Sunday, October 23, 2016
On Thursday and Friday, I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in a roundtable conference kicking off "The Tradition Project" (more information about the project is available here and here), which is a research project of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John's University and is being coordinated by MOJ-friend Prof. Mark Movsesian and our own Marc DeGirolami.
What a treat! For other reports on this gathering, see Paul Horwitz's post at Prawfsblawg and Rod Dreher's detailed reports at his own blog (here and here). There were (in addition to a keynote lecture by Prof. Michael McConnell) a series of Liberty-Fund-type discussions on, e.g., the idea of "tradition," the American religious tradition, the American political tradition, tradition and the common law, and tradition and the Constitution.
For me, flying home from the event, two questions kept re-presenting themselves: First, is "tradition" -- or, more accurately, is a "tradition" -- something that we inherit and pass on, or something that we, in a sense, "inhabit" -- is it an heirloom, or the air we breathe? Second, do traditions have authority (and if so, why?) or is more that they are valuable and useful resources, that would be foolish to turn down absent some good reasons for thinking they are not, for some reason or in a particular case, valuable and useful?
Other MOJ-ers were at the gathering, and I'll look forward to their thoughts!