The Role of the Christian Legal Scholar: The Call for a Modern Saint Benedict
Lee J. Strang
University of Toledo College of Law
January 1, 2005
Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 20, p. 59, 2006
In his book, After Virtue, the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre issued a stinging indictment of modern society. In the famous last sentence of After Virtue, MacIntyre stated that [w]e, our society, are waiting . . . for another - doubtless very different - St. Benedict.
I want to propose that Christian law professors should see themselves and their role in accord with MacIntyre's call. In this Article I will try to explain why. First, I will review St. Benedict's life and argue that he created the institution, the form of community - Western monasticism - that preserved much of classical civilization and which was instrumental in synthesizing a new, Christian civilization. Second, I will discuss the state of American culture as diagnosed by MacIntyre.
I will then propose how Christian legal scholars should respond: what our role is in American society. I will argue that Christian law professors have three analytically distinct possible roles: building Christian law schools, rebuilding Christian law schools, and what I will label engaging in the debate. Scholars may assume different roles over their careers and aspects of more than one role concurrently.
Then I will briefly discuss how one can know what role(s) one should assume, as a Christian legal scholar. Lastly, I will return to St. Benedict and how his legacy of preserving and creating offers a model for Christian law professors fifteen hundred years later.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: MacIntyre, After Virtue, Christian, law school, Saint BenedictAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 14, 2005 ; Last revised: May 3, 2012
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