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Hearing God's Call, Finding One's Place: Vocation, Culture, and the Christian Academy

Lilly Fellows Program Regional Undergraduate Conference

September 18-20, 2003

Program Description

A pressing question for Christian higher education is "Who will be the next generation of Christian university professors?" Hearing God's Call, Finding One's Place: Vocation, Culture, and the Christian Academy seeks to provide an answer by inviting undergraduates of academic promise to consider a vocation in church-related higher education. Through directed readings, plenary and breakout sessions with distinguished scholar-teachers, and shared times of worship, dining, and recreation, the conference hopes to gesture toward the blessings of an academic vocation fulfilled within Christian intellectual community.

Over the three days of the program, students will encounter outstanding scholars whose intellectual pilgrimage bears witness to the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love within the context of church-related higher education. They also will confront the merits of the Christian scholarly vocation within the context of a larger culture increasingly prone to capricious, trivial, and vain impulses, all varieties of which tend toward despair.

The work of the Southern writer Walker Percy will serve as a point of departure and unifying thematic thread for the conference. Conference participants will read in advance Percy's novel The Moviegoer. From its first appearance, critics acknowledged The Moviegoer as a probing interrogation of modernity's ungrounded, displacing, spirit-bereft character and a discerning representation of Kierkegaard's insight that "the specific character of despair is precisely this: it is unaware of being despair." The Moviegoer remains no less compelling today, and provides ample occasion for considering the vital calling of the Christian professorate, wherein many find resources for meaningful responsiveness to the plight of modern culture.

Conference participation will be limited to three students from each LFP National Network institution in the Southern region, to be selected by the president or by the network representatives from those schools. Students selected for participation will receive free travel, lodging, and food, as well as related books and resources used during the conference.

Program Leaders

Jeanne M. Heffernan (B.A., GeorgetownUniversity; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is Assistant Professor of Political Science at PepperdineUniversity. She formerly served as the Associate Director of the Erasmus Institute at Notre Dame. A political theorist with special interest in religion and politics, she has published several articles on Christian political thought, including �The Philosophy of Freedom: Classical Solutions to Modern Problems� in Faith, Scholarship and Culture in the Twenty-first Century (eds. Timothy Fuller and John Hittinger, Catholic University of America Press, 2002), �Academic Studies and the Love of God� in Leaven (Spring 2002), and �Catholic Social Thought and Environmental Ethics in a Global Context� in the Journal for Peace and Justice Studies (forthcoming). Prof. Heffernan is editing a book on Catholic and Protestant contributions to the current discussions on civil society, and spent 2002-2003 researching and writing a book on Catholic moral and social thought as a visiting research fellow at the Ethics and PublicPolicyCenter in Washington, DC.

Douglas V. Henry (B.A., Oklahoma Baptist University; M.A., Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, where he also serves as Acting Director of the Institute for Faith and Learning. He has held previous teaching posts at Vanderbilt University, Grand Canyon University, and Malone College. In addition to work in ancient philosophy, his research encompasses the history, philosophy, and theology of Christian higher education. He has served on the boards or committees of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the Baptist Association of Philosophy Teachers, and Christian Scholar�s Review, and his articles have appeared in American Baptist Quarterly, Christian Reflection, Christian Scholar�s Review, Faith and Philosophy, and Philosophia Christi. He is currently at work on three authored or edited books, The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education; Christianity and the Soul of the University: Faith as a Foundation for Intellectual Community; and For Freedom, For Love: Liberal Education and the Baptist Vision.

Thomas S. Hibbs (B.A., M.A., University of Dallas; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is Professor of Ethics and Culture and Dean of the Honors College at Baylor University. Before coming to Baylor in 2003, he served as professor and chair in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College, and as a tutor in the great books program at Thomas Aquinas College. A specialist in medieval philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of popular culture, Prof. Hibbs has edited works of Augustine and Aquinas and authored two books on Aquinas, including Virtue�s Splendor: Wisdom, Prudence, and the Good Life (Fordham University Press, 2001). He is also the author of Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture from The Exorcist to Seinfeld (Spence, 1999). He reviews films and writes about cultural issues for National Review Online and reviews books for The Weekly Standard. He has appeared on TV and radio, including a number of nationally syndicated NPR shows, to discuss film, popular culture, and, most recently, the cultural impact of September 11. Two essays (�What Kind of Evil?� and �Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Virtues�) have been published in The Chronicle of Higher Education�s coverage of September 11 and the cultural aftermath.

