The Verse Performs its Secret Ministry
Poetry • Poetic Knowledge & Imagination • Poetry & Theology
Friday and Saturday:
February 22–23, 2013
in Louisville, KY
How reading and reflecting upon poetry can lift us from the mundane and activate our life and faith.
Freelance writer focusing on issues of family, faith, and community. Molly has a regular podcast on Ancient Faith Radio and is the author of Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother's Quest for Patience, Peace, and Perseverance.
What kind of knowledge is said to be poetic? In the Western philosophical tradition from Aristotle to Aquinas, the term receives barely a footnote and is overshadowed by the emphasis on logic and metaphysics, the separation of heart and mind, and is centered on the rational intellect as the superior and systematic method of investigation of reality. Plato, more inclined to speculative philosophy and intuitive knowledge (which is helpful in defining poetic knowledge) — is never certain how we know anything, leaving room for acknowledging that we know spiritual truths in ways mysterious compared to mechanical models of cognition. Poetic knowledge of things arises from the integrated material and spiritual experience of reality. For example, when we experience a beautiful day we also sense and know, without any rational or scientific process, that the day is also good. Yet we are certain that this experience is whole and true. It may be later, perhaps it may come as a surprise of discovery, when we recall the highest form of certitude—that when God created the Day and the Light and the Sun, He found it “good,” indeed, “very good.” The Fathers of the Church do not treat anything called poetic knowledge. However, they assume in their writings and commentaries that within each human person is the presence and reliability of a unique “way” of knowing the spiritual quality of reality. The same appeal to our “poetic knowledge” resides in the parables of Our Lord and in the figurative language of St. Paul's Letters. It is also the “greatness” found in the pre-Christian poets such as Homer and in the moral philosophy of Socrates. An Orthodox school would understand poetic knowledge at work by cultivating natural wonder that is experienced in literature, poetry, science, and all the subjects of the curriculum.
Dr. Taylor received his doctorate in philosophy of education from the University of Kansas; there he also studied for many years with Dr. John Senior and Dr. Dennis Quinn, founders of the Integrated Humanities Program. His dissertation, directed in part by these professors, he later reworked into the book Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education (SUNY Press, 1998). This manuscript is now being reworked as an introduction to Orthodox education. Dr. Taylor received his M.A. in English and BA in Humanities from Southern Illinois University. He taught at St. Mary's College in Kansas, and in the English and Education departments at the University of Kansas. He was also chairman of the Teacher Education Department at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and assistant professor of education at the University of Tulsa. For the past twelve years Dr. T. (as his students call him) has taught online courses for middle and high school students—such as the Good and Great Books, a Writer's Workshop, Poetry, the Short Story, the Novel, and Introduction to Genesis and the Fathers.
Aspects of Byzantine schooling called for the avoidance not only of certain topics of conversation, but also of casual and loose habits of speech. Students were encouraged to adopt both formulas and styles as their own, both in speech and writing, using the imitation of great exemplars as their teachers and guides. Literary practice—both rhetorical and poetic—became analogous to ascetic practice, cultivating humility, insight, and veneration in the student.
Bryan Smith has been in education for over twenty-five years as a teacher and administrator in liberal arts schools. He has served on the board of the Society for Classical Learning, is the founding director of the Orthodox Christian School Association, and is currently the headmaster at Anthem Prep, one of the Great Hearts Academies in Arizona.
Not infrequently, the Creation story in Genesis is dismissed by the statement it's only poetry. Christians as well as atheists are guilty of failing to see that precisely in the poetry of Genesis is its universal application. Scientific approaches (whether Evolution or Intelligent Design) read in Genesis 1 merely the description of an “event” at a fixed point in time. In contrast, the Fathers of the Church read Genesis as a disclosure of the very nature of the Cosmos. Only the iconic humility of poetry, able to both obscure and reveal, can make such a disclosure possible. All later Scriptures and all human history are suffused with echoes of the poetry of Genesis.
Joshua Alan Sturgill is a 2001 graduate of Sangre de Cristo Seminary whose interest in literature, art, and history led him to the embrace of Orthodoxy. Joshua's 10-year association with Eighth Day Books provided frequent opportunities for lectures on Literacy, Iconography, and Orthodox theology at universities, conferences, and churches. He especially enjoys communicating with non-Orthodox groups who might be hearing of Orthodoxy for the first time. He currently resides in Santa Fe, NM, where he spends as much time as possible reading and hiking in the Rio Grande valley.
