Oct. 22, 2020

Heather Gerken on Micah 6:8 – “The Lawyer’s Calling: Justice, Mercy and Humility”

Mark is delighted to welcome Heather Gerken, the Dean of Law at Yale Law School, to the podcast today. Hailed as an “intellectual guru” in the New York Times, Heather served as a senior advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012, has been published extensively, has served as a commentator for a number of major media outlets, and is one of the country’s leading experts on constitutional law and election law. The passage she has chosen for today is Micah 6:8.

Heather begins by discussing the vampire novels she has written, as well as sharing her summary of the passage and the meaning it holds for her. She and Mark then embark on an extensive discussion of the notions of justice, mercy, and humility, both in the passage and in society today. Heather also details the pastoral role that a Dean plays, the dangers of arguing through social media, and, as with all guests, she concludes the discussion by offering the lessons she has learned about humankind. In her conversation with Mark today, Heather brings her formidable experience in Law and Education to the analysis of this ‘truly awesome Biblical passage’, rendering its timeless lessons and application to modern times both fascinating and accessible to all.

Episode Highlights: · Heather’s vampire novels · Her summary of the passage and the meaning it holds for her · Pulling mercy and justice closer together in our current legal system · Mark’s hypothetical case study · Knowing when to give justice and when to have mercy · Balancing humility and being a fierce advocate · The Dean’s pastoral role, particularly during the pandemic · Society’s education in humility · Arguing through social media · The lessons that Heather has learned about humankind


“It was the passage we read at our wedding.”

“There is, I think, a question about hewing to the path that you must hew to in order to remain what you are.”

“We should always try to not…judge people by their worst acts.”

“I spent the entire semester telling students to be gentle with each other.”

“But there’s also a difference between pulling someone into the community and that conversation and trying to find change with them versus shunning them and shutting them outside the community.” “I actually think that the whole point of the legal profession is humility.” “I think it’s much harder to be merciful than it is to think that you are doing justice. Showing mercy requires genuine forgiveness, and that’s the hardest thing to do.” “We try to get our students to be righteous, but not self-righteous.” “I do think it’s harder for people to listen to the other side because the politics of the moment are so terrible, and things have become so polarized.”

“That is the sign of a great education, is that it makes you humble about your own views.”

“It’s always the power of the example that they say is able to open other people’s hearts.”

“Never say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say, or perhaps haven’t said first, to another human being.”

“It’s people interpreting the other in the worst possible way.”

“You’ve got to be careful and you’ve got to be generous.”

“When you’re struggling with someone, it’s almost always because something big is going on in their life.”

“When the big thing comes, we come together.”

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good, And what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice And to love goodness, And to walk modestly with your God;



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