“I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry. I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
This declaration was made by John, the savage who returns with Bernard and Lenina to civilised London, in Aldous Huxley’s magnum opus, “Brave New World”. It also beautifully exemplifies what we, as scholars of human endeavours, strive to be. We can never be comfortable in our quest to seek truth in knowledge. Our relentless pursuits in understanding what drives cultures, civilisations and peoples to do what they do completely rips our world apart. In our scholarship, we bring chaos to established order, questioning tradition. And yet, we also seek to bring order to the chaotic world of knowledge.
This new world that we have created is marvellous and dangerous, fantastic and gross. It’s most certainly not for the timid. In our own way, we are explorers in a time where order is chaos and chaos becomes the new order, transforming traditions, becoming godlike in this brave new world.
The success of this conference could not have happened without the help and encouragement of so many people, and I ask you to bear with me as I attempt thank those who have worked so tirelessly in order to make this year’s conference possible.
First and foremost, we’d like to thank Munit and Tina, who gave us the encouragement that we needed, and the occasional reality check. They are the heart, life, the very soul of this department, and without them, we would all be hopelessly lost. Thank you, ladies.
We’d also like to thank the faculty of Concordia’s Department of Religion, particularly our chair, Dr. Lorenzo DiTommaso, for their support and for their understanding, particularly in the recent weeks when we were not always focused as we would have liked to be.
This conference could not have succeeded without the hard work of the committee: Shaun Turriff, my so-called left-hand man, and his calm and levelheaded presence was a true blessing at the times when we were ready to rip our hair out. Shaun was often my sounding board, carving out time for us and giving practical advice at anytime I needed it.
Hollie McGowan, our caterer, who did everything to ensure that we were not only well fed at lunch today, but also satisfied. She worked tirelessly to make sure that our food would not only be on budget, but would appeal to our discerning palates, which is a feat and a half.
Taylor Baruchel– the Communications Liaisons. It was she who kept track of all our presenters, making sure that each and every need was met, answer any and all questions and taking all of my notes for me.
Christophe Garlaschi, who was in charge of the volunteers. His enthusiasm was – and still is – infectious, and he often reminded us why we are doing this in the first place.
Andrew Khoury, administration and my self-appointed mafioso. He liaised between the major departments within the university, untangling the Gordian knot of details so that any interactions I would need to have would be as smooth as possible.
Pascale Greenfield, our Financial officer and funding guru. She kept us on track, pulling funding and stretching our budget to limits unimaginable. Without her and her creative touch, we would not have been able to pull off such a professional and high-class conference.
Sam Senecal, who did our publicity and was the printing mistress. Her calm rationality helped us to be on time, ensuring that we all took the occasional deep breath and to take each day as it comes.
Esti Mayer, who designed our wonderfully whimsical posters, the so-called inkblots, gave us an injection of colour and inspired creativity.
Cimminnee Holt, our web-mistress, who patiently dealt with my occasional impatience and maintained our web presence. She also worked, along with Shaun, tirelessly in the background, picking up the the fallen details that I may have forgotten and was a source of support.
Finally, this conference could not have happened without the help and time of our volunteers. It is they who enabled the smooth running and making sure that everyone felt welcomed, by provided an atmosphere in which we all could feel comfortable to share our ideas.
We’d like to invite you to join us for the reception held at the department of Religion, where we had lunch, for some further socialization.
We hope to see you again next year.