To the board, faculty, students, and friends of Comeford College – greetings and welcome to this 2nd convocation service.
By God’s good graces we finished our first year and are about to embark on another. We may lack the sophistication and trimmings of larger institutions, but we are resolved, by faith, to forge ahead on the course we have started.
If it be His good pleasure, we shall continue to grow through these humble beginnings, and flourish in our attempt to grow this institution into something that is for the good of our people and our community, and to His glory.
Recently I’ve been reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury which was first published in 1950.
It’s a so-called fix-up novel which means that many of its chapters were originally published as stand-alone stories.
Later, A representative from Doubleday & Company publishing house convinced Bradbury to turn his collection of stories into a novel.
It fits somewhere in the dystopian / apocalyptic fiction genre.
One summary of the book says,
“it projects American society immediately after World War II into a technologically advanced future where the amplification of humanity’s potentials to create and destroy have both miraculous and devastating consequences.”
I haven’t finished the book yet, but I couldn’t help thinking about our culture today as I read the chapter titled “The Earth Men.”
The story takes place in August 2030. It tells about four American astronauts that lead an expedition to Mars. It is actually the second such expedition, but you’ll have to read the book to see what happened to the first one.
These astronauts have arrived on Mars expecting great fanfare and celebration. Instead, they are met with extreme indifference and annoyance.
At each encounter with a Martian, they are sent away and referred to another who will be able to help them. Finally, they are sent to Mr. Iii who, while annoyed, agrees to help them. The earth captain tries again to get Mr. Iii to see how momentous this occasion is. Mr. Iii, like the rest, isn’t impressed and hands the captain a paper to sign and instructs him to spend the night in a house down the street. The captain asks if the other men need to sign which strangely causes Mr. Iii to burst into a laughing fit.
The men leave Mr. Ill laughing and proceed to the house. When they enter, they discover numerous Martians lounging about and, after revealing they are from Earth, are greeted with much enthusiasm. The earthmen are exhilarated to finally find someone who appreciates what they’ve accomplished.
But they soon sense something isn’t right. The Martians start making strange claims of their own. Some claim that they too are from Earth. A few say they come from Saturn. It slowly dawns on the Earthmen that they have been sent to an insane asylum and they are trapped there.
It turns out that Martians use telepathy to communicate and they can cause others to see what’s in their mind including their hallucinations. This is what all the previous Martians assumed was going on with the captain. They assumed he was crazy and projecting his delusions on them. This is why Mr. Iii laughed so hard when the captain asked if his men should sign. How can hallucinations sign anything?
After a bizarre night in the asylum another Martian by the name of Mr. Xxx arrives who is psychologist. He agrees with Mr. Iii that the captain is the only real person and the other astronauts and their spaceship are just extremely advanced hallucinations that the captain is telepathically projecting.
He is so sure of his assessment that even after he has gone through the spaceship touching, tasting, hearing, and seeing it – he can only marvel at how complex the captain’s delusion is to create so many realistic hallucinations.
Of course, the captain is loudly protesting that he is quite sane, and all these things are very real, but to no avail.
Mr. Xxx, after finishing his diagnosis, concludes that the only cure for the captain’s delusion is euthanasia which is an option the captain inadvertently agreed to when he signed papers with Mr. Iii.
Mr. Xxx is quite positive all the captain’s hallucinations will disappear once he is dead and so he shoots him. But, to his surprise, the other men and spaceship are still present after the captain is dead. He can’t believe how powerful these hallucinations are. He proceeds to shoot the other astronauts and destroy the ship but they don’t vanish as he expects.
This perplexes Mr. Xxx even more and he finally concludes that the captain’s insanity must have somehow infected him. He decides that he too is beyond cure and so he takes his gun and shoots himself dead.
This story while humorous is also tragic.
In some ways, it illustrates the kind of madness that is taking over our culture and why institutions like Comeford College are needed.
We live in a time when the sane are called delusional and vice versa.
