The History of a Dream

Feast of St Steven the Protomartyr (east) and St John the Apostle & Evangelist (west)

ON THIS THIRD day of Christmas, I want to briefly share the history of a dream. 

A little over two decades ago I started working at Eighth Day Books. I had just recently returned from three years of missionary service in Latin America. And I had arrived home in Wichita with a dream. Full of optimism and stubborn as a mule, I began pursuing that dream. I haven't stopped pursuing it and I don't intend to any time soon.

Over the years, while pursuing that original dream, I could have never anticipated the wild and winding, but truly wonderful, path on which God has led me:

1. That original dream did not include a Hall of Men or a Sisters of Sophia.

2. It didn't envision a national conference like the Symposium.

3. I didn't know anything about the liturgical year so it couldn't have included the Nativity Feast, the Symposium's Festal Banquet, or the Feast of St Patrick.

4. Although I had read C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, I didn't know much about the Inklings so an Inklings Festival would have been inconceivable.

5. I had been a bibliophile since the second grade but I never had aspirations to publish anything, so publications like Synaxis or A Word from the Fathers were not even remotely on my radar.

6. I had no experience with websites and I had absolutely no desire to acquire any; in fact, I don't think I knew what the World Wide Web was at that point. So the various blogs and all of the content on the EDI website would have been impossible. (Serving as a web master remains inconceivable to me to this day; and yet somehow I continue to pull it off daily.)

7. While a passion for ecumenism was born during my service in Latin America, as I watched church after church split, I had not yet been introduced to the Church Fathers or to Fr. Georges Florovsky. Hence, an ecumenical and academic conference like the Florovsky Week and my tireless call for a return to the Fathers as a path forward for Christian unity would have been unthinkable.

8. And most importantly, that dream could never have fathomed the incredible community of folks I've met along the way, folks who have become dear friends, friends who have cheered me on and even carried me along over the last twenty years.

Two decades with one company is highly unusual these days. But that original dream, which was born in 1996 while serving in Colombia, coalesced too perfectly with the dream Warren Farha had already been pursuing for ten years prior to my arrival. It just couldn't have been otherwise. So here we are, standing alongside each other, peddling the renewal of culture: Warren through books and me through events and publications.

According to Proverbs 16:9, "In a man's heart he plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." I believe that with all my heart. I am convinced the path I've been on for the last two decades has indeed been directed by God. I wholeheartedly believe the events and publications Eighth Day Institute has developed over the last decade are crucial for cultural renewal. I also believe they are foundational to the development of that original dream for a catechetical academy. I am even more convinced of the need for catechesis today. The extent of the cultural amnesia we are witnessing today is hard to fathom. But it is real. And it is frightening. But it also provides an opportunity to respond, to provide hope. Will you partner with us in responding?

The only way I see forward for tackling that original dream for a catechetical academy is to continue our trajectory of growth so that we can begin hiring staff. The stark reality is that we need help to support all of the ongoing day-to-day work involved in executing the array of events and publications that have emerged over the past decade. The workload is simply unsustainable for one person.

As 2018 draws to a close, please look around and think about how badly our culture needs renewed. And think about the many ways Eighth Day Institute already facilitates opportunities to renew culture. If you have been impacted by an event or publication, or if you've seen their impact on others, please prayerfully consider offering a sacrificial gift today. Your support will help solidify continued excellence in executing the ongoing events and publications. Your donation will continue the trajectory of significant growth we've been experiencing for the last three years. And it will help us take significant steps toward hiring and developing a staff to increase our effectiveness at renewing culture.

Thank you so much for your generous support!

In Christ,
Erin John

P.S. Donate today and take advantage of several unique Eighth Day gifts we're offering to supporters as expressions of our gratitude.

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