Critiquing One’s Own Profession: A Moral Imperative in Our Time

One thing I deeply respect about Peter Gabel’s critique of the Supreme Court and its ongoing originalist bent is that Gabel is daring to criticize his own legal profession.*  That was a deep part of my book, The Reinvention of Work, that I wrote 26 years ago and of the University of Creation Spirituality where, for the first time in history, we offered doctoral degrees in Work and Spirituality. 

Dr. Li Wenliang publicized the dangers of the coronavirus before Chinese authorities admitted the threat. After being censored and detained he returned to Wuhan Central Hospital to treat the victims, and died of the virus on 2/6/2020. Photo on Wikimedia Commons.

All workers must bring a critical mindset to their work since it is in our work that we so affect others for good or ill.

We drew students to our university who were engineers and politicians, therapists and social workers, doctors and lawyers, educators and activists, artists and clergy. 

Behind it was my theology that a priest, archetypally speaking, is a “midwife of grace” and so all of us—if we are doing good work in the world—are midwives of grace and ought to link a thought-out spirituality to our work. 

Indeed, a creation spirituality that represents an ancient lineage from the wisdom tradition and the prophets of Israel through to Jesus, Benedict, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich and more.

Gabel is taking his vocation as a lawyer seriously when he offers a critical understanding of what is at stake with Barrett and other legal minds who want to retreat to 1789 to discern meanings from the founding fathers that somehow, magically, will provide all the answers to today’s questions.  Like a fundamentalist reader of the Bible, they think all the answers are to be found yesterday. 

Peter Gabel speaks of his vision of the Beloved Community in 2015. Posted to YouTube by San Francisco State University.

This allows Barrett to ignore climate change and to pronounce during the hearings that it is not yet proven.  It is not only women’s right to choose what to do with her body or gay rights to marry and the Affordable Care Act that are at stake, but the earth itself. 

But, I guess, because the writers of a 1789 document did not foresee human explosion of population and technology that is fouling the oceans and forests and soil and air with carbon dioxide poisoning, we should all just be quiet and listen to lawyers who hide in 240-year-old tomes pronounce to the rest of us what we can and cannot do.

Questioned by Senator Cory Booker on whether every president should commit themselves to the peaceful transfer of power, Amy Coney Barrett refused to answer. Uploaded to YouTube by Senator Cory Booker

All this makes me as sick as it does to know there are lawyers out there lining up (and lining their pockets) to go to court for Trump if the results of the election are not to his liking.  Where does loyalty to one’s profession stop when challenged by issues of justice?  Does it ever? 

I also appreciate Gabel’s bigger vision: That it is time to redo our constitution, bringing it into the 21st century.  I don’t think that even the founders believed they were penning an infallible document that was not meant to evolve (like everything else in creation, as we learned from evolution in the 19th century—or does originalism forbid us to accept evolution also?).

*The article we are dialoging with can be found in:

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work;

See also Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, pp. 327-362.

Banner Image:  The car in which chemical technician and labor union activist Karen Silkwood died on her way with documents to release to a New York Times reporter regarding faulty fuel rods, falsified product inspection records, and risks to employee health and safety in the nuclear facility where she worked. She had previously testified to the Atomic Energy Commission, subsequently finding herself and her home repeatedly contaminated with plutonium.   Photographer unknown; newspaper photo from The Romero Institute.

Do you also hold serious doubts about the state of the legal profession today?  How about other professions as well?  What are we doing to reinvent our professions so that they serve community more fully and themselves a little less fully?

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science 
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.

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2 thoughts on “Critiquing One’s Own Profession: A Moral Imperative in Our Time”

  1. Avatar

    Your Daily Meditations make me so happy! Your encyclopedic mind (how can one person know so much, I ask myself) and depth of wisdom are an incredible gift to the world. Yeah!
    Bowing in gratitude,

  2. Avatar

    Re-writing portions of the constitution makes absolute sense, UNLESS it is done at the the hands of those who are not guided by moral intelligence. Maneuvering words to accomplish ones own agenda( getting on the Supreme Court) smacks of hypocrisy. Without an inner code of ethics based on true caring for one another, the charade continues…

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