Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in a remarkable weekend of education at Oxford University. The conference was entitled, “Tradition of Enquiry: A Forum in Pursuit of Scholarly and Spiritual Learning”. I learned about the conference from a friend–who also happened to be the conference organizer! The weekend invited those “who wish to think about the world as it is, how it has been, and how it might be. It welcomes big ideas. It welcomes varieties of faith. It welcomes the Tradition of Enquiry.”
Throughout the weekend, I was reminded of how I am drawn to and fueled by both types of learning—scholarly and spiritual. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from scholars in a variety of fields and from diverse backgrounds. (Topics included the compatible relationship between God and science, the neuroscience of memory, breakthroughs in literature, the history of English Christianity, the politics of the media, effective humanitarianism, social entrepreneurship, cross-curricular learning, moving toward an interfaith moral philosophy, the ideas of medieval and modern education, and the scholarly-spiritual history of Oxford itself, among others!)
After 2 or 3 presentations, there was a scheduled time for Q & A, where conference participants were invited to “join in the discussion, to help facilitate the cooperation between academic and spiritual learning by way of enquiry: asking questions being not only the foundation of classical education, but also that which innervates organic learning in both mind and spirit.”
What struck me most during the conference wasn’t the excellent and varied presentations by outstanding scholars but the very good questions asked by participants afterward. Many times they mirrored my own doubts or confusion. I was grateful for the courage of those who articulated their questions and advanced the conversation and my own understanding. I am challenged to ask more questions, better questions, honest questions. Will you join me in building good this way?