Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"The Evangelical Crackup"

This interesting article, which appeared in yesterday's New York Times Sunday Magazine, is getting a lot of play.  Some MOJ-readers may be interested.


The Evangelical Crackup

After the 2004 election, evangelical Christians looked like one of the most powerful and cohesive voting blocs in America. Three years later their leadership is split along generational and theological lines. How did it all come apart?

[To print/read the article, click here.]

October 29, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion

Sightings  10/29/07


Religion and Law at Twenty-Five

-- Martin E. Marty


"When Religion and Law Meet: The Point of Convergence" was the topic of the twenty-fifth anniversary "look-ahead" conference at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta this past weekend.  I had participated in a three-year project there, one of many undertaken and executed at the Center under the direction of Professors John Witte and Frank Alexander.  Rather than detail the conference papers from which I learned while preparing the final lecture, I will here focus on what the "convergence" has come to mean.


Quite a few of those scholars who had been "present at the creation" returned, to speak of the changes that had occurred during these twenty-five years.  The older-timers remembered that when the Center was first launched under the inspiration of the grand guru of the subject, the very senior Hal Berman, the idea of trying to get professionals in "law" and "religion" to converse and work together was treated mainly with neglect or suspicion.  Long traditions of collaboration between the two disciplines were forgotten.


Leaders in the spheres of "Law" and "Religion," like "Medicine" and "Religion," had drifted apart, lost touch with each other, or treated many of each others' concerns and projects with indifference or disdain.  Why? Such a distancing seems absurd, given the long history of the common interests and responsibilities of the "religion" and the "law" people.  Leaders of both act upon millions of people, and citizenries here and abroad are constantly dealing with both spheres.


Many fault the Enlightenment—the eighteenth century movement which few in law or religion should despise, given its (mixed) blessings and gifts—as well as anti-intellectual versions of nineteenth century religion.  The separation paralleled those which, for good or bad reasons, divorced religion from the academy, the clinic, the market.  The terrors of "law" and "religion" gone wrong led to mutual mistrust, stereotyping and caricaturing.   


But new generations of scholars, represented by the speakers at Emory, now look ahead to better futures. And the pioneering Center at Emory is finding ever more company at other universities and law-and-religion centers, many of which have similarly impressive records, though they are still too easily overlooked by those who deal with law and religion without looking at the philosophical or theological roots and goals of both.   


Those gathered at Emory are not united by ideology so much as by vocation and interest.  It was not a gathering of those who wanted to bash "Islamo-fascists" or to minimize legal challenges of Muslims who live under shari'ah law, or who wanted to attack Christian Legal Societies or to defend them.  The participants were constructive, modeling what they hope will be done elsewhere.  The Center's scholars and conferees have published scores of volumes whose contents enhance and advance the conversations and convergences.  As a late-comer to these encounters, I have catching up to do, but the sightings of these recent years encourage me to encourage Sightings readers to become acquainted with these excitements and urgencies.




Find out more and read work by the Center's scholars at www.law.emory.edu/cslr, or contact April Bogle at [email protected].


comes from the
Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.  

October 29, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More on Meaning and Catholic Identity

I begin by sincerely thanking Susan for her responsive critique to my posting, “What Does It Mean?” that briefly replied to Rick’s post-AALS hiring conference reflection. Rick posed a vital question dealing with hiring faculty for law schools that claim to be Catholic.

My short response was intended to address a vital issue that is implicit in Rick’s question and deals with addressing questions raised by faculty candidates who are interested in the Catholic identity and mission of the school.

In my earlier post, I introduced the relevance of the Creed. Perhaps I am wrong about the underlying intent of her posting, but I think Susan concluded that I was proposing that the Creed is an important matter to be raised and discussed with to potential faculty recruits at screening interviews. That was not my intent.

Rather, it was and remains my intention about the Creed to elevate in our own consciousness a vital issue: whether the Catholic faculty who comprise an important, but not the only component of the faculty at a “Catholic law school” and who have a significant role in replenishing the faculty have a strong sense of their own identity so they can then address and answer the questions asked by candidates as identified by Rick.

If faculty recruiters do not have an understanding of who they are as Catholic academics, how can they explain the school’s Catholic identity and mission to recruits who ask about the Catholic soul of the institution that is interviewing and possibly recruiting them? If self-knowledge is weak, how can such questions be answered convincingly?

