Harvard students and alumni gathered to discuss themes of love and Christianity during the Veritas Forum’s three day seminar and lecture series held on campus this past weekend. This year’s forum, whose teaser posters questioned “Where is the love?,” featured several speakers who discussed topics including ‘Poverty and the Creative Response,’ ‘The Coherence of God’s Love in the Face of Evil,’ and ‘Rethinking Relationships.’
The student-run forum seeks to supply the university community a safe and stimulating setting to explore some of life’s toughest questions in a manner that offers dignity to all individuals. In a world seemingly more and more preoccupied with asking the ‘how’ questions, The Veritas Forum, which at over 50 universities nationwide, was created to respond to our heart’s often neglected cry for meaning and purpose. In that spirit, this year’s event at Harvard was themed around the notion of ‘True Love,’ offering a biblical perspective as an instrument in coming to terms with real problems that we all wrestle with daily.
As a Christian, I am inspired by Jesus Christ and so it is my personal hope that there is much we can learn by looking at his life and story. His message was beyond radical. He asked his followers to love their enemies, to become servants to all people, and to give up all of their own self interests (not exactly Adam Smith economics) – and in doing these things and in believing in him, Jesus said we would somehow find true life. In this spirit, The Forum and many of its presenters and attendees proposed the idea that perhaps Christianity, to follow Jesus Christ that is, is not so much a religion as much as it is a relationship with the God who created us all and loves us all – that means you too.
One particular highlight of the weekend featured Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality and Searching for God Knows What, who artfully intertwined humorous personal stories, pop culture and existentialist philosophy to present the good news that Jesus brought to the world. In addition, David Porteous, a native of South Africa and speaker at the HBS African Business Conference this past weekend, shared his experience and insights on the realities of poverty, encouraging us not only to contribute to the global movement with our money but more importantly with our hearts. Thus he challenged us to think about how many poor people we actually know and are in relationship with; for until we know the poor, poverty remains but an abstract idea.
Concluding the event on Saturday night, the Harvard community was awed and entertained by the gospel sounds of the a cappella group Brothers of Kuumba, followed by a remarkable one man performance of the Gospel of Luke, masterfully portrayed by Bruce Kuhn, a seasoned Christian actor on Broadway and around the world.
And so though The Forum admittedly did not provide a categorical list of easy answers to all of the difficult questions that were posed, if nothing else it fostered the gathering, engaging and exploring of relevant issues and challenges that we all encounter as a community, perhaps offering an extraordinary opportunity for personal and collective transformation.
Editor’s Note: If you missed out on The Veritas Forum but would like to hear the message, you can listen to all the talks and former forum presentations online at //www.veritas.org.