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Seattle Pacific University
Spring 2007 | Volume 30, Number 1 | Campus

Perspectives on the 21st Century

Knowing our world

Vali Nasr
Vali Nasr
Global awareness, from Europe to the Middle East, was the theme of two recent Seattle Pacific University events. On February 27 and 28, 2007, the President’s Symposium on “Knowing and Understanding Our World: A Response to the 21st Century” featured keynote speaker George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. One of America’s leading experts on religious freedom and the role of Christianity in culture, Weigel’s nearly 20 books include the acclaimed Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II and The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God.

At a convocation on the morning of February 27, Weigel’s topic was “What the Church Asks of the World.” He based his presentation on the second-century Letter to Diognetus, which speaks of Christians as earthly aliens whose true citizenship is in heaven. “The world as Christians understand it,” Weigel said, “is both the arena of God’s action in history, and an antechamber to our true home.”

“Europe and Its Discontents” was the title of Weigel’s evening lecture on February 27, when he focused on the long-term effects of secularization in the West. His second evening lecture, delivered on February 28 and titled “What We Can’t Not Know About 9/11,” addressed the threat of Islamic Jihadism. All three of Weigel’s presentations can be downloaded free at

The 2007 Seattle Pacific Downtown Business Breakfast explored the “Politics of the Muslim World.” On April 10, Vali Nasr, senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and one of America’s leading voices on Mideast politics and the history of Islam, spoke to nearly 1,200 business and community leaders gathered in the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. Later in the day, Nasr delivered a public lecture on campus, providing insight into one of the most challenging issues of the 21st century: the conflict between the West and radical Islam.

Nasr is among “the new generation of experts” on the Middle East, says The Wall Street Journal, and has been sought out by both President Bush and Congress for a fresh, independent perspective on world events.

“What a privilege to think globally with these two outstanding speakers,” says SPU President Philip Eaton. “Knowing and understanding the world we live in is a signature commitment of SPU. As we equip our students to become global leaders who can change the world, we must seek to achieve this signature. We must then imagine a better world where all God’s children might flourish.”

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Department Highlights

Destination: Asia
President Philip Eaton joined a historic delegation of U.S. university presidents who traveled to Asia

Perspectives on the 21st Century
Global awareness was the theme of two recent SPU events.

John Perkins Ministers to His “Adopted” City
Perkins spent two months in Seattle, spreading the message of biblical reconciliation.

A New Sound: Gospel Symphony
The Gospel Choir and Symphonic Wind Ensemble took a new symphony in Portland, Oregon.

Largest-Ever Cash Gift Supports a Student’s Dream
A $1 million gift to SPU enables the Reiman-Thomas Scholarship to make dreams come true.