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Acton University Wrap-up and Return to Reality

Acton University 2010 is done, and I'm officially a graduate. I feel a bit like I do when I return from a great retreat: that "mountain top" experience, and then dealing with my day-to-day life again. The kitchen is dirty, I need to go grocery shopping, start a new job in a week and a half.....

Those of us who received Hansen Fellowships in order to attend AU were asked to think about three questions over the course of the week. The first was, "What inspired me the most?" Simple question, but no easy answer.

The privilege of hearing Immaculee speak was profound. Even though I've read her books, nothing compares to looking in her eyes as she delivers a humble and profound message of peace. Her statement, "If you have a choice between being right and being kind, be kind" will stick with me for a long time.

Having the opporunity to listen to and talk with people like Dr. Samuel Gregg, Michael Miller, and Jennifer Robach Morse was astounding. The information they shared with us regarding economics, demography, poverty, family and culture was fascinating, enlightening, prophetic and helpful. I cannot wait to share it and learn more.

One of the things that struck me the most was something I shared with Fr. Sirico over lunch yesterday. My academic background is in world religions. In that world, religion is great to study, but no sane, intelligent human would ever really practice religion. It's quaint and interesting, but not sensible or smart.

On the other hand, I've worked most of my life in church work and teaching. In this world, you have profoundly faithful people who aren't much interested in dialogue with people of other faiths, since they are clearly wrong. Academic work isn't terribly important.

Acton University gave me an opportunity to use "both sides of my brain", if you will: academic work and faith. It was exhilirating to share ideas with people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, and never having to feel like I needed to hide my brain or my faith. I think that is what stood out for me the most this week.

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