Friday, August 4, 2023

The Most Important Decision In Life

The linked commencement address by Robert Baron is fantastic, concise, and deserves being read in its entirety. 

A bit of confession to begin.  Robert Barron is Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester -- an area that I have some familiarity with, influenced my interest. 

When I was a theology professor, I taught a course on the Reformation for many years, taking seriously the works of Luther and Calvin and other reformers. I believe the questions the reformers raise, questions that still divide the churches, are important. But right now, all of us who believe in God and are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have a common enemy in the agnosticism, atheism, and nihilism that are deeply affecting our culture and especially the minds of young people. I believe it is important for us to join together in common cause against this common enemy. And it is in that spirit that I come before you today.

I continue to harp on this unity issue, and since I am a "harpie" of limited ability, and possibly somewhat with the excuse that we are all trapped to varying degrees in the flood of "narrative, selfishness, distraction, tribalism, etc". To paraphrase General Jack Ripper from Dr Strangelove, "Very few in our leadership or population have either the time, the training, or the inclination" to consider eternally important matters.  

What I should like to do briefly in this commencement address is examine just one of these truths, which is articulated over and again in the great Western intellectual tradition. It is typically accessed by means of a question—not the question of what we are to do, as important as that is, but rather what kind of person we ought to be. Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? Or do we seek our own advantage? In a way, there is no question in the moral and spiritual order more fundamental than that.

Everyone reading this, and of course myself as well, has been thoroughly indoctrinated in the dogma of Progressivism ... man is good by nature, human progress is evident,  "on the right side of history", and anyone questioning this narrative is reationary, lacking in intellect, lacking in education, and most likely racist, homophobic, fascist, or whatever other insult can be thrown at such a person or institution. If we could only finally submit to the approved experts, both our lives and the rest of the world would approach utopia.

So there’s the question, young graduates. What kind of soul will you have? What kind of person will you be? Will you do whatever it takes to get what you want? Or will you accept even great suffering in order to do what is right? Everything else in your life will flow from your answer to that question.

He describes one of my favorite Biblical texts, Elijah "alone"(save for God). facing the 450 prophets of Baal.

He closes with: 

St. John Paul II, in his writings on the moral life, observed that in every particular ethical choice a person makes, he is doing two things simultaneously. He is performing a moral act with definite consequences, and he is making his character—crafting, little by little, the person he is becoming. I have the confident hope that your years at Hillsdale College have prepared you, above all, to shape your characters, to become the kind of men and women who would endure injustice rather than commit injustice, who would never dream of worshiping at the altar of an idol, and who wouldn’t surrender the integrity of your souls for the whole world.

And if you become the persons God intends you to be, you will succeed in lighting a fire upon the earth.

I confess to have failed miserably in crafting and worshiping the idols of pleasure, careerism, money, recognition, and countless others. 

Please take some time to give it a read, and ponder it's application to you and yours. 

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