Tag Archives: conference

Blessed at BK (Onething, Part II)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn our first night, I waited over an hour and a half for my whopper junior.  I felt so bad for the guy taking my order, I almost tipped him.  I just wasn’t quite sure how to do that at a fast food joint.

Ever since then, we’ve made it a point to ditch the conference sessions just a few minutes early.  The guys and I ran to one of the handful of cheap restaurants within a half a mile of the Kansas City Convention Center for each meal.

I’d have loved to eat better and I usually do, but what are you going to do?  My thinking was dominated by economics.  Four days without access to a grocery store is expensive.  Tonight, I had hoped that the little bit of my lunch that I had saved for dinner would be enough, but by 9pm, the leftovers were clearly no longer cutting it.  Somewhere in the middle of an evening talk, I peeled off in search of food.

So I walked back to Burger King.

It was a long line, but not nearly as a bad as the first night.  Before anything even went wrong, the people in front of me and I talked about BK’s hardworking staff.  I think the same group was working each of the three times I’d been there in the last four days.  Despite these hours, the manager was still all smiley and talked to a group at the register about how much money she had made during the conference, but she also said that the crowds were overwhelming.  I felt for the exhausted woman.

Then the computer went out.  I mean totally out.  The register was broken.  She pushed buttons, coaxed it, tapped it, did everything she could to get it going.  A minute later, the manager jumped up, and gave everyone in line free ice cream and soda.  When the machine didn’t come back to life, they locked the doors and gave us all a free dinner.

I’m might be still be a student, but I’m by no means destitute.  I could have afforded the $4 whopper junior meal, but not getting turned away when they could no longer sell us food lifted the exhaustion that weights you down at the end of a four a day conference.  The staff’s attitudes weren’t just coping, they were thriving and positive.

So here’s to a holiday spirit that doesn’t end on Christmas.  I tried to thank the BK staff, but I think they were moving too quickly to even hear me.

Before any of this, I kept thinking that 25,000 young people attending a Christian conference and infiltrating all the fast food restaurants downtown Kansas City is a lot.  I had hoped that the conference participants would bless the socks right off the restaurant staffs’ feet instead of wearing all the people out.

I don’t know if that happened, but I do know that the midnight worship set I missed at the conference was worth skipping.  The blessing I just received tops it.

Happy New Year.


Onething (Part I)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe annoying, plastic event wristband cuts at my sensitive skin whenever I type, but it also means that the guys and I have arrived safely to the IHOP Onething conference in Kansas City.  I had heard a lot about Onething, and, out to make sure that my international friends don’t get to see more of my country than I do, we all came together.

Last night, I weaved in and out of aisles of books, taken by authors more than the titles themselves.  While I hadn’t read much of what was on sale, I was able to piece together what I knew of different writers to pick out the books’ common themes.  I think it is funny what some people deem most important, and also made note of the differences between the book table here and what I know to be on display at Urbana.

I feel a bit more a observer than a student of the conference.  Maybe it’s the product of having planned enough events like this (obviously much smaller, but similar nonetheless), an initial distrust from having been well-intentionally played too many times, or simply the product of an increasingly inquisitive mind that asks more questions than finds answers these days.

I’m really hoping it is the later.

It wasn’t so much a critique as it was an analysis, but during the evening teaching last night, I kept thinking about the expository method.  It certainly wasn’t anything different, content or style wise, than what I have heard a thousand times, but my mind dissected every word, transition, and development.  The lens of thesis research isn’t exactly detachable, so even though this trip was suppose to be just because I wanted to come, I found myself applying all the reading I’ve been doing on contextualization and teaching how-tos.

It’s like this.  A couple of weeks ago, I spent the better part of 15 hours working through what I thought was a complex, multi-part paradox.  I wasn’t even trying to solve it.  I was just trying to organize bits of incompatible knowledge and identify the area of disconnect.  At the end of that very long day and 15 pages or so of scratch writing, I had before me about 200 words.  The next morning, I cut those 200 words down to a single, simple sentence.


So when I read a good book, or in this case, listen to sermon, analysis swirls.  Out of an interest in the content, I think about the words, cutting and summarizing and seeking to understand the core of the message communicated.  Seems like that’s all I’ve done today.

Define the Origin of the Soul

I wish I could remember all the topics covered tonight at the dinner table, but unfortunately that would be impossible.  I am currently at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute conference for Honor’s Program Fellows.  Quite a mouthful, but what it really means is that I get to spend an entire week with 49 other students and handfuls of professors who actually love studying the same things I do.  The theme is the Language of Liberty.  We certainly have quite a bit of variation in opinions and interpretations, but I have NEVER been in an intellectual environment where I could pose these questions with my peers who were coming at it from the same general perspective as me.   Differences of opinion are more nuanced than they are in, say, CSS at Wesleyan.

I LOVE THIS.  The lectures have been fascinating, but what I love most are free times where I can talk to the other students.  In casual conversation topics on the intersections of faith and politics, the beginnings of modernity, Catholicism (there are a lot of Catholics here), ancient philosophers, what its like to be a conservative at our universities, etc.  Never in my life have I wished that I actually knew Latin and been acutely away of all the authors I have not yet read as much as I have this week.

Tonight mentors (professors) and the mentees (3 per mentor) were taken out to nice restaurants close to our quaint Inn (all the rooms are named after a person of local historical importance and there is a canopy over my bed)  on the water near Baltimore, Maryland.  I can’t say I was much of a fan of the Italian food, but was throughly impressed that I was confident of which fork and spoon to use at all times (although I wasn’t quite so confident in my knowledge of how to delicately eat an un-pitted olive in that kind of setting)  Much of my dinner table conversation focused on Dante, the premodern age (very dense conversation), and the opera.  As we were getting up to leave, someone asked my mentor, a professor at the University of King’s College in Nova Scotia what the origins of the soul was.  That was perhaps a bit too metaphysical for me, but it served as a great conversation starter at hospitality tonight, where we joined the rest of the fellows for cocktails and conversation.

I’m still throughly deep bureaucracy of preparing all my affairs for the coming semester, which is still proving to be quite a headache.  However, in light of how incomprehensibly amazing it is to be here, that  frustration has become a limited frustration, and that is wonderful.

canopied beds at the Admiral Fell Inn

Exterior view of the Inn