The Parish Church of Connersville, Indiana

Commencement Address 2022

Sermon Date: May 30, 2022

Passage: Romans 8

An address given to the graduating class of Dominion Academy of Dayton

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8:17).

Never trust someone who says they aren’t trying to influence the way you think. Graduates, the men and women you will meet in the adventures which lie ahead who tell you they’re just giving you the facts or just asking questions are, almost without exception, a collection of liars and propagandists who seek the affirmation of their hollow view of existence through the sacrifice of your souls and minds on their altars. You will be told by smart, credentialed people to just, ‘Follow your heart,” which sounds like they are liberating you from the shackles of close mindedness or the demanding rigors of guided moral choice, but what they are in fact doing is gambling that you have been bathed in enough lies and superstition by our culture to eventually just fit the iron chains of sin and death upon yourself, and then say, ‘Thank You.’ Thus shackled, they bet you will eventually do what you are told anyway for fear of losing the trinkets and baubles purchased at the low-low cost of one human soul.

Every person who stands in front of you and talks has a purpose, and the first thing you should ask yourself before allowing them to influence you is, ‘What do they believe?’ With all due respect to Aristotle, who called humanity the ‘political animal,’ the very features of speech and moral reasoning which led the Philosopher to make that claim, along with the broader history of humanity, should actually lead us to quite another conclusion: Mankind is the religious creature. The word ‘religion’ comes to us from Latin and means, ‘to tie together.’ We get our English word ‘rely’ from the same Latin word. Every human being has a set of beliefs he relies on to hold his life together. Even the most narcissistic, self-loving maniac has an understanding of the universe by which he lives. The great danger of the modern, alienated, deracinated time in which we live is that people’s religion tends to be a chaotic, random assortment of shallow gleanings from a myriad of sources cobbled together into a view of the world which can only be described as a form of mass schizophrenia. Consistency, logic, reason, morality, none of those thing really matter at all once one has accepted Adam and Eve’s terrible challenge to be our own god. Tragically, we can’t see the true and the good and the beautiful if we are choking on mountains of rancid, forbidden fruit being piled on us by a weaponized social and mass media. This powder keg is what you are inheriting, and it is led by false prophets whose malice and confusion and ignorance are gifting you a world much more like that found in the year of our Lord 476 rather than 1998.

So, what do some of these false religions you will be peddled look like? First, there’s the idol of politics which would have us all believe we can save the world by voting for the right person or make heaven on earth appear by supporting the right revolution. Graduates, you should be involved in politics particularly at the local level, but you should never forget what King David wrote, ‘O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man, for there is no help in them’ (Psalm 146:3). Most politicians, particularly at the higher levels of a nation, those upon whom we are most taught to place our false messianic hopes, those men and women would feed each and every one of us to an exotic zoo animal if it garnered them five percent more of the vote. They don’t know who you are; they can’t know who you are, and if you die for them you will have died for nothing.

What about technology? Here we are taught to put our blind faith in the idea that technology will always make our lives better. After all, every new operating system on my phone is better, so that must mean that we are merely some number of iOS updates away from heaven on earth, right? But, the problem with making science-fiction one’s religion is that it ignores the flesh and blood, pain and suffering, not included in the story. Take our ubiquitous cell-phones, from what are they made? Tantalum, tungsten, tin, gold, cobalt. One gets cobalt by sending shoeless children down dark, sandy tunnels until they dig the fuel of the future out of the ground with their bare hands. As with abortion, another way we sacrifice children to try and create a science-fiction future, this exploitation only makes sense if we actually believe, religiously believe all this blood and pain is worth it. You will always find people willing to feed you into the furnace to support this belief, but never forget, the most technologically advanced century ever was also the bloodiest. World War I and II, the Holocaust, and the next great and terrible war are the poisoned fruit of perverted technological genius. Even if Elon Musk takes you to Mars, you will still carry human nature with you, and human brokenness along with it.

What about love? Graduates, you will be told that all you need to do is find the right person and he or she will make your life complete. Why? Because erotic love is the last home of metaphysics for the materialist Westerner, the last place to guardedly cherish the frayed crimson thread between Man and God. Of course, the man or woman you find to love will be every much as screwed up as you are, and if you seek the meaning of life in their embrace you will be very disappointed to find that unlike in fairy tales, the story keeps going after, ‘They lived happily ever after.’ People get old; they decay; they die. This inherent inadequacy of elevating erotic love to a religion has led our culture to some strange places, for we have discovered how to turn even love into being about ourselves by deciding that the most important marker of our human identity is the type of person with whom we most enjoy sexual relations. Man is no longer said to be made in the image and likeness of God, but rather Cis-Het or Bi-Questioning or any number of combinations with as much connection to cosmological reality as the signs of the Zodiac. Not surprisingly, given the religious nature of all of this, a person can even pray to himself in order to change his gender or partner preference in a kind of strange transubstantiation aided by the most up to date medical science which very up-to-datedly has rediscovered how to make people religious eunuchs. 

The unanswered prayers directed toward this false Trinity: politics, technology, and erotic love have in turn led to people numbing themselves with drugs: methamphetamine, fentanyl, alcohol, salt, sugar, sex, money, etc., and so we are now losing young Americans to just illegal drugs at a rate of two Vietnam Wars a year, not to mention the sky-rocketing rate of more obviously intentional suicides. It is for that reason, graduates, that I lay all of this out for you. The world you are entering is statistically less safe for you than Saigon in ’68, but in that great darkness, there has never been more of a blessed opportunity to reflect the very light which will redeem our politics and our technology and our love. As terrible as all of these parts of our world seem, we know the redemption of the human person is possible because one Man has shown us who we were meant to be. We know, without a shadow of doubt, that we need not scream into the darkness or murder our way to a better world; instead, we must embrace the sacrificial love Jesus Christ revealed on a Roman cross 2,000 years ago. As Paul of Tarsus tells us today, the death and public, historic resurrection of Jesus Christ was not just about us as individuals, us as religious consumers seeking comfort, but rather the sacrifice of Christ was the great demonstration of the God who is Love saving the entire creation from us and for us. Jesus Christ is the human we were meant to be and the very God who was willing to die that we might be the men and women for whom the creation itself is crying out for us to become. It is those resurrected ones both now and in the new heaven and earth to come who will create a politics without injustice and avarice, a new age of technological discovery free from the perversions and misuses which make everything we create turn to ash and pain, and most importantly, they will live in a true and perfect love which not even death can silence. You can be a part of that, if you take up your cross and follow the One who made everlasting life the means by which our broken world will be saved. Nothing else matters, everything else is just ash and forgotten memories. 

I’ll leave you with one call to action. Wherever you are going after today, live in a church; cling to the people there like you would cling to a life raft after your ship has sunk because boys and girls, men and women, you may not know it yet, but you are in the water, and that water will either be a baptism or a grave. May the living God guard you in that water, and may life’s tides and swells reveal God’s sons and daughters, the kings and queens of the new heaven and earth.