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Dr. Steven Garber, Executive Director, The Washington Institute


February 3, 2012 at 9:30 PM EST


411 Willard Straight Hall

Can We Know the World—and Still Love the World? On Vocation and the Common Good

“Knowledge is power!” was the promise of the Enlightenment. Yes, in a thousand ways, and the great universities of the modern world have birthed that reality And yet, even as it was coming into being there were those who saw knowledge differently. The poet Byron lamented that “those who know the most mourn the deepest.” More recently the Librarian of Congress has wondered if our unprecedented access to information has made us wiser as a people. Why is knowing the world so full of promise and peril at the very same time? What is it about knowing people and places that more often than not leads to cynicism or stoicism? Different responses as they are, both are ways to protect ourselves from the implications of what we know, both allow us to say, “Yes, I know but….” Is it possible to honestly know the world, and to still love it? Only if our vision of vocation—of what we do and why we do it –is rooted in the reality of common grace for the common good. 


Lecture 1: Getting All A’s and Still Flunking Life

As a Hungarian Jew living coming of age in the first half of the 20th century, the chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi wondered how people could be brilliant and bad at the same time? A few years later the American novelist and essayist Walker Percy wrote about the danger lurking around the corner of everyone’s life, viz. that we can master learning and yet at the same time miss the point of life. What does it mean to be educated? What is education about, anyway?



Steven Garber has a classroom among many people in many places. As the Director of the Washington Institute, the heart of his own calling is that people understand the integral character of faith, vocation, and culture. Author of The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (Second Ed., 2007), he writes frequently for Comment and Critique, and in addition was a contributor to the volumes Faith Goes to Work: Reflections From the Marketplace, and Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalogue, as well as to the Mars Hill Audio journal, “Tacit Knowing, Truthful Knowing: The Life and Work of Michael Polanyi.” For many years he taught on Capitol Hill in the American Studies Program, and then became the Scholar-in-Residence for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He serves as a board member for Ransom Fellowship, the Blood:Water Mission, A Rocha, the Telos Project, and the Wedgwood Circle, and serves as a consultant to the Murdock Trust, the Demdaco Corporation and the Mars Corporation. A native of the great valleys of Colorado and California, he is married to Meg and is the father of five children whose own callings have them scattered around the world.


The Institute of Biblical Studies is co-sponsored by Chesterton House, Bethel Grove Bible Church, and New Life Presbyterian Church. Talks continue on Saturday and Sunday at Bethel Grove.

Chesterton House Painting