Christian Scholars' Conference brings 500 scholars to explore reconciliation June 7-9

By Kim Chaudoin on 5/22/2012

  
  

Some of the nation’s top thought-leaders in reconciliation will be among more than 500 scholars and faith leaders representing more than 100 universities from around the country who will be a part of the 32nd annual Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars’ Conference taking place at Lipscomb University June 7-9.

The conference calls together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines in the liberal arts, sciences and professional schools to develop their own academic research and to reflect on the integration of scholarship and faith. Participants and presenters come from the nation’s top universities including Yale, Notre Dame, Cornell, Duke and Harvard.

“This year, the interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars from medicine, law, theology, literature, ethics, political science, fine arts and other critical areas of expertise for collaboration and civil discourse on topics related to reconciliation,” said David Fleer, professor of Bible and communication and director of the conference.

“These interdisciplinary sessions allow literature to speak to law; fine arts is in conversation with political science; and theology is at the table with law, justice and society. It makes for invigorating dialogue; communication that is at once civil, critical and hopeful for a shared and mutually constructed future,” he said.

The conference has a history of drawing a diverse range of nationally respected authors, artists and scholars as plenary speakers, including John Patrick Shanley, Marilynne Robinson, Jim Wallis, James Elkins, Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne.

This year’s conference features keynote speakers Fred D. Gray, civil rights attorney; Miroslav Volf, Yale theologian and international nonviolence advocate; Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of “Left to Tell;” and Abraham Verghese, author of “Cutting For Stone.” In addition, more than 92 peer-reviewed paper, panel and performance sessions will convene academics to advance scholarship, develop collaboration and engage dialogue.

Session topics will range from “alleviation of poverty as reconciliation” to “questions of reconciliation in Terrance Malick’s film ‘The Tree of Life.’ Reconciliation will be  traced through the civil rights movement in the U.S., Rwanda, Ireland, the Holy Land, cross-cultural missions, literature, environmental sustainability, restorative justice, business, the Hebrew Bible and the writings of Volf and Verghese. 

This year’s conference will also include an exhibit of selections from the The Green Collection, a compilation of more than 40,000 biblical antiquities assembled by the owners of national retail chain Hobby Lobby. The Green Collection is the world’s newest, largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts.  

The Green Scholars Initiative is a program to foster undergraduate research with these biblical artifacts. Studies in art, history, music, science and many other fields can benfit from religious studies. The Green Collection is designed to show professors nationwide what is available for their students to work with.

The panel, peer-reviewed paper and performance sessions are limited to registered conference participants. Five special events open to the general public will explore the reconciliation theme with nationally known speakers, film and theatre. These events include:

Wednesday, June 6
Screening of Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”
Ward Hall, 7 p.m. • Free and open to the public

Wednesday, June 6-Saturday, June 9
Performance of the play “Exposure”
Shamblin Theatre
June 6, 8 and 9: 7 p.m.
June 7: 2 p.m.
$15 adults, $10 faculty/staff, $5 students

Thursday, June 7
Dr. Abraham Verghese, author of “Cutting For Stone”

Collins Alumni Auditorium, 11 a.m. • Free and open to the public

Thursday, June 7
Miroslav Volf, Yale theologian and international nonviolence advocate

Acuff Chapel, Lipscomb Academy, 4 p.m. • Free and open to the public

Saturday, June 9
Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of “Left to Tell”

Collins Alumni Auditorium, 10:45 a.m. • Free and open to the public

Attorney Fred D. Gray will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in recognition for his “remarkable achievements in civil rights legislation; the defense of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study participants; and for his life-long devotion to ‘destroying everything segregated I could find,’” said Fleer.

Gray has been at the forefront of changing the social fabric of America regarding desegregation, integration, constitutional law, racial discrimination in voting, housing, education, jury service, farm subsidies, medicine and ethics and generally in improving the national judicial system.”

“This is the highest honor the university bestows on an individual. It expresses Lipscomb’s proactive vision for integration at all institutional levels as integral to the university’s mission,” said Fleer.

The Christian Scholars’ Conference was created in 1981 under the direction of Olbricht, distinguished professor emeritus at Pepperdine University, and is now hosted by Lipscomb University. The mission of the Christian Scholars’ Conference is to create and nurture an intellectual and Christian community that joins individuals and institutions to stimulate networks of scholarly dialogue and collaboration.

For a full schedule of the conference, registration or more information about the keynote speakers, visit csc.lipscomb.edu.