A fine time was had by all. Peter Lawler, Patrick Deneen, and Bob Bartlett each did yeoman duty, providing coherent comments on six different papers. Peter commented on pieces by J. Budziszewski and Craig Gay; Patrick offered remarks on Michaels Zuckert and Perry; and Bob had smart things to say about Allan Arkush and Nick Wolterstorff.
While we of course didnt resolve anything, we did air a number of interesting issues. One set of questions had to do with the continuing importance of religion as providing a moral education in a liberal society. There were no thoroughgoing enlightenment rationalists at the table, even among those who would describe themselves as liberals. To what degree, we wondered, did liberal pluralism require a Christian or Judaeo-Christian originating culture and continuing backdrop? To what extent could Christianity and Judaism survive and/or prosper in such a setting? To what degree could Islam fit into such a pluralistic liberal order? I found myself wishing that we had been joined by a thoughtful and well-informed scholar of Islam. Calling Hillel Fradkin!
After all was said and done, the book I wanted to read was Craig M. Gays The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why Its Tempting to Live As If God Doesnt Exist .
And the best one-liner was Peter Lawlers: "Thank God, life is going to continue to suck!"