The Rev. Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 North 1464 Road:
How about some advice from King Solomon, son of David?
The Bible calls him the wisest man who ever lived; the greatest and wealthiest king of his day.
And the greatest failure.
As an old man he tried to warn young people not to make the same mistakes he made. Looking back on his failures, he wrote nine words every young person needs to soak up: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
Solomon started well — humble before God. But he collected women, wine and wealth. This led him astray. “Remember your Creator”? Young Solomon did just the opposite. He raised his fist to heaven and shouted, “Forget you, God! I’ll do what I want!” But Old Solomon said, “Remember!”
Notice what he called God: “Creator.” No matter what you’ve heard, never let go of this fact: There is a Creator. You don’t get everything from nothing — only from a Creator. It’s foundational to the meaning of life. Remembering you’re not the Creator keeps you humble. Remembering he created you in his image will keep you from self-loathing.
There’s nothing more important “in the days of your youth” (and beyond) than to “remember your Creator.” Elsewhere, Solomon wrote, “Be happy, young man, while you are young!” Youth is good. Youth should be enjoyed. But there are God-given parameters for how youth should be enjoyed. The Creator designed you and knows what is good, right and best for you. If you “forget” him and ignore what he said in the Bible about how to live, you can expect your life to go the same direction Solomon’s did: empty, meaningless, disastrous.
It’s timeless and precious wisdom. Never forget it: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
— Send email to Shaun LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Minor, professor emeritus in Kansas University’s religious studies department, 1300 Oread Ave.:
Everyone has advice for graduates. What advice about religion can a religious studies professor add to all this?
Well, graduate, at some point you’ll be confronting, maybe considering, one of the religions. Accept or reject it, but don’t make a few mistakes when doing so.
Whatever you decide, know about your options. Don’t accept something as if it is your only choice just because it’s the only one you’ve heard about from the people and authorities you’ve met.
This means that every decision is going to require research. No important decisions are handed to us — their success results from personal mental work. The more important the decisions, the more they demand it.
When you listen to what people say about a religion, remember that every individual speaks only for his- or herself, their own beliefs, their own understanding of what their scriptures, traditions, and institutions say. They might claim that they speak for their god, their bible, or orthodoxy, but there are others, in every religion, even among the recognized authorities, who disagree while making identical claims to speak for more than themselves.
The history of religions demonstrates that religions change. In each version, the faithful believe their understanding is the eternal, unchanging truth, but the fact is one can find in the history of any of the so-called great religious traditions as wide a variety of interpretations and claims as there are varieties of cultures and peoples.
Finally, consider that religious decisions are more often made on the basis of other factors than intellectual ones. Crucial is geography — people are most likely to end up in the religious traditions of their community or parents.
In fact, joining a religious group is more often motivated by the person’s emotional needs for a sense of social connection and an accepting community.
— Send email to Robert Minor at email@example.com.