Monday, March 31, 2008
In his address at the January 2008 Annual Meeting of the AALS, the new AALS President, Dean John Garvey (Boston College) discussed "institutional pluralism." Here is a bit from a Boston College Law School-affiliated site:
In a speech in January at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) in New York Dean of Boston College Law School and AALS President John Garvey talked about shifting the axis of the legal academy’s discussion over diversity. Instead of focusing on diversity within law schools, Garvey talked about cultivating the differences among them. . . .
. . . “Its not clear that Mill’s argument entails protection for dissent at every level,” Garvey said, adding that “a distinctive institutional culture is not inconsistent with individual freedom of inquiry.”
“Collaboration is not control,” he stressed.
In conclusion, Garvey acknowledged the “uncertainty” in his voice about his suggestions. Still, he said that he believed that thinking more about institutional pluralism would be healthy, both for students and for the intellectual life of the academy.
Garvey concluded, “Schools don’t need to compete on the same track to succeed.”
I have not been able to find a link to the full address, but it is reprinted in the March 2008 issue of "aals news." In the full address, Garvey spends a good bit of time discussing the distinctive mission of Catholic and other religiously affiliated law schools.
Next Monday (April 7), I'll be giving a lecture as part of a program, "Conversions and Conflict: An Interreligious Discussion of Evangelization", at the University of St. Thomas's Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy. I'm looking forward to spending time with my MOJ-colleagues at St. Thomas and, perhaps, any MOJ readers in the Twin Cities. My remarks will be based on this paper, which I wrote a little while back, called "Changing Minds":
Proselytism is, as Paul Griffiths has observed, a topic enjoying renewed attention in recent years. What's more, the practice, aims, and effects of proselytism are increasingly framed not merely in terms of piety and zeal; they are seen as matters of geopolitical, cultural, and national-security significance as well. Indeed, it is fair to say that one of today's more pressing challenges is the conceptual and practical tangle of religious liberty, free expression, cultural integrity, and political stability. This essay is an effort to unravel that tangle by drawing on the religious-freedom-related work and teaching of the late Pope John Paul II and on a salient theme in the law interpreting the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
Running through and shaping our First Amendment doctrines, precedents, and values is a solicitude for changing minds - our own, as well as others'. Put differently, the Amendment is understood as protecting and celebrating not just expression but persuasion - or, if you like, proselytism. There are, therefore, reasons grounded in our Constitution and traditions for regarding proselytism and its legal protection not as threats to the common good and the freedom of conscience, but instead as integral to the flourishing and good exercise of that freedom. This same solicitude for persuasion and freedom pervades the writing of the late Pope, who regularly insisted that the Church's evangelical mission does not restrict freedom but rather promotes it. The Church proposes - thereby inviting the exercise of human freedom - she imposes nothing. The claim here, then, is that proposing, persuading, proselytizing, and evangelizing are at the heart of, and need not undermine, not only the freedoms protected by the Constitution, but also those that are inherent in our dignity as human persons.
ELIZABETH F. BROWN, University of
St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN - School of Law
[ABSTRACT:] In November 2007, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship - A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States." This statement by the American Catholic Bishops provides guidance to Catholic voters on how to execute their responsibilities in accord with Catholic social teaching.
Despite some flaws, "Forming Consciences" has three major virtues that will aid American Catholics as they try to vote in good conscience. First, it reaffirms the need for American Catholics become more familiar with and to apply the broad range of Catholic social teachings when voting and exercising their other civic duties. Second, it explicitly rejects the notion that Catholics should be single issue voters. Third, Forming Consciences encourages, but certainly does not require, American Catholics to adopt a holistic ethical approach when evaluating candidates and issues. Such a holistic approach tends to provide better solutions, certainly on economic and environmental issues, than the narrow definition of issues and problems currently used in politics.
This essay comments on how useful the document is in actually helping the average American Catholic, who is not already an expert in Catholic social teachings, discern how to vote. As part of this assessment, it focuses on how much weight Catholics should give to economic and environmental issues based upon the guidance provided by the Bishops' statement. These issues were chosen because they are a growing areas of concern both for Americans and for the Vatican.
This essay was written for the Journal of Catholic Legal Studies Symposium issue on "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship - A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States."
[To download/read the paper, click here.]
Saturday, March 29, 2008
My daughter and I visited the Science Museum of Minnesota yesterday. (A very cool science museum, by the way, for children of all ages.) The museum is currently home to a circulating exhibit organized by the United States Holocause Memorial Museum, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. The exhibit details the development of Germany's efforts to "cleanse" itself of those viewed to be a "biological threat" to the its growth and prosperity. One horrifying example of what proceeds from a failure to recognize that each human person has a dignity that comes from our creation in the image of God. And, although there are obviously differences between what occurs by power of the government and what occurs by individual choice, it is hard to look at this and not think about decisions being made today in various ways about what lives are worth living.
