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Part of understanding parables involves noting where, when, and how Jesus tells them. This one comes in response to Pharisees and scribes who criticize Jesus' penchant for associating too intimately (and perhaps too raucously) with "sinners."

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Plato’s warning centered on political and societal developments in democratic regimes that inevitably eat away at the structures and mores of those regimes until a demagogue appears out of the mess with promises of a return to stability and predictability. But ultimately Sullivan places his focus, with near hysteria, on the demagogue. He does explore America’s increased democratization through history—the steady demise of institutional barriers designed by the Founders to protect the American republic from “the tyranny of the majority and the passions of the mob.” And he decries the emergence of “media democracy”—talk radio, the Internet, cable television, and social media, all of which have been “swiftly erasing almost any elite moderation or control of our democratic discourse.”

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