Sunday, with Symposium wrap-up

  1. A Pastor’s epiphany
  2. The distaff speak
  3. Rolling up sleeves
  4. Brighten the corner where you are
  5. Reading between a one-liner


I spoke over breakfast Saturday to a former Protestant pastor who was minister to a group of Laotian Protestants given asylum in the U.S. after cooperating with us during the war. He recounted a story that went something like this:

People: We are going to expel Hmonga from the community and ostracize her.

Pastor: Why?

People: She’s an adulteress.

Pastor: I know her well. I don’t believe she is an adulteress. How do you know she is an adulteress?

People: Because we all believe she’s an adulteress.

Pastor: That’s unbiblical, not to mention illogical.

People: No it isn’t, and it’s how we’ve always done things.

Pastor: II Corinthians 13:1 says you must have two or three witnesses. I’m your Pastor, trained in Bible College, and I insist.

People: You are our Pastor, but the Bible is supreme and Huang interprets II Corinthians 13:1 differently than you. We believe him. She is dead to us.

That Pastor is now an Orthodox priest, his eyes having been opened differently than mine.


As I headed for the Eighth Day Symposium, I told my wife I didn’t know how big it was, but I’d bet it would be 90% men. The sponsor Eighth Day Institute, after all, has an established program called the Hall of Men, and only recently added the Sisters of Sophia.

I’d have lost that bet. I didn’t do a head count, but I’d estimate that at least one-third were women. Saturday morning’s presentation on the Earth Poetry of Wendell Berry had women overwhelmingly asking very perceptive questions (including one about something Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote) and offering perceptive insights.


The goal of the Institute is renewing culture through faith and learning. So much for the learning part, the Symposium having ended with presentations on, inter alia, the Platonic-Christian synthesis, its realization in the allegorical interpretation of Origen and its erosion by the nominalism not only of Occam, but Hobbes and Spinoza as well.

I must begin rolling up my sleeves again to realize the Institute’s goal in my corner of the world, starting with the single most imperious command of any presenter (as one might expect of a Symposium that discussed Berry’s Earth Poetry): get into the garden with Mrs. Tipsy and get my hands soiled.

First step: despite having bought quite a stash from Eighth Day Books, I reshelved several, unpurchased, on what seemed like sensible theories: either “I’ve plowed that ground multiple times with different authors and the marginal gain from reading this will be small” or “I am not the target audience, however good others may say this book is.”


Also (I synthesized this one from converging themes) light more candles, curse less darkness. You may see some changes in this blog if I follow through on that, though I’ve resolved such things before and then returned to darker things like a dog to his own vomit.

First step: unsubscribe from 6-12 blogs that tend to stir up righteous indignation make me mad and bitter.

Second step: Read more poetry and novels, fewer polemical books.


Closing thought: Why do people so frequently boast that they’re “spiritual” (usually followed by “but not religious”), but never “I’m carnal”? Are they gnostics or something?

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

2 thoughts on “Sunday, with Symposium wrap-up

  1. Rd. John,
    I wish I had known you were at the EDI Symposium–I was there too! I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, and lost all control in my book-buying, but also found myself a bit lonely there. It would have been nice to have visited with you in person. Maybe next year. (please note the new email I am using now), Best regards, John

    1. Oh, my! I knew it was the sort of thing you might be interested in, but I never pictured it being so big I wouldn’t get to meet everyone! This won’t be my last Symposium, God willing. I hope to make it annual.
      I didn’t know how they’d keep the theme from becoming touchy-feely “environmentalism” with a religious veneer, but they did. I really enjoyed Hans Boersma, whose book Heavenly Participation I made it a point to buy and read before the Symposium. Also, having heard Vigen Guroian speak so delightfully, I picked up more volumes of his.

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