February 15, 2014
Reflections in the Mirror
I have been a contributor to Mirror of Justice for roughly half of the span of its life, having joined in 2010. My career as a law professor is roughly the same age: I started at my beloved St. John's Law School in 2009. Blogging here has always been an important and integral part of how I conceive part of my writing duties. I like to write, but not because I believe that what I write is particularly important, insightful, or impactful (it isn't). I simply enjoy the process of working out and putting down my thoughts, and think my life would be much the poorer if I were not blessed with the good fortune of doing so.
MOJ has given me a wonderful additional writing outlet. But it has also changed my perspective about writing as a duty. It has impressed upon me the value of speaking to a broader audience, again not for reasons of my "influence" (paltry would be a generous description) but because it is enriching to hear from and speak with more people rather than fewer. And, on a more personal note, it has helped me to recognize that writing is, for me, a vocation. I would not feel right with the world if I could not write. Since I began in November of 2010, I have written about 500 posts, some mercifully short and some (looking back on them now) unendurably long. Why would anybody do this? Nobody will read them again--not even me. I have to conclude that I write them for the same reason I write anything else--from something of a sense of compulsion or reflex necessity or calling. Perhaps from a sense of obligation, too, or in order to get certain ideas out into general circulation. But MOJ has helped me to understand that my internal reasons for writing are much more important than any external reasons, or reasons that are motivated by consequences.
Enough navel-gazing, and onto a final broader point about this blog and my gratitude toward it. "Intellectual diversity" in the legal academy has received some attention lately. Generally the phrase is taken to mean something approaching ideological diversity--not exactly a rough equivalence of thinkers "on the right" and "on the left," but something of that sort.
But for me, intellectual diversity is not so much ideological diversity as it is the diversity of intellectual cultivation, style, interest, and expression. The joy of Mirror of Justice, for me, is to be a participant in the collection of contributions all nestled within the capacious and yet tailored overcoat of Catholic thought--a true wealth of stylstic and intellectual perspective. It is Tom Berg's consistently penetrating and thoughtful commentary--a perennial and particular source of sustenance and provocation for me. It is Michael Moreland's formidable theological erudition in bringing to light an insight of Karl Barth or Robert Bellarmine. It is Lisa Schiltz's always moving reflections about human frailty and disability. It is Michael Perry speaking grandly in the religious register of international human rights. It is John Breen and Richard Myers, both of whom distinguish themselves with passionate and powerful comments about human life. It is Robert Hockett with his critical and discerning remarks about economic justice. And Russell Powell's informed and expert remarks on Islamic jurisprudence. It is Kevin Walsh's keen, precise, and far-sighted doctrinal and historical illuminations. Michael Scaperlanda with his sage ruminations about immigration and human anthopology. It is Rob Vischer's equanimous, tempered, and subtle interventions on the nuances of conscience. It is Patrick Brennan's brilliantly laser-like, intense focus on a point of natural law. It is Susan Stabile's spiritually and mystically rich interlocutions. It is Robby George with his profound philosophical acumen and his sharp eye for, as he has put it elsehwere, the "moral ecology" of a society. It is Fr. Araujo with his wide-ranging cosmological insights worthy of Tapparelli. It is Greg Sisk detailing a new and enlightening empirical insight. It is Mary Leary from her deeply morally righteous perspective as the protector and champion of abused children. It is Cecelia Klingele (welcome!) drawing from similar perspectival reservoirs when speaking about prisoners. And it is Rick Garnett, with his consistently generous, sensible, clear-eyed, and good-souled disposition. Each member, posting missives composed in a unique and distinctive style, together composing a society of Catholic legal scholars.
It has been a pleasure and privilege to be part of this republic of Catholic legal letters.