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CLERGY KEYNOTE SPEAKER
The Discerning Consumer: Loving Media Without Losing Your Soul
Lecture by Zachary Porcu
With everyone stuck at home in quarantine, the issue of binging on media or games has been pushed into the center stage, but it’s hard to have an easy answer to the question of whether the overabundance of media in our lives is good or bad. Zachary will discuss how we can be discerning consumers of media by understanding the difference between art and entertainment and by comparing ancient and modern storytelling, with a special emphasis on how tabletop roleplaying games can uniquely engage and humanize us.
Zachary is a professor of theology at the University of St. Katherine's and a doctoral candidate at the Catholic University of America. A church historian with a rich academic background in philosophy and classics, Zachary specializes in late antique patristics and Eastern Orthodox theology. He is the author of the book, Thinking Like the Ancients: A Catechism for Modern People (currently seeking publication) and has written and presented extensively on Christianity’s relationship to modern culture, the secularizing effects of the Reformation, and the development of patristic thought. Zachary lives in Virginia with his wife where he enjoys coaching fencing and designing tabletop games.
Light in the City: Technology, Freedom, and Suffering in Mega Man
Lecture by Patrick R. Callahan
With the popularity of retro-gaming in recent years, many have recovered a love of Mega Man in recent years. In two rock operas inspired by this popular series, the Protomen take the hints of a backstory from the original series and overlay it with a profound story about the fall of a city by seeking to work out its salvation through technological means and the many attempts to redeem that city through sacrifice. During the pandemic, they provide a foil to our own moral choices between freedom and safety that align surprising well with the Christian anthropology of culture and technology found, for example, in St. Augustine, J.R.R. Tolkein, or Romano Guardini.
Patrick Callahan works at the Koch Center for Leadership and Ethics at Emporia State University. He is a graduate of the University of Dallas and Fordham University with a doctoral dissertation on the ancient commentaries to the Greek lyric poet Pindar. He resides in rural Kansas with his wife and five children.
Barefaced and Brightfaced: Pestilence and Theophany in Till We Have Faces
Lecture by Cindy Collins Smith
Wastelands ravaged by pestilence or turned waste by wickedness have haunted literature at least since Moses called down plagues on Pharaoh and Oedipus solved the riddle of the Sphinx. Long before the rise of post-apocalyptic dystopias, pagan cultures often addressed pestilence, drought, and crop failure through human sacrifice. In Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis flips these sacrificial motifs on their head, transforming the devouring god of the mountain into a prefiguring of the One True God, turning apparent catastrophe into theophany and defiant railing into humble repentance. Cindy will examine how pestilence becomes a catalyst for the two main characters’ divergent journeys toward God and give participants an opportunity to reflect on how we as Christians respond to our own challenging circumstances.
Cindy Collins Smith is an assistant professor of English at NOVA Annandale. She has contributed numerous essays to books on film, traced the development of Jack the Ripper mythos in print and screen media, dabbled in Harry Potter analysis, and served on a variety of panels at film conventions and on podcasts. Her work on Ripper mythos has appeared in Ripperologist Magazine and currently resides at Casebook: Jack the Ripper. Cindy lives in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband Brian and their cats Severus and Minerva. She enjoys researching family history and exploring Byzantine chant.
The Banality of Goodness:
Facing Judgment and Choosing Life: The Eschatology of Star Trek: Picard
Lecture by Jonathan Jacobson
The CBS All-Access web series Star Trek: Picard was released immediately prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The series focuses on retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard’s quest to find the android “daughter” of Lieutenant Commander Data, who, 20 years earlier, had sacrificed himself to save Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Also searching for the same android is an apocalyptic cult of Romulans, motivated by prophetic visions of all sentient organic life being destroyed by an artificial intelligence descending from the sky. Star Trek: Picard raises important questions for both Christians and secular viewers on how we define the purpose of our lives, make sense of our mortality, and respond to the possibility of judgment by a superior being.
Jonathan Jacobson was born during Season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series. While his original career goals were to design starships and travel back in time to see dinosaurs, he ended up obtaining a PhD in economics from M.I.T., watching epic science fiction series on TV with his family, and reading ancient Christian theology on the side. Since trekking to Virginia with his astrophysicist wife during Season 1 of Deep Space Nine, Jonathan has explored the strange new worlds of public policy research, fatherhood, becoming Orthodox, and working and teleworking for the Federal Government. He presented previously at Doxacon Prime in 2013, 2015, and 2019.
The Artifice of Escape: Chesterton and Star Wars on Hope
Lecture by Edmund Lazzari
In his little-known essay "How to read Poetry," G.K. Chesterton outlines two aspects of poetry, the grandiose and the artificial, which make for great art and storytelling. They are also major and self-conscious aspects of the Star Wars saga. From the opening “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...” to the leitmotifs in the sweeping orchestral score to the instances of ritual and repeated phrases, Star Wars consistently uses artifice to self-consciously build an atmosphere or fairy-tale storytelling that sets it apart from any attempted realism. Both Chesterton and Star Wars create this escape into the realm of the poetic not to distance ourselves from reality, but to explore the longing of the human heart for a universe beyond mere appearances.The use of the artificial reminds us that the invisible is more important than the visible. It allows us to escape from the tyranny of the visible and gives us hope in the ultimate victory of God.
Having taught philosophy at Mount Saint Mary's University, Prince George's Community College, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Edmund Lazzari is currently a teaching fellow in the Theology Department of Marquette University. His research interests extend from liturgical music and Biblical exegesis to philosophical ethics and speculative theology. In addition to being a former Basselin Fellow at the Catholic University of America, he is the author of the New Blackfriars Review article "Would St. Thomas Aquinas Baptize an Extraterrestrial?"
Doxacon Prime of Washington, D.C. is sponsored by
Protection of the Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America — Romanian Episcopate
7223 Roosevelt Ave, Falls Church, VA 22042