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March 31, 2009

Fostering Conversations that Matter

Socrates While I resist any kind of assumption that elites are more important to reach than those in the gutters, I still herald the efforts of Eric Metaxas and the others involved in bringing Socrates in the City to New York. Not familiar with Socrates in the City? Click here, or read Marvin Olasky's great article in World Magazine, available here.

Here's a brief description from the website:

The Greek philosopher Socrates famously said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Taking this as a starting point, Eric Metaxas thought it would be valuable to create a forum that might encourage busy and successful professionals in thinking about the bigger questions in life. Thus Socrates In The City:  Conversations on the Examined Life was born.

Every month or so Socrates In The City sponsors an event in which people can begin a dialogue on "Life, God, and other small topics" by hearing a notable thinker and writer such as Os Guinness or Peter Kreeft.  Topics have included "Making Sense Out of Suffering," "The Concept of Evil after 9-11," and "Can a Scientist Pray?"  No question is too big -- in fact, the bigger the better.  These events are meant to be both thought-provoking and entertaining, because nowhere is it written that finding answers to life's biggest questions shouldn't be exciting and even, perhaps, fun.

I really think that this is a model more metropolitan areas could be imitating. While the nationally recognized speakers certainly help, these kind of events can still be planned on a smaller scale. I think these are the necessary ingredients:

1) a neutral location: a theater, a restaurant, the open air

2) a culturally valuable experience: a lecture, a performance, a film, a reading

3) an astute emcee: someone capable of guiding a conversation to ultimate questions

4) an inviting crowd: a group of people who have the vision to not only learn themselves from the offering, but engage, invite, and create community in an ongoing way with those who attend

5) a team dedicated to publicity: utilize the tools at your fingertips, facebook, evites, old fashioned bulletin boards, and new fangled ones like www.upcoming.yahoo.com

This is also an excellent opportunity for Christians to work in synergy together with other like-minded Christians in their area--people who may not attend the same church, but who have the same heart.

(Image courtesy of Socrates in the City)

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Jason Taylor

Whomever it is your vocation to reach is more important for you to reach. And the same goes for those with differing vocations.

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