Saturday, December 20, 2008

King's College

The New York Times this morning describes King's College, a Christian college in Manhattan: "In a Worldly City’s Tallest Tower, a College With a Heavenly Bent."
Out of the myriad and random tenants that fill the Empire State Building, there is one that seems both perfectly situated, yet jarringly out of place.

It is the King’s College, an evangelical Christian school that is all but hidden in plain sight, occupying three of the building’s floors — two of them subterranean — since 1999. On the one hand, it seems apt that a school claiming close adherence to God’s word would occupy New York’s tallest skyscraper. ....

Its setting, college leaders say, was a deliberate move. They wanted students to be exposed to new ideas and hone their intellectual chops far from the “holy huddle,” places that are religiously and ideologically sealed off from the rest of the world.

“There are pockets of Christians in America that don’t combine rigorous thinking with Christianity,” said David Lapp, 22, a senior from Lancaster, Pa. “But you can be a rigorous thinker and a very serious Christian as well.” ....

The college’s mandate, Mr. Mills said, is to encourage students to engage people with differing viewpoints, and ideally to shape public discourse “in a way that is winsome, and not screechy from the Christian right.”

The college’s main offices are on the Empire State Building’s 15th floor, flooded with light and home to a grandfather clock that gongs every 15 minutes. The two basement levels are windowless and cozily lighted, and house classrooms, a student lounge and the library. ....

For the most part, the college imposes few strictures on its students. Beyond abiding by a basic honor code — to not lie, cheat or steal — “you’re basically on your own,” said Hope Hodge, 21, who is from Waltham, Mass., and is the editor of the school paper. “If you want to see the seedy underbelly,” she said, “it’s right there.”

There is no on-campus housing; instead, most freshmen live, unsupervised, in nearby college apartments. Nor is there any religious service on campus, though many students attend “Tent,” a student-run service dedicated to Bible readings and Christian songs. [more]
The American Spectator published an article describing the college this past September. A couple of excerpts:
The skittish insularity of many self-professed Christian colleges is entirely absent, replaced by a confidence and openness that is rare if not unique. The discussion is well versed and polite, never devolving into demagoguery or dismissive invective, but at the same time firm and grounded. “The secular world shouldn’t be allowed to think we’re hiding or intimidated,” Oakes said. “If secularists do a better job of winning over the country, well, they’ve earned the right to set the national agenda. We plan to train our side to compete vigorously, though.” ....

...King’s College boasts one of the thinnest residential life books in the history of higher education: Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Otherwise, do what you know is right.

“This isn’t the typical stereotype of a Christian college where guys and girls can’t hold hands after seven or aren’t allowed to watch certain movies or listen to certain songs,” recent graduate Anthony Randazzo said. Yet, the school is hardly slouching toward Gomorrah. There is no mandatory chapel, yet students have a robust faith life with attendance at student-generated worship services and Bible study sessions rivaling or exceeding those at other religious schools. The student living quarters in high-rises—“Houses” with names like Bonhoeffer, Churchill, Reagan and Susan B. Anthony, “like Hogwarts from Harry Potter” one young woman explained—are student-run. However, they are Animal House-esque only if some director’s cut exists with scenes of John Belushi mentoring under-privileged youth and moderating intra-house theological debates. [more]
It sounds ideal. If I were in high school and looking for a college, this one would be very appealing.

Empire State Building Journal - An Evangelical College in Manhattan, Where the Sin Is -, American Spectator: King's of New York

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