Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Sacred and The Secular

One of the challenges of teaching law in a religiously-affiliated school is the inherent tension in providing faith-grounded professional training for a thoroughly secular profession. The courtroom contains a flag, but no cross, star, or crescent, and in nearly all contexts within the practice of law faith issues lie hidden.

Thus, we face a troubling challenge. On the one hand, we can err by conforming to the norm and de-contenting our curriculums of the very mention of faith. On the other, we may err by rooting our practices in an overt faith which will then be banned once our students enter the practice of law.

What we struggle to create is something between these two; competence as a professional within a vocation, consistent with and driven by faith. How do we get there?

1 comment:

Kevin Lee said...

Very thoughtful. John Paul II wrote something that might be useful in thinking through this complex issue. In b, he describes Mary's yes to God as showing the proper relationship of faith to reason. In seeking wisdom, she opened her heart to God. I think this attitude toward faith and reason is fundamental the work of religiously inspired legal education. What we have to offer is the wisdom of our faith-traditions, particularly in our moral sensitivity. This is not to say that we all agree on moral values, but that morality tends to be particularly important to people of faith. It makes the work of the religious scholar different because it forced us to ask, "can I live with myself if I do this?" This is the essence of what Hannah Arendt called "thinking."