Monday, January 16, 2006

First day of class

Only two classes today. Legal research and writing is both exciting and frightening. This semester is trial advocacy, which looks a bit like debate, only important (forgive me, former debate folk--please understand that by "important" I mean "skills likely to directly result in a favorable result, even if only monetary gain"). Very fun, undoubtably frustrating, but I think (hope) at the end I'll have a product I can be proud of. Happy to have Peter as a partner. He is a good writer, a good thinker, and best of all, a good friend I don't have to treat gingerly while we're working (though I'll do my best to remember no friendship or working relationship makes obsolete the virtues of kindness -- I remember from debate this is harder than it sounds).

Property should be great. One class with (Mrs.) Professor Garnett and I am already happy with her lecture style and approach. She, like her husband, is very philosophical and plunges head-first into the value questions. Just for a taste, for the first class meeting today we were required to have read excerpts from Rerum Novarum ("On the Rights of Workers"), a papal encyclical addressing socialism. Made for interesting discussion. Other readings addressed identity--how we identify ourselves by our names and our stuff--and examined what happens in institutions whose goal is to strip one of one's identity. The author focused on insane asylums, but also mentioned monasteries (I might have added certain institutions of higher learning). There one is stripped of one's name and ones' possessions. To compensate, the inmates often hoard small items or claim territory in an effort to rebuild identity. Monks are often punished for hoarding. Why? Is possession inherently evil? Is identity inherently evil? Was there human ownership before the Fall? Will there be in the coming Kingdom? We are told that we will have new names then, and that our relationships (another identifier) will be fundamentally altered then. So is the point that we cast off our acquired identities early, or that we keep them in perspective as temporary and not become too attached to them? Hm. All this and more, and only one class in.

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