Attending the 2024 CiRCE Institute FORMA Symposium

Attending the 2024 CiRCE Institute FORMA Symposium

by Dr. Matthew Walz, Senior Fellow

“Logocentrism”: the CiRCE Institute proposed this as the theme of its first-ever FORMA Symposium, which took place January 25-27 at Belmont Abbey College. Given how successful it was, I imagine there will be future FORMA Symposia to which we can 

look forward.

I was blessed to represent the Boethius Institute during the symposium. Not only was I able to listen to all the talks, ask questions, and meet the wonderful people who run CiRCE, but I was also able to present a paper on one of the panels. My paper was called “Benedict XVI, Doctor of Reason.” You can read it here, if you’d like.

 The attendees comprised a wide variety of professors, teachers, administrators, and graduate students — a rare collection of persons for an academic conference — all of whom are striving in their own way to articulate and to uphold the value of Christian classical education. As I already indicated, “logocentrism” served as the symposium’s unifying theme, and within that theme different panels focused on Platonic thought, the quadrivium, virtue, the fine arts, praxis, and Church leaders. In addition, two speakers delivered plenary addresses: Andrew Kern (CiRCE’s president) and Buck Holler (CiRCE’s director of consulting). In addition, there was a panel dedicated to D.C. Schindler’s Retrieving Freedom. Four attendees commented on Schindler’s book, after which Schindler himself addressed these comments and expounded on other aspects of the book and related future projects.   

Logocentrism turned out to be a fruitful theme, allowing presenters and attendees to consider the full scope of logos not only as identifying the Person through whom all things were made (cf. John 1:3), but also as naming that supra-natural power of the human person that bespeaks our being made in the image of that Person. Logos, of course, manifests itself in everything we do that is distinctively human, and one might argue—as many did in their presentations—that education concerns the harnessing, maturation, and perfecting of this divine-like capacity with which we’ve been gifted. A Christiana classical education in particular strives to address the full scope of logos, asking and assisting students to actualize and express the power of logos along linguistic, dialectical, rhetorical, mathematical, musical, visual-artistic, literary, moral, and religious lines.

I came home from the FORMA Symposium, then, re-energized for the crucial work of the Boethius Institute. I see more clearly now, moreover, how an adequately supple notion of logos can serve as a rallying point for Christian classical education and for the advancement of liberal education in general. And, perhaps most importantly, I made several new friends in the Christian classical education world with whom I look forward to working in the future as we respond to the call to grow in our own understanding and practice of the traditional liberal arts and sciences as well as to help others to do the same.


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