Ralph C. Wood (B.A., M.A. Texas A&M University at Commerce; A.M., Ph.D. University of Chicago) is University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University. He previously served as the Allen Easley Professor of Religion at Wake Forest University (1971-97) and as Distinguished Professor of Religion at Samford University (1997-98). He has published The Comedy of Redemption: Comic Vision and Christian Faith in Four American Novelists as well as Contending for the Faith: Essays on the Church�s Engagement with Culture. He is now at work on two other manuscripts: Flannery O�Connor, the Church, and the South (Eerdmans, 2004) and The Gospel in �The Lord of the Rings� (Westminster, John Knox, 2004). He is a board member of the Conference on Christianity and Literature, editor-at-large for the Christian Century, book review editor for Perspectives in Religious Studies, and an editorial board member of the Flannery O�Connor Review. His more than sixty essays have appeared in these journals and others, including Modern Theology, Theology Today, Pro Ecclesia, Image, Mars Hill Review, First Things, Christianity and Literature, Anglican Theological Review, Religion and Literature, Literature and Belief, Books and Culture, and Literature and Theology.

Discussion Leaders

Michael D. Beaty (B.A., Ouachita Baptist University; M.A., Baylor University; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) has been at Baylor University since 1987. He currently serves as Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Professor of Philosophy, and has served as the founding director of Baylor�s Institute for Faith and Learning. Principal author of a $2,000,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. for the theological exploration of vocation, Prof. Beaty specializes in the study of Christianity and higher education, philosophy of religion, and moral and social philosophy. The author of numerous articles and the editor or co-editor of three books, Christian Theism and the Problems of Philosophy, Christian Theism and Moral Philosophy and Cultivating Citizens: Essay on Soulcraft and Contemporary Citizenship, he remains a popular teacher and has been voted Outstanding Tenured Faculty member at Baylor.

Scott H. Moore (B.A., BaylorUniversity, M.Div., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ph.D., BaylorUniversity) is a member of the Philosophy Department and directs the Great Texts Program at BaylorUniversity. He specializes in the philosophy of religion and philosophical hermeneutics in contemporary continental philosophy. An avid reader of the novels of Walker Percy, he has taught The Moviegoer on numerous occasions. Prof. Moore also enjoys taking students abroad and teaches regularly in the Baylor-in-Oxford program at ChristChurch, Oxford. His book, The End of Convenient Stereotypes: Extraordinary Politics at the End of Modernity is forthcoming. Dr. Moore and his wife Andrea have five children.

Margaret Tate (B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) joined Baylor�s Department of Philosophy a year ago after finishing her doctoral work in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Before coming to Baylor, she served as assistant director of Notre Dame�s Center for Ethics and Culture, where she helped administrate numerous conferences and scholarly initiatives. Prof. Tate�s ongoing research interests include ethics, modern philosophy, and the work of the eighteenth century philosopher David Hume, about whom she presently has several articles under review. She is currently working on two projects: one on teaching atheistic philosophers within the context of a Christian mission, and one on ethical theories of reflective endorsement.


Thursday, September 18

1:00-3:00 Check-in at Waco Hilton

3:15-3:30 Shuttle Vans to Baylor

3:30-4:00 Welcome, ABL-Hankamer Room

4:00-4:45 Evensong, ABL-Foyer of Meditation

5:00-6:00 Dinner, ABL-Cox Reception Hall (Lower Level)

6:00-7:00 Campus Tour

7:00-8:30 Session 1: Ralph Wood, �Why Is Binx Bolling an Unhappy Stockbroker?� ABL-Hankamer Room

In this session we will ask what a particular profession has to do with to the larger question of Vocation. We will seek to show that Bolling is a dissatisfied stockbroker, not because he has chosen the wrong profession, or even because he lives a playboy existence, but because he has failed both to ask and to answer the larger question of Vocation. Bolling�s problem is not whether he should enter this or that profession, but whether he has a genuine Vocation.

