Ruth L. Gana
Presidential Professor
Associate Professor of Law
OU College of Law


Nothing but amazing grace aptly describes the past decade of my life of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. One of my favorite professors in graduate school once remarked to me that it was difficult to understand how one who is so intelligent could be this religious. To this I responded that I was perhaps not as intelligent as he thought I was or that intelligence and walking with God were not mutually exclusive.

Having grown up in a Christian home, the message of Christianity was not new, or even particularly unique to me. My parents, formerly Muslim and Yoruba traditionalists, provided me sufficiently good defense of Christianity which, in the absence of other alternatives that I thought compelling, satisfied my curiosity as to the reasons for their acceptance of Christianity. This, coupled with the fact that both my parents made their decision as adults, highly educated adults, gave me reason to pause over the message of Jesus Christ.

As I grew older however, Christianity became drudgery and at points almost a bondage of stifling rules. Beyond the routine of church, the overt obedience to the big "do not's", and the occasional engagement in pseudo-apologetics with friends of different faiths, Christianity was not much more than the comfortable roost to which I (re)turned to explain or rationalize the inexplicable. This related in particular to seeking some understanding of the harsher sides of human nature which I had experienced as a young black girl in the private schools of New York City.

While in college, I discovered Christianity as a relationship with a living, personal God. For me, having been saturated (and frankly tired of) what I viewed simply as a culture of orthodoxy in the name of Christianity, experiencing God was a must if I was to really know Him as the Bible declared Him to be. After I made the commitment to accept Jesus, it was not long before I realized that Christianity is not something you embrace but a person you know. Christianity is not a religion you practice; it's a life you live. In my finite mind, I was dimly beginning to comprehend the nature of an infinite God who dared me to call Him Father. For me to know intellectually as well as in faith was the beginning of one of the most bittersweet journeys of my life. I discovered that God does not lie, and more important, that He is not afraid of human scrutiny.

Law school was difficult. Mind and faith were stretched almost against my will. The ivory tower was hostile to a faith that challenged its mandate to worship at the shrine of my mind. Yet Harvard led me to see more of a God who refused to give me the luxury of a blindfold, spiritual or mental. I learned that mercy is the heartbeat of justice, and that law is the clear, convincing, irrefutable evidence of our brokenness as a race. Like David--shepherd boy, songwriter, King of Israel, and Psalmist--wrote so many years ago, I too encourage you to taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who trusts in Him. (Ps. 34:8)