Not all these people go to my church. In fact, only me and Karen do. Karen is in the center of this picture. Let me tell you about her...
A few weeks ago, Karen invited me to her 'colloquium'. Karen is in our congregation, and is about to graduate as a student at NYU. She is the President of NYU InterVarsity (Read EU), and she has become our friend. Karen has been so faithful in our church, and we have very much been blessed by her presence.
So it was a privilege for me to be invited to her colloquium. She had chosen 4 academics as the 'panel' to quiz her, one of whom is the President of NYU, John Sexton. She added her pastor in for good measure. Dr Sexton (pictured on the far right of the photo) hosted the colloquium in his stunning office overlooking Washington Square Park. It was a privilege to be included among them.
I assumed (since there was more brain power in that room than I or my progeny for a thousand years will ever muster) that I would be silent. But it turned out very differently than I thought.
Karen's work is on justice, faith and international relations. Karen has spent time in Rwanda and other places learning from the victims of extreme injustice. She had read, and was defending at her colloquium, academic writings on the place of the Christian to speak out and defend the vulnerable.
Now, here is the interesting thing: the other three in the Colloquium mostly wanted to know about Karen's faith and how it played out in her studies: How she handled suffering and disappointment; how she processed the Problem of Evil; how she viewed her contribution as a Christian. We spoke about Jesus, and about 'other religions'. We spoke about what motivates and sustains her. Karen was there to defend her understanding of the readings that she had chosen. But we all wanted to know her testimony!
That's not to say that she wasn't grilled. But it was interesting how a real, humble and engaged life is more compelling than theory.