It has been an emotional week for me as my son and many other young people who have touched my life alongside him graduated from High School on Friday. At this time they are all at Schoolie's Week on the Gold Coast, as I was twenty-seven years ago, and no doubt having a blast.
I salute them. My overwhelming impression is that this generation is better adjusted, less illusioned and less repressed than my generation was. They are also more affluent, better connected by technology and more mobile. Their opportunities and choices are truly global. As are their challenges.
In terms of religion and the House of Every, it is my view that people should not firmly choose religious association until they are at least into their twenties, and the age my partner and I discuss as a possibly ideal age for any religious initiation (such as confirmation or baptism) is 28.
Youth is for studying, exploring, dreaming, travelling in space and mind. It is not for fixating and entrenching, in my view. I'm not saying they should stay away from religous services. I'm saying they should perhaps go to lots of different ones, if at all.
At the same time, I was very aware during the elaborate graduation ceremony with its emotion and its high sentiments, that one of the deep emotions from the students was the result of the end of a five (or twelve) year embodiment. The effect of this embodiment was illustrated by the school band and the ensemble performances, which were at a very high level, as is quite usual for mature school bands, as long as the music program is ok. It was also illustrated by the rousing football songs in the foyer, the many and various group hugs and photos, and the tears. "State High 'till ya die" was, however non-rational, the abiding sentiment. For many, I am aware, it is the most meaningful continuous embodiment they will ever experience, and indeed, 'old school spirit' of one flavour or another is a part of the religious structure of the lives of very many people. Embodiment creates deep, abiding meaning, is what I'm trying to say.
But all I really want to say is good luck to them.
This is a song that has recently meant a lot to my son. One wonderful thing is that neither he nor his friends will read this sermon, but nevertheless this is a song for them.