Susan surmises that “most Catholics (including a lot of Catholic academics) don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on what they are affirming when the recite the Creed at Mass every week.” I think they should, particularly when inquiring minds at recruitment conferences ask for an explanation about Catholic identity—when they call “us” on the “the ‘Catholic mission’ thing,” as Rick indicates. I think there are also some student applicants who also make similar inquiries but are greeted with generalizations that talk a lot about public service and corporal works of mercy (both of which are important) but very little about faith and reason and fidelity to Christ, God, and the Church (which are vital to identity).

I am further grateful to Susan for mentioning the book by Fr. Michael Himes, which she has found helpful in affirming faith. I take this occasion to recommend another book that examines the Apostles’ Creed (which offers insight into the Nicene Creed—the profession of faith recited at every Sunday Mass) authored by a young German theology professor back in 1968. The book is entitled “Introduction to Christianity.” The author has left the conventional university academic environment but still teaches on a frequent basis.    RJA sj

October 29, 2007 in Araujo, Robert | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Creed and "What does it mean?"

I have looked at Fr. Araujo's post several times, trying to determine how far it advances us in the inquiry of conveying what it means to be a Catholic law school.  He suggests we need to take stock of the Creed, our profession of faith, when talking with faculty candidates who wish to teach at a Catholic school.

I'm going to guess that most Catholics (including a lot of Catholic academics) don't spend a lot of time reflecting on what they are affirming when they recite the Creed at Mass every week.  How many people, for example, examine seriously what it means when they affirm a belief in God the Father, the maker of heaven and earth?  (By the way, Michael Himes, in the chapter on Baptism in a slim volume called The Mystery of Faith does, I think, a beautiful job of discussing the implication of this affirmation.)

Second, even among Catholics who spend time reflecting on the meaning of the different elements of the Creed, I suspect there will be some variance in the understanding of what those elements mean, not only in terms of their own beliefs, but in term of the life of a law school.

If I am right about that, then what is the conversation that is to occur during the hiring process?  How does the Creed help us to identify to others, in a more meaningful way than the ways Rick suggests don't quite satisfy, who we are as a Catholic law school?   

October 28, 2007 in Stabile, Susan | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What does it mean?

Rick has asked an excellent question regarding “what does it mean” to be a Catholic law school? Well, I think he has raised an honest and important question that several of us have addressed in the past along with friends of MOJ such as John Breen. As there are many rooms in our Father’s house, so there might be many ways of yet, once again, approaching this important question.

But, to date, I do not believe that any of us have addressed the issue of how do we take stock of the following profession of faith that needs to be considered when we discuss this vital issue amongst ourselves and with those who wish to teach at a “Catholic law school.” It seems that some candidates may wish to investigate this matter even though hiring representatives may consider it out of bounds insofar as they may conclude the AALS would not approve of an investigation of the profession. I wonder what would happen if it were discussed with those who currently teach at “Catholic law schools”? But I shall leave this second matter for another day. Here’s the text which, sooner or later, must have a bearing on the work of a Catholic law school:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Amen, indeed.    RJA sj

October 27, 2007 in Araujo, Robert | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hiring-conference-inspired thoughts

I am on my way back -- having a beer in the airport -- from the AALS hiring conference.  It was great seeing so many MOJ colleagues, friends, and readers at the religiously-affiliated-schools reception and elsewhere. 

One result of spending the day meeting and talking with a contingent of talented, engaging, and intimidatingly credentialed would-be law professors (that is, an effect besides the "good Lord, I'm glad I got my job ten years ago" feeling) is reflection on what it means -- beyond slogans, or feel-good generalities -- to profess and aspire to be a "Catholic law school".  How like the question that cropped up on this blog and elsewhere a few weeks ago -- i.e., what is a "Catholic judge," and is Justice Scalia one -- is this one?

To their credit, most of the future law-teachers with whom my Notre Dame colleagues and I spoke asked us about -- "called us" on -- the "Catholic mission" thing.  As a rule, we would say, among other things, that there are dozens of faculty and each would likely express and live out the "thing" in different ways.  Fair enough.  But, what else?  Some affirmations of the importance of community, collegiality, social-justice, etc., were also appropriate, and regularly provided.  We talked some about how a Catholic law school's mission finds natural expression in indisciplinary work (that is, "interdisciplinarity" is not, on the Catholic understanding of a university's work, a fad or an add-on; it's a natural, necessary feature of the search for truth.)  And, I emphasized, as I usually do in these conversations, my view that a Catholic law school should call its students and faculty to "integration."

