Word Magazine October 1967 Page 13
DETACHMENT AND COMMITMENT
Father Vladimir Berzonsky
Holy Trinity Church, Parma, Oh
“While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man — though perhaps for a good man one will even dare to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Since classes are beginning again, this paper is addressed to our many young students, especially those who are just entering college.
Nearly all of your courses will be lecture type, which means that you will be expected to listen to fifty minute lectures while taking down meaningful notations. Like every freshman who has gone before you, you will marvel at the amount of knowledge your instructors have amassed. With incisive logic, they will take delight in lopping off ideals and convictions you bring with you to college. Nothing is wrong with that.
If what you believe in is really true, it will stand up to any probing analysis. If you passively accept half-truths only because you are too lazy to think through to a real conviction, such fuzzy thoughts ought to be driven out, anyway. We are all for freedom of thought, reasoning and enlightenment.
My warning is that analysis is only part of the total treatment. Dissecting ideas is not all of education. As you listen for hours to lecturers plowing up principles of the past, you will find yourself wondering: What is he for? Just what values, if any, is your instructor committed
You will be surprised to find out how many such intellects there are who, under the guise of objectivity, are committed to nothing at all. Our campuses arc filled with crammed heads and cavernous hearts.
For example, it happened that on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, one professor at the Wesleyan University of Connecticut began his class by apologizing that, although he himself was not usually politically oriented, the students might be interested to know that the President had been shot!
No monastery in the country could produce so detached a person. In fact, college campuses are for many people a perverted kind of modern monastery, in the worst sense. True Christian monasteries have always existed because of those who are so intensely committed to God and His world that they want to make some part of His Kingdom visibly present.
The campus can be a secular retreat for those who, in the name of objectivity are committed to nothing, not even to themselves; a place, ironically, for “dropouts” from life. You cannot know the essence of life, whether it be the life of a poem, a battle, a fugue or a frog, just by dissecting its cadaver. Life includes force, and force usually has direction.
The above is intended as a warning, and as such, over-stressed the negative aspects of learning. College as an adventure will be exciting. It will be, (and I hate the word), “fun.” Yet knowledge itself, for it own sake, is sterile. Learning must lead to involvement and commitment to values you hold to be true and vital. Finally, may you be filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit wherever you go, and with Jesus Christ, in whose Name you were baptized.