2015 Conference Theme

The Climacus Conference 2015 will seek to def­end bea­uty. Thus, we will first att­empt to def­ine bea­uty, parti­cularly on philo­sophical grounds. After all, we dis­cern bea­uty in phys­ical obj­ects and abstr­act ideas, in nat­ure and art, in ani­mals and things, and in people, quali­ties, and act­ions. What is this prop­erty of bea­uty pres­ent in all of these things? What is the status of bea­uty as an ult­imate value? Next we will con­sider the aesth­etics of some par­ticular beau­tiful things—such as church buil­dings, poems, icons, paint­ings, and music. Thirdly, we will con­sider some of the intel­lectual disci­plines—phi­lo­sophy, theo­logy, litera­ture, et al.—and their inter­action with aesth­etics. Finally, we will con­sider the pra­ctice of aesth­etics—the redem­ptive and salvific role of bea­uty in our lives.

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Past conferences, free audio: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.

Featuring

Portrait of David Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart, is a well-known theologian, philosopher, and cultural commentator, whose specialties include philosophical theology, patristics, and aesthetics. Hart has been published in various periodicals including, Pro Ecclesia, The Scottish Journal of Theology, First Things, and The New Criterion. He has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of St. Thomas, Duke Divinity School, and Loyola College in Baltimore. Hart is the author of seven books including Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Eerdmans, 2004), which has been lauded by The Christian Century as “one of the most brilliant works by an American theologian in the past ten years.” His most recent books are The Experience of God, The Story of Chrisitanity, Atheist Delusions, and The Devil and Pierre Gernet, his first work of fiction.

Portrait of James Kushiner

James M. Kushiner

James M. Kushiner is the Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James, which serves to encourage Christian unity and fidelity to the historic doctrines and moral teachings of the Christian faith; and which publishes the bimonthly magazine Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Salvo, a quarterly for young adults, both for which he is Executive Editor. A native of Detroit, Michigan, James married Patricia in 1972 after moving to Chicago, where they have since lived and raised their six children. They have ten grandchildren. They joined the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1993 and now attend All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, IL.

Portrait of Edward Farley

Edward Farley

Edward Farley is an Emeritus Professor at the Vanderbilt Divinity School. His graduate work in philosophical theology was pursued at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, with post-graduate work at the Univ. of Basel and the Univ. of Freiberg. In addition to works on beauty, practical theology, and culture, such as Deep Symbols: Their Postmodern Effacement and Reclamation, he has written a four-volume series in constructive theology, which includes Divine Empathy. His main work on aesthetics, Faith and Beauty, is a part of the Ashgate Series. He resides in Brentwood, TN.

Portrait of Nicholas Samaras

Nicholas Samaras

Nicholas Samaras is a poet and essayist, the son of Bishop Kallistos Samaras, a prominent Greek Orthodox Clergyman and theologian. He was born in Foxton, Cambridgeshire, England, living there and on the island of Patmos, Greece (the “Island of the Apocalypse”) and, at the time of the Greek Junta (“Coup of the Generals”) was brought in exile to be raised further in America. He has lived in Greece, England, Wales, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, thirteen states in America, and he writes from a place of permanent exile. His first book of poetry, Hands of the Saddlemaker received the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His new book of poetry, American Psalm, World Psalm, is forthcoming in the Spring of 2014, with Ashland Poetry Press. He earned his MFA from Columbia University and his doctorate from the University of Denver. Currently, he lives in West Nyack, New York, where he has completed a new manuscript of poetry and has drafted a memoir of a childhood lived underground. He serves as the Poetry Editor for The Adirondack Review, and also serves as a long-distance mentor at The Glen Institute, an online program from Image magazine.

Portrait of Andrew Gould

Andrew Gould

Andrew Gould specializes in the design of Orthodox churches and liturgical art. His firm, New World Byzantine, is known for designs that marry medieval Orthodox architecture with sympathetic influences from American building traditions. He is also the founder of New World Byzantine Studios, an atelier for the production of church furnishings, and of the Orthodox Arts Journal. Andrew holds a B.A. in art history from Tufts University and a M.Arch from University of Pennsylvania. He resides with his family in Charleston, SC.

Portrait of Jennie Gelles

Jennie Gelles

Jennie Gelles, B.S. in art education Pennsylvania State University, is an artist and iconographer. Since 2003, she has been studying iconography under internationally known master iconographer, Ksenia Pokrovsky both in her studio and with Hexaemeron.org hosted workshops. Jennie has written icons for her home parish of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY and other churches and homes throughout the United States.

Portrait of ribourin

Molly Sabourin

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.

