The Bible and the Law

I am quite amazed by the way I am involved with the “law and lawyer” these two days.

First, my cousin, CY sent me the edited text speech of Anwar Ibrahim entitled “Two different kinds of lawyers” that was delivered at the Law Asia Conference in Brisbane, Australia on March 22. The two kinds of lawyer in Anwar’s words are first, the lawyers who know the law and second, the lawyers who know the judge. It was a good read.

Then, I encountered the lawyer of the third kind – the lawyer who is angry.

And now, the law and the bible. The New York Times reported on March 29 that “Colorado Court Bars Execution Because Jurors Consulted Bible.”

According to the report, the highest court of Colorado upheld a lower court’s decision throwing out the sentence of a man who was given the death penalty. The reason? Because the jurors consulted the Bible in reaching a verdict. The court said that the Bible constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the court called higher authority”.

Robert Harlan was found guilty in 1995 of raping and murdering a cocktail waitress. The jurors voted unanimously for death sentence on Harlan. However, the Supreme Court decided to change the death sentence to life in prison.

The judges said the majority had confused the internal codes of right and wrong that juries are expected to possess in such weighty moral matters with the outside influences that are always to be avoided, like newspaper articles or television programs about the case.

The jurors consulted Bibles, the minority said, not to look for facts or alternative legal interpretations, but for wisdom.

The New York Times gathered some opinions from legal scholars. Here are some of the opinions:

… the connection between hard legal logic and the softer, deeper world of values is always present in jury rooms, whether acknowledged or not.

…"The court says we're asking you to be moral men and women, to make a moral judgment of the right thing to do," said Thane Rosenbaum, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law in New York City, and author of the book "The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right" (HarperCollins, 2004). "But then we say the juror cheated because he brought in a book that forms the basis of his moral universe," Professor Rosenbaum said. "The thing is, he would have done it anyway, in his head."

One juror testified she studied Romans and Leviticus, including Leviticus 24, which includes the famous articulation of Old Testament justice: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth."

Or have the higher court used "Love your enemies…" – the teachings from Luke?


Lawyers’ Words

My 9-year-old son wants to be lawyer when he grows up. He said so when he was in Primary one. Since then, he has not changed his mind. I have always thought that he wants to be a lawyer because one girl in his class has the habit of "threatening" other classmates that her parents are lawyers and the classmates would be sued by her parents if they are not nice to her. My son says she is proud, while I find that amusing. This is children's world.

But, certainly I am wrong. My son has his own impression of lawyer, despite the fact that the most often heard word is "sue you". Recently, we played a word game. He was to give me words that he thinks are related to "lawyer". Here are his list of words:


I was particulary interested in the word "Anger". "Are lawyers angry people?", I asked him.

No, lawyers are angry people only when they see injustices against others. That's a 9-year-old version of anger.

I have an encounter with an angry lawyer today. People are certainly angrier today than ever before in history. Anger is increasing so drastically that it is becoming safety factor. Are these your concerns? Road rage, air rage, sports rage – and I call the anger of this lawyer – court rage!

But, as I write this tonight, as I recal a child's words of lawyers, I am reminded of these verses from the Bible –

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:27, 37

Thank you, my young boy, for your lesson of "righteous anger". I want to to add to your list of words connected with lawyers –

Servant leader

Choral Speaking – Angela’s Word

My son is going to join a "Choral Speaking" contest in school. Today, he came back with this poem that really amuse and entertain me. Most of all it enlightens me… Read it aloud and be enlightened too. What a way to get away from the complex world….

When Angela was very young
Age two or three or so
Her mother and her father
Taught her never to say NO
They taught her that she must agree
With everything they said
And if she didn't, she was spanked
And sent upstairs to bed

So Angela grew up to be
A most agreeable child
She was never angry
And she was never wild
She always shared, and she always cared
She never picked a fight
And no matter what her parents said
She thought that they were right

Angela the Angel did very well in school
And, as you might imagine, she followed every rule
Her teacher said she was so well-bred
So quiet and so good
But how Angela felt inside
They never understood

Angela had lots of friends
Who liked her for her smile
They knew she was the kind of gal
Who'd go the extra mileAnd even when she had a cold
And really needed rest
When someone asked her if she'd help
She always answered 'YES'

