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Keeping Faith at Princeton

Keeping Faith at Princeton: A Brief History of Religious Pluralism at Princeton and Other Universities

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Keeping Faith at Princeton
    Book Description:

    In 1981, Frederick Houk Borsch returned to Princeton University, his alma mater, to serve as dean of the chapel at the Ivy League school. InKeeping Faith at Princeton, Borsch tells the story of Princeton's journey from its founding in 1746 as a college for Presbyterian ministers to the religiously diverse institution it is today. He sets this landmark narrative history against the backdrop of his own quest for spiritual illumination, first as a student at Princeton in the 1950s and later as campus minister amid the turmoil and uncertainty of 1980s America.

    Borsch traces how the trauma of the Depression and two world wars challenged the idea of progress through education and religion--the very idea on which Princeton was founded. Even as the numbers of students gaining access to higher education grew exponentially after World War II, student demographics at Princeton and other elite schools remained all male, predominantly white, and Protestant. Then came the 1960s. Campuses across America became battlegrounds for the antiwar movement, civil rights, and gender equality. By the dawn of the Reagan era, women and blacks were being admitted to Princeton. So were greater numbers of Jews, Catholics, and others. Borsch gives an electrifying insider's account of this era of upheaval and great promise.

    With warmth, clarity, and penetrating firsthand insights,Keeping Faith at Princetondemonstrates how Princeton and other major American universities learned to promote religious diversity among their students, teachers, and administrators.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4190-5
    Subjects: Education, Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    On the highest ground in town, center campus, neighbor to the Firestone Library, stands the Princeton University Chapel. On sunny days its stained glass windows are radiant with biblical stories along with glimpses of heroes of literature, philosophy, science, and education. The great south window pictures Christ the Teacher. The building can accommodate two thousand people and is the site for major university ceremonies and services. On Sundays a Protestant ecumenical community, then, later in the day Catholics, followed by Episcopalians, gather for worship. When not in use for weekday services, weddings, funerals, concerts, or plays, often one finds a...

  4. ONE The Protestant Heritage
    (pp. 7-64)

    “Curious about … interested in religion,” was how I could have described myself during my undergraduate years in the mid-1950s at Princeton. I grew up attending a middle-of-the-road Episcopal Church in a well-to-do suburb of Chicago. I was an indifferent choir boy and then a reasonably diligent acolyte. I took an interest in the liturgical year and the story it tells and became intrigued by the prophetic and ethical pronouncements of the Bible and especially the person and parables of Jesus. I wanted to know more but was still learning how to frame and probe my questions.

    I did not,...

  5. TWO Opportunity and Challenge
    (pp. 65-84)

    In September of 1978, President Bowen, acting with the Executive Committee of Princeton’s Board of Trustees, asked for the formation of a Faculty Committee and a Trustees’ Committee that would engage in “full and careful consideration of the ways in which the Chapel may best continue to serve the needs of the university community.”¹ The chapel was evidently understood as a kind of synecdoche for the work and ministry of the Office of Dean of the Chapel and the uses of the chapel building under the dean’s direction.

    An immediate catalyst for this study, noted at the beginning of both...

  6. THREE Religions at Princeton: The 1980s
    (pp. 85-140)

    Bill Bowen is a persuasive guy. His enthusiasm can rub off on you,” University Counsel and Secretary Tom Wright, directing the search process for the new dean of the chapel, warned me. “While he will want others to interview and consult with you, the decision is his. The President appoints the deans here, and he is very enthusiastic for Princeton and this new position.”

    Tom Wright also knew why I would be an attractive candidate to Bill Bowen. I was an alumnus with a background in teaching and educational administration. I was a believing Christian with a PhD in theology...

  7. FOUR Religion and Religions at Other Universities
    (pp. 141-195)

    When Fred Fox conducted his informal survey regarding the role of religion in institutions of higher education in 1979, he may have known that in 1928 Princeton had hosted a major conference to discuss the “problem.” Fifty-eight presidents, thirty deans, sixty-eight professors, and thirty-two headmasters attended the meeting. Because they represented denominational and public as well as private schools, no consensus was reached on the issue of required chapel, but, while indicating concern regarding student interest in religion, many of these educational leaders expressed enthusiastic support for voluntary religious organizations, for university chaplains, and for religion courses that would have...

  8. FIVE Religions at Princeton Today
    (pp. 196-228)

    While the overall policies for the support of religious life at Princeton have remained essentially the same through the past twenty years, there have been a number of significant shifts in circumstances and developments. Were time travelers from those two decades ago to arrive at Princeton today and ask about these changes, I suspect the first thing they would need to learn is something about the events of 9/11 and the responses to them. I was in South Africa on September 11, 2001, but not long afterward I was at a trustees’ meeting when I heard how important were the...

    (pp. 229-230)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 231-241)