Portrait of Erick Hedrick-Moser

Erick Hedrick-Moser

Erick Hedrick-Moser is a doctoral candidate in historical theology at Saint Louis University. He is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. Before doctoral studies, he graduated with a BA in religion and philosophy from Indiana Wesleyan University and an MA in historical theology from Saint Louis University. He recently spent time in France for dissertation research and a semester as a visiting scholar at Saint Louis University’s campus in Madrid, Spain. He has published in journals such as Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, and is completing his dissertation on the formation of Jean Daniélou’s vision for Catholicism in secular France. More broadly, his interests lie in the intersection between mystical theology and secular society among patristic and modern theologians.

Portrait of Meredith Trexler

Meredith Trexler

Meredith Trexler is a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Kansas. She is currently finishing her dissertation, titled “Aesthetic Experience and Becoming Good: An Examination of the Connection between Ethics and Aesthetics in Plato, Kant, and Iris Murdoch.” She received her Master’s Degree in 2009, when she defended her Master’s Thesis, “Sacrifice and the Imagination: The Symbolic Relationship between Aesthetic Experience and Morality in Kant’s Third Critique.” Her areas of specialization include aesthetics, ancient philosophy (particularly Plato), and Kant’s Critique of Judgment. Her interest in aesthetics has been ongoing since she was an undergraduate student, and she has been working on an independent project for over 10 years concerning the connection between Beauty and Goodness. Her project is strongly influenced by the philosophy of C.S. Lewis, and her studies at C.S. Lewis’ home, The Kilns, in Oxford England. Meredith has taught philosophy for six years at The University of Kansas, and she has also taught philosophy at Fort Hays State University, and Kansas Wesleyan University.

Portrait of Martin Cothran

Martin Cothran

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.

Portrait of Father Alexis Kouri

Fr. Alexis Kouri

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).

Tentative Schedule

Thursday

5:00 p.m.
Registration and Hospitality—wine and cheese; pastries and coffee
6:30
Opening Remarks
7:00
James KushinerThe Eye of the Beholder: Creation, Beauty & the Way of the Cross

Friday

7:00 a.m.
Matins
8:00
Light breakfast fare: bagels, donuts, coffee
9:00
Fr. Alexis Kouri
 
Break/fellowship
9:45
Nicholas Samaras
 
Break/Q&A/Fellowship
10:30
Breakout:
  • Option 1: (10:30–12:00) Jennie GellesIconography Presentation
  • Option 2 (10:30–11:00): Speaker TBDAugustine on Beauty
 
Break/Q&A Fellowship
12:00 p.m.
Lunch (provided)
1:00
Edward Farley
 
Break/Q & A
2:00
Andrew Gould
 
Break/Q&A
3:00
Keynote Address: David Bentley Hart
 
Break/Q&A
Dinner
On your own –or– with David Bentley Hart (additional registration fee, limited seating)

Saturday

8:30 a.m.
Light breakfast fare: Bagels, donuts, coffee
9:00
Molly Sabourin
 
Break/fellowship
9:45
Nicholas Samaras
 
Break/Q&A/Fellowship
10:30
Breakout:
  • Option 1: (10:30–12:00) Speaker TBDAquinas on Beauty
  • Option 2: (10:30–11:00) Speaker TBDKant on Beauty
 
Break/Q&A/Fellowship
11:15
Martin Cothran
12:00 p.m.
Lunch (provided)
1:00
Edward Farley
 
Break/Q&A
2:00
Andrew Gould
 
Break/Q&A
3:00
Closing Keynote Address: David Bentley Hart
 
Break/Dinner on your own
6:00
Vespers in St. George Chapel
7:45
After-party

Location, Directions, Lodging

The conference is hosted by Saint Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Our parish 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.

Here's the address, mapped by Google: 3701 Saint Michael Church Drive, Louisville, KY 40220. Directions: Exit I-264 at Breckenridge South. Go about 1/3 mile to Hikes Lane. Turn right. Go 1/2 mile on Hikes Lane to church on left.

Recommended hotel — Breckinridge Inn: Less than 1 mile to conference, continental breakfast, heated indoor pool, whirlpool, exercise room, full service lounge. Call (502) 456-5050.

Contact Information


Conference Founder & Director
(502) 296-2095


Design Director


Marketing & Administrative Director
(773) 678-0721

About Climacus Conference

The Climacus Conference is a clas­sical 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.

Donations & Sponsorship

Covering conference expenses is a great challenge for us. Help us break even with a tax-deductible gift today!

Or better yet, sponsor a Plenary Lecture for $750: Your-Name-or-Organization Plenary Lecture