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More letters from alumni about God and Creative Spirit in invocations at PU

December 21, 2001

Edward Tiryakian ’52 was dismayed that Bishop Frederick Borsch ’57 in his invocation at President Tilghman's installation failed to utter "God" but chose instead "O Creative Spirit!" (Letters, December 5). Tiryakian's apparent source of dismay is that Princeton may then go from "Dei sub numine viget" to "ingenii sub numine viget."

Tiryakian, and all of us in these troubled times who "worry" that God might not be around if we don't invoke God's name, might want to consider Carl Jung, who scribbled this over the entrance to his home: Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit – "Invoked or not invoked, God is present."

Leng Leroy Lim '90
San Francisco, Calif.

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December 13, 2001

Since Edward Tiryakian '52 expressed concerns in the PAW (Letters, December 5) about the prayer of invocation at the installation of President Tilghman, I thought you might like to have, at least for your records, the prayer itself. Readers might appreciate seeing it for their reflection and judgment. In any case, it is good that we are again having some theological discussion in PAW.

F. H. Borsch ’57
Los Angeles, Calif.


The Installation of President Shirley Tilghman

Princeton University

September 28, 2001

The Prayer of Invocation

Creator Spirit, in whom we live and move and have our being, we come together this day remembering more than 10 generations and 18 presidents of this college and university. We are moved to offer gratitude for the learning and discovery, the growth in comprehension and service that have been nurtured and developed here. We give thanks for the variety and fullness of the spirit of inquiry, the curiosity and freedom that have come to characterize Princeton. We are appreciative of the many teachers and trustees, benefactors, and, particularly today, our presidents who have provided wisdom, care and guidance, through good and challenging times to fulfill so many promises of our past.

Creative Spirit, sovereign and inspiration of life, blessed for the simplicity and complexity of all that is, for the vastness and small beyond our measure, worlds within worlds, and ourselves in the midst, aware of ourselves thinking, and so a people of language, story, responsibility and love; we today look forward to our future. We pray that informed intelligence and compassion may bring us wisdom. We ask that insight into the most basic processes of life may enable healing and enhancement for living.

Reconciling Spirit, mindful of the terror and tragedy that have come into our lives, we ask that our lamentation reach to you and that our prayer for a world of greater peace and understanding be heard. In honor of those who have died, all who mourn, and the many who have responded with great courage and compassion, I ask that we hold them together with us in a time of silent and earnest prayer.

We pray that this will be a university where diverse people may share the knowledge of different cultures and lore, their very human fears and hopes with one another and then others in our world.

Through our learning in the sciences and engineering, in politics and poetry, music literature, art and history, may we together achieve a shared humanity that may make Princeton a community of learning ever more welcoming to teachers and students rich with their many stories and experience.

Go-between Spirit, giving instress and sayability, music and mathematics to our world, on this day of thanksgiving and beginning we pray a blessing on our new President, Shirley, for strength of mind and heart, a blessing of courage and wisdom, that in times of challenge and opportunity she may know our companionship and support in life's great adventure of making place and opportunity for others.

In laboratory and library, on playing fields and in studios, in carrels an chapel and precepts, in each conversation and concert may there be inspiration for those who teach and those who learn. To Shirley and her family and to all who work here and all who bear Princeton's name give, we pray, your quiet courage and loving service in this and every nation, Spirit of all life, that In Your name this University may flourish. Amen.

F. H. Borsch ’57
Los Angeles, Calif.

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October 3, 2001

I was at the splendid outdoor installation of Shirley Tilghman as our 19th president on September 28. Everything was perfect except for the invocation. I found it dismaying, to say the least, that Bishop Frederick Borsch would begin by invoking "O Creative Spirit!" and never once in his lengthy address ever utter the word "God," though he returned vigorously to "Spirit."

This in spite of the fact that throughout the U.S. in this period of national crisis and trauma "God bless America" is sung with fervor at public gatherings, and never mind that Princeton’s banner with our motto "Dei sub numine viget" was prominently displayed behind the platform, or that the oath of office of the president required her to say "so help me God" three times.

Could it be that the dreaded CPCP ( Campus Politically Correct Police) threatened Trustee Borsch with university excommunication if he uttered the three-lettered word? Or is it an ominous harbinger that "Dei sub numine viget" will soon become "mundi creatori numini", if not "ingenii sub numine viget" ? So much for Princeton’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

Edward A. Tiryakian ’52
Durham, N.C.

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