A Heady and Hearty Experience

Imagine an eight course meal of huge portions, a blend of spices and cuisines prepared served and consumed by YOU each day, and you get a sense of what a day at Oxbridge is like.

I am already overloaded with more to think about than I could process in a month, and we’re only two full days into this 10-day serving of intellectual, spiritual and artistic riches.

Beginning Sunday night with David Cook’s exploration of “Making All Things New” at University Church of St. Mary the Virgin through to Jean Bethke-Elshstain’s brilliant “Who Are We? -C.S. Lewis and the Question of Man,” and everything between (Ben Patterson, David Lyle Jeffrey, Tom Key (extraordinary Atlanta-based actor), Rick Warren, Louis Markos “Rehabilitating Beauty,” this year’s theme “Making All Things New, the good, the true and the beautiful in the twenty-first century” is potent with possibilities and we are seizing them.

My own participation includes presenting a workshop “Remaking Popular Culture: Lewis and Tolkien as models for a spiritual and as artistic renaissance of church and culture,” interviewing Rick Warren, introducing film maker Norman Stone AND completing the raising of 710,000 dollars to convert Lewis’s home, The Kilns, into a year around study center. (We’re at 432,000 dollars so far!)

My participation was punctuated, literally, when I impaled myself on a spiky under hang beneath a spiral staircase and I received five stitches in the lobby of the historic St. Aldsgate Church! Not to worry, my hard head and resilient spirit served me well again (thanks be to God for his gifts of grace and an energetic composition) and I am an active participant in the events, missing only the one within an hour of my personally whimsy.

Oddly, as inspiring and useful as they are, it is not the headliners and main sessions that have proved most personally rewarding this far, but rather conversations with participants AND the Bag-End Café that touch me most deeply.

The diversity of registrants at this conference is made cohesive by a common passion for spirit, mind and the artistic, which means, though having never met, these people are my natural company of friends. This is borne out over coffee and meals and finds its richest expression at Bag-End, affectionately described as the event for “Hobbits” before they enter slumber land.

Last evening I loved the world-class City of Oxford Orchestra Concert at the Sheldonian Theater, but I love even more what followed.

At Bags-End each attendee is offered the chance to bring a poem, song or story to share with the rest of us. Completely unrehearsed it is a pure nostalgic form of “gather round the table with family and friends” and it is the highlight of this conference for me¢â‚¬¦because, as you know from my previously stated live of Joni Mitchell’s song “For Free,” I love the thought of talent playing real good for free and this is an event where people bring their loaves and fishes and share them in a non-produced manner, pure, ragged, superb, mediocre, but personal.

Got to run! Off to the Trout for lunch for a sumptuous physical meal to balance the intellectual, spiritual and artistic one I am now consuming. Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in July 27, 2005 by | No Comments »

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