Frank Maguire
Litigious liturgist
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By Frank Maguire
May 31, 2010

I wrote this poem back in 1995. At the time, a friend of mine, with a very large Irish family, including one mentally and physically "damaged" daughter — an absolutely beautiful girl — was catching hell from a zealot of jurisprudence. A lawyer!

I don't want to convey the wrong impression, here. I spent my life as a musician, and, as everyone who claims to know knows, "Musicians are grifters and on-the-run swagmen...unreliable, and most often drunks and druggies." You know what? Some are and some aren't. And, I'm not.

I've been married for 52 years to the same wonderful, loyal, courageous, stubborn (praise God), Hispanic lady. We have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. Not a whole lot of time for gallivantin', right?

Let me offer an anecdote that conveys my thinking that Jesus Christ trumps "professional ethics 'unions.'" When I had just arrived in Massachusetts, in the '70s, I found an agent who would book me. Quickly, he found me a gig in Bourne, a town right at the bridge that crosses over into Cape Cod.

I showed up at the place. It was a rather odd looking arrangement. Like a big, rustic dance-hall. There was another musician there — the drummer, who was setting-up his stuff. I introduced myself and asked him, "What the heck is this place?" His response was, "You don't know?" I said, simply, "No!"

He chuckled! "It's a strip joint." Whoa and woe! I was between the Scylla and Charybdis. I had a union contract, and to get out of it I was required to give two-week's notice. So, I acted quickly. I immediately gave one week's notice. So did the drummer, and he and I worked together on Cape Cod for many years. The Union was unhappy, but they replaced us and were happy again.

I was faced with another problem; what do I tell my wife? When I got home, Helen said, "Well, how's the new place?" I (shamefully) lied. "It's fine, honey...a nice small lounge-restaurant. But it's too far to drive, so I gave a week's notice." I'm a rotten liar (thank you Lord), and I know that my lack of eye contact gave her pause.

Meanwhile, onward with the allegory. Though some would deny it, including some lawyers who think they exceed the caste, lawyers are human beings. Some are decent, ethical folk (who try to eschew the muck and mire of politics), and some are capable of rationalizing some pretty dodgy actions.

Believe it or not, decent lawyers might be regarded as victims. I know, some would think that this is extending charity just too, darn far. But, I do mean it. Lawyers are entitled to Christian charitableness when they are wrongly demeaned. It is only Just. But, it's also Just to point out the reality that there are more than a few self-aggrandizing, greedy, "fibbers" who call themselves "attorney." (Personally, in such cases, I find a lot going-for the British designation "solicitor.")

Back to the lawyers as "victim." Christians who practice law and who advocate a Christian "ethic" have a problem — their either required or deliberately chosen association with Legal Associations! It's the same problem faced by Christians who are labor-union members, or who work for unscrupulous business types, or who find themself working in hospitals, etc, where abortions are performed.

It's not quintessentially wrong to belong to the ABA or the NEA, etc., etc., but, if you are not openly working to change such organizations, but merely sitting back in fear that if you open your mouth your "bread" might fall out, then you are setting Christ aside for Mammon.

This is my humble opinion, offered lovingly.


The Litigious Liturgist

by Frank Maguire (Originally published in the Desert Shamrock — Jan. Feb 1995, Phoenix, AZ)

Lee the lawyer went to church each and every Sunday;
Lawyer Lee was at the office early every Monday.
Sundays, how she knelt and prayed...exemplary liturgiant,
Then torted every other day,
(You'd think her Christian name was "Sue)
Cleaning others of their pay,
A good, Christian detergent.

Pastor Pugh was fond of Lee (more, her contribution)
He justified her suing as income redistribution.
Transgressions she need not confess,
(Her tithe more than sufficed, in lieu)
Nor actions had she to redress,
Nor need for restitution.

One day, in court, amidst a salutary litigation,
Too much excitement at good fortune caused her expiration.
She stood before the Highest Court (we all, you know, receive our due)
She'd neither defense nor retort, nor any mitigation.

"Power always breeds corruption," Acton said, astutely;
I add "Beware, a law degree could corrupt, absolutely."


© Frank Maguire

 

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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

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