I am beyond honored to teach an undergraduate course this semester titled, Law and the Bible, in Lipscomb’s Fred D. Gray Institute for Law, Justice, and Society—even more honored that it is based on a course built (and using a text edited) by friend and former colleague, Professor Bob Cochran. To have the opportunity to combine my legal training and ministry experience in a classroom is pretty great, and that there are eleven brilliant and passionate students enrolled is almost too good to be true.
Professor Cochran divided the Bible in nine sections and teamed legal scholars and theologians to write each chapter (he joined his friend, Dallas Willard, to approach the Gospels) and explore what the Bible teaches about law and its relevance to current issues.
We have much to discuss.
I have a complicated relationship with politics and rarely write publicly on political issues anymore, not because I no longer have opinions, but for other reasons. To sit in a classroom, however, and consider contemporary issues starting with the Bible, that has me excited.
I confess disappointment that religious folks often react to major political moments by supporting their predetermined political candidate/party without wrestling with the individual issue at hand based on theological arguments. One would think that those who claim religion would avoid automatically supporting one political party and examine each individual situation in light of their sacred text. Maybe the penetrating question is: What is truly sacred?
I’m excited to consider such questions this semester with a gifted group of college students.
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged 9-11, bible, christianity, cochran, college, dallas willard, fred gray, iran, just war theory, law, lipscomb, politics, sacred, theology, war
“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Waze calculates thirty-four miles from Pepperdine University to East Los Angeles College; the Pacific Coast Highway to East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue; the celebrity-populated western side of Los Angeles to Cheech Marin’s East L.A.; Malibu to Monterey Park. It sure seems longer, even in rush hour traffic. They are two different worlds.
I serve on the advisory council for the East Los Angeles College (“ELAC”) Pathway to Law School Transfer Program, a coalition of educators and practitioners brought together to destroy obstacles that stand in the way of a young person advancing from high school to community college, from community college to a four-year college, and from a four-year college to law school. It is an inspiring group, and I am honored to be a part.
It is also personally disconcerting. I’m not exactly sure how I, a first-generation college student from rural Arkansas, the son of a butcher who dropped out of high school to provide for his family during the Great Depression, am suddenly the picture of white privilege in a room full of impressive human beings, but as a lawyer who drove over from his condo in Malibu, even my expertise in denial simply tossed in the towel and admitted the truth. I may be the most reluctant privileged person around.
It was dark when the meeting ended, and on the stroll across the ELAC campus to drive back to idyllic Malibu, I noticed several classes in session. Maybe I was wanting it to be so, but it sure looked like all of the students in those classes were engaged in the instruction and not bored on Facebook. I’m just sure of it. I then wandered by the math tutoring center, and it was undeniably a hub of academic activity late on a weekday evening. All this made me feel particularly hopeful in this perplexing world of ours.
If I must come to terms with privilege, and I just might have to, I must use it to help those inspiring students hungry for knowledge in those hushed classrooms gleaming in the darkness.
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged cheech marin, dreams, east los angeles, elac, hope, justice, law, law school, malibu, martin luther king jr., pathways, pepperdine, privilege, waze