The University of Wisconsin Press



Lying Down Together
Law, Metaphor, and Theology
Milner S. Ball

Law is understood, interpreted, and practiced by metaphor. The presently dominant, conceptual metaphor for law is that “law is the bulwark of freedom.” Milner S. Ball, in this experimental statement, invites the reader to consider an alternate metaphor: “law is a medium of human solidarity.” A more humane metaphor for law, Ball’s alternative connotes an open-ended conductor allowing for exchange and flow rather than the defensive wall or barrier associated with “bulwark.” To discover how this alternate metaphor may take concrete form, Ball explores the law of the sea and coast while basing his discussion in broad theological terms. This provocative analysis of jurisprudence will interest academic and practicing lawyers, theologians, philosophers, and political scientists concerned with legal studies.

Law as bulwark suggests a static, defensive posture that is all divisions and boundaries—a contradiction to the meaning and purpose of law as well as destructive of human community. Law as medium, illuminated by Ball’s analysis of international, federal, and state marine law, releases these barriers and promotes a flow of dialogue. When viewed in this way, law serves the dynamics of a transfigured society. The metaphorical context of law as bulwark, depicted by Ball, is “Fortress America”; the metaphorical context of law as medium is the “Peaceable Kingdom.”

Ball examines the possibilities and practice of law as the medium of the “Peaceable Kingdom” through a theological perspective based on a nonreligious, political theology of the natural. The author also draws imaginatively upon ecology, physics, art, literature, ethics, and rhetoric to persuade the reader to join him in his hope for a jurisprudence more authentically human and less inherently victimizing than that of the legal system today.

Milner S. Ball is professor of law at the University of Georgia, Athens.

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January 1986
224 pp.   5.875 x 8.875
ISBN-10: 0-299-10450-8 
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-10450-4  
Cloth $24.00 s

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