8:30-8:45 Shuttle Vans to Hilton

8:30-10:30 Reception/Film Screening and Discussion

Friday, September 19

8:00-9:00 Breakfast

9:00-9:15 Shuttle Vans to Baylor

9:30-11:00 Session 2: Ralph Wood, �Why Does Bolling Get Married and Enter Med School?� ABL-Hankamer Room

Here we will seek to determine how Bolling finds his Vocation in a strange and surprising way, and how it calls him to a satiric life as an �ass-kicker.� What makes Bolling reject his previous life and take a radically different course? How is the discovery of his Vocation related to the reaming-out that he receives from his Aunt Emily near the end of the novel? And why does it lead him both to marry and to change professions?

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:00 Peer Discussion Groups, ABL-Hankamer Room

12:00-1:00 Lunch, Reynold�s Conference Center (Alexander Hall)

1:00-2:30 Session 3: Jeanne Heffernan, �Abundant Life: The Vocation of a Christian Teacher,� ABL-Hankamer Room

Taking our point of departure from Binx Bolling�s wonder at the �heightened reality� of movie stars, we will contrast this apparent reality with the promise of Jesus of abundant life from John 10:10, exploring the particular way in which the Christian vocation of learning/teaching partakes of that abundant life.

2:30-2:45 Break

2:45-3:30 Peer Discussion Groups, ABL-Hankamer Room

3:30-3:45 Shuttle Vans to Hilton

4:45-5:00 Shuttle Vans from Hilton to Northwood Inn

5:00-6:00 Dinner at Northwood Inn

6:00-7:30 Session 4: Jeanne Heffernan, �Signposts in a Strange Land: Christian Scholars Engage Their Disciplines,� Northwood Inn

Taking its title is taken from a Percy collection, this talk will address the distinctive contribution of Christian academics to their largely secular disciplines.

7:30-7:45 Shuttle Vans to Hilton

8:00-10:00 Reception (hosted by Baylor�s Crane Scholars)

Saturday, September 20

8:00-9:00 Breakfast

9:00-9:15 Shuttle Vans to Baylor

9:30-11:00 Session 5: Thomas Hibbs, �The Malaise, the Quest, and the American Family in Contemporary Film,� Reynold�s Conference Center-Alexander Hall

Percy�s contrast between the malaise and the quest is given expression in two contemporary films, The Ice Storm and American Beauty. These films present marriage itself as a kind of trap, as a cause of the malaise; they also investigate whether the pursuit of adulterous passion is an escape from, or only deepens the malaise. Finally, both films point, directly or indirectly, in the direction of transcendence. How ought a reflective Christian believer think about these films? How can we avoid the extremes of cultural anorexia and cultural gluttony?

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:00 Peer Discussion Groups, Reynold�s Conference Center-Alexander Hall

12:00-1:00 Lunch, Reynold�s Conference Center (Alexander Hall)

1:00-2:30 Session 6: Thomas Hibbs, �The Quest for Evil,� Reynold�s Conference Center-Alexander Hall

Taking our cue from Walker Percy�s novel Lancelot, we will focus on our culture�s obsession with evil, especially in film. We will examine specific presentations of evil and consider what, if anything, a believer can learn from these films.

2:30-2:45 Break

2:45-3:30 Peer Discussion Groups, Reynold�s Conference Center-Alexander Hall

3:30-3:45 Shuttle Vans to Hilton

4:45-5:00 Shuttle Vans to Gratziano�s

5:00-6:30 Dinner at Gratziano�s and Conference Conclusion

6:30 Return to Hilton, with Sunday morning checkout