The heart of the Paideia Conference is when papers are read. Each attendee is able to attend a number of papers about a great variety of topics read by some remarkably intelligent students. These papers discuss almost everything an intellectual could ask for, including issues of faith, purely scientific papers, and examples of literary theory, such as an analysis of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (Which my wife attended, but I didn’t, so I asked her to keep a copy of it). A list of all the papers can be found here (pdf).
Jake Rogers gave an excellent talk about the theoretical state of consciousness in alternate realities, an issue being discussed by experts in the field of the philosophy of the mind. Most people probably think Christians sit around singing Kumbaya and asking Pat Robertson about metaphysical issues, but that’s not the case.
Obviously this picture came from Amos Barker’s Facebook profile, not the conference. He discussed the tricky exegetical habits of Origin. It was one of the most well written papers I have ever read and I really hope I can create papers as good as that some day. He’s also a nice guy, as you can see in this photo where he is wrestling newborns.
Carrie Hamilton discussed the redemption story as it shows up in literature (and in movies today), particularly Beowulf and Piers Plowman. It’s one of my favorite topics and she handled the material and the discussion quite well. J.R.R. Tolkien was smiling somewhere.
Blake Carlisle discussed the effects of the Renaissance on Italian social unity. He’s not a historian, primarily, but I was impressed with how well he handled the historical side of this paper since it involved things I have been studying of late. It was an excellent paper on an issue I’ve never heard discussed. (Italian history is always swept under the rug.)
Shiffer on Schaeffer. Ph.D. student Scott Shiffer (pictured here with the rock band Petra) gave a discussion on the beliefs of Francis Shaeffer concerning the sanctity of life. It was illuminating and brought up some excellent discussion points that I will be pondering for quite some time. (This, maybe, should be the goal of all of these papers.)
Mark Boone used the conference as an excuse to show off his Lord of the Rings action figures. Just kidding, Mark told us about Augustine’s “Egyptian Gold” analogy, how it related to the philosophy of Augustine’s day, and how it relates to the thinking of our own time. Mark is probably the most impressively eclectic philosopher I know; he doesn’t live in Plato’s cave or in Hume’s doubts, but he juggles the best teachings from ancient, modern, and post-modern philosphers and the Bible.
While Mark spoke, his son, Jeremiah, paid pretty good attention. It’s neat that the babies of these scholars grow up thinking intimate acoustic concerts and intellectual readings are a normal part of life. Notice that Dr. Naugle is in attendance as well. This is something of a mixed blessing because the presenter gets some bragging rights to say they spoke to Dr. Naugle but they also might get some tough (but good) questions.
In the evening, we were treated to the music of a beautiful woman (who you can book here). It’s my wife, of course, who was asked to fill in with some music at the last second. She did quite well. That’s Dr. Naugle’s ovation guitar; he’s a guitar player and a drummer.
The conference was a rousing success. Dr. Naugle never ceases to amaze me with his connections, his wisdom, and his ability to put on professional enjoyable conferences that include some of the smartest people I will ever know. (He also writes good books.) You will do yourself a favor to try and join in on the excitement next year.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)