A modern-day version of George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” is busy purging us of our history and fabricating stories to replace it.
We are told to trust the science. A boy can be a girl and a girl can be a boy. You can select from more than 50 different gender options in your Face Book profile. A baby is only a baby if its parents say it is. Entire societies shut down because a “pandemic” is raging that has a 99.8% survivability rate.
Racism is systemic and Whites need to repent of their privilege.
For nearly a century we’ve been told regularly the earth has ten to twenty years left before climate change becomes irreversible and destroys the planet. Our President declared this week that “The climate crisis is here.”
Our most lauded, Nobel prize winning, scientists claim there is no god while suggesting that our existence is nothing more that some alien world’s version of the Matrix.
We could demonstrate countless ways that man has believed the Serpent’s original seed of doubt when he said to Eve, “Has God said?”
Indeed, the prophet Isaiah’s declaration that all we like sheep have gone astray rings just as true today as it did then.
The notion that truth can be divided into your truth and my truth, or that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, or that good is a relative term, are all lies that are now part of our “common wisdom.”
Political leaders artfully sugar-coat facts. Our recent chaotic exit from Afghanistan is deemed an “extraordinary success” by our Commander-in-Chief. Government keeps devising schemes to “help the poor” that are in fact forms of theft.
It gets only crazier. One city in the Bay area has de-criminalized thefts of goods valued at $1000 or less. Not surprising, petty crime is on the increase.
This same city has launched a pilot program where they pay gang members $300 per month to not shoot someone or be shot. There are other incentives which can increase the monthly payout to $500.
Now, lest I depress you further with all this doom and gloom, let me mention that there are some bright spots.
The Supreme Court just let stand a new law in Texas that outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. We are beginning to see rays of hope that Roe v Wade will someday be struck down.
Perhaps you have felt at little bit like you are talking to Martians these days who just can’t accept the realty in front of them.
Like the earthmen in the Chronicles, those who speak the truth are rejected as being a danger to themselves and to others.
The purpose in rehearsing all this insanity is to remind ourselves that the only hope for any culture is the gospel going forth via Christ’s disciples.
Ironically, so-called intellectuals see education as the way to solve social ills even though the education they provide is creating much of the problems they are trying to solve.
Comeford College, and colleges like it, serve as important parts in the discipleship making process.
Most colleges have lost sight of true education and have placed their emphasis on utilitarianism.
As Margarita Mooney in The Love of Learning puts it, “Educational institutions are under tremendous pressure today to demonstrate their relevance for one or another economic or political end.”
She goes on to say,
“Education should not seek to produce quasi-robots who have lost the desire for connecting the material world with the sublime. A good education reveals to students how things work and also guides them to perceive the beauty behind all things.”
I have said it before, any education that does not result in appreciation and worship of the Creator falls far short, however utilitarian it may be for this life, and that schooled person who does not worship God will ultimately be deemed a fool no matter how many degrees he holds. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?
As we prepare to enter our second year, we are excited to continue exploring not just the how but the why in our world. We do that through the means of a Christian Classical Liberal Arts education.
Many in academia today poo-poo the value of such an education. Those in the Woke crowd dismiss it as elitist and steeped in “whiteness”.
If that is true, why did 19th century black leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington all praise the classics for their ability to speak to all people? The notion that classical liberal arts are only for those who wish to perpetuate white supremacy is nonsense.
The reason classical liberal arts and, in particular, Christian classical liberal arts has fallen out of favor, is because our educational institutions have abandoned God and now trust solely in human reason.
They don’t understand that human reason alone is seriously impaired by sin and needs the light of the gospel to be able to order its thoughts aright.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn summarized how communism and its horrors came to be by saying, “Men have forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.”
Carl Truman, in his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, argues that the sexual revolution of the past 60 years is simply a manifestation of the larger revolution of the self that has taken place in the West.
According to Truman, in this revolution of self, it has become necessary not simply to deviate from historical moral norms, but to repudiate them and deem them relics of outdated social practices and to treat those who defend them as having a “serious mental or moral deficiency.”
