“Letters from a Contemporary Stoic”: My 2017 Baccalaureate Service Address

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, I had the tremendous honor of addressing members of the graduating class of 2017, their friends and families, as well as faculty and staff in Houston Chapel on the campus of Randolph College.  My address, Letters from a Contemporary Stoic, urged graduates to embrace the challenge of changing a world they did not make–a world that is too often mired in hatred, ignorance, and violence.  I encouraged graduates to understand that embracing a commitment to positive change is not a monumental act of strength or skill, but a series of small choices that are wholly within their abilities to act as students of the liberal arts.

My address was inspired by Deuteronomy 30:1 1-14, 19, chosen with the guidance of the always wise and generous Rev. Marion Kanour of Grace Episcopal Church in Massies Mill, VA.

“For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.