I have posted more about the exhibit and my reactions on my blog here. I highly recommend a visit to the exhibit. For those in the Twin Cities area, it will be at the Science Museum here until May 4; future sites can be found here.
Friday, March 28, 2008
This guy is my hero: (HT BoingBoing)
· Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.
But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn. He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.
"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says. As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."
The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'" Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.
"You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says. Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.
Go read the rest.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The California Court of Appeal has granted a rehearing petition in the case in which it held that home-schooling parents must have teacher credentials and rejected any constitutional right to engage in home schooling. The Alliance Defense Fund news release is here. Rick's earlier post on the case is here.
The usual pattern in the past with home-schooling has been that courts have rejected constitutional claims by home schoolers and then the political branches have enacted statutes or regulations protecting them. We'll see if this case ultimately ends up in a court win.
Slate's "Dear Prudence" has an insightful and concise column on the "national catastrophe" of out-of-wedlock births. Here's an excerpt:
That out-of-wedlock births are a problem for society does get some political attention—the kind of attention that shows there's not a good plan for what to do about them. Mitt Romney mentioned the statistics in his presidential withdrawal speech. He cites declining religious observance, easily available pornography, and the possibility of gay marriage as the causes—a platform that seems unlikely to reverse the birth trends. Barack Obama, who grew up without a father, believes that a central reason for the ever-increasing rates is the difficult economic circumstances of the working class. In one speech on fatherhood, he talked about the need for government programs to help men become more of a presence in their children's lives and admonished fathers to take their duties seriously. But he didn't mention that one key to effective fatherhood is first becoming a husband.
Economists believe humans act rationally (a somewhat irrational belief, if you ask me), so some conclude that all this out-of-wedlock childbearing is a logical response to market forces, not the result of something as amorphous as "culture." Since many working-class men do not offer the financial stability they used to provide, women see little incentive to marry them. As Obama said, "[M]any black men simply cannot afford to raise a family." (The out-of-wedlock birthrate among black Americans is close to 70 percent.) I'm trying to follow the logic here. I can understand that a woman looking to get married may decide that a man is such a poor economic prospect that he's not husband material (even if a husband with a low income is better than no husband and no income). But how then is that same man, or a string of them, worthy of fathering her children?
Scholar Kay Hymowitz, author of Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age, turns the argument around and says it's not that harsh economic conditions lead to women having children without fathers, but that the decision to have children without fathers leads to harsh, and self-perpetuating, economic conditions.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I have just returned from Rome where I spent the hardest and most beautiful week of my life…. As many of you know, the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich, concluded her earthly journey on March 14, 2008. I happened to be in Rome that day, at the conclusion of the tour which followed an interfaith workshop for a small group on “Love of Neighbor and the Legal Profession” held in Loppiano, the Focolare’s international community near Florence. So I received the enormous gift of being present for the wake at the Movement’s headquarters in Rocca di Papa, and for the funeral on March 18, held at the papal basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls.
The church was packed, with overflow crowds (the reports run from 20,000 to 40,000) following on big screens in the courtyard, and through internet and satellite links throughout the world.
Her coffin was adorned in the simplicity of three red carnations, in memory of the flowers she bought for a few cents to celebrate her consecration to God in 1943; and the open book of the Gospel, the guiding and revolutionary force for the beginning of the movement and throughout her life.
The message from Pope Benedict read by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone during his homily captures the sentiments of gratitude that permeated every detail of the funeral: “There are many reasons for thanking the Lord for the gift given to the Church of this woman of intrepid faith, humble messenger of hope and peace, founder of a vast spiritual family that embraces many fields of evangelization. I would like to above all thank God for the service that Chiara has rendered to the Church: a both silent and incisive service, always in harmony with the teaching of the Church.”
Cardinal Bertone’s homily captured in a stunning way the heart of her life and her legacy: here is Zenit’s summary. I had the challenge of being in the translation booth when the Cardinal’s own voice started to crack as he quoted one of Chiara’s own poems: “When I arrive to your door and you ask me my name, I will not say my name, I will say my name is ‘thank you’, for everything and forever.”
If you’d like a taste of the atmosphere, here’s a snippet, and further coverage by Zenit. And at least for the moment the entire ceremony is up on the web and accessible. The first half an hour prior to the funeral includes tributes from representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu communities that were touched deeply by her work in interreligious dialogue, followed by moving messages from Greek Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican bishops. The parts I found especially moving were the witness of a Buddhist monk (on the counter at about 9:06); Cardinal Bertone’s homily (at 39:45); and the concluding good-byes (on the counter, 2 hrs and 2 minutes).
Together with hundreds of thousands of other people throughout the world, I have countless reasons to be thankful for the gift that Chiara's life was for the Church and for humanity, and now simply pray for the grace to be faithful to the profound legacy of life and love that she leaves, so as to continue her work toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer, “that all may be one.” Amy
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
This seems right to me:
And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.
This is also why I think facile counterfactuals in which a white preacher makes a mirror image statement about black people are not at all compelling.