The Old Testament asserts that there is a political relationship between man and God and a just person is one who obeys God's law. The New Testament, however, portrays God as less of a political figure and states that man should establish a caring and communal relationship between one another to maintain a lateral, or loving, relationship with God. It was so interesting that despite these differences, the Bible's themes are still very powerful and its varying conceptions continue to shape the modern political world. With our minds filled with an hour and a half's worth of lecture, we diverted to our discussion groups.
Our T.A. Nolan began the discussion by introducing the four different types of justice: formal (consistent and unbiased), retributive (punishment and deterrence), distributive (fair allocation of goods), and restorative (healing and reconciliation). To apply these concepts of justice with the New Testament, the students broke off into smaller groups of 5 and 6, were assigned specific passages, and answered questions regarding their central themes and political implications. Fortunately, everyone in my group all shared insightful ideas and I was happy to equally contribute to our discussion. I never would have thought that the Bible was such a political text with underlying judicious themes. After each group explained their answers and interpretations of their passage, we departed for lunch.
By 1:10 PM, I returned to the lecture hall for the first of four guest lectures, which was held by downtown Ithaca attorney Ray Schlather. The very first topic he discussed was the importance of the US Constitution and the government's role to uphold a citizen's rights to invoke the fourth and fifth amendments. Afterwards, he recounted three cases he tried during his career as an attorney, ranging from censorship to civil rights. Out of the three, the case that so powerful to me was the Epiphany case. A young, African American middle school girl was subjected to horrific racist comments, physical abuse, and death threats from four male, caucasian students. Surprisingly, the previously school board did virtually nothing to support Epiphany and enforce stricter punishment onto the boys. After legal action was taken by Mr. Schlather, all school board members were dismissed, the four boys were expelled, and Epiphany received one million dollars in reparations. Fortunately, retributive justice prevailed that day. Tears filled the corners of his eyes while telling this story, which showed me how dedicated he was to his occupation.
|Ray Schlather answering several questions after the lecture|