The 2020 First Things Lecture in Washington, D.C.
The Secret of the Saeculum
Delivered by Douglas Farrow
Seven o'clock in the evening
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Complimentary reception to follow
Douglas Farrow is Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at McGill University in Montreal. His recent books include Theological Negotiations, Desiring a Better Country, Ascension Theology, Nation of Bastards, and the forthcoming Brazos commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. His essays can be found in First Things, Touchstone, Catholic World Report, and many academic journals. He was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his contributions to public discourse and is the recipient of the 2019 Cardinal Wright award from the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
To everything there is a purpose, but what is the purpose of the present age? Is it something definite, directed to some end proper to it? Is it an age at all, or just a succession of eras marked by certain paradigm shifts in the way we think and live?
Christianity has claimed that the present age is an age of grace, given for the advancement of the gospel to the ends of the earth. That claim, however, with its enormous political implications, is thought by many to belong to a past era that came to an end with Christendom itself. As Charles Taylor observes in A Secular Age, we live now in a new era characterized by the possibility of “sloughing off” the transcendent, of building from the bottom up, of living exclusively within “the immanent frame.”
The challenge of adjusting to this new era occasioned the Second Vatican Council and is the chief concern of the current pontificate. In theological terms, it seems to call for a revised understanding of the relation between nature and grace, a new political vision, and a fresh conception of both clerical and lay vocations, of what we should endeavor and what we should expect.
It must be asked, however, whether the truth about the present age has begun to be obscure to us, whether the secret of the saeculum as revealed by Jesus is becoming a secret even Christians fail to grasp. Do we still understand the dynamic of the age and the mission of the Church as our fathers in faith did, or do our hopes and fears reflect some different understanding? What do we think is at stake in the present age?
In this lecture Professor Farrow will employ Christian eschatology to challenge false secularisms operating both inside and outside the Church.
in partnership with:
The Institute for Human Ecology
This event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception with refreshments.