B.S. from Boston College in 1984; M.Div from Holy Cross School of Theology in 1990; Candidate for the Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling from Emory University; Certified Pastoral Counselor through the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (2010).
The opening remarks by the conference director will consider how Coleridge's "This Lime-Tree Bower, My Prison" reveals that crisis and contrast—both literal, rhetorical, and poetic—fire the imagination and transport the individual into oneness with nature, others, and God. The poetic imagination, then, can be seen as a conduit for truth, can allow the poet and the reader to be in many places at once, both in this world and in the next, and can foster an elevated connection to reality.
Reading selections from early books, later books, and unpublished work, Scott Cairns will discuss the ways in which writing can become a way of knowing, a way of glimpsing what is not otherwise apparent.
Description coming soon.
Pamela Beattie is Assistant Professor of the Humanities at the University of Louisville. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto. She currently teaches courses in medieval history with an emphasis on Spain. Among her publications are “Eschatology and Llull’s Llibre Contra Anticrist” in Studia Lulliana and “Pro Exaltatiuone Sanctae fidei catholicae: Mission and Crusade in the Writings of Ramon Llull” in Iberia and the Mediterranean World of the Middle Ages, Vol. 1.
In the aftermath of the Newtown shootings there were numerous discussions of the problem of evil, all of them premised on the idea that it is a problem one can resolve through some kind of rational calculus. But this issue is not a problem that can be resolved by the philosophers; it is a mystery to be beheld through the poets. A discussion of the problem of evil in light of several writers, including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chesterton, and Tolkien--as well as the author of the Book of Job.
Martin Cothran received his B.A. in Philosophy and Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his M.A. in Christian Apologetics from the Simon Greenleaf School. He is the editor of the Classical Teacher magazine and the author of Traditional Logic, Books I & II, Material Logic, Classical Rhetoric, and Lingua Biblica: Old Testament Stories in Latin. He has also been a prominent widely-quoted voice on political and social issues in Kentucky for over 20 years.
Sharing passages from his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, Scott Cairns will answer questions about his time among the Athonite fathers, and his continuing journeys to the Holy Mountain.
Scott Cairns is a Professor of English at University of Missouri. He is also director of MU Writing Workshops in Greece, a program that brings graduate and undergraduate students to Thessaloniki and Thasos every June for intensive engagement with literary life in modern Greece. His poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Image, Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, etc., and both have been anthologized in multiple editions of Best American Spiritual Writing. His most recent poetry collection is Compass of Affection; his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, and his translations, Love’s Immensity, appeared in 2007; his book-length essay, The End of Suffering, appeared in 2009. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and is completing work on a new poetry collection, Idiot Psalms, and a translation of selections from The Philokalia, which will be Descent to the Heart. His memoir, will be released in an expanded edition called Slow Pilgrim in 2014, and will appear in a Greek edition, Μικρό Ταξίδι στι Μεθόριο, in 2013. He serves as visiting faculty for Saint Katherine College—a new Orthodox college of liberal arts and sciences in the San Diego area—and is editor of that institution’s Saint Katherine Review.
While many poets in this last century would disavow spiritual longing, their poems often reveal a contrary desire, the longing to see, to have their souls illumined. In Orthodox spirituality this yearning rests in the nous, the faculty of the soul that suffered blindness as a result of the fall. In fact, the Church endeavors to heal this “eye of the soul” in those who desire to behold the face of God. The poet of the Modern age makes known not only the degree of noetic fragmentation but also the persistent longing for wholeness.
Kathryn Smith holds a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Dallas’s Institute of Philosophic Studies, an interdisciplinary post-graduate program. She teaches poetry, literature and writing in Anthem, Arizona.
Shakespeare may have been the greatest poet of the English language, yet few realize the extent to which Shakespearean drama can be a source of insight as well as pleasure. Through the rich poetry of Macbeth, for instance, Shakespeare helps us better understand humanity's complex relationship with nature. While Macbeth on the one hand exemplifies the will to bend natural order on behalf of ambition and appetite, his opponents Macduff and King Edward the Confessor champion a spirit of piety toward Creation. In thinking about advanced technology modern man has much to learn from both sides of the struggle.
