Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Friday
Aug232013

THE  GRIZ

This article reminisces about Erwin Griswold, who was Dean of Harvard Law School when I attended in the early '60s.  I don't recall that he and I ever spoke.  But he was an extraordinary character, and I discovered that I have a whole article of stories about him.

As a student at Harvard Law, Erwin Griswold, class of '28, compiled the Bluebook, a sylebook on legal citations which is still used in 46 states.  After graduation, he worked six weeks in his father's East Cleveland law firm. After that, he only had two employers -- the Federal Government, Harvard Law School, and the Federal Government.

Dear Irwin Griswold was my prof for Federal Taxation.  This like saying, "I had Moses as my prof for the study of the Torah."  As attorney for the Treasury Department, Griswold had argued many of the leading tax cases before the Supreme Court.  He was an acknowledged Federal Tax authority.  In a dissenting opinion on a tax case, one Supreme Court justice criticized the Court's decision as "more grist for Griswold's mill."

During our study of a particular case, he reminisced:  "Opposing counsel in this case was John W. Davis, the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1924.  A Wall Street lawyer, he was a commanding presence before the [Supreme] Court.  During his oral argument, Chief Justice Taft stated, 'Thirty seconds, Counsel.' With a courtly bow, Mr. Davis said, 'Counsel presents thirty seconds to the court.' Justice Taft, who ran a tight Court, said, "Thank you, Counsel,' rapped his gavel and added, 'Next case." Back at the Treasury Department, our team speculated on the comparative difference between our pay per hour and that of John W. Davis.

The Griz was the incarnation of lucidity. We'd study an Internal Revenue Code provision that covered three pages of turgid Congressional language. Dean Griswold would pluck eighteen emerald words out of this wasteland and illuminate the whole section.

Ohio Boy

He was from Ohio and did his undergraduate work at Oberlin.  This background helped him be a radical regarding Federal taxation.  He told us, "I think that everyone in the United States who makes a hundred thousand [or a billion] a year should pay about the same tax."  Now that’s a radical perspective.  In contrast, General Electric's huge staff of attorneys assured that GE paid no Federal corporate income tax in 2011.

Erwin N. GriswoldMany professors played games. No matter which position you took on a case, they would throw spitters, confuse you and skewer you. Praising Griswold as a professor, Bill Barrett remarked, "The Griz only throws high hard ones."

The Griz was a marvel as an oral advocate. I witnessed him as a moot court lawyer, where the three judges were a Federal judge and two professors. They all knew each other, and the judges' role was to try to trip the Griz. It was like watching the Michigan secondary trying to tackle Red Grange.  To change the sports analogy, they threw him no fast balls, only spitters.

And it was amazing to watch the Griz' response.  He received each question with pleasure, as if it were precisely the next point he wanted to make.  He answered swiftly and then shifted right back to his lucid line of reasoning.  It was a thrilling exhibition of oral advocacy.

Solicitor General

President Johnson appointed Irwin Griswold to be Solicitor General of the United States. That's a significant, but little known responsibility. The Solicitor General represents the Attorney General and the Federal Government in arguing the Government's cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. President Nixon continued his appointment. The Griz held that post longer than anyone else in U.S. history, from 1967 to 1973. If Nixon had not left the presidency, he would probably have appointed Irwin Griswold to the Supreme Court.

This marvel of a man, however, had no small talk.  His ineptitude in social situations was well known and was documented when Ellie told us about the Dean's tea.  (Before law school, Ellie had been a script reader for CBS.)  Each year in September, Dean and Mrs. Griswold gave a tea for the women in the first year class.  It was not a large task.  In my class of '63, there were only 18 women and more than 600 men.

The Griz addressed the women like this.  "Welcome to Harvard Law School.  But in all candor, I must tell you I don't know why you're here.  I can see nothing ahead for you in the legal profession.  That's why I opposed the admission of women to the Law School.  However, I was overruled by the Trustees.  And so you're here. Welcome."

Hello, I'm Dean Griswold

Then the Griz went around the room and said to each woman, "Hello. I'm Dean Griswold." And the woman introduced herself. Ellie was 6'1" tall. In low heels, she was 6'3". The Griz was a portly 5'9". The Griz approached Ellie three different times and said, "Hello.  I'm Dean Griswold."

During our second year, it was rumored that Dean Griswold was being considered as ambassador to Australia. "That's strange," commented Bill Barrett, "I didn't realize we wanted to break off diplomatic relations with Australia."

Evidently, he was also a talented administrator – if his secretary's conduct was typical.  In the third year, we all had to write a paper, i.e. potentially a law review article, although few made the grade.  Initially, I asked Professor James Vorenberg to be my tutor.  (He was later Dean.)  Then I changed my topic to one in commercial law, so I decided to switch to Professor Arthur Sutherland.

Done in Pencil

To make the change, I was directed to Dean Griswold's secretary.  She asked, "Have you spoken with both men?"  "Yes."  "Did they both agree?"  "Yes."  From her desk, she took a spiral notebook – the kind I used in high school. She flipped through, and I saw that a professor's name was a the top of each page. Under "Vorenberg", she crossed out my name with a pencil.  Under "Sutherland", she wrote my name in pencil.

That was the most sensible administrative action I've ever seen.  Today, Harvard Law –- or any other college or university -- probably requires hours of detail work, multiple forms, multiple signatures, and complex computer input to accomplish the same result.

Well, the Griz not only failed socially, he also failed as a prophet.  From my class, two people became nationally prominent:  Attorney General Janet Reno, and Elizabeth [Hanford] Dole, wife of presidential candidate Bob Dole, and herself a presidential candidate, twice a Cabinet member, and U.S. Senator from North Carolina.