Bryn Athyn College Alumni Magazine Fall/Winter 2017-18 - Page 18

Stephen Cole (BS '73) Plans are currently underway by conference organizers Jane Williams Hogan and Devin Zuber to publish a selection of the best pa- pers from the conference as a special volume with an academic press. Bryn Athyn College has also permanently archived the entire confer- ence, with access to high- quality video recordings of each talk and session, on its website. ings ended up having a broader impact, argu- If you were unable to attend the ably, on painters and conference last June, you can still poets than among the view videos online, or read more theologians and natu- about what was said in the forth- ral scientists at which coming book. Please stay tuned. Swedenborg’s work originally took aim. Twenty-nine individu- al presentations were arranged the critical introduction to the into thematic panels over the New Century Edition versions of course of the week, with ses- Secrets of Heaven, Hanegraaff’s sions that ranged from “Vision- Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three ary Architecture and Sound” to Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven “Swedenborg in World Litera- remains a major contribution tures.” There were presentations to Swedenborg studies). Hane- on painters such as George In- graaff’s talk at Bryn Athyn, ness, William Keith, and Wasily “Imagining Swedenborg’s Heav- Kandinsky; the architect Daniel en,” suggested the profound Burnham; and a bevy of writers ways that Swedenborg’s ideas including Feodor Dostoevsky, catalyzed new concerns with the Jorge Luis Borges, and Henry faculty of imagination, using James. Additionally, each day the work of the French Mesmer- opened with special keynote ist, spiritualist, and Swedenbor- lectures by significant scholars gian Louis-Alphonse Cahag- of Swedenborg, art history and net (1809—1885) as a case-study literature, or religious studies, for how Enlightenment empiri- that helped frame the kinds of cism could become transferred questions the conference sought into explorations of alternative to explore. forms of consciousness. The The conference began with talk provoked a set of ques- a keynote from Wouter Hane- tions about the close, perhaps graaff, professor of Hermetic symbiotic, relationship between Philosophy at the University attempts to describe spiritual of Amsterdam, who is widely or mystical experience and the regarded as one of the world’s nature of creativity and artistic leading authorities on Sweden- production itself. borg (in addition to authoring The subsequent keynotes 18 | F A L L / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7 - 1 8 amplified this interest while focusing on more particular artistic contexts. Massimo In- trovigne, founder and director of CESNUR, proposed a way to delineate “three concentric circles” of influence as a means of making a kind of typology for the different ways Sweden- borg’s work was being read and received by artists. Linda Dal- rymple-Henderson, the David Bruton Jr. Centenial Professor of Art History at the University of Texas, Austin, and important scholar on the relationship be- tween science and the develop- ment of modern art, brought new light to bear on how Swe- denborg’s concept of the spiri- tual world permeated new pre- occupations with the idea of a “fourth dimension” that attract- ed many early twentieth-century avant-gardes. For many of the academ- ics attending and presenting, it was their first time visiting Bryn Athyn or encountering a New Church educational setting. All without exception felt warmly welcomed, and deeply appreci- ated the “long, unhurried, deep and uplifting discussions with many different folk in a beauti- ful environment.” As one guest put it, “Many friendships have been made.” To complement the panel sessions, the conference also undertook special tours of the Cathedral and Glencairn, as well as walking tours of the Bryn Athyn community and the Lord’s New Church. Fur- ther highlights were the open- ing dinner at Cairnwood, and a large conference banquet in Glencairn.