This coming weekend, I will be attending the 2008 Letter and Spirt Conference in Pittsburgh. This will be my first time attending, although I have wanted to go in the past few years, but work and class obligations never made it feasible. So, this year everything worked out in such a way that I am able to attend. (Although I do have an exam today which I need to take as well as a small paper to finish by the end of the week!) Needless to say, I am very excited about the upcoming weekend.
The conference will be focusing on the writings of St. Paul in light of mystery and mission. This is obviously a very timely topic, since Pope Benedict XVI dedicated this the Year of St. Paul. The organization that is sponsoring this event is the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition.
The center's founder is Dr. Scott Hahn, who has played an important role in my spiritual life. A convert to Catholicism, Dr. Hahn has a wonderful capacity to write in both an academic and popular style. In this way, I think he has been given a similar gift as N.T. Wright. I read Dr. Hahn's book The Lamb's Supper at a time when I was just beginning to take my faith life seriously. For most of my life, I had attended Mass on Sunday, but I really didn't know why it was all that important. My early life experiences at Mass were focused on either yawning or looking around at people. However, after a conversion experience late during my undergraduate years, I began to eagerly seek out truth and understand why I am Catholic. This led me to the works of Dr. Scott Hahn, in particular The Lamb's Supper. While I am not going to give a full review of it now, I will just say that it opened my eyes in two particular areas: 1) How the earthly Liturgy relates to the Heavenly Liturgy; 2) The Role of Scripture. I soon became excited to read the Scriptures, something which I had never been! Concepts like typology and allegory helped me to see the Bible as a collection of books united under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Wow! God has a plan! While that might be obvious to some, my early life religious ed. classes were not all that helpful. I also suspect that at that time I wasn't very open to the promptings of the Spirit either. Yet, that all seemed to change later on, as I began to read the Scriptures and understand the centrality of the Holy Mass. An important part of this realization was Dr. Scott Hahn's book. So thank you Dr. Hahn!
I plan to post about the conference next week in some detail. I am not sure how much I will be able to get to this week, since I have quite a bit of work to get done before Friday. Stay tuned!