Friday, April 27th
Optional meetups at various downtown locations, themed by interest and/or affiliation. A chance to meet (or make) friends in smaller groups based on shared memberships and interests!
Announced so far (more coming; use links to grab a spot!):
- Rabbit Room Fans Meetup - The Rabbit Hole, led by Adam and Sarah Nettesheim
- S.D. Smith Author Meet-and-Greet - Switchback Coffee Roasters, contact them
- Humane Pursuits Writers and Readers - Poor Richard's, led by Jody Byrkett
- Hiking Meetup (3pm) - Red Rocks Open Space, led by Megan Prahl
- For the Life of the City: Stories of Christians promoting and providing the good, true, and beautiful for our city (bring a story to share if you like!) - The Mining Exchange Hotel, led by Sarah Stonestreet
Dessert and live acoustic music featuring Matthew Clark, Teressa Mahoney, Marcus Robinson, and more.
A Vision for a Renaissance of the Christian Imagination
Panel discussion with Brian Brown (moderator), Anthony Esolen, and Martyn Minns.
Saturday, April 28th
Light breakfast begins.
Morning Keynote, Sponsored by The Cultivating Project
Martyn Minns: Ancient Future Worship for Today: Exploring Life in the Fifth Dimension
What do Harry Potter, Star Wars, and authentic Biblical worship have in common? Each one demands that we exercise our imagination, use our creativity and embrace the conviction that there is a supernatural dimension to our lives. But there are some big differences … the first two are brilliant works of fiction that entertain us for a season but the last one claims to be an expression of God’s revealed truth that promises to transform our lives for eternity. In his presentation Bishop Minns will explore the ways in which Biblical worship can expand our imagination, employ our creativity and lead to transformed lives.
Short, fast-paced talks exploring key ideas in the role of the church in redeeming the imagination.
- Glenn Paauw: Re-Enchanting the Scriptures
The rise of modernity has led to an increasing sense of the disenchantment of the world. As our rational, scientific explanations grow stronger, the sense of a mysterious, lively, and spiritual world diminishes. So what happens when the Bible meets modernity? Disenchantment happens—the growth of attempts to dissect the Bible and master its facts, draining much of its intended literary power and beauty. So how do we re-enchant the Bible? We begin by simply remembering what it actually is. The Scriptures are a collection of diverse literary creations, telling a story, and inviting us into a live drama. What are we to do with such a Bible? Faithfulness is reading the Bible as the literature it is and then accepting God’s offer to enact the story and initiate a Spirit-empowered improvisation in our world today.
- Matt Burnett: Sacramental Theology from the Deck of the Dawn Treader
Sacraments and sacramental living were a daily reality for most people in the past, but often not so much for 21st century North Americans. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader we are drawn into unexpected insights of The Holy Communion.
- Heidi White: Facing the Monster: Why the Church Needs Monsters and Heroes
Heidi White will explore how all great works of art are at heart monster stories, whether the monsters are dragons, step-mothers, social injustices, or even the self. Heidi will cast a vision for how redemptive art, from fantasy to irony, challenges monsters inherent in individuals and cultures through embodying the Christian vision of reality: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
- Brian Brown: The Place of Art in Church
Beauty, and the people who make it, got functionally kicked out of most churches a long time ago. But how do we add them back in? What's the difference between a stained glass window and a novel? Bach and Bono? And what about art that portrays doubt or darkness? This session will draw from popes and poets to give a framework we can use to begin the return of the Lost Makers of Meaning to the church.
Optional: 11:00am-12:00pm: Choir Practice
Anthony Esolen: Teaching People to Open Their Eyes -- After School and Politics Have Shut Them Tight
In this session we will learn about the "twin refusals" - first, the refusal to see and appreciate human truths, and second, the refusal to be open to the divine. And we will examine the challenges and opportunities of combating those refusals.
Tales of the Kingdom
Afternoon First Breakouts - pick 1
- Lancia Smith: The Cultivator's Manifesto: A Rule of Life for Those Who Cultivate Goodness, Truth, and Beauty
What does it mean to be a cultivator and what does a Rule of Life have to do with that? In our context, a cultivator is someone who intentionally chooses to nurture goodness, truth, and beauty within them, their personal life, and others. But if that sounds like you, you may also often feel thwarted and confused in that effort. A rule of life is a way that Christians over the centuries have helped order their lives toward particular visions of thriving. Some are well known, like the Rule of St. Benedict or Billy Graham’s Rules. The Twelve Steps could be considered a kind of rule of life, in a very specific and contemporary context. In this interactive and practical session, we will explore what it means to cultivate in context of a whole life, what a rule of life is, how it works, and how to create one for yourself.
- Corey Latta: Imagining What We Might Be: What Dorothy Sayers Teaches Us About the Imagination, the Church, and the Artist's Life
The Church is losing its imaginative vision for what God made it to be. With a diminished imagination comes a loss of discipleship, identity, and a relationship to creativity vital to the Church’s purpose in the world. It’s in a renewal of the redeemed imagination that the Church might live into its nature as the created work of God and might rediscover spiritual formation of the lives of its artists. To look at the Church’s impaired imaginative life alongside the discipleship of its creatives, I will bring in the work of Dorothy Sayers to focus on imagination, creativity, and the artless nature of the modern Church.
