Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bloom's Book for Christians in Law

On April 1, 2008, the American Bar Association's ABA Journal "Law News Now" reported in a posting "Lawyer Writes Christian Guide to Legal Issues, Advises Against Revenge", by Debra Cassens Weiss, about a new book authored by Attorney Stephen L. Bloom, of Carlisle, PA.
Christian lawyer Stephen Bloom has written a new book that advises litigants to “rise above the mindset of greed and revenge so prevalent in the law.” The new book is The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues, Legal Blog Watch reports.

Bloom, a lawyer from Carlisle, Penn., says too many people are caught up in legal nightmares that make them miserable and damage their relationships. Bloom hopes his book will empower litigants to draw on “God's vision of lasting peace, restored relationships and true justice."
Steve's book was published by Living Ink Press, and released on April 1, 2008. This is the book's description on the website of Christian Books (which also lists a few reader reviews):
At its heart, this book is a comforting companion and helpful counselor for average Christians interacting with the law, perhaps feeling bewildered, overwhelmed, or uneasy about how their legal situations align with their Christian morals and beliefs.

The book is comprehensive in scope, but written in a friendly, conversational tone. The legal topics addressed are carefully selected to cover those most likely to be encountered by regular folks in the course of their everyday lives.

By presenting a practical Christian perspective informed by God's rich array of relevant scriptural wisdom, this book will release multitudes of Christian believers from the tangled web of moral confusion and ethical compromise so often promoted and exacerbated by lawyers and the legal establishment.

Readers will be enlightened, encouraged in their faith, and empowered in their ability to make sound decisions to honor that faith, even in the high-stakes, pressure-filled secular legal arena.
The book is also available at Amazon, online, where his profile appears. There, he also makes recommendations for Top Books for Christian Attorneys and for Top Books for Christians Facing Legal Situations.

Steve & I exchanged email messages before his book's publication. He reminded me that he had worked, years ago, as a law clerk in this law office in Harrisburg. He now practices with Irwin & McKnight, in Carlisle, PA. He maintains his own website, Practical Counsel, for his personal Christian ministry.

Steve sent me a pre-publication galley proof of his book to read, but I awaited its release to comment.

Foremost, a reader must understand that Steve is a committed Christian -- above being a lawyer or a writer. That commitment shines through in statements that draw on his "faith and trust in Christ".

The Christian viewpoint is fundamental to his book, but is manifested as personal morality, not as preached directives. Steve's work may attract certain readers already aligned as Christian "Believers" or those inclined to act more faithfully, but repel others who hold different religious beliefs or who ignore spirituality.

The book is very readable, almost conversational. It is neither a legal brief with citations, nor a scholarly treatise with footnotes. It is more like a collection of lengthy essays, with factual vignettes to illustrate points deriving from real-world situations.

Steve considers the legal topics of litigation, divorce & child custody, criminal proceedings, estate planning, the "Living Trust Hardsell", the "Medicaid Planning Shell Game", "Living Wills" & health care directives, personal bankruptcy, business operations, taxation, and real estate, in settings of individuals, not groups.

To present his points, he addresses each topic through one or more extended factual scenarios ("Life Lessons"), Biblical quotations from both the Old and New Testaments ("Biblical Insights"), and a legal analysis, with his commentaries ("Practical Counsel").

For example, under the topic of "Estate Planning", Steve offers these relevant Biblical passages.
  • Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. — Proverbs 6:6–8
  • A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. — Proverbs 13:22
  • Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. — Proverbs 23:4–5
  • No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. — Matthew 6:24
  • Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. — Luke 12:15
  • Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: once a person’s will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. — Galatians 3:15 (NRSV)
  • See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. — Colossians 2:8
  • Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. — I Timothy 6:17
In the last chapter (13) of his book, Steve addresses "The Christian Conciliation Alternative". He recommends a process under the control of disputing parties, but governed by Biblical principles for behavior, that can mitigate pain and loss deriving from failed relationships or dealings.

Such a dispute resolution procedure -- as an alternative to court proceedings -- should be made available in some adapted form for everyone, not just "Believers".

Different non-sectarian
"Alternative Dispute Resolution" approaches are being developed in state and federal courts. This movement for interpersonal, guided resolution of disputes reflects ancient principles -- including those contained in the Christian advice offered by Steve -- that promote compassion and healing in a process ultimately more productive and responsible than fighting.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

—Matthew 5:9