After a quiet winter break, I’m happy to tell you that Spring Semester 2012 at King’s is off to a great start. Not only are classes in full swing, but student organizations like The King’s Debate Society are once again making history at King’s. They just recently hosted the first ever intercollegiate tournament at King’s, bringing in competitors from Yale, Brandeis, Patrick Henry, and Claremont to name a few.
Last week, King’s students also had the privilege of hearing from our most recent Presidential Scholar Stephen Barr. Dr. Barr, a physicist at the University of Delaware, gave seminars throughout the week on the topic of “God, the Soul, and The Laws of Physics.” In February, the economist Brian Wesbury will be on campus speaking about the future of economy as our fifth Scholar of the 2011-12 year.
We also have a range of exciting events coming in the next few months. In March, my newest book, called Godforsaken, will be out. The book is dedicated to answering the problem of evil. To launch the book I’ll be debating atheist Bart Ehrman at Socrates in the City. The debate on “God, Suffering & Evil” will be held at 7:00pm at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on March 5th. If you are in the area, I would love to have you there.
President, The King's College
King's Debate Society Hosts "The Empire Debates"
The King’s Debate Society made history at The King’s College on the weekend of January 20th by hosting "The Empire Debates," the College’s first major intercollegiate competition. Attending the tournament were debaters from a variety of institutions including Brandeis, St. John’s University, Yale University, University of Vermont, Claremont Colleges, Patrick Henry College, and others.
During the two day tournament, 48 teams debated topics ranging from internet piracy and the use of sex offender registries to whether the American Revolution was justified. Mobilizing the necessary resources and organizing the competitors was no small task, though Coach Katie Teubl found an abundance of help. Teubl said, “I knew the debate tournament would be a tremendous amount of work, but I was not expecting to have such remarkable support from universities around the country.”
Student leadership and volunteers were important to the success of the tournament. Josiah Peterson, President of The King’s Debate Society, said "Our volunteers, members, and non-members alike, really stepped up to the plate to make this event a success. King's Debate runs on student leadership and we could never have taken on such a venture without the organizational will and institutional support we saw this weekend."
In the final round of the debate tournament, debaters from St. John’s University, Brandeis, and Yale argued the motion that “This house believes that a future Department of Justice should prosecute Obama Administration officials for illegal drone strikes.” After a fierce debate, the opposition team from St. John’s University was declared winner by a unanimous panel of 5 judges.
During the award ceremony, alumnus and founder of The King’s Debate Society Matthias Clock gave a stirring speech on the purpose of debate. “Debate is not just a sandbox of ideas or a verbal game of chess: the ideas we encounter make demands of us.” Instead of ignoring these new ideas outside debate rounds, Clock encouraged debaters to see debate as a means to pursuing truth: “Do not let the endless circles of argument discourage you from making your mind up about what is right. As GK Chesterton once said, ‘the purpose of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.’”
The successful tournament positions The King’s Debate Society to become a leader in debate on the international stage. Peterson said, “as we continue to develop our skills as a debate society and leverage our strategic location in the heart of New York City, I have no doubt that The King’s Debate Society will gain an opportunity to become one of the premier debate societies in the world.”
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Physicist Stephen Barr Lectures at King's
Stephen Barr visited New York as the first Presidential Scholar at King’s in 2012. He visited for one week, beginning January 23 and gave a public lecture on January 24.
The Presidential Scholars Program brings some of today’s finest thinkers to our Empire State Building campus. In New York, Scholars speak to our students, work with our faculty, and defend ideas about God, limited government, and free enterprise in an increasingly combative public square.
“Our nation is embroiled in many crises that are—at their roots—intellectual, moral, and spiritual. We need statesmen and stateswomen who will defend timeless truths against the aggression of the new atheism and the radical secularism that we see in society today,” said Dinesh D’Souza, President of The King’s College.
Dr. Barr’s topic at King’s was be “God, The Soul, and The Laws of Physics.” His lectures explored the intersection of faith and science, with a particular emphasis on arguments for the existence of God from the physical and natural sciences.
He also gave a public lecture titled “Chance, Providence & Evolution” at the offices of First Things, a journal of religion and culture.
Dr. Barr is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, as well as a member of the Bartol Research Institute there. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1978 and went on to do postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and to hold research faculty positions at the University of Washington and the Brookhaven National Laboratory. His research centers on “grand unified theories” and the cosmology of the early universe. He was written 140 research papers, and he also writes and lectures extensively on the relation of science and religion.
Dr. Barr is the author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith and A Student’s Guide to Natural Science. He has also written for The Public Interest, The Weekly Standard, Academic Questions, and First Things, where he serves on the editorial advisory board.
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Professor David Innes Appears on Fox News
Associate Professor of Politics David Innes appeared on Fox News with Lisa Sharon Harper to discuss “Does Religion Have a Place in Politics?” Professor Innes and Ms. Harper are co-authors of Left, Right & Christ, a discussion of important policy questions from a Christian perspective.
To watch the discussion, click the image below.
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By Alissa Wilkinson
Everybody has something they’re aiming at—that, in St. Augustine’s framework, they love. Those things we want are what we think the “good life” looks like, and they determine how we make choices—often without us realizing it.
Someone who thinks the good life is about material success will make choices about education, family, career, and even hobbies to help them achieve that life. Another might pursue comfort, security, and stability above all else; that person would find it difficult to take risks or do difficult things, even if God called. Another may chase reputation and renown—and even Christians fall prey to these wrongly-directed loves.
Show me what you love, and I will have a pretty good sense of who you are. Show me what you do, and I’ll know what you love.
“Gotta serve somebody,” said one of our own New York bards.
The point, of course, is that it’s not just people who are oriented toward things—what we make reflects what we love, too. So when we make institutions, our loves are baked in. The “practices” of the institution are oriented toward those ends.
My students and I talk through all of this as we study Principles of Culture Interpretation—the first of the core courses in the Media, Culture, and the Arts (MCA) sequence at The King’s College, where we construct a Christian anthropology of culture before we start studying what people have been making of their world, from the dawn of civilization to our own postmodern age. But I remind them of an important fact: the things we make, the culture we create, then turn around and start shaping us. Our interaction with those things shapes what we love.
This is why I believe in the vision of The King’s College. Our vision is to be a community of scholars who train ambitious students (who come to us already loving learning, seeking the truth, and wrestling with ideas) into leaders (who have Christ-driven integrity, deep roots, and a passion to lead, which is just another way of saying a passion to serve). These are the things we love, as an institution.
Those loves mean we make careful choices about what we do and don’t do in the classroom. We are intentional in designing courses that don’t just impart a lot of knowledge for regurgitation, but that require careful work, thoughtful interaction, and the development of discernment. In MCA, we try to let students discover the riches of their imaginations and their culture. We want to impart a passion for conserving and championing the best—and creating more.
I think this focused love is why we can be effective, and why I am continually startled and impressed with our students as they near graduation and enter the “real world.” I see how our institution has shaped them into people who love what our institution is aimed at: not just truth, but goodness; not just flash and pomp, but beauty and imagination. Not just knowledge, but wisdom.
Alissa Wilkinson teaches courses in writing, cultural criticism, cultural anthropology, and postmodern thought.
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