I have wondered how student groups would react to Return to Order. After all, the socio-economic concepts in the book are very conservative and traditional. And the modern myth is that students are neither conservative nor traditional. It was hard to know what to expect.
Such concerns were in mind at the first student-only meeting/signing for Return to Order. The meeting was not even in the United States but held on December 2 at Ghent University in the Flemish region of Belgium. The student group, the Catholic Flemish Student Alliance–Ghent (KVKR), is one of the oldest student associations in the country. I was relieved to find that the group is not only the oldest association on campus but also the most outspoken and its members are not afraid to air their Catholic views even when politically incorrect.
Held at the group’s ancient Covenant House headquarters, the meeting was officially called to order by the proper official with announcements in Dutch, the principal languages of the region. Many in audience were wearing their traditional student garb and cap. Any prior concerns about negative reactions were unfounded. Everyone was attentive and polite. We had an excellent meeting and a lively question-and-answer session. All were clearly on the same wavelength.
However, what was even more interesting was the “unofficial” presentation afterwards. In typical Flemish student fashion, behind the meeting room was the group’s own cozy pub where plenty of good beer flowed. In the crowded pub, we soon became engrossed in discussions about “Islamic” banking, the nature of money, medieval Dutch coinage and American politics. In a completely unexpected way, the themes of Return to Order resonated among the students until late at night. The “unofficial” presentation was certainly livelier than the official one. I never imagined that these themes could so easily be adapted to students.