Jan 9, 2010

Hope for the Legal Academy & Crawfish Etouffee

Last week I spent a few days hanging with a great group of Christian law professors at the annual Lumen Christi Conference on Christian Legal Thought (in conjunction with the Law Professors' Christian Fellowship) in New Orleans. It was, as always, a blessing to hear panel after of panel of dedicated Christian scholars share their thoughts and scholarship on the relationship of law and theology.

To be honest, it was even more of a blessing to spend time with old friends from this group who challenge and encourage me in my work and faith. It's really hard to beat a good discussion about theology and law, especially if held in the vicinity of a steaming bowl of crawfish etouffee and oysters on the half shell. Mmmm.

My friend Bill Brewbaker, a law professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, even took some time to sit down with me to discuss Christian legal thought for a podcast. It's available over at Cross & Gavel Audio or by searching "Cross and Gavel" on iTunesU. It's a fun discussion.

The small but growing community of Evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox scholars is a good sign for the academy-- and for the church. This year, there were more younger professors than ever, it seemed, challenging the old fogies, such as myself, to deeper and more faithful work in the academy. The papers ranged from an excellent discussion of the current "expressive association" jurisprudence, to an encouragement to professors to meet with and mentor law students, to a challenge to "go deeper" on issues of private law by application of traditional Catholic social thought.

Professors David Forte and Mark Movsesian kicked off the proceedings with excellent, interesting papers on Islam, Christianity, and Law, each highlighting ways in which Islam's reliance on law is starkly different than Christianity's.

My friend and colleague Lynne Kohm encouraged us to think about issues of gender equality-- and the empowerment of women-- not in traditional feminist terms, which have proved general unhelpful to the overall well-being and happiness of women, but in light of the transforming power of Christ.

Campbell Law School's Kevin Lee presented an interesting paper on the Augustinian lawyer-- which he defined, in part, as one who takes into account the limits of judgment, the effects of the Fall, the dignity of the human person, the fact of both our spirituality and our "embodied-ness," and realizes the "miracle of the quotidian," all in light of the overarching virtue of hope.

It was a day well spent, to say the least.

Plenty more to dig into here, but for now, just some . . . well . . . food . . . for thought.

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