The Right Reverend Dr. Craig B. Anderson
Two years ago to the day and almost to the hour, we gathered in this Chapel. The occasion was not Convocation, nor the beginning of the academic year. We gathered here as a result of a crisis—the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Towers in New York City. I shall never forget that particular morning and the Chapel gathering. I was attending a meeting on the second floor of the Schoolhouse in the conference room next to my office. We received word of the first airplane that crashed into one of the towers. We were shocked, thinking that is was, in all likelihood, an accident. Then the news of the second plane, and we knew that it was not an accident. Fear, anxiety, and concern spread throughout the School, concern for loved ones in New York City and Washington DC, and concern for our nation set in. We gathered here in this Chapel as a School family. We gathered without a program and without a formal liturgy—we gathered to hold on to one another, to pray, and to try in some way to understand what had transpired.
Two years have passed. As we anticipate this new academic year, it is important that we remember. The question is, how do we remember? Let me suggest two ways. The first is a remembrance of a member of this extended School family who died in that attack—Lindsay Stapleton Morehouse, Form of 1996. Several donors have established a permanently endowed financial aid fund at St. Paul’s School, in memory of Lindsay.
One of the paramount aspects of St. Paul’s School is the ability of the community to encourage students to explore their passion for learning and compassion for others. Lindsay Morehouse seized this opportunity and achieved much without losing her sensitivity to others.
A gifted tennis player and exceptional student, Lindsay would strive on the court and in the classroom until her stroke was perfected and her thirst for knowledge was quenched. In this fierce determination, she never lost sight of others and their needs. She embodied compassion.
The World Trade Center attack changed the way Americans viewed the global environment. The intent of this scholarship in her name is that students will learn to guide the world to a peaceful future. The Lindsay S. Morehouse ’96 Scholarship will be used to assist SPS students with financial aid. The recipients of this scholarship will be selected from those students who display athletic drive and talent along with a genuine love of learning and commitment to academics. This scholarship will be given to scholar/athletes who, like Lindsay, will appreciate the gift of education at St. Paul’s School and who will pursue the exploration of knowledge for the joy of it, while maintaining a strong athletic commitment and dedicated participation in sports at St. Paul’s School. It will be awarded each year on September 11.
I am pleased to announce this year’s recipient and ask her to stand to be recognized in honoring Lindsay Morehouse. This year’s recipient is Fourth Former, Alyssa Kopp.
A second way to remember is through prayer and a particular collect written by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold (SPS ’55), with the added inclusion of Lindsay:
God the compassionate one, whose loving care extends to all the world, we remember this day your children of many nations and many faiths whose lives were cut short by the fierce flames of anger and hatred, especially Lindsay Morehouse of the Form of 1996. Console those who continue to suffer and grieve, and give them comfort and hope as they look to the future. Out of what we have endured, give us the grace to examine our relationships with those who perceive us as the enemy, and show our leaders the way to use our power to serve the good of all for the healing of the nations. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord who, in reconciling love, was lifted up from the earth that he might draw all things to himself. Amen.
Let us now look at the present and to the future with that prayer in mind and remembering Lindsay. Our theme for this year in Chapel and for Residential Life comes out of what we have just remembered and prayed for—compassion; compassion as the source of love realized as reconciliation; reconciliation among individuals and nations. I invite you to reflect with me on the meaning of love, the virtue that we will be exploring this term together as a School. Our patron St. Paul calls us to “speak the truth in love,” and within that same letter to the Ephesians, he admonishes us to “walk in love.” The admonition is to speak and act in love. What sort of love is he talking about? How does he define such love? In the Epistle to the Corinthians, read beautifully this morning by Ms. Jones, Paul defines such love in word and action: it is love that is patient and kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It is a love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. …And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.
A couple of years ago, an alumnus of the School, Dr. Stephen Post (SPS’69) a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, invited me to serve on an Advisory Board for the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love. I must confess that I was hesitant in responding, a bit skeptical and yet, at the same time, intrigued. How does one institutionalize the exploration of unlimited love? So I pressed him. He said the reason he asked me to serve had to do with my interest in the relationship of science and religion, a primary focus of the Institute. An article written in The Philadelphia Inquirer at the beginning of the summer in anticipation of a conference that Stephen Post was responsible for putting together says it best:
“Isn’t it strange, says bioethicist Stephen Post, that scholars know human darkness so much better than goodness. Incest. Compulsion. Race hatred. Pornography. Fetishism. The bookshelves of sociology and psychology sag too heavy, Post argues, with studies of crime and dysfunction. ‘What we really need to understand instead is the mysterious human capacity for kindness, for compassion, and for selfless giving,’ he said in an interview from his office at Case Western Reserve University. Toward that end, Post will cohost an international beginning here Saturday on the great how and why of unselfish love—the so-called Good Samaritan impulse.