Angela was thrity-three, she was a lawyer's wife
She had a home and a family, and a nice suburban life
She had a little girl of fourAnd a little boy of nine
And if someone asked her how she felt
She always answered "FINE"

But one cold night near Christmas-time
When her family was in bed
She lay awake as awful thoughts
Went spinning through her head
She didn't know why
And she didn't know how
But she wanted her life to end
So she begged whoever put her here
To take her back again

And then she heard, from deep inside
A voice that was soft and low
It only said a single word
And the word it said was "NO"

From that moment on, Angela knew
Exactly what she had to do
Her life depended on that word
So this is what her loved ones heard:

"NO, I just don't want to
NO, I don't agree
NO, That's yours to handle
NO, that's wrong for me
NO, I wanted something else
NO, that hurt a lot
NO, I'm tired, and
NO I'm busy
And NO, I'd rather not!"

Well, her famly found it shocking
Her friends reacted with surprise
But Angela was different
You could see it in her eyes
For they've held no meek submission
Since that night three years ago
When Angela the Angel
Got permission to say "NO"

Today Angela's a person firstThen a mother and wife
She knows where she begins and ends
She has a separate life
She has talents and ambitions
She has feelings, needs and goals
She has money in the bank
An opinion at the polls

And to her boy and girl she says
"It's nice when we agree
But if you can't say 'NO', you'll never grow
To be all you were meant to be
Because I know I am sometimes wrong
And because I love you so
You will always be my angels
Even when you tell me 'NO'"

-Barbara K. Bassett

Personality Test

Ever done any personality test?

Remember the test that asks you to put in order your preference of five animals, namely, pig, horse, cow, sheep, tiger? If you have chosen the pig as your first preference, you are a money person.

Then the test goes on to ask you to use a word to describe sea, coffee, cat, dog and mouse? If you have said coffee is tempting, it means your perspective of sex is tempting. If you say the sea is uncertain, then it represents that your life is uncertain…

I remember that and when I have just finished the test, I thought, that really reads my heart. But, when I have chance to think it over, the test is set to trap anyone. Anyone will think it's really amazing.

Or have you done The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which measures four qualities of a person — introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, judging/perceiving?

The star has set up a poll to analyse the reasons why the graduates are unemployed few days ago. According to the poll results, there is a graduate who went for 100 interviews and still have not found a job.

Incidentally, The Washington Post carried an article on employers relying on personality test to screen applicants.

It reported that even before the candidates stepped through the door for the interview, their fate had been largely determined by a computer. They had taken a 50-minute online test that asked them to rate to what degree they agreed or disagreed with statements such as, "It's maddening when the court lets guilty criminals go free," "You don't worry about making a good impression" and "You could describe yourself as 'tidy'."

A score in the "green" range for customer service gave an applicant an 83 percent chance of getting hired, "yellow" a 16 percent chance and "red" a 1 percent chance.

The paper further reported that a recent survey found that about 30 percent of all companies use personality tests in hiring.

To many companies, the tests are as important, if not more important, than an applicant's education, experience and recommendations.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which measures four qualities of a person — introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, judging/perceiving — is often used to help match people up with careers.

But Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology and human development at Northwestern Unviersity certainly does not agree with the personality. He said, "You are really doing a disservice to the complexity of human individuality."

Perhaps, The Star can set up another poll for the employers whether they are using personality test to determine the fate of the candidates.

Posted in Soul Quest. Comments Off on Personality Test

Easter Story in exclamation

I like the easter story of two women coming to Jesus' tomb to tend to his body. But when they got there, the stone sealing the tomb entrace had been rolled away. Jesus' body wasn't there!

The women immediately jumped to the conclusion that someone had broken in and stolen the body. The women had thought Jesus would be their deliverer. Now, that just looked like one more dreams only. Jesus was dead. Now, even the body could not be found!

Then the women saw two men – they were angels. They asked a question that changed everything – "Why do you seek the Living One among the dead!"

He is risen!!

I do not like using "exclamation marks" in my writings often. But, on easter, I have used four exclamation marks to end each part of my easter story. The last one "He is Risen" is given two exclamations.

Indeed, He is Risen – the one fact that Christianity is not a mere belief system, it is not just moral teachings of the good and evils, or the wise and good man.

