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“Religion occupies the highest seat in the human mind, and sees beneath it the civil matters pertaining to the world; it also ascends by means of them... and from that height it surveys what is natural, as from a tower one surveys the plains below.”   —  True Christian Religion 601

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The World Transformed: A Two-Day Conference at Bryn Athyn College
October 2007

It has long been understood in the New Church that the Last Judgment is not something to look forward to, but rather a spiritual incident that has already happened, specifically in 1757. In other words, changes have occurred in the human mind that make salvation possible; no need to sit idle waiting for something to happen.

The Last Judgment may have gone unnoticed by most, who are still waiting, but that is not surprising. Swedenborg wrote that this would be an event that takes place in the human mind and translate into the natural world by means of it. Such an occurrence can explain how and why the depth of human thinking reached a new level in the 18th century.

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Last Judgment, the Cole Foundation sponsored a gathering of New Church scholars to reflect on the impact this event has had upon culture and learning. The World Transformed: A Conference on the Last Judgment , was held on the 5th and 6th of October. Cosponsored by the Cole Foundation for Renewing the Culture and Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, the event took advantage of the brand new facilities of the Mitchell Performing Arts Center on the Bryn Athyn College campus, with support from MPAC?s helpful staff, along with sound and video volunteers and Cole Foundation interns.

The body of the program was made up of twelve well researched and carefully prepared presentations divided up into four general areas: world religion, sociology, science and philosophy. Michael Hogan initiated the call for papers and submitted a paper, The World Transformed, which sought to outline what is said in doctrine about the Last Judgment and to put the event into a general historical context, providing a framework for individual research. Each general session was introduced and/or summarized by a discussant, and the two-day conference was capped by a banquet at Glencairn, featuring a keynote by the Rev. Walter Orthwein. Tuesday night featured a full-screen viewing of the film Amazing Grace, with an introduction by Dean Brian Henderson.

Each presentation was designed to examine how that particular cultural or intellectual area may have been transformed in the era of the Last Judgment, and what might be fruitful avenues of further inquiry to unravel how the process of the Last Judgment has prepared the way for the advent of a new church. The scholars aimed to demonstrate how social issues, mathematics, science, philosophy, economics and religion all changed in a way that suggests a renewal, or universal enlightenment.

Presentations can be viewed as of the winter of 2008-2009 by clicking on here, and the full text of these papers are to be published during the 2008-2009 school year.

Nation Building in Iraq: Dr. Rose and Capt. Cooper discuss realities of Iraq with Bryn Athyn College students.
March, 2004

On March 26 and 27, The Cole Foundation and Bryn Athyn College of the New Church sponsored a program at the College to focus on the difficulties and status of nation building efforts in Iraq. On Friday, Lt. Col. Dr. Greg Rose, Associate Professor at the Air Force Academy, and Captain Craig Cooper, met with students over lunch in a standing room only classroom in Pendleton Hall. Dr. Rose addressed policy issues, while Captain Cooper, who has done three tours of duty in Iraq as weapons officer aboard an F15E, gave a first hand account.

Photo: Dr. Rose and Capt. Cooper discuss realities of Iraq with Bryn Athyn College students.

On Saturday night more than a hundred students and members of the community listened to a series of three talks. The first was an introduction by Professor Donald C. Fitzpatrick, describing the great difficulties encountered in the first decade of the American Republic. Mr. Fitzpatrick outlined the weaknesses that made the creation of the United States difficult, but then showed that there were also a great many strengths or advantages that the nascent republic could call upon. Even with those many advantages, it would take more than a century for the nation to unify. Click here to download the full text of Mr. Fitzpatrick's remarks (PDF).

This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Rose. Dr. Rose discussed the challenges of nation building in Iraq from the perspective of Iraq's internal conditions. He outlined the slim record of success in past attempts at nation building around the globe, stressing that there are certain prerequisites to success in these efforts, and they are seldom all present. In particular, he said that strong ethnic identity and homogeneity, strong state capacity (organized military, judiciary, bureaucracy), and economic development and resources were three essentials. Click here to download a summary of Dr. Rose's talk (PDF).

The final talk was given by David Radcliffe, who currently serves in the Pentagon on the Special Operation and Combating Terrorism Policy Team in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. Mr. Radcliffe complemented Dr. Rose's talk by illustrating the challenges of nation building in Iraq from the perspective of the U. S. military, intelligence and diplomacy apparatus. Using the same examples of success and failure as Dr. Rose, he highlighted the difficulty of inter-agency cooperation. Click here to download a PowerPoint presentation of Mr. Radcliffe's talk (PPT).

George Washington and Public Morality
February 17th, 2004

On February 17th, 2004, a packed dining room at Cairnwood Village heard a Washington’s Birthday talk by Brian Henderson. Mr. Henderson is a History professor at Bryn Athyn College, and has also taught U. S. History in the Academy Secondary Schools. The topic of Mr. Henderson’s talk was George Washington and Public Morality. With special attention to Washington’s Farewell Address to Congress, Mr. Henderson demonstrated America’s first president, considered the Father of his Country, far from avoiding referrences to God and Christianity, injected his speaches with constant statements of the absolute necessity for morality in public life, and for a religious basis for morality.

An efficient Cairnwood Village crew of Louise Pollack, Christine Bedford and Khary Allen, as well as our own Del Gunther, made the meal and the program as delightfully festive as it was informative.

January 23-24, 2004

On Friday and Saturday, January 23-24, 2004, The Cole Foundation sponsored seven Bryn Athyn College students’ attendance at a political conference in Washington DC. Accompanied by Rev. and Mrs. Walter Orthwein, trip leaders Dr. Dan Synnestvedt and Mr. Erik Odhner arranged for the group to hear speeches and debates on topics such as: Show Business and (Im)morality, Social Security Reform, Immigration Reform, and Higher Education, Citizenship, and the Political Process.

In addition, students heard Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist and former Ambassador to the U.N. Alan L. Keyes. Over meals at the conference center (the Crystal Gateway Marriott) students and faculty were able to share their thoughts on the presentations and discuss how they related to topics of study in Philosophy 111, Introduction to Moral and Political Philosophy. The students reported that they enjoyed the conference and The Cole Foundation hopes to sponsor similar events in the future.

Maurice McTigue on Efficiency in Government
November 2003

In November, the Foundation hosted the Honorable Maurice McTigue of the Mercatus Center for a luncheon at Cairnwood Mansion. In attendance were Bryn Athyn College faculty and students, Cole Foundation trustees and friends, and also friends of the Mercatus Center from the metropolitan Philadelphia area.

Mr. McTigue has worked at Mercatus since 1997. Before that he served in a remarkable number of positions in the Parliament and government of New Zealand in the 80's and 90's. There he played a pivotal role in the decontrol and privatization that turned New Zealand into one of the most free economies in the world.

The subject of Mr. McTigue's talk was his results-based analysis of government services. His plea is to measure the efficiency of various government entities and shift resources from the less efficient to the more efficient. Using an endless reportoire of amusing anectodes, McTigue illustrates not only the tendency of government to defy measurement, but the amazing results that can be achieved when measurement finally takes place.

Mr. McTigue came to us at the suggestion of Amy Buick, who acts as head of donor relations in the mid-Atlantic area.