Commentary by Eboo Patel: "God and Man at Dartmouth"

June 9, 2008

Author: Eboo Patel

Source: The Washington Post

I chuckled to myself wondering what William F. Buckley, the author of the landmark conservative tract God and Man at Yale, might have thought of this year’s Baccalaureate Service at Dartmouth College. In addition to Christian hymns and Bible readings, there was a Native American prayer offered in the Yuchi language, and recitations from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

The main speaker – yours truly – was a Muslim.

One theme of Buckley’s classic work is that God should be at the center of people’s intellectual journeys, and therefore should play a far more significant role on campus. And when Buckley spoke of God at Yale, he meant the Protestant idea of God. (According to a recent New Yorker piece by George Packer, Buckley refused to promote David Brooks - now at The New York Times - past a certain stage at his National Review because he was not a "believing Christian".)

Buckley would be happy to know that religion is once again being taken seriously on college campuses, but one of the reasons is because of the diversity of traditions present. Jews, Catholics and Protestants have had an institutional presence on campuses for many years, and colleges (including Wellesley, Duke, Princeton, Brown and Georgetown) are increasingly hiring Muslim chaplains to minister to the growing numbers of Muslim students on campus. Dartmouth has all of the above, plus the first ZaZen Chaplain I’ve ever met on a college campus.