- Amy Lee: Signposts of Joy: Making Art Out of Our Longing for Home
To our increasingly uprooted generation, the elements of Joy that C.S. Lewis called “signposts” can be startling; we are deeply moved by certain stories, songs, art pieces, and more, and cannot always give the reason. What is this kindling, and what do we do with it? In this lecture, we will explore the themes of Sehnsucht and Joy, see the world through the eyes of Lewis and other artists who bore this yearning and pointed to its Source, and consider how our own art may emerge from deep-seated homesickness to light the way to our true country.
- Glenn Paauw: Strong & Beautiful Words: Why We Need a Literary Bible
Nineteenth-century Old Princeton divine Charles Hodge introduces his Systematic Theology with the secure claim that “The Bible is to the theologian what nature is to the man of science. It is his storehouse of facts.” So it is that modernity’s misframing of the Scriptures presents us with the Holy Reference Book in both form and function. What to do? The road back to experiencing sacred words of strength and beauty lies in our recovery and full appreciation of the Bible’s literary works. Within the biblical text itself we will find two Temples and two Torahs, helping us to encounter afresh these words with power. A chaos-denying song of creation in Genesis, unexpected architecture in the Psalms, five wails of lament that progressively unravel, and then a Second Moses surprising us with New Torah books of life and hope—all of it an invitation for us to feel the sacred truth as much as we know it.
3:00pm and 4:00pm:
Afternoon Second Breakouts
Pick one per hour!
- Workshop - Lanier Ivester: Rivendell: Home and Hospitality as Art and Worship
In a world of haste and homesickness, we’re all longing for Rivendell: a place of love and belonging, healing and beauty. This session will explore the creative potential of domestic spaces to image our ‘at-homeness’ in God, and cast a vision for hospitality as both art form and act of worship. Far from a purely female vocation, the making and keeping of a home—any home—is an opportunity for all believers to craft a physical context wherein others may enter into the unconditional and particular affection of Christ.
- Workshop - Matt Burnett: The Theological Imagination of Madeleine L'Engle in A Wrinkle in Time
Madeline L'Engle wrote a classic fantasy and a theologically rich masterpiece in A Wrinkle in Time. What is that theology and how does imagination help us enter into it? Spoiler: we will engage the movie, but only to a limited degree.
- Panel - Michelle Hindman (moderator), Ashlee Cowles, Elena Sorensen, Evangeline Denmark: Through a Glass Dimly: Why Christian Stories Need Darkness, Tragedy, and Sin
We all know that the Bible is rated “R.” So why do many Christian storytellers shy away from the very things that make redemption so necessary? If Christians are called to bring light into darkness, then we must not insist on denying its existence by sweeping any unpleasantness under the rug.From grim fairy tales (pun intended) to the Gothic literary tradition, to the modern horror genre, representations of evil, fear, and the unknown have created conflict, built tension, and moved the plot. But how far is too far? Is there room in a Christian creative’s journey for delving into the deep? Writers Elena Sorensen, Ashlee Cowles, and Evangeline Denmark will discuss the topic of weaving dark threads into fiction while holding redemption as the framework for the greatest Story.
- Workshop - S.D. Smith: From Critic to Creator or Curator: How to Stop Noticing Everything That’s Wrong & Start Making or Supporting Something Good
Do you find yourself energetically ferreting out flaws in stories, sermons, and people? Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are best sung in harmony. Over-emphasis on one is a recipe for a warped cultural posture. Truth is essential, and discernment crucial. However, an over-emphasis on criticism is a self-destructive culture to foster. Similarly, a snootily-high view of the arts can lead to a culture of impotent evaluations that paralyze efforts at creation. This talk is about moving on from being (overly) critical and into the hospitable vocations of creator and curator. We need more creators and curators.
- Workshop - Brian Brown: Marvel vs. Jane Austen: Making Heroes Who Will Sustain the World (Rather than Just Save It)
Hobbiton, Narnia, Anniera, Hogwarts...the most beloved fictional places are never seen for long before being overshadowed by fire and death from which they must be saved. But in a time when home, roots, and meaning are now the exception, perhaps we need more than glimpses of the good life in our stories. Drawing from Jane Austen, Amor Towles, Martin Scorsese, and other storytellers (and engaging ideas like Rod Dreher's Benedict Option), this workshop will explore how tales can help us create (not merely protect) lives, places, and communities characterized by a redeemed imagination. (And answer the question: why are truly good characters so often boring?)
- Panel - Matt Mellema (moderator), Matthew Clark, Teressa Mahoney, Marcus Robinson: Why We Need Songs Christian Radio Won't Play
When music is 100% commercial and therefore 100% driven by what will appeal the most to the most people, we must ask what is music really for? In this session, we will explore how to build stronger relationships between songwriters and listeners, and we will discover a richer, more expansive vision of what Christian music can be and what it can do beyond the limited scope of Christian radio. The Church needs songs and genres that can build up who we are individually and communally and prepare us to be the people of God in a difficult world, and the world needs a robust singing Church whose songs address the full range of human experience with the Holy Trinity’s transformational presence.
Afternoon Concluding Remarks (Lancia Smith) and Dinner Blessing
Dinner; people disperse to enjoy restaurants downtown.
An Offering of Beauty
An evening of music, singing together, readings of poetry and prose, and remembering through art what it means to be the Church.