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Affirming Truth

June 17, 2009

The following is an excerpt from the commencement speech I delivered on June 11, 2009 for The Geneva School of Manhattan.  The complete speech will be posted with my other essays.

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A boy at the age of eight discovers a bundle of money lying on the floor while his mother pays for the food at the counter.  Does he take the money, or does he turn it in to the grocery clerk?

Truth has the ability to fuse thought and action.  Like wisdom, it stands watch inviting our submission and conformity to its defined course.  Assured passage requires our willful decision to submit and affirm truth.

But whoa, whoa, whoa – the modern immediately pulls back and recalls Pilate’s question with no regard to Pilate’s intention.

What is truth?

The modern’s intention is not to question the substance of truth, but to question the existence or even nature of truth.

“What kind of truth and whose truth are you prescribing?” they ask.

As this unwillingness to affirm truth expands the modern retracts by shaping new models of truth fashioned for the individual.  Those willing to preserve an externally prescribed truth that equally applies to all persons understand that they serve truth, truth does not serve them.

From the beginning mankind has sought to unfold the order of nature as the definitive pattern from which to construct first a society and secondly the human person.  Ancient societies preceding the Greek and Roman civilizations projected mythical stories that disclosed the order of the cosmos.  These stories established the authoritative pattern that a populus strived to copy in the constitution of a true and just society.  The city became a miniature copy of the cosmic order of the universe, and was appropriately venerated as a “cosmic center.”

In these ancient societies the king and the priest protected and preserved the divine order of the universe through the administration of a sound society.  It was the classical cultures of Greece and Rome that dedicated their attention to realizing the cosmic order within the human person.  A true man or woman embodied the cosmic order within his or her self.

The beliefs of ancient civilization reveal that mankind understood the existence of order as an inherent quality of the natural or created universe, and that they were to copy this order as a pattern for a just society and for human beingness.

The Greeks had a term for the single unifying principle that held all things together – they called it the logos.  For the Greeks, the logos represented an idea, a principle.  Roughly five hundred years later a small selected band of Jewish commoners came to behold the logos in human flesh.  When John began his gospel with the words, “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God…and the logos became flesh and dwelt among us” he made a profound statement bearing the weight of the heavens.  From within the tradition of the Jewish faith Christianity proclaimed the message of “Christ in you.”  This message complemented the Hebrew tradition of the temple and the tabernacle before it, receding all the way back to the pattern of creation unveiled in the opening chapters of Genesis.  The apostle Paul even goes on to rhetorically ask in 1 Corinthians 6 “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?”

The temple portrayed a physical blueprint that mirrored the divine pattern of the created universe.   It stood as a symbol of Jewish identity and marked the parameters of Jewish society so that the shape of the human soul reflected the form of an ordered society interchangeably woven together through the functional and structural design of the temple.  Biblically, the true human person incorporated the order of nature in accordance to the design of the creator.

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