B.S. Aeronautics, Miami University, 1996; M.A. Liberal Arts, St. John's College, 2005. Jerry teaches philosophy at Jefferson Community and Technical College and has written for a number of venues, including the website Front Porch Republic and the print journal Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.
During this two-part writing workshop session, Dave Harrity — author, teacher, and director of the creative spiritual formation organization Antler — will walk participants through contemporary examples of lament and praise using poetry, contemplative journaling, creative writing, and discussion. Participants will learn about creative practices that might enrich and deepen their devotional practices as well as develop skills that will help them minister in their home-parish communities. There is no charge for this workshop, but please let us know if you'd like to participate in this unique spiritual formation experience.
Dave Harrity is the author of the forthcoming book Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand — a unique devotional resource for individuals and religious communities. He is also the founder and director of Antler, a mediahouse devoted to building community through imaginative practice. He conducts workshops at churches, seminaries, colleges, and other religious institutions around the country. Contact him directly at email@example.com.
Saturday's schedule will be posted in the morning.
Conference Registration includes coffee, wine, and snacks all weekend;
dinner Friday; lunch Saturday; and complementary drink at After-Party
Elite-level, micro-roasted coffee provided by Brown Coffee Co. of San Antonio, TX,
and Quills Coffee of Louisville, KY.
Featuring Brown Coffee's Climacus Blend Coffee — Perhaps a bit mystical, but not a mystery. Two coffees. One from Guatemala. One from El Salvador. Perfectly blended for an ascent up the ladder of finer taste. In the cup expect big, sweet acidity and juicy tones of plum and raisin. As it cools the coffee rounds out well and low-toned fruit gives way to a bit of molasses. A coffee to slow down with and enjoy as you contemplate the Divine. Buy it here!
The monks of Holy Cross Hermitage, Wayne, WV,
are coming with a five-table display of precious goods.
Eighth Day Books is bringing a four-table display of the greatest books on the planet:
Classics in Philosophy, Theology, Church History, Literature, and the Great Books.
Complimentary issues of the magazines Salvo, Touchstone,
and The Classical Teacher to be given away.
Breckinridge Inn, (502) 456-5050
Special rate for Climacus Conference attendees:
$59.95/night if you reserve BEFORE FEB. 15 — $69.95 after Feb. 15.
Call Kim and mention "Climacus block" on your lodging tab!
Less than 1 mile to conference • Continental Breakfast •
Heated indoor pool • Whirlpool • Exercise room • Full service lounge
3701 Saint Michael Church Drive, Louisville, KY 40220
Exit I-264 at Breckenridge South. Go about 1/3 mile to Hikes Ln.
Turn right. Go 1/2 mile on Hikes Ln. to church on left.
Saint Michael Orthodox Church has been witnessing to the truth of Orthodox Christianity in Louisville since the early 1930’s, but our Faith has been preached unchanged for 2,000 years.
3701 Saint Michael Church Drive, Louisville, KY 40220
The Climacus Conference is an Orthodox Christian intellectual/spiritual event featuring scholars and voices across the fields of Theology, Philosophy, Classical Education, Literature, and History/Politics. It is unique in that it provides an opportunity for attendees to be enriched by thinking well across disciplines. It seeks to develop the life of the mind through scholarly engagement with the classic liberal arts, but approaches such an endeavor through the nous, the mind of the heart, enabling our ascension "of the ladder" (κλίμακος/climacus), as inspired by St. John Climacus and his Ladder of Divine Ascent. People from all backgrounds, perspectives, and traditions are welcome.
Thanks to Ancient Faith Radio for recording and hosting free audio from our presentations!
Look for the orangebuttons next to each speaker's listing:
Save Bristol Bay • Ancient Faith Radio • CiRCE Institute • Touchstone Magazine • Salvo Magazine • Second Terrace • Logismoi • Bradley Birzer • Image Journal • The Imaginative Conservative • Hermitage of the Holy Cross • Eunomia • Road to Emmaus Journal • Memoria Press
Families $65 — kids are free, complimentary childcare included;
Students $35, or $55 for student's family.
Further need-based discounts and scholarships available on Registration Form
Conference Registration includes coffee, wine, and snacks all weekend; dinner Friday; lunch Saturday; and complementary drink at After-Party Saturday evening!
David Wright, Conference Founder & Director
(502) 296-2095 /
Ricky Irvine, Design & Associate Director