Lawyers, theologians, political scientists, economists and members of the Pepperdine community gathered at the School of Law on Friday and Saturday for the Love and Law conference.
The purpose of the conference was to discuss what the U.S. legal system would look like if it were based on the concept of “agape,” or Christian love. Agape is selfless unconditional love, the highest of the four types found in the Bible.
“Is law loving?,” “How can we make law more loving?” and “Are we teaching our students to be loving or not?” are what Nootbaar Institute Program Manager Dana Hinojosa said were the three main questions the event tried to answer.
The two-day event, hosted by the Herbert and Elinor Nootbar Institute on Law, Religion and Ethics, tackled the tension between law being a manifestation of love, and law being solely concerned with efficiency. The event was divided into two days, beginning Friday at 8:30 a.m. and ending Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
The Nootbaar Institute, whose purpose is to explore the nexus between law, religion and ethics, hosts annual conferences addressing wide-ranging issues such as religious freedom, human rights and diversity.
Participants attended breakout sessions covering theology, law and love, as well as different lectures relating to agape, interfaith relation and law and love.
“It was centered around the idea of, ‘How does the practice or theory of law and the concept of agape — Christian love — interact?’” Nootbaar Institute Program Manager Dana Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa coordinated the event. Some of her duties including the writing and sending of invitation letters, speaker organization, planned dinners, transportation and technology.
Associate Professor of Law Michael Helfand said the objective of the event was, “To explore how the Christian value of love (agape) might be used interpretively to be better incorporated into concept and applications of law.”
Helfand said he helped provide input into the composition of the panels as well as the structure of the conference. He mentioned his favorite panel, which he also hosted, was the love and law interfaith panel held Friday.
“That was the panel that brought together scholars from other faith traditions, each speaking about the concept of law from their faith perspectives,” he said. “I thought it was an extraordinary opportunity to bring people together to think how the concept of Christian love would be implemented.”
According to Hinojosa, out of the approximately 80 attendees, there were 40 speakers, most of which came from out-of state locations such as New York, Washington D.C., and Arizona. The speakers were professors from universities around the country, ranging from the University of Michigan to Arizona State University.
Helfand said there was a strong student response and that the event was “extremely well attended.”
Hinojosa said her favorite moment of the conference was witnessing speakers who hadn’t met each other bonding.” It’s important to bring like-minded people together to inspire each other and work together to ultimately do some good.”
The next major School of Law event will be the 41st Annual School of Law Dinner on March 8, a ceremony in which Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel Alito will speak. Pepperdine community members wishing to attend can register at the Law School website or call 310-506-4115.
Follow Ricardo Avila Alvarez on Twitter: @Ravila27
As published in the Feb. 13 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.