As a lawyer, one thing I have come to appreciate is that every human being is shaped by his or her culture and life experiences. No matter how we might attempt to be independent and objective in our thinking, those forces shape our perspectives and our opinions. This realization leads me to always try to discern the cultural influences and life experiences that may have shaped others’ views. Thus, if I were reading this blog, I would want to know a bit more about the author. In that spirit, I share the following brief autobiographical sketch of myself.
On my first blog, I went into more detail about my professional and faith journeys. There is no need to be redundant of what I’ve already written elsewhere. But for those who have not read that first blog and have no inclination to go searching, the following information should be helpful in understanding the forces that shape my perspectives and opinions.
I am a native Texan, but grew up predominantly in the D.C. area. I am a product of public schools at all levels of my education. I earned three degrees from state sponsored schools in Texas.
My husband and I both come from families of modest means. Most of my relatives have been grade school teachers. My husband and I were the first in our families to work in the corporate world.
However, I actually began my career as an idealistic grade school teacher in impoverished neighborhoods in Texas. I predominantly taught Mexican American students, many of whom had recently migrated from Northern Mexican sin papeles. Eventually I went to law school. I ended up practicing corporate tax law, which was a specialty I knew nothing about until my 2L year. I left practice a few years ago to teach at a law school where one of the mission pillars is serving the underserved. That mission pillar particularly resonated with me.
Most in my family are Christians. Specifically, most are Protestant. I myself did not feel particularly at home in such churches growing up. Indeed, in my teen years, I considered myself an atheist and arrogantly believed religion was for simple-minded people. When I went to church, I was distracted by what I observed to be a heavy emphasis on judgmental attitudes, a misguided preoccupation on one’s formal church-going attire, and a general hypocrisy in many respects.
Nonetheless, I’ve always tried to be an open-minded person. In college, I had a good friend with spiky bleached hair and a love for punk music. She was also a Christian. But I liked her enough to see past that strange quirk. Eventually, she bought me a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and challenged me to read it. I did. It has been so long now, I don’t remember the details anymore. But somewhere in reading that book I no longer considered myself an atheist. Soon after, I bought myself a Bible and began reading. Eventually I felt a strong sense of truth in the teachings of Jesus. Something resonated so deeply about his teaching that I came to believe he must have been the Messiah and the Son of God. It did not happen at one specific point in time. But at some point I became to realize I was indeed a Christian. That faith evolved to become a central part of my life.
I tried out several Protestant churches while still in college, but on a fluke ended up going to mass regularly with a Catholic friend of mine. I felt a real affinity for the form of worship and the church’s identification with the poor and vulnerable. It was rather a shock to me (as well as my family and friends) when I decided to become baptized in the Catholic Church. With my Protestant upbringing, I had frankly though Catholics were wackos and the Roman Catholic Church was akin to a cult. Thank goodness I had had an open-mind and was willing to be proven wrong.
Eventually, I met my husband (a cradle Catholic) at church in college. Years later, we married in the Catholic Church and were active parishioners for many years. However, when we became parents, to our surprise, we no longer felt Catholicism was a good fit. For a while, we just stopped going to church. That was huge for us. It was the only time in our adult life when we weren’t regular church-goers. We didn’t like that. We felt a bit like we were being unfaithful to God. It was important that we try to put God first in our lives, and that didn’t seem to be happening if we couldn’t even make it to his house once a week.
We explored several non-denominational churches after that lapse. Coming from a Catholic perspective, such non-denominational churches were a bit of a jolt to the system initially! My husband and I joke now about that being our period of “wandering in the desert.” (For non-Jews and non-Christians, who may not realize, this reference is a bit of biblical humor; after the exodus from Egypt, the Hebrews spent forty years wandering in the desert before entering the Promised Land.) In actuality, our time “wandering in the desert” was a time of tremendous spiritual growth for our whole family. There are some excellent non-denominational churches, and we were regular attenders at several during those years. But we were truly “wandering” in a certain sense. We never felt called to formally join any of those churches, though we were very active in several of their ministries.
Eventually, several years ago, our family settled down and began to put down roots in a local Episcopal church near where we live. We love our church, and don’t feel like we are going anywhere any time soon. The pastor and deacon are terrific. There are a lot of wonderful ministries. The church community is lovely. In sum, we feel like we can be our true selves to learn and grow in our faith.
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”