He is risen means the one and only path to eternal life. It is not just Jesus alone who passed from death into life – but everyone who believes in Him.

The old saying claim that nothing is certain but death and taxes. With the "exclaimed" "He is Risen", only taxes are certain. With the resurrected Christ, we know that death is certainly not final!

Posted in Soul Reflections. Comments Off on Easter Story in exclamation

Who is Terri? Who was Terri?

The Washington Post carries a story on Terri Schiavo captioned “Terri Schiavo’s Unstudied Life” on Good Friday.

The story was divided into two parts. The first part, “Who was Terri Schiavo?” told of Terri’s innocence and her dreams. Terri was just a girl next door – a girl who wrote to John Denver asking him to come sing at her wedding, a girl who went to Disney World for her honeymoon and hoped that she and her husband and children would visit the Disney World year after year, a girl who worshipped television stars..

The picture that the words suggest is touching. Her life was a series of choices. She made hundreds of choices every day. What did she want as a young girl? She had made her choices that which she desired most at the moment of decision. That’s the key: at the moment of decision.

She was a truly ordinary girl with simple dreams and an uncomplicated life. She was able to make her own choices.

Now, who is Terri Schiavo?

Terri Schiavo is everywhere. There are pictures of her on the front pages of newspapers, on the Internet, on every news network on TV.

The courts recognize that she is a woman who has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since the day she suffered heart failure 15 years ago. She cannot communicate, she is not cognizant of what is happening around her, her movements are nothing more than neurological tics.
Terri is not capable of making her choices now.

For the past 15 years when Terri was not able to make her choices, her parents and bushand have been locked in a grueling war, a war over money, over control, and, in the end, over Terri's choice.

Schiavo wants his wife to be allowed to die. That, he says, was her wish.

The Schindlers want someone — the government, the courts, anyone with any possible authority in this situation — to restore the feeding tube that was removed, by court order, last Friday. They want their daughter, in whatever state she is, to live.

Terri Schiavo is 41 years old. But who she was — a shy little girl, a woman still able to find joy in a simple stuffed bunny — will forever be suspended in time. Many want to make a choice for her.

But, only in God’s profound and infinite wisdom can such paradoxical varieties become light.
James Russel Lowell, the noted writer impeccably describes it this way –

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide.
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
With each choice God speaking to us
Offering each the bloom of blight,
Then the manor nation chooses
For the darkness or the light.

Posted in Soul Tapestry. Comments Off on Who is Terri? Who was Terri?

Good Friday

A young friend wished me Happy Good Friday last night through the mail. I was quick to respond to him that we don’t normally wish people “Happy Good Friday”. But, we can wish people “Happy Easter”.

I responded immediately because I was much elder than him and did not wish that he went to wish other people “Happy Good Friday” also and might be laughed at.

Good Friday is not a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur. I am here on an official trip. Therefore when friends from Sarawak called this morning saying that they were not working today, I asked whether they were on leave. I was of course reminded that it’s Good Friday and a public holiday.

I did a google search on why it is called “Good Friday” and click on "I'm feeling lucky" just now and to my delight, I was directed to this site and found the following:

Calling the day of the Crucifixion ‘Good’ Friday is a designation that is peculiar to the English language. In German, for example, it is called Karfreitag. The Kar part is an obsolete word, the ancestor of the English word care in the sense of cares and woes, and it meant mourning. So in German, it is Mourning Friday. And that is what the disciples did on that day—they mourned. They thought all was lost.

I’ve read that the word good used to have a secondary meaning of holy, but I can’t trace that back in my etymological dictionary. There are a number of cases in set phrases where the words God and good got switched around because of their similarity. One case was the phrase God be with you, which today is just good-bye. So perhaps Good Friday was originally God’s Friday. But I think we call it Good Friday because, in pious retrospect, all that tragedy brought about the greatest good there could be.

I can see virtue in either terminology. If we call it Mourning Friday, as in German, we are facing reality head on, taking up the cross if you will, fully conscious that the Christian walk is seldom a walk in the park. But if we call it Good Friday, as in English, we are confessing the Christian hope that no tragedy—not even death—can overwhelm God’s providence, love, and grace. Either way seems fine to me!

Yes, why should we despair on Good Friday when there is hope in Him, and when there is the greatest good there could be?

Posted in Soul Reflections. Comments Off on Good Friday