
[2] Roberts, 3.
[3] Marsh, 2.
[4] Johnston, 24.
[5] Boorstin, 136.
[6] Marsh, 71-72.
[7] Marsh, 94.
[8] Matt. 9:35-36; NASB.
[9] Barsotti and Johnston, 16.
[10] Johnston, 78-79.
[11] Johnston, 81.
[12] Johnston, 64.
[13] Johnston, 70.
[14] Johnston, 24.
[15] Johnston, 57.
[16] Barsotti and Johnston, 17.
[17] Roberts, Visual Arts, 3.
[18] Johnston, 76-77.
[19] Peterson, 18.
[20] Marsh, 24.
[21] Marsh, 25.
[22] Marsh, 25.
[23] Marsh, 26.
[24] Marsh, 26.
[25] Marsh, 27.
[26] Marsh, 27.
Works Cited

Barsotti, Catherine and Roberts Johnston. Finding God in the Movies. BakerBooks, 2004.

Boorstin, Jon. Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 1995.

Johnston, Robert. Reel Spirituality. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2000.

Marsh, Clive. Cinema and Sentiment: Film’s Challenge to Theology. Milton Keynes/United Kingdom: Paternoster Press, 2004.

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Roberts, Mark. “The Soul of Worship”, published at

Roberts, Mark. “Visual Arts in Faith and Worship”, published at

Monday, June 26, 2006

Film as Worship: Heaven’s Gate?, Part II of III.


While the New Testament record on worship is not voluminous, there are certain themes about worship that emerge from these texts. We can draw conclusions about what the Bible teaches about worship in order to analyze whether films fit within that paradigm of worship.
As explored below, first, the New Testament is more descriptive than prescriptive with respect to worship, and hence, provides a great deal of flexibility to explore other manifestations of worship. Second, worship in the Bible is a corporate exercise, emphasizing fellowship. Third, worship engages the heart, most prominently in the form of song. Fourth, worship is seen in Scripture as an engagement of the mind as it speaks often of teaching the Word. Fifth, worship is concerned with the truth, as an outgrowth of its Christ-centrism. Sixth, we find that worship is a lifestyle that can and should arise in a variety of contexts, including outside of formal church (or synagogue/temple) settings.

A. New Testament Scriptures Are More Descriptive Than Prescriptive In The Area Of Worship

Nothing in the New Testament specifies precisely how worship must be conducted. In other words, the New Testament writers do not preempt the field by mandating certain practices and prohibiting others. Dr. Roberts has summarized the New Testament evidence well: “In the New Testament era God has allowed for greater freedom in worship expression. So we do not find elaborate New Testament instructions for Christian Worship such as we found in the Old Testament.”[1] Dr. Roberts extends this point: “[W]orship is not simply one kind of activity, but a multi-layered experience that defies simplistic categorization.”[2] Later, Dr. Roberts similarly argues: “The multifaceted nature of God necessitates diverse responses in worship.”[3] As a related point, God has created humans in His image with a creative impulse[4] and there no reason to believe that creativity should be left at the door once worship commences.

However, the Biblical texts do provide examples of activities that flow from a healthy, worshipping church. The next section will explore these worship manifestations prevalent in the Early Church.

B. Worship is a Corporate Activity, Incorporating Fellowship

A common theme emerges with respect to worship in the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament for that matter: worship is to be done corporately. “If we were to let God’s own Word guide us in our worship, we’d avoid the extremes of extreme individualism and empty community.”[5]

Acts 2 provides an apt example of the integral function of fellowship among Christ-followers: “And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”[6]

From this text, we can draw the conclusion that fellowship was practiced often and in a variety of ways in the incipient Church. For example, the fellowship extended to gathering in temple, eating, sharing of possessions, singing or praising God.

Similarly, Paul assumes that believers will gather together in community when he exhorts: “When you assemble…”[7]

Likewise, Paul emphasized the corporate nature of worship in the context of the Lord’s Supper. “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat [the Eucharist], wait for one another.”[8]
This corporate nature of worship did not just spring to life in the New Testament. It is rooted in the Old Testament. For instance, Psalm 66 invites “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious.”[9] (Emphasis supplied.)

C. Worship is an Engagement of the Heart

In describing features of worship, the Bible shows that the singing of songs is prevalent. Even a cursory review of Psalms establishes this point. For example, “Sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord….”[10]

In the New Testament, the priority of praise in the form of song continues. Dr. Ralph Martin observes: “The Christian Church was born in song.”[11] In Mark, we find the disciples, “singing a hymn.”[12] In Acts 16, we also observe Paul and Silas “singing hymns of praise to God.”[13]
James 5:13 encourages Christians to “sing praises” to God.[14] In Colossians, Paul demonstrates how songs penetrate the heart, when he writes about their words indwelling them: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”[15] (Emphasis added.)

