I wanted to share a few links this morning to highlight some organizations that seem to be doing a good job of “bridging the gap” so to speak, between cultures. I think John Henry Newman’s mission to bring faith and reason together is something that is well represented in each of these organizations.
The first organization, Crossroads Cultural Center, has many events here in Washington, D.C. each year and I think they do an excellent job of responding to the question, “If there were a Catholic culture alive and well today, what would it look like?”
The Crossroads Cultural Center website is here:
Here is a snippet about the mission of Crossroads from an article beautifully titled, “A Festival of Faith and Reason”:
The main activity of Crossroads is the organization and promotion of public events on any topic that fascinates us. This was true at the beginning and it is still true today. It is a very important point for us: we choose our topics and speakers because of the way we’re struck by reality, not based on an ideology or a pre-determined agenda. When we started Crossroads, we had no intention of focusing on a predetermined subset of issues, people or ideas that fall under the “Catholic” label. On the contrary, for us, being a Catholic cultural center means precisely the opposite, that is, to be interested in everything, in the entire spectrum of reality. It means to have the ability – or at least the desire – to encounter people from all walks of life, and to look for and give value to everything that is true, good and worthy in various expressions of human life.
This main event of the “festival” is held annually in New York. It is called the New York Encounter:
To the question of culture, Crossroads sees it like this:
Culture is a systematic and critical awareness of reality; it is the free development of our human need and capacity for knowing and interpreting everything in reality. Knowledge is a primary need of every person and not something that belongs to the experts. Culture is an activity proper to every person, because nobody can live without constantly developing and communicating to others a certain awareness of reality. Human curiosity is stirred by wonder – you walk out your door and things are there; life is given, a new and unexpected event that awakens the desire to know its meaning. This focus on reality as event (and not on ideas) determines the style, method, and priority of our cultural work.
This festival is based on the much larger festival heldin Rimini, Italy each year which attracts over 800,000 people. It is the world’s largest cultural event, which bills itself as “a place where Christian faith cries aloud to all the world its passion for the human intrinisic in it.”
Here is an article about how this festival came about and what it is all about:
The topics at this festival are as wide-ranging as humanity itself. Topics include “The Church,” “Politics,” “Economics,” “Science,” “Performing Arts,” and more. Speakers and appearances at this event have included very high profile Catholics including Pope John Paul II, Archbishops from all over the world, prominent theologians like Hans von Balthasar, and even Mother Teresa of Calcutta. But there is enough there for everyone, so much so that the event attracts Buddhists, scientists, artists, and just about every range of personality under the human umbrella.
The range of topics at both of these festivals is remarkable and is reflective of the “radical openness” to all of reality expressed by the charism of CL (Communion and Liberation) which was founded by Fr. Luigi Giussani in Italy:
Lastly, in terms of bridging the gap between the culture of science and the culture of faith, the Templeton Foundation does interesting work and this Saturday there is a seminar at the Washington Theological Union in DC – I think it is part three – from the Atom + Eve series, which is partly funded by the Templeton Foundation.
I attended the first in this series, which was very good. It began with a presentation from Dr. Stephen Barr, who is a prominent physicist, and Catholic. The Vatican awarded him a papal medal in 2007 for service to the Church
Physicist receives papal medal:
“At the time I wrote Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, there did not seem to be a book addressing the links, rather than the conflicts, between science and religion. I wrote the book for myself, actually my younger self when I was about 16, and wished there were a book like it,” Barr said.
In his book, Barr writes, “the conflict is not between religion and science, it is between religion and materialism,” whose basic tenet is that “nothing exists except matter and that everything in the world must therefore be the result of the strict mathematical laws of physics and blind chance.”
His talk from the atompluseve conference on the origins of the universe is up on the website:
So all of this is encouraging. Faith and reason are alive and well in the world and I am optimistic and hopeful.