But . . . what else is needed?  What else should be said?  I've been teaching at a Catholic law school for nine years, blogging about Catholic legal theory for nearly five, and have talked to dozens and dozens of potential hires.  I know -- I just know -- there's more to the "mission" of an authentically, meaningfully Catholic law school than what I usually manage to articulate, and I feel like I'm not doing right by those who say, "that sounds interesting, even attractive . . . what does it mean?"

October 27, 2007 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dreher on Mukasey, and what the country can afford

As Michael notes, I have often linked to Rod Dreher's writings, particularly his "crunchy con" stuff.  With respect to Dreher's recent statement that he "was appalled to hear the judge say that the president has the right to decide which laws he’s going to obey, under certain circumstances":  For more on what Mukasey actually said, in the exchange to which Dreher refers, and on the question whether what he endorsed would actually constitute an "expan[sion] of executive authority," go here.  (For more on the -- to me -- frustrating unwillingess or inability of Mukasey to concede that waterboarding is "torture", go to the Balkinization blog.)

Dreher also writes, as Michael notes, "[t]his country cannot afford an attorney general who believes that executive power should be expanded so greatly."  Maybe not.  Dreher also believes, I am confident, that "this country cannot countenance an attorney general who believes that the Constitution removes from the reach of democratic politics the question whether elected representatives have the authority to regulate partial-birth abortion."  We'll see . . .

October 26, 2007 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Attorney General Nominee Michael Mukasey

Rick Garnett has occasionally called our attention to Rob Dreher.  Here's what Dreher has to say about Mukasey, according to The Opinionator (New York Times online):

A conservative vote against Mukasey: “I was appalled to hear the judge say that the president has the right to decide which laws he’s going to obey, under certain circumstances,” says “Crunchy Con” Rod Dreher at his Beliefnet blog. He adds, “This country cannot afford an attorney general who believes that executive power should be expanded so greatly. I don’t care if the office sits vacant until Bush is out of office. The line has to be drawn by the Senate.”

October 26, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"The Eugenics Temptation"

A good op-ed, by Michael Gerson, discussing James Watson's recent racist statements (and also earlier statements of his about aborting children with Down's Syndrome):

No one should underestimate the wrenching challenge of having a disabled child. But we also should not ignore the social consequences of widespread screening of children for "desirable" traits. This kind of "choice" is actually a form of absolute power of one generation over the next -- the power to forever define what is "normal," "straight" and "beautiful." And it leads inevitably to discrimination. British scientist Robert Edwards has argued, "Soon it will be a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease." A sin. Which leaves disabled children who escape the net of screening -- the result of parental sin -- to be born into a new form of bastardy and prejudice.

This creates an inevitable tension within liberalism. The left in America positions itself as both the defender of egalitarianism and of unrestricted science. In the last presidential election, Sen. John Kerry pledged to "tear down every wall" that inhibited medical research. But what happens when certain scientific views lead to an erosion of the ideal of equality? Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a rising academic analyst of these trends, argues: "Watson is anti-egalitarian in the extreme. Science looks at human beings in their animal aspects. As animals, we are not always equal. It is precisely in the ways we are not simply animals that we are equal. So science, left to itself, poses a serious challenge to egalitarianism."

October 24, 2007 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

What's Going on at the University of St. Thomas?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 23, 2007

Archbishop Tutu Calls for U. of St. Thomas to Reinstate Professor

Following an initial refusal to let Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at the University of St. Thomas, the Minnesota institution has now invited him. Archbishop Tutu said he will, but only if the college agrees to give a professor back her chairmanship.

University officials admitted to demoting Cris Toffolo, an associate professor of political science, from her position as chair of the institution’s program in justice and peace studies. They wouldn’t give details but said it had to do with the situation concerning Archbishop Tutu.

The Rev. Dennis J. Dease, president of the university, announced his recognition of the university’s mistake and a formal invitation to the Nobel peace laureate two weeks ago in a letter to students and members of the faculty and staff.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff members are rallying and gathering signatures for a petition to reinstate Ms. Toffolo to her administrative job, but the university seems to be holding firm, according to the Star Tribune. —Anna Weggel

October 24, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)