Paul instructs that songs be sung in worship.[16] Also, in Ephesians 5, Paul revisits this theme when he writes that the Church in Ephesus is to “Speak[ ] to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”[17] (Emphasis added.)

Here, Paul plainly connects the signing of song with an engagement of the heart. In so doing, Paul recognizes the emotional power of music.

Songs help engage the emotions of the singer as well as the listener. Songs can trigger fond (and not so fond) memories, so it follows that songs can link us to our emotional past. They can also evoke feelings in our emotional present. Accordingly, they constitute a necessary feature of worship.

D. Worship as an Engagement of the Mind

In the Biblical description, if not prescription, of worship, teaching and instruction routinely appear. For example, “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”[18] (Emphasis supplied.)

In fact, songs were also used for instruction: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, signing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”[19]

Martin observes that public reading of the Scriptures was a feature of worship in the Early Church.[20] Martin also notes that sermons or preaching were employed during New Testament times.[21]

It is beyond dispute that reading, teaching and learning are all mental exercises. As such, this form of worship indisputably engages the mind.

E. Worship as Expression of and for Truth

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”[22] In turn, since Jesus himself is the truth[23], He should be the object of our worship. Likewise, the truth will help us to understand God and Jesus better, as they are truth and are to be worshipped in truth.

Peterson posits: “Jesus is the truth (14:6), who uniquely reveals the character of God and his purposes (8:45; 18:37). [end note omitted.] So the true worshippers will be those who relate to God through Jesus Christ.”[24]

Further, Christ is the source of all truth, regardless of its manifestation or modality. “For by Him [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him.”[25]

F. Worship as Lifestyle Activity Not Localized to Church Buildings

The Bible shows that worship took place outside of formal venues. The Scriptures assume, without explication, that worship was (and is) an organic outgrowth of one’s life regardless of circumstance or location. For example, Paul and Silas worshipped in jail by “singing hymns of praise to God” (and also praying).[26]

The New Testament makes clear that worship can take place anywhere when at least two or three meet. “Where two or three are gathered together, I am in their midst.”[27]

“The idea that acceptable worship is a total-life orientation is not a new discovery by the writers of the New Testament!”[28] Indeed, it is seen in the covenant at Mount Sinai.[29] “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”[30]

Peterson argues that this text suggests that “the engagement with God at Sinai was to inaugurate a total-life pattern of service or worship for the nation.”[31]

This reality of Old Testament worship was revisited in the New Testament when a woman noted to Jesus that “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain…” as opposed to Jerusalem. In response, Jesus emphasized that worship was not dependant on a particular location. Jesus said: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father….[T]rue worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”[32] Peterson sums up the point that worship should be integrated into all aspects of life: “Worship is a subject that should dominate our lives seven days a week.”[33] And, “Worship in the New Testament is a comprehensive category describing the Christian’s total existence.”[34]

[1] Roberts, 3.
[2] Roberts, 4.
[3] Roberts, 31.
[4] Gen. 1:26-28; NASB.
[5] Roberts, 14.
[6] Acts 2:44-47; NASB.
[7] 1 Cor. 14:26a; NASB.
[8] 1 Cor. 11:33; NASB.
[9] Ps. 66:1; NASB.
[10] Ps. 96:1-2; NASB.
[11] Martin, 39.
[12] Mark 14:26; NASB.
[13] Acts 16:25; NASB
[14] James 5:13; NASB.
[15] Col. 3:16; NASB.
[16] 1 Cor. 14:26; NASB.
[17] Eph. 5:19; NASB.
[18] 1 Cor. 14:26; NASB.
[19] Col. 3:16; NASB.
[20] Martin, 68.
[21] Martin, 73.
[22] John 4:24; NASB.
[23] John 14:6; NASB.
[24] Peterson, 99.
[25] Col. 1:16; NASB.
[26] Acts 16:25; NASB.
[27] Matt. 18:20; NASB.
[28] Peterson, 29.
[29] Peterson, 28.
[30] Ex. 19-5-6; NIV.
[31] Peterson, 28.
[32] John 4:20-24; NASB.
[33] Peterson, 21.
[34] Peterson, 18.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Film as Worship: Heaven’s Gate?, Part I of III.


Films occupy an elite seat. They represent our culture’s ultimate, or at least, most encompassing art-form. They weave together music, creative-writing, the spoken-word, art, photography, choreography, costumes, direction, and acting, among other things, for a complete sensory experience. As such, they can move people unlike anything else. Thus, it is no surprise that films occupy a central, elevated place in North American culture. The amount of time, money and attention given to them is essentially unparalleled. Given this pervasive influence, Christians have largely seized upon Christian-themed movies as evangelistic opportunities, including the recent Hollywood films, The Passion of the Christ and The Da Vinci Code.

