On April 1, 2022, St. John’s Law students, alumni, faculty, and friends engaged in a lively Center for Law and Religion Reading Society discussion of the acclaimed C.S. Lewis essay “Learning in War-Time” led by lawyer and scholar Mark Lanier at his New York City office.
Convened each semester by Center Co-Directors Mark Movsesian and Marc DeGirolami, the Reading Society presents works of literature that address themes in law and religion. Past meetings have covered Sophocles’s Antigone, Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, and Augustine’s City of God. A meditation on the calling of the Christian student written at the start of World War II, Lewis’s essay was a fitting selection for the Spring 2022 discussion. Attendees also had the singular experience of viewing Lewis’s original manuscript, borrowed from the Lanier Theological Library in Houston.
“Lewis’s essay has long been a favorite of mine.” Movsesian says. “It encourages all of us in higher education to ask ourselves why the pursuit of knowledge is worthwhile at all, and why it remains valid even in the darkest times. The essay resonated a lot with me during the COVID pandemic. Lewis’s take is a specifically Christian one, but his essay is broadly accessible. And I couldn't think of anyone better to talk about it than Mark Lanier.”
Lanier, one of the nation's leading civil trial attorneys, has achieved landmark verdicts for people injured by faulty medical devices, dangerous drugs, and other consumer products. He is also a Christian educator and an author of several books on Christianity whose Houston library houses one of the nation's leading private theological collections. At the Reading Society meeting, Lanier explained the historical context and themes of Lewis’s essay and asked students to consider how they would have addressed the topic.
“The discussion led by Mr. Lanier was enlightening,” says Center Student Fellow Jordan Pamlanye ’22. “As someone who has experienced most of law school during a pandemic, it was so important to be reminded how valuable pursuing your calling—including your education—is during difficult times. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to reframe my perspective as I complete my studies at St. John’s Law and embark on my legal career.”
“Mark Lanier is a longtime supporter of the Center, and it was very meaningful that he took time out of his busy schedule to join us in New York and guide this semester’s Reading Society meeting,” Professor Movsesian adds. That he also afforded us the rare privilege of seeing an original Lewis manuscript up close and in person made the experience even more memorable.”
About the Center for Law and Religion
Established in 2010, St. John’s Center for Law and Religion provides a forum for the study of law and religion from domestic, international, and comparative perspectives, aiming to:
In addition to hosting a range of academic programs, the Center coordinates the Law School’s law and religion curriculum. It also hosts the Law and Religion Forum, a blog covering law and religion topics, and Legal Spirits, a podcast series on law and religion issues in the courts and wider culture.