Titled Works of Love: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Altruism, the six-day public conference at Villanova University will include more than 80 speakers, 50 research papers, and 20 symposiums.”
What is love? Can it be studied scientifically? Yes, according to Stephen Post in his book entitled Unlimited Love Altruism, Compassion, and Service. Research topics include:
– The Comprehension of Love and Altruism in Autistic and Normal Children, by Dr. Jerome Kagan at Harvard
– What Love Has to do with it: Altruism, Generativity and Spirituality in the Aftermath of September 11, 2001, by Dr. Cheryl Koopman at Stanford University.
Public Health and Medicine
-Effects of Compassionate/Loving Intention as a Therapeutic Intervention by Partners of Breast Cancer Patients: a Randomized Controlled Trial, by Dr. Ellen G. Levine at California Pacific Medical Center.
Mechanisms By Which Altruistic Love Affects Health
-Toward an Understanding of the Neurobiology of Parental Love, by Dr. James Leckman at the Yale University Child Study Center.
-The Give of One’s Self: Expressions of Unlimited Love and Gratitude in Organ Donors and Recipients, by Dr. Robert Emmons at the University of California at Davis.
-The Sociological Study of Faith-based Communities and Their Activities in Relation to the Spiritual Ideal of Unlimited Love
-Faith-based Service Organizations, Altruistic Caregiving, and Understandings of Love, by sociologist, Dr. Robert Wuthnow, at Princeton University
-Self-Forgetfulness in Seeking the Lost: a Sociological Study of Relentless Love and Compassionate Service at Ground Zero, by Dr. Courtney Cowart, at the Center for Christian Spirituality of The General Theological Seminary.
I think Dr. Stephen Post is on to something very important—investigating the meaning of love to help us better understand what we are called to do in the exercise of altruism and agape, and the important work of reconciliation that derives from compassion and is guided by unlimited love.
What is love? a question that has been asked by poets and philosophers throughout the ages. We know that all attempts to define love are elusive. However, we will be exploring the meaning of love this term and its relationship to compassion and reconciliation. I can think of no better time for such reflection, given the world situation today.
In Paul’s letter to Corinth, he states that perfect love casts out fear. From the Greek, perfect love can also be translated as complete love, and I think that is what we yearn for in the deepest recesses of our heart and soul in trying to make sense of current events, a fear that was heightened two years ago; a fear that has been with us ever since.
What is love? Jesus commands us to “love one another” in this morning’s Gospel lesson. Erich Fromm understands love as an art that humans can learn—the overcoming of the separation through reconciliation. Karl Menninger describes love as “… a force that draws two persons together in a desire to be helpful and to be helped.” Theologian Paul Tillich talks about love as that which unites life itself. According to Tillich, we are drawn out of our own self-centeredness in love, and we exercise a preference to union with others and in that union finally God. In agape, according to Tillich, all estrangement is overcome by a reunion, a reconciliation of the whole developed simply as compassion.
So when we define love as eros or caritas or philia or grace or altruism, we are aware that it is a primary virtue for not only Christianity but for all religions, and a springboard for faith and hope in the face of loss, in the face of hatred, in the face of separation, in the face of sin. Finally, how are we called to love one another at St. Paul’s School? As members of a family. Current research suggests that altruism is bonded very early between parent, especially mother, and child, and later develops into altruism that goes beyond immediate family to tribe and nation. If we look at the history and evolution of love, we discover that it tends to end with nation and national self-interest. However, love must transcend family, tribe, and nation in recognition that love must include all of creation; that we are not only members of a global village but, at a more profound level, members of a global family.
Jesus commands us to love one another, and all of creation as children of one God. Jesus is not talking about a sentiment. As the word ‘command’ indicates, such love is mandated by Jesus in recognition of the great commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Such love is volitional and it is hard work, especially when it comes to loving your enemies and those individuals who at times seem unlovable. Hard work, important work, essential work—this business of loving and being loved. The great commandment also makes clear the inextricable link between love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self— a trinity of love that is inseparable, and the greatest of virtues.
I close with a quotation from one of my favorite theologians, a scientist and a theologian by the name of Teilhard de Chardin. “Someday after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love; and then for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” Amen.