However, this piece questions whether this focus is too narrow. Can films, whether or not overtly Christian, be incorporated into worship or more broadly constitute worship on their own in light of the Biblical record?

I conclude that films can and should serve as a useful vehicle for Christian worship.


The definition of worship is broad. Dr. Mark Roberts in his article, “The Soul of Worship”, defines worship at its core, as follows: “[W]orship…is about seeing God and responding to his glory and grace.”[1] Likewise, Dr. David Peterson writes: “[T]he worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.”[2]

Recognizing the centrality of Scripture to the worship analysis, Dr. Roberts explores this definition of worship by emphasizing the importance of examining what the Scripture says about God and how to respond to Him in worship. Dr. Roberts points out that worship must be “nourished by the rich soil of biblical truth, and only if [its] fruits are weighed in balance of Scripture.”[3] Later, Dr. Roberts writes: “Our creative expressions [in worship] will honor God fully only when they are tethered to the Word of God, both the Incarnate Word (Jesus Christ) and the written Word (the Bible).”[4] In so doing, Dr. Roberts observes Scripture’s central role in worship. Given this emphasis, numerous Scriptural passages will be explored in this piece below to divine themes of appropriate Biblical worship, and ascertain how films may fit with that rubric.

[1] Roberts, 2.
[2] Peterson, 55.
[3] Roberts, 2.
[4] Roberts, 3.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ski Jacket in June.

It's June in Newport Beach, California. The start of summer, and just the time for--ski wear.

On the 19th, I approached the row of stairmasters in a local gym. Since there was only one opening, I jumped on the machine. About two minutes into the workout, I detected a odor emanating from my right.

Looking to ascertain the source, I saw a woman dressed in just what the summer season required--a ski jacket (circa 1985)--while conducting her stairmaster workout. Underneath the down jacket resided layers of colorful scarves. Of course, the legs were adorned with thick sweats.

So, I made a mental note that this sartorial display probably resulted from her desire to lose weight by losing water. However, I noticed that this person had the machine on the absolute lowest level. To compound matters, she cheated by leaning on the machine to minimize any pressure on her legs.

Here's a tip--you can lose the parka wear, if you operate the machine in a normal fashion.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rock Paper Scissors.

Two lawyers couldn't agree where a deposition was to occur. A federal court resolved their dispute unconventially. He ordered them to play "rock, paper, scissors" on the courthouse steps--in front of witnesses--to determine the location. Here is a copy of the order. (Scroll down.)

(Via SALTlawyer via In Re:.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Book Review: Hard Sell.

They say one shouldn't watch sausage or laws being made. Hard Sell indirectly nominates another candidate: sales of prescription drugs.

Authored by Jaime Reidy, this book is written as a memoir of his work as a pharmaceuticals sales rep for Pfizer in the mid-to-late 90s. Despite a heavy dose of funny anecdotes, darker secrets reside beneath this humorous veneer. Reading this book, questions abound about whether such drugs are being prescribed/sold on their merits or otherwise.

While the double entendre title and cover suggest the book centers on Reidy's selling Viagra(tm), that cultural phenomenon appears at least half way into the text. Most of it is dedicated to his work pushing other pharmaceuticals and the somewhat dubious techniques he (or others) employed getting "docs" to prescribe them over the competition.

At the very least, this book provides an insight into the intersection of commerce/capitalism with medicine, and the picture isn't pretty.

Reidy also probably destroys any future employment as he describes how he would scam the system, i.e., his employer (or at least try to). "How to Work Without Really Working" might have been an apropos alternate title. The book jacket describes this aspect of the tome as one of "self-mockery", but self-immolation might be a better fit.

In all, the book is an entertaining, quick read. Don't be fooled by its sunny tone, however; there's darkness lurking underneath.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In the News, Part III.

Professor Volokh posted on my Korean blood contract case here. The post, as well as some of the comments, recognize where common sense leads when faced with a promisor signing in blood, and then saying he doesn't owe anything.

(Via The Volokh Conspiracy.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jury Duty.

Here is another litigation story, but this one is not first-hand. It's quasi-first-hand because it comes from my sister.

She was performing her jury service this week and was assigned to a "domestic dispute" criminal case. The defense attorney was conducting "voir dire", which means he was asking questions of the jurors to elicit any latent biases.

The attorney asked a juror what the juror would think if he stepped into an elevator with another person where it was obvious that someone had just "farted" (his word). Would he give the occupant of the elevator "the benefit of the doubt" or would he immediate judge him guilty of the offense? Or, would the juror withhold judgment on the ground that perhaps someone else "farted" and departed the elevator before the juror had stepped into the malodorous confines?

Folks, I can't make this stuff up.