As I rounded the corner onto 54th Street from Fifth Avenue, the simple elegance of the building struck me. It was the University Club, a prestigious social club for the Ivy League alumni right here in the heart of Manhattan. Through the tall, arched exterior windows, I could see portions of the exquisite lobby: walls made of a rich mahogany stained to a deep brown, a luxurious sitting area, and numerous chandeliers.

At the University Club last week for the Socrates in the City event with Dr. Dallas Willard.

At the University Club last week for the Socrates in the City event with Dr. Dallas Willard.

In a matter of moments, I stepped into the building to see the doorman and the rest of the entryway. Bonhoeffer Junior Chad Abbott was waiting to brief us on our tasks for the evening and then gave us a tour of what proved to be one of the most breath-taking buildings I have had the privilege of visiting.

Tonight, though, it was not the facility that brought us to the University Club, but another opportunity to volunteer at a Socrates in the City event. On this particular evening, Socrates in the City had arranged for Christian philosopher Dallas Willard to speak to the ballroom filled with over 200 guests. Specifically, the topic at hand was the intersection between living in today’s world while pursuing spiritual knowledge. Dr. Willard was in town as a part of the most recent Presidential Scholars week at The King’s College, and had spent time lecturing to students in our Empire State Building Campus before coming to Socrates in the City.

Dr. Willard graduated from Tennessee Temple College in 1956 with a B.A. in Psychology, and from Baylor University in 1957 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion. He went to graduate school at Baylor University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, earning a Ph.D. in Philosophy with a minor in the History of Science in 1964. Willard has most recently taught at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he served as Director of the School of Philosophy from 1982–1985.

His publications in philosophy are concerned primarily with epistemology, the philosophy of mind and of logic, and with the philosophy of Edmund Husserl. In addition to teaching and writing about philosophy, Willard gives lectures and writes books about Christianity and Christian living.

Five volunteers helped out the Socrates in the City staff prior to the event, in addition to myself and Chad. I was pleased to work with Christopher Hanson, John Sailer, Jeremy Hinen, Chris Kendall, and Sarah Doyle (a friend from the House of Barton). The men of Bonhoeffer have a proud tradition of working with Eric Metaxas on his Socrates in the City events, and this was one of many events that we have volunteered at this year. At the event with Dr. Willard, we were pleased to help register and seat guests, sell books, assist with set up, and facilitate the book signings.

We were also lucky enough to hear Dr. Willard’s lecture once the event began. He spoke for about thirty minutes on topics relating to the Christian life. Following his lecture, we helped clean up the ballroom.

Emery Baumann is a freshman in the House of Bonhoeffer.