Friday, March 31, 2006
Greetings from Waco after day one of the "Faith & Justice" Religiously Affiliated Law School Conference at Baylor Law School. During the conversation about Justice and the Criminal Law, I realized how important it is for this bi-annual conference to rotate geographically. In the midst of a presentation by Baylor Professor Brian Serr, it hit me how his framework (and I think it might be somewhat representative of the region) is to pose the question "How can my Christian framework be reconciled with the Constitution?" I realized how starkly this contrasts with a "blue state" framework, which I think tends to ask "why not just work with the framework of dignity and human rights - why add in the Christian overlay at all?" The discussion concluded with some reflection on the importance cultural context, of realizing who your audience is and speaking in a language that they can understand.... which I think then also adds to the case for diversity in various approaches to how religion is integrated into the curriculum - depending on the cultural characteristics of a given region and school.
John Breen, Fr. Greg Kalscheur and I were part of a panel on Justice Within the Law School Curriculum, which took as its starting point John's article on Justice and Jesuit Legal Education, focusing especially on John's proposal that Jesuit law schools require a first year jurisprudence course that seriously engages the Catholic Tradition. Since fellow MOJer expert blogger Rob Vischer is also here, I'll let him give the take on that.
For me one of the highlights of the panel on Lying and Lawyers was Ellen Pryor's description of how she discusses the concepts of integrity, lying and self-deception in her Faith, Law & Morality course at SMU. It seems that she has really found a way to help students both to grapple deeply with the intellectual principles, and reflect personally about what kind of lawyers they would like to become.
The final session began with wonderment for the miracle that the biannual conference has come together every year without any formal structure, but realizing that now might be the time to form for RALS to organize itself into a more institutionalized and formalized structure. To be continued...