Saturday, January 24, 2009

Conference Quickie Report

My, we are having fun! I mean that in the most intellectual way. :)

So far, we have heard from Dinesh two times. His lectures were on the new atheism and on the need for Christians to prepare their kids for the atheism they will encounter once they leave their Christian homes. He's defined "the new atheism," its strategies and how it differs from atheism of previous generations, and he's outlined how an updated apologetics can meet these "new" objections to Christianity. He regularly debates leading atheists and it's been fascinating to hear his anecdotes and thought processes; for example, he tried out an us "a line of reasoning I'm still working on."

We also heard from Father Robert Sirico. He's the founder of the Acton Institute, whose mission is "to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles." The topic was on a Christian way of dealing with environmental issues. We watched one of the Acton Institute's excellent DVD's on the subject and then had further discussion on global warming, conservation, stewardship and other issues. Fascinating!

(We own and highly recommend one of the Acton Institute's DVD's, "The Call of the Entrepreneur," which is a thoughtful examination--yea, a defense--of capitalism as a system.)

Most recently, we attended a breakout session with economist Brian Wesbury about the current recession and the government bailout in September. Brian took us on a fascinating trip through the economy's ups and downs of the last century, especially showing the significance of interest rates, as set by the Federal Reserve. (Long story short, based on a number of indicators, he says...things are going to get better this year, sooner than most people think. So, refinance now! ;) On the other hand, for many of us there are no quick fixes: A man with a struggling small business and a son in college may have to fold up and go work for someone else, even if it means moving. His son may have to put off college for another year or two. The bailout was a symptom of a society that wants quick fixes.

A common theme of all the speakers was the primacy of the individual human soul, and the ramifications for society if everyone would respect it as the "crown of creation," as C.S. Lewis refers to humans several times in The Chronicles of Narnia. Animals, the earth, the universe, and finally ourselves.... As Father Sirico quoted Gerard Manley Hopkins:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil...

...Everywhere you look!


truevyne said...

I can't believe there is such a conference where scholarship, Christianity, and social responsibility meet. Sounds like my kinda place, too.

Jenny in Ca said...

it sounds like it was an incredible conference, the speakers sound very interesting and thought-provoking.