Thursday, June 16, 2005

An Analogy

If lawyers were doctors, and the human body were the law, I would be the rough equivalent of a toe surgeon, maybe even a mere "pinky" toe surgeon.

Which is a complicated way of saying that I practice in a very specialized, narrow area of the law: I defend employers against sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, and, unlike 99% of the rest of the lawyer population, I actually try such cases before juries. (On a side note, if you long for "almost-piss-your-pants-legs-like-jelly" experiences in life, don't sheep hunt in Alaska, go to law school and become a trial lawyer).

I bring this up to point to an interesting parallel between faith and the law. For instance, in the area of sexual harassment, to have an actionable claim, a plaintiff must subjectively believe she was harassed, and the environment about which she complains must be objectively hostile, i.e., the environment must be considered hostile by a "reasonable person." There is a personal component involved, but there is a reasonable component involved.

I believe faith is a combination of these elements as well, but, too often, discussions of "faith" blend these elements, and the result is a mishmash of competing and unhelpful points and counterpoints. Thus far in this blog, and to the slight extent in which I have focused on my personal faith, I have focused on the subjective component of this distinction because, frankly, I am not well educated enough to be a professional apologist for the Christian faith. Others are, however, and there is no point in my treading over that ground on these pages. Suffice it to say that I have found the "arguments" for the Christian faith to be objectively reasonable, even compelling.

Would I have found these same arguments compelling in the absence of the subjective experiences told and not yet told on these pages? I honestly cannot say. We only get to live one life on earth, and, unfortunately, life has to be lived in chronological order, without knowledge of how the plot turns out. None of us are the same person we were a year ago, and none of us will remain the same person we are today one year from now. Our subjective experiences, and (more importantly) their cumulative effect are part and parcel of who are at the only point in time that really matters, i.e., the present.

Would I have found these same arguments compelling in the absence of the subjective experiences told and not yet told on these pages?

Not to be too cute about it, but you might say the jury is still out on this question.