OK, so maybe you've seen or heard the Official Announcement of the next conference sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology -- but I bet you won't get as enthusiastic a recommendation as you get here!
Reserve June 8 through June 10, 2009, for Vatican II: Its continuing Challenge to All Churches. This is a conference -- commemorating the 50th anniversary of the summoning of the Council by Pope John XXIII (may his memory be eternal) -- sponsored by CCET in cooperation with the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and it will be held at the Center, close to Catholic University in Washington, DC.
Among the speakers with be keynoter George Lindbeck, who was an official observer for the Lutheran World Federation for all four sessions of the Vatican Council. (He tells of how remarkable it was -- and impossible now under today's academic rules -- that he was given a continuing leave of absence from his duties at Yale to allow him to participate for the duration of the Council. I can't say with any authority, but I'd bet that he put in more time at the Council than many of the Bishops!) Dr. Lindbeck has remarkable insight into the importance and meaning of the Council, and it will be great to hear him. (One of the most valuable experiences of serving on the CCET Board, and there have been many, has been the frequent opportunity to dine with Dr. Lindbeck alone and with company. The man is a giant -- and he may know everything! In fact, several of the other presenters, I think, did their PhDs under him, too.) For research: I'm not sure how many participants in that Council are still alive! This is a precious opportunity.
About the rest of the conference: Speakers will discuss the continuing significance of the Council for such issues in Church life as ethics, worship, ecclesiology (I can't wait!), ecumenism, and others. Presenters include Amy Laura Hall from Duke, Paul Gavrilyuk from St. Thomas (in St. Paul), Nicholas Healy from the New York St. John's, Matthew Levering from Ave Maria, Karen Tucker from Boston U, and the Center's own Michael Root from Southern Seminary.
The information will soon be available on the CCET website (www.e-ccet.org). But trust me: You'll want to be at this. You can stay on the CU campus, get an early-registration discount (or a student or retired-clergy discount), a lovely banquest "experience," and a chance to rub shoulders with fantastic people. We always get the most interesting folks -- and I think, given the subject, the era, and the location, that we're going to have a good-sized crowd. Who knows, you may lunch with a bishop or cardinal (no promises, of course -- though our conference at St. Thomas welcomed Cardinal Cassidy from the Vatican and the one at Duke featured Cardinal-Archbishop George from Chicago) or the theologian you've been dying to read or a student from Norway who happens to be in the area and is interested in the topic. And, no, I am not holding out the chance that His Holiness will attend -- though wouldn't that be a hoot? Maybe we could ask him to deliver the banquet speech? It's not as though he doesn't have feelings about the Council and its aftermath!
If you come, we should arrange a luncheon for a face-to-face. You can always find me: I'm usually given bookselling duties for the Center, so check out the displays. (And that's another nice thing: In the past, Brazos has offered a really sweet discount on all their publications for conference attendees!)
I sincerely urge you to reserve the dates now and to watch the CCET website for registration opportunities.