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Friday, 21 December 2007

A congregational gathering? The liturgy of a university graduation

Gathering in a sports stadium as a member of a congregation?

The gathering at the AIS arena in Canberra for my son's graduation was to be forcefully reminded of the medieval and ecclesiastical roots of the University.

We were both summoned at the beginning as a congregation and so dismissed at the conclusion of our gathering. the event was broken up by brief musical performances. We had minimal congregational singing but we did receive a homily with the injunction from a distinguished academic calling the graduates to the ongoing exercise of judgement with respect to our professional involvement and our contribution to the community. It was a call to live out in our daily lives with moral awareness and responsibility. it was coherent as these things go but only hinted at the shape of the moral judgement to be exercised. We could have formed some idea of the character of the moral judgements that the lecturer would have commended by taking account of his intellectual career and his own moral commitments.

Had me thinking about the title of Alistair McIntyre's book - Whose Justice? Which Rationality?

It made me think too of the liturgical form and performance of the Anglican and Catholic churches - everyone attending is reassured by the antiquity of the formality of the robes and structured form of the liturgy - few stop to ask whether the moral, philosophical and theological commitments that they initially embodied are truly represented in their actual performance.

How could we have a conversation about the issue and even know what questions to ask?

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