Next weekend I will be speaking at a student conference at my alma mater, Dallas Baptist University. It’s a fine school crawling with future ministers, preacher’s kids and missionary children, and some “normal” students who didn’t know what they were getting into. (As well as a large number of international students who didn’t know that “Baptist” meant “Christian” and were quite shocked at what they found.)
Even though it is a Baptist school, I found great diversity of thought there. Every possible clash of ideology was discussed in the lunch room every day, which is a lot better than college students discussing reality TV. Was Thomas Hobbes a non-Christian Calvanist? Was Jesus a socialist? Are Christians allowed to use condoms? Is Post-modernism a religion or an approach that is compatible with Christianity, and is it completely mutually exclusive to Modernism, or are we allowed to switch approaches as we try to understand? Do you think the curly haired girl over they likes me…uh, I mean, did Augustine favor Hilary over Origen?
Some people found these discussions tiring and frivolous but they exposed me to great debates and interesting ideas. I would hate to see where I would have ended up had my collegiate conversations centered around celebrities and cars. I had these discussions with some people who were intelligent and some other people who were loudmouthed and dumb, but they were always instructive on some level, especially when I met someone who knew what they were talking about. I would find these people and ask them endless questions about their field of expertise.
I learned that many of these people were asked to speak regularly at an event now known as the Paideia conference each year. They presented a scholarly paper and took questions, and rubbed elbows with other intellectuals. I wanted to be like them (I married one of them) and this year I finally will reach my goal. I will be delivering my paper to them on Saturday at 3 p.m. and it is an exciting moment for me. (But, since it is a history paper I will probably put them all to sleep.) Wish me luck. Maybe I should mention Spain.