13 April 2015

Tessa Dysart and Robert Schuller: Two Names That Have Never Before Appeared in the Same Sentence

But for this post, colleague Tessa Dysart and the late Reverend Robert Schuller have never appeared together. With respect to Tessa, go here to read an excellent piece titled The Origination Clause, the Affordable Care Act, and Indirect Constitutional Violations, and published in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. Tessa explains how passage of what is certainly President Obama's signature piece of legislation likely violated Article I, Section 7, clause 1 of the Constitution. (In case you've forgotten, that's the one that says "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.")

Turns out that the Affordable Care Act did not so originate, at least not directly. Tessa's is not a simple argument (the bill that became the Affordable Care Act began in the House but nary a word of that bill became law after the Senate finished substituting the Affordable Care Act for what the House had sent over) but is certainly accessible to anyone interested in those "forgotten" clauses of the Constitution.

About the Reverend Schuller: I posted my thoughts on the occasion of his passing here. Two other posts are worth the read. For the point of view of sympathetic semi-insider, read Jim Schaap's post here. Jim is retired from the faculty of my undergraduate alma mater, Dordt College, and has spent many years in Sioux County, Iowa, Robert Schuller's birthplace. Schaap knows well the strengths and foibles of the breed of Dutch Calvinists who simultaneously take their religion seriously and keep their corner of Iowa running like a profitable, well-oiled machine.

Speaking of profitable, well-oiled machines, go here to read The Economist's obituary for Robert Schuller. The Economist's are among the best obits in English and this one takes a rather different tack on Schuller, whom it aptly characterizes as a "pastorpreneur," and the ultimate downfall of the Crystal Cathedral:
Mr Schuller, who died on April 2nd, was the leading example of a very American breed of businessperson: the pastorpreneur. He succeeded by applying the principles of business to religion. However, in his later years, a religious empire that had grown huge by embracing economies of scale and customer focus fell victim to two familiar causes of business failure: poor succession planning, and a failure to react to dynamic new competitors.
Live by the market, die by the market, I guess. Although such a truncated view of Schuller does not do him justice, it does identify one of the besetting problems of American evangelicalism generally: its consumer-driven mentality. Following one step behind the world is not going to change the world. Something about salt loosing its savor comes to mind.

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