All efforts to divorce from Western Civilization history, and in particular its Christian component, is akin to a river cutting itself off from its head waters. The result is a dry and parched landscape.
There is but one logical outcome from this trend and it is complete nihilism, the conclusion that life is ultimately meaningless.
And yet, for all the criticism that is hurled at our cultural past, its critics continue to enjoy the benefits that come from it. Eating the fruit of our heritage while condemning the tree is ludicrous at best.
There are so many tangents once could follow at this point. For instance, the impossibility of imposing binding moral standards apart from a transcendent law giver. Time doesn’t allow us to pursue them.
Comeford College gladly stands apart and opposed to modern trends to sow doubt about our past in the minds of students.
We embrace the river of history God has placed us in while recognizing the sins of the past. We wish to learn from, and build upon, what our fathers learned and accomplished, and excel still more.
There is no reason to believe that the greatest human discoveries and achievements lie behind us. How might God use the man or woman whose heart, mind, and strength are singularly devoted to him?
What mysteries are left to uncover. What medical cures, what scientific discoveries?
But why should our Maker reveal these things to those who use the heavenly gift of knowledge to try and deny Him?
Solomon reminds us that “to the one who pleases him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy..” Ecclesiastes 2:26
In Proverbs he declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Is it any wonder that science has become scientism, the religion of our age? Without the fear of the Lord our fount of knowledge is cut off. It is only by His common grace that the fool knows anything.
True science begins and ends with an understanding of who God is. In the book The Soul of Science, Nancy Pearcey wrote,
“The Christian religion, hand in hand with various philosophical outlooks, has motivated, sanctioned, and shaped large portions of the Western scientific heritage. Modern Christians ought to drink deeply at the well of historical precedent. If we do, we will never feel intimidated by positivists and others who deny that religion has any role in genuine scholarship.”
For those present today I realize I am largely preaching to the choir. You see the foolishness of the age and concur that only a manifold expression of gospel witness will combat it. To this point I assume we all concur.
But some might ask what can Comeford College with its few students hope to accomplish? If ever there was an ignorable endeavor surely this is it.
Its board is made up of a hodge-podge of a few men, several who hold no degree at all. None of its faculty have achieved a doctorate in anything. No agency has accredited it and almost no one knows it exists. No employer is likely to acknowledge the diploma it confers. Add to that its religious nature and it is thoroughly out of step with what the culture is looking for. Its graduates are likely to be labeled “homophobic”, “transphobic”, anti-everything, un-woke bigots.
It is right in the bullseye of everything our culture hates. And it is exactly what our culture needs in this hour.
We did not start Comeford College because we are awesome. We do not have everything figured out and we are sure to mess things up along the way.
What we do have is the conviction that there is a God in heaven who reigns supreme over all the earth and it is our duty and joy to proclaim him as Lord over each and every sphere of life.
We believe that men and women who hold to these core tenants and whose minds and hearts have been duly prepared, will be the change agents used by Him to bring about the common good of all.
We know we have critics who will laugh and mock and say, “See the wall they are building, even if a fox should jump on it, it will fall down.”
We must not let these critics or even our own self-doubts defeat us. Our power lies not in ourselves.
The Lord is our strength. His might is revealed in our weakness. By the smallest of rag-tag bands he has put large armies to flight. This is not just wishful thinking. He has always worked this way in human history.
Will Comeford College mature into a larger, more robust, college with lots of students? Will it be the right kind of goad and guide in our community? Only God knows. All we can do is believe, pray, and work to that end.
My hope and prayer is that, should it not succeed, it will because of His will and not our faithlessness. That hope is reflected in something the theologian Philip Jacob Spener wrote in the 17th century. He wrote,
“let us not abandon all hope before we have set our hands to the task. Let us not lay down our rod and staff if we do not have the desired success at once. What is impossible for men remains possible for God. Eventually God’s hour must come, if only we wait for it.”