Two weeks out and buzz from our fifth annual Eighth Day Symposium is still in the air, both locally and nationally. Check out, for instance, Rod Dreher’s raving review of Eighth Day Books at the American Conservative. Or, read this review of the symposium at the Front Porch Republic by Russell Fox, Professor of Political Science at Friends University.
Over the course of the weekend, we had over 350 participants from 15 different states. Wichita’s Northfield School of the Liberal Arts brought 56 of their middle- and high-school students. The Academy of Classical Christian Studies, which serves 465 students on three campuses in Oklahoma City, brought their faculty for a weekend retreat. Jacob Goodson, Professor of Philosophy at Southwestern College, assigned the symposium as homework for one of his courses. And if that’s not impressive enough, we had a 90-year old Presbyterian fly in from Wyoming!
Similar in form to last year’s symposium, we intentionally invited speakers from the three great traditions of Christianity: two Protestants, four Catholics, and five Orthodox. 58% of the attendees were Protestant, 24% Orthodox, and 18% Catholic.
Our objectives were three-fold: first, to explore what it means to live as a Christian in a secular age; second, to promote a recovery of wonder and the discernment of mystery in our secular age; and third, to engage in what we at Eighth Day Institute are calling an Eighth Day Ecumenism, defined as a dialogue of love between Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants that is grounded in Apostolic Tradition.
I received a letter the other day from an attendee who said the following about the symposium: “I appreciated the emphasis on the ‘dialogue of love’ and not being encouraged to agree with one another for an easy ecumenism.” Another attendee, in an email I received last week, had this to say: “This tremendous symposium set my life on a new course. I can’t say that about any other conference I have ever attended!”
I am humbled by these kinds of responses. And I am humbled by the many volunteers who helped make this symposium such a smashing success. But I am most humbled by my friends Warren and Chris Farha, whose twenty-six years of faithful service through Eighth Day Books has made possible the work of Eighth Day Institute, including this annual symposium.