“The Golden Sessions”: Repairing the Ruins Conference 2022

Brenda Porter

In June, several members of the Morning Star community traveled to Dallas to participate in the Repairing the Ruins conference, an annual event that brings together educators from all over the United States. The conference includes practical workshops and plenary sessions led by teachers and leaders from the world of classical Christian education. 

Attendees from Morning Star included first grade teacher Mrs. Lori King, sixth grade teacher Mrs. Heather Karl, Latin and music teacher Mrs. Joanie Mercy, English teacher Mrs. Brenda Porter, fifth grade teacher Mrs. Angie Walters, Board member Mr. John Walters, and Head of School Mrs. Elisa Wingerd. We met at the airport on a Wednesday afternoon, grateful for the opportunity to deepen our knowledge about classical Christian education and excited about the chance to experience Texas together. We were especially blessed by the presence of John and Angie, Texas natives, who served as excellent guides for our trip.

Our first full day in Dallas began with a coffee stop at Starbucks and this quickly became a morning tradition! Once registered for the conference, we hustled to the packed main meeting hall for the plenary session on “The Necessity of Cultural Engagement” by classical Christian pioneer Douglas Wilson. Wilson noted that there are several ways of framing how Christians should interact with culture. He encouraged us to remain committed to engaging with the culture we inhabit rather than accommodating ourselves to it or fortifying ourselves away from it.

Further, Wilson argued that a key purpose of the classical Christian school is to prepare students for cultural engagement by equipping them to think biblically about the world. Last fall, Morning Star faculty read and studied Beyond Biblical Integration by Dr. Roger Erdvig, and Wilson’s lecture underscored the key takeaway of our book study: The development of a Christian worldview is not just one component of the education we provide; it is the central, vital truth that illuminates all areas of study. 

Following Wilson’s lecture, our group split up to attend workshops specific to our disciplinary interests. We reunited to enjoy lunch and dinner together each day, and from Chuy’s Tex-Mex to Texas Barbecue, we made it our goal to enjoy delicious food! The topics of our meal-time conversations were as varied as the conference sessions we attended. Some workshops addressed the philosophical—meaning and purpose, beauty and aesthetics, leisure and play, authority and truth. Others provided practical advice on pedagogy—using review games, creating classroom culture, planning purposefully, assessing orally. All of it was up for discussion, and each person added a unique voice and perspective.

Having the leisure time to enjoy these kinds of conversations is rare in the teaching profession. We spend most of our days in the company of our students, with limited opportunities to interact with colleagues. So while the workshops and sessions inspired and educated, those moments in between—coffee, lunch, rides in the mini-van to restaurants—were precious. They helped us to know one another better and heightened our respect and appreciation for each other.

In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis writes this about friendship:

“[E]ach member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day’s walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life—natural life—has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?”  

Though he is here referring to longstanding relationships between old friends, I think his words are also true of our conference fellowship and conversation. In fact, when our Saturday flights back to the Quad Cities were cancelled, the inconvenience was an unexpected blessing. We spent our final evening on the rooftop of a hotel, enjoying cheesecake, conversation, and the last light of a golden Texas sunset. Thanks be to God. 

Watch highlights from the conference and learn more about its sponsor, the Association of Classical Christian Schools.

Brenda Porter teaches English and writing at Morning Star Academy. She and her husband, Rob, are the parents of three grown daughters.

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