Sunday of the Prodigal Son
I'VE RECEIVED more positive feedback about the 8th annual Eighth Day Symposium than ever before. Many of the comments have been very similar to the following: “Congratulations! I’ve been to all seven of the previous Symposia and this year was the best yet. I don’t know how you all keep outdoing yourselves.” Somehow, by the grace of God, I think these attendees are right: each Symposium has been better. And it is fitting that this EIGHTH Symposium was the best of them all.
In addition to the local Wichita presence, sixteen different states were represented by the 176 participants: AR, CO, IL, IN, KS (non-Wichitans), MD, MI, MO, NE, NM, OK, OH, SC, TX, VA, WI.
The weekend began Thursday afternoon, Jan 25, with a private conversation at The Ladder, headquarters for Eighth Day Institute (next door to Eighth Day Books), between Ken Myers and a group of Eighth Day supporters. From this first encounter, Ken impressed us immensely with his story of developing Mars Hill Audio (a top-notch audio journal; you can learn more and subscribe here) and his wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of theology and culture. He’s been interviewing well-known authors and famous Christian personalities for 25 years now, and the wisdom gained from that experience was evident in all of his interactions and presentations. After dinner, the evening concluded with a welcome reception at Eighth Day Books, which included an introduction to the speakers and a toast to Warren Farha for building a beautiful house full of books which has borne fruit in a community of friends who care about renewing culture.
At the Symposium on Friday and Saturday, Ken reflected on “Liberalism and the Trivialization of Friendship” and “Social Media and the Commodification of Friendship.” Joseph Pearce, editor of St Austin Review, who was brought back by popular demand after presenting at the2017 Inklings Octoberfest, spoke on “The Role of Friendship in the Creation of Narnia and Middle-Earth.” And to top it off, Panayiotis (Pano) Kanelos, President of the St. John’s College, a prestigious Great Books college, concluded our weekend with a masterful presentation on “Friendship and Theosis.” Breakout sessions were presented by Fr. Francis Bethel from Clear Creek Monastery, Robert Elder from Valparaiso University, Fr. Paul O’Callaghan of St George Orthodox Christian Cathedral and author of The Feast of Friendship, and Joshua Sturgill and myself.
In between the two days of reflection on “cultivating friendship in a fractured age,” we hosted a festal banquet on Friday evening to commemorate St. Basil the Great and to reflect on cultural renewal. We learned about the powerful role friendship and family played in developing a saint like St. Basil, about St. Basil’s defense of studying the pagan classics, and about St. Basil’s theology as he defended the divinity of the Holy Spirit and played a key role in developing the Nicene Creed so many Christians still recite on a weekly basis to this day. Pano Kanelos, Ken Myers, and Joseph Pearce, each offered short reflections on how friendship, learning, and theology play a role in renewing culture. The Delano Quartet delighted us with their performance. And to top it all off was Chris Farha’s reflection on the Theotokos (Mother of God) as the supreme model of friendship with God and the Cathedral Choirs stunning – as always – offering of hymns to the Theotokos. And of course there was the delicious dinner, also offered by Chris Farha.
The EIGHTH annual Eighth Day Symposium was by far the most successful to date. If you were unable to join us, you missed out on a supreme treat. But lectures will be made available to Eighth Day Members later this month. You can join our growing community of members online HERE or by calling me at 316.573.8413.
I hope and pray God’s grace will bless our 2019 Symposium the way the previous eight have been blessed. And I hope you will be able to join us next January!
Erin Doom is the founder and director of Eighth Day Institute. He lives in Wichita, KS with his wife Christiane and their four children, Caleb Michael, Hannah Elizabeth, Elijah Blaise, and Esther Ruth.
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