GORDON COLLEGE SPRING SYMPOSIUM—A TRADITION!
Thursday, April 10, 2014
The Presence of the Past: How History, Memory, and Tradition Shape our Lives
A character in William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun famously utters the line, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The 2014 Spring Symposium at Gordon College will take as its theme “the past” in its multifaceted complexity. At one level, the past is everything that has happened prior to the fleeting present. No one can fully understand it or act according to its lessons. But under the capacious category of the past, we might make some helpful distinctions: 1) history, what professional scholars tell us about the past; 2) tradition, the particular story of a certain family, institution, or other collective; and 3) memory, what an individual remembers about his or her own past—although we also often speak of “institutional memory” or “collective memory.” Our everyday experience is littered with references to the past: people are accused of standing on “the wrong side of history;” we appeal to times when things were better; the idea of “progress” presupposes historical knowledge; we associate certain decades—1950s, 1960s—with cultural moods or outlooks; we orient ourselves in light of past turning points, such as the “Fall of the Berlin Wall” or “9/11”…
The past exerts a strong claim on the imagination and identity of Christians, for our faith traces its roots to a particular event that happened in a faraway outpost of the Roman Empire. The recorded stories and letters associated with that event gave rise to the “New Testament,” but a “new testimony” profoundly tied to its older, Jewish roots. Ever since, Christian traditions have identified with and sought to carry forward the memory of this event.
Some Possible Questions to Consider:
The purpose of Gordon College Symposium is to allow students, faculty and staff to engage in conversation about a major contemporary or perennial issue toward the goal of learning from one another. The events of Symposium day will include panel discussions, exhibits, debates, poetry readings, presentations, performances and outside festivities at various campus locations.
"Nelson Mandela, South Africa, and the Tribunal of History"
Dr. Ivy George
Thursday, April 10
Jenks 406 Auditorium Symposium Keynote Address