Let’s start with where we all, I think, can agree: right now, there is a great deal of conflict and disagreement over what justice requires and what freedom should look like.
The religious liberty throw-down that we’ve recently experienced is only one instance of a wider set of conflicts. There are questions about what “political correctness” hath wrought, or what kinds of mercies should be afforded those who err in public. There are disputes about the kinds of liberties college campuses should have. Even our video game “industry” has been in the middle of a convoluted and terrible dispute.
We feel the disagreements very sharply, in other words, and it can be tempting to bemoan the death of any kind of unified civic life that doesn’t have to do with sports or our love of certain movies (as important as they are). It’s tempting to think we need to have more in common, before we can even begin to speak properly about a common good.
To these challenges, though, I would add one more: a steady and unstoppable onslaught of words, which aggravates the problem by making it harder for everyone to find or discover wisdom. (Yes, I am a part of that problem. Yes, I do think often about whether I should stop writing. No, that’s not an invitation for you to tell me otherwise.)
So when we have opportunities to hear directly from the wise, we would be foolish not to take them. On April 30th, at Biola University, there is just such a chance. Robert George, Cornel West, and Rick Warren are going to be talking about the nature of the freedom we should seek and the kind of people we need to be to discover it, and we have the chance to listen in. Each are well-known in their own right: to have them talking together, though, is a unique opportunity.
Full disclosure: I am currently being paid by the Torrey Honors Institute to help them market the event, so you can dismiss me if you want. But I wrote a book that was basically a long sales pitch for the Institute (which they did not ask me to do), and I don’t do work that I can’t entirely, unequivocally support. What’s more, this is just the kind of thing that the Institute does: host interesting dialogues among people who disagree.
And besides, this is an easy event to get excited about. I mean, look at Cornel West’s Wikipedia page. It’s long. Robert George was once described as America’s leading conservative thinker…by the New York Times. Rick Warren has come as close as anyone to outselling Jesus. Even if you don’t like any one of them, how can you not be intrigued by the three of them, together, in one conversation? That’s got to be at least interesting, right?
If you know someone in Los Angeles, tell them to get a ticket. If you’re not in LA, watch the livestream. And join the conversation on Twitter or elsewhere, as we try to think together and–if we’re lucky–talk together about what freedom costs.