The annual Vanenburg Meeting, organized by the Center for European Renewal, was held 19–21 August 2016. This was the 11th such meeting — and, once again, the recently re-named Royal Agricultural University in the little town of Cirencester, England, served as the venue. (It had previously served as the venue for the 2012 Vanenburg Meeting.)
Nearly one hundred guests attended the 11th Vanenburg Meeting, with some of the world’s most interesting and outspoken conservative thinkers, writers, and academics gathering for a weekend of lectures, debates, and fellowship. Participants last year came from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United States.
The 2016 Meeting was structured into three days of plenary sessions and small, formal seminars, followed by evening presentations — and opportunities for informal discussions over meals. While the broader purpose of the Meeting is to provide an opportunity to grapple with some of the most pressing issues facing Europe, and to consider various conservative responses to today’s challenges, each year’s chosen theme helps to focus deliberations. The theme of last year’s Meeting was “The Sacred and the Profane”.
As in previous years, participants could choose from among various simultaneous sessions. Sessions in 2016 included seminars on Mircea Eliade led by Dutch legal philosopher Andreas Kinneging, “The Revenge of the Sacred in Secular Culture” led by Polish scholar Agnieszka Kolakowska, a discussion of the concept of “political religions” led by German political scientist Harald Bergbauer, a consideration of “Tyranny, Ancient and Modern” by Hungarian political philosopher András Lánczi, and an examination of the “Presuppositions of the Sacred” led by American scholar Vigen Guroian.
Other topics that emerged included threats to religious freedom in Europe, the challenge of secularism in the West, the de-sacralization of European culture, and the challenge of mass immigration.
The Vanenburg Meeting, which is held every summer over a period of three days in a different European city, was first held in 2006. Since then, it has brought together hundreds of conservatives from across Europe and the United States for discussions and networking.