Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm Home--and Some Thoughts About Ritual

I'm home.  Closing arguments were Monday and I was on a plane Tuesday.  I didn't stay and wait for the verdict, and unfortunately, I"m glad I left.  We lost.  If you want to know more about the trial, google "Michael Leman".  I'm not going to discuss it, though I will say the press coverage was biased.

The thought struck me in court about how we use ritual to place a sense of importance and gravity on a situation.  The Mass, the source and summit of our faith, is scripted almost start to finish.  Whether the response is "and also with you" or "and with your spirit", it is known by all involved regularly and it is a response not common outside the ritual.  Everyone has his/her place.  There is a beginning and an end.  Perhaps it would seem more like going to see my buddy Jesus if it was more spontaneous, or if the format was less set, but are we called to relate to Jesus more as buddy or more as authority?

Courts have their rituals from the knock stating  that the judge or jury is entering the room, to those in attendance rising to greet the judge and jury.  Witnesses are sworn, dress codes enforced, movements limited.  If anyone doubted that Court was serious, an afternoon of observing the rituals would quickly convince them that it was.

Have you ever observed a trial?  What did you think?

7 comments:

  1. The only time Scott did trial work was when my kids were little - I'm talking preschool, toddlers and infants... so I never had the joy of watching him in action.

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    1. I'll admit to liking trial work--except for losing verdicts. It is interesting seeing how everything comes together--and how those who are uninvolved (the jury) see your case. The rush when you win--even a civil case where there is nothing but money at stake is great, and I've learned to distance myself from guilty verdicts, at least somewhat.

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  2. Not sure how you're mixed up with this case but it sounds real shady. I just came by looking for this week's Catholic Carnival! :-)

    You'll laugh but my principle experience with court room proceedings is through the movie "My Cousin Vinny." Herman Munster makes also a convincing Southern judge who's a stickler for procedure. Even the immortal courthouse performance by Atticus Finch pales in comparison to Joe Pesci!

    Trials is serious business and ought to be formal and not a mockery. If it's mock trials you want, read the Gospels and Acts.

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  3. I've never watched a real trial in action. Interesting how ritual helps us to see how serious something is. And important, too. Have a blessed Holy Week.

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  4. I confess to watching the OJ Simpson trial and was appalled at the posturing the prosecution engaged in as well as the judge. Had there been no ritual, the trial would have been a much worse circus than it was. I think the prosecution thought they were in a Perry Mason script and they cheapened the exercise of the law.

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  5. P.S. RAnn, judging from this post, it looks like you are in the perfect job for you. It must be wonderful to enjoy what you do for a living. God bless you.

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    1. This career was partly choice, partly happenstance. This particular job was either God-given or just plain luck. When I left the interview, the only thing that sounded good about the position was the location--and the fact that they offered me the job, since I had been laid off a couple of weeks earlier. I took the job with the idea of leaving when something better came along. I've been here 18 years, and for the most part, I do really like my job.

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