I posted not much of anything on this blog last week because I was in a tizzy getting ready for our family pilgrimage to Louisville, KY, where the Climacus Conference was taking place for but the second time ever. Last year we went, and it was great. This year, however, was even better. There was a buzz about the place, an electricity. Attendees were hungry for not only the local organic coffee (of which I drank at least a gallon) and amazing food prepared by my amazing, amazing friend, Jen, but also to learn. The speakers, including Vigen Guroian, David Bradshaw, Andrew Kern, John Granger, Aaron Taylor, Rachel Leake, Father Alexis Kouri, my own brother, Bobby Maddex, and more, waxed eloquent on topics such as education, literature, philosophy, food, patristic thought, marriage, and film. Theirs were heady lectures, thick and concentrated – brilliant even. I actually worried that those sitting next to me might be able to smell my brain straining (a burning, smokey odor) to take it all in. It was an invigorating mental workout, most certainly.
But here's the thing, never once did it feel like intellectualism for its own sake. What I appreciated most about this conference was how it challenged me to step outside my default "Reader's Digest level" comfort zone and work a bit at reading and consuming edifying, thought-provoking stimuli, while at the same time pointing me back to salvific love and mercy as the ultimate motivator for doing so. The specific goals I ended up carrying home with me involve finishing "The Brothers Karamazov," memorizing as a family more Psalms and poetry, patiently waiting for God to reveal Himself, His will – bit by bit, and rethinking our dependency on over-sized bags of generic Honey Combs for breakfast on busy mornings.
I so mean it when I say I'm already looking forward to next year!
Thank you to David and Jen Wright who organized this phenomenal event, to Father Alexis and Saint Michael Orthodox Church for hosting it, to my fellow attendees who blessed me (truly) with such inspiring and just plain pleasant conversation, to Eighth Day Books and the monks of Holy Cross Hermitage (I adore what we purchased from you!), and, of course, to the presenters!