I must say that I loved Grand Rapids-- a small city with a classy feel. A rejuvenated downtown, nice restaurants, a lovely river, and a host of really great people and really interesting ministries.
I particularly enjoyed visiting the new home of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, one of the finest groups of its kind in the world. Part think-tank, part publishing house, part study center, its reach is international and its work is excellent. Most importantly, its vision is centered in a biblical view of reality.
It was also a pleasure to spend some time with a friend from the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, another fine organization with high ideals and top-quality work. We at the Christian Legal Society are privileged to have the Colson Center as a co-sponsor of the Journal of Christian Legal Thought, and we have a few other projects on which we hope to work together.
Strolling through the newer parts of downtown dotted with upscale restaurants, pubs, and taverns, I noticed how many folks were thoroughly enjoying the Michigan summers on the patios and verandas of these fine establishments. I also noticed the literally dozens of blobs of humanity blocking the sidewalks in concentrated smoke-enshrouded huddles outside of every restaurant and bar all over the otherwise lovely downtown. The state of Michigan, you see, thought it would be better-- healthier, friendlier?-- to create these inconvenient, unsightly, and uncomfortable huddles on the public sidewalks than to let private business owners decide whether to create smoking areas inside or ban smoking altogether in their own establishments.
But, hey, it's not Grand Rapids' fault! I am already planning my next visit.