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This Year's Theme

The One and the Many: Making Connections, Creating Conversations

The question of the one and the many, unity and diversity, looms large in the history of philosophical and social thought. It is also a central Christian teaching: the body is one, but has many members. However, the one and the many are often seen as stark alternatives. Either we are one, essentially the same, with our differences reduced to mere preferences—or we are many, with differences so great that we can barely see those around us as beings of the same kind. The consequences for our social lives are profound—and troubling.

CFI seeks to explore the interplay between our unity and our diversity. In contemporary America, in the Christian church and at Gordon College, we experience the strains of reconciling the unity we know we have—or that we know we should have—with the lived experience of diversity. And yet we profess that there is, there can be, unity with diversity. How might we become a community that brings people together and enables these same people to honor each other’s deep differences? Over the 2023–2024 year, join faculty, students and campus guests as we explore these vital questions together.

“Questions to Consider” about this year’s theme:

  1. What is your experience with the concept of the one and the many? How do you imagine how your shared humanity and personal distinctiveness fit together? Why is it important to emphasize the one? Why is it important to emphasize the many?
  2. How do you think your answers to these questions differ from the answers other people might give? What are some explanations for these different answers?
  3. For many of us Gordon College is an important place where the one and the many come together. How successfully is our community accomplishing this work? What are the challenges we face?
  4. The church, surely, can be a place where differences are recognized and honored, while also affirming the truth that we are one body. What is your experience with the church in this respect? How have different Christian traditions responded to this tension?
  5. The phrase "e pluribus unum" (“out of many, one”) has long been an American ideal, but one that has proven hard to achieve. Why is this? What might we do to make progress on this goal?
  6. Can you identify resources we (as a college, as the church, as a country) might use as we continue the good work of honoring our diversity while also affirming our unity?

See this year's events