June 21, 2006

We recently attended the public high school graduation ceremony for our second daughter.

With twelve speeches, and half-dozen musical performances, however, the faculty, students and guests scrupulously and noticably avoided one word in the lengthy proceedings: the word God. There was no invocation, no benediction, no “God Bless America,” no wish for “divine guidance” in going forward in life. This absence seemed particularly awkward because a graduation is a life cycle event: like a marriage, a funeral, or a christening, it celebrates change and continuity, closing chapters and new beginnings. Without any timeless context, the participants invoked endless platitudes about “finding your own truth” and “following your hearts”—a bleak suggestion that these 18-year-olds are now on their own in shaping their lives!

The current allergy to religion in public occasions helps strip both life cycle events and education of their deepest meaning.


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