Monday, January 08, 2007

N.T. Wright

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a handful of talks by N.T. Wright (Bishop of Durham) at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Let me say right off the bat (for those of you who might be hoping for some actual substantive content) that I won't be able to say much about the actual talks here. For the most part I think I understand N.T. Wright while I'm reading or listening to him, but I feel he is just out of reach of my intellectual grasp, and so to try and sum up what he was talking about at any given moment would mostly just come out in some variation of "it was good and stuff", and so I'm not even going to try. He was speaking as part of The January Series, a month-long event at Calvin where they bring in a different speaker just about every day in January to speak for one hour at lunchtime, free and open to the public. I left the Detroit area around 7:30AM, my friend Carrie following just about 20 minutes behind me (we drove seperately because I was staying the night there and she was coming back home). We got there around 10:30, which turned out to be plenty of time (we were the first in a line which didn't really start forming until about 11). Thankfully she stopped to get subs for us and we had a great lunch before the lecture. We were able to sit up in the front row of a packed house (1000 seat auditorium)(we realized while sitting there anticipating the lecture that we were truly geeks). His lecture that afternoon revolved around one of his latest books, Simply Christian. Afterward we stood in line for booksigning and met N.T. himself. Rounding out the rest of the day was a meal at Paneras, bookshopping at Barnes & Noble, and then some more at Schullers along with some early evening tea, and then hanging out with friends for the rest of the evening.

Earlier in the week I found out that N.T. was doing an all-day seminar on Saturday, and I no sooner decided to go to that as well than registration was closed. I discovered, however, that there would be a few spaces left if I just came and registered on Saturday morning, so that's what I did (hence my staying overnight on Friday). He spoke in the chapel, a morning and afternoon session (with Q&A afterwards), on the sacrements of Baptism and the Eucharist. (These sessions will all be available online at Calvin's website soon, and the Friday lecture is up there now.)

All in all it was a great 2 days of teaching by one of the preeminent biblical scholars of our time. My friend Andrew said this of Walter Brueggemann, and I would say it's true for me of N.T. Wright now, that hearing an author speak and getting a sense of their personality and approach has a way of making an otherwise complicated text suddenly more accessible to understanding. I'm looking forward to reading more of Bishop Wright's work now, including Simply Christian (which he brought alive in his first talk), and one of his newest books on Evil and the Justice of God. That last one sounds pretty good and stuff...

2 comments:

Carrie said...

It was a great day. Glad we could share the moment together! I still cannot believe he was here...

amcorrea said...

Thanks for writing this up--I hope to spend some quality time with that lecture soon.