Established in 1998, Symposium is an annual spring semester tradition at Gordon College. Themes and content from past years can be found below.
|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.
|"Nelson Mandela, South Africa, and the Tribunal of History"|
Ivy George, Professor of Sociology at Gordon College
Artwork: Child's Play by Rosemary Scott-Fishburn '00
|2013 What is Beauty?
“One thing I have desired of the LORD,” the Psalmist writes, “That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4) “Beauty awakens the soul to act,” wrote Dante, while the American theologian Jonathan Edwards once mused of “the beauties that delight us but we can’t say why [when] we find ourselves pleased in the beholding of the violets, but we know not what secret regularity or harmony it is that creates that pleasure in our minds.” What, then, is this thing we call beauty?
|"Dove Descending: Tom Howard on T.S. Elliott's Four Quartets"|
|Tom Howard, Author and Professor Emeritus, St. John's Seminary, Boston Massachusetts|
Artwork: Detail, Betrothed (from the series, Woman) ©2006 Bruce Herman
oil and alkyd resin with 23kt gold leaf on wood; 65 x 48"
collection of Walter and Darlene Hansen
|2012 Hope: Making All Things New|
Traditionally, hope has been understood as one of the three “theological virtues,” derived from I Corinthian 13: 13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love.” We know, then, that love is important, and, as a Protestant community, we know that faith (“faith alone”) is important . . . but what of hope? How do we think well about what the theologian N. T. Wright calls “the ultimate Christian hope” beyond our broken world and hope “for transformation, new possibilities in the present.” And what is the proper relationship between the ultimate and the penultimate? John Skillen, dean of European programs at Gordon College
|"The Virtue of Hope (and its Counterfeit Vices)"|
|John Skillen, dean of European programs at Gordon College|
2010 The Image of God: Who are we that God is mindful of us?
2009 Creation Care: The Challenges and Opportunities of the Ecological Crisis
2008 Shalom: The Right Order of Things
2007 Authenticity: To Know Truly and be Truly Known
2006 Peace, Justice and Reconciliation: Can You Have One Without the Other
2005 The Coming of Global Christianity: Turning the World Upside Down
2004 Vocation: Called to Make a Life-Called to Make a Difference
2003 Work and Play
2002 Seeds of Redemption: Evidences of Things Hoped For
2001 Body Talk: Embodiment as Blessing, Constraint, and Offense
2000 Who Is My Neighbor? Rights and Responsibilities at the Millennium
1999 Art at the Millennium: Makers and Consumers of Culture
1998 Money and Possessions: Greed or Generosity