28 March 2004

Weekend at Princeton

I've just returned from two full days at the campuses of Princeton University and Princeton Seminary, where I spoke at the annual retreat of the Woodrow Wilson Graduate Christian Fellowship, an affiliate of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The topic of the retreat was "Political Visions and Illusions," which just happens to be the title of my book. I was privileged to enjoy the generous hospitality of Jim and Jill McCullough. Jim is the leader of the fellowship and the one who arranged for me to come.

I arrived late thursday afternoon. On friday we toured the campus, which I had previously visited six years ago on the occasion of a conference marking the centenary of Abraham Kuyper's Stone Lectures, delivered at the seminary in 1898. In the late morning I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Prof. Robert George, a serious Catholic who teaches law in the political science department at the university. (While we were conversing with him at a local café, he received a phone call from Chuck Colson, of all people.)

In the afternoon I had the opportunity to meet and talk with two graduate students at nearby Rutgers University, Anil Jacob and Hank Suhr, whom I hope to keep in contact with. Hank had recently been at the Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh, where he met up with the group of students from Redeemer who attended this year.

The conference itself took place yesterday at the Nassau Christian Center, adjacent the university campus. It consisted of a mixture of small group discussions and plenary sessions at which I was, of course, the speaker. The students were mostly studying in the MPA programme at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Obviously they were an extremely bright and enthusiastic lot, and I enjoyed them immensely. The MPA is a two-year programme with a highly practical focus, including a summer internship overseas. I spoke with one student who had done her internship in East Timor, and another had visited east Africa.

My own talks were based on chapters 1 and 7-9 of my book. I spoke twice, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It was an enjoyable experience all in all. I am glad to have been able to offer something to this great group of young people with so many gifts to be used in the service of God's kingdom.

I would like to have met Max Stackhouse and Hughes Oliphant Old at the seminary. But both were out of town. Some other time perhaps.

Now back down to earth. I've got a stack of papers waiting for me to grade.

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