What do the Upanishads, the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran, and Carl Sagan have in common?

They were all sources of readings at the Tufts Baccalaureate Service, which took place the day before its commencement.

A baccalaureate service is explicitly religious, so the inclusion of Sagan is interesting — especially since Tufts doesn’t appear to have a Humanist Chaplaincy (as Harvard does).  I have no insight into the process for deciding what quotes to include, the order of the quotes, who gets to read them, etc. The sequence was chronological, so Sagan came last.  So we begin with the Upanishads asking for us to be led from fear of death to the knowledge of immortality, later we have the New Testament telling us to lay up treasures in Heaven, and finally we have this bracing piece of wisdom for the graduates:

The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence.  Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability is to look Death in the eye and be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Good for Tufts!

2 thoughts on “What do the Upanishads, the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran, and Carl Sagan have in common?

  1. It sounds like Tufts is the “Golden Corral” of academic theology, offering a spiritual smorgasbord for picking and choosing whatever truth suits your fancy.

    (I wonder if their Math tests are also multiple choice.)


    • Tufts offers no theology whatsoever, although it was founded by Unitarians. Like most private colleges, it has a nondenominational chapel. And it has chaplains for the major faiths represented by the student body. But it’s good to see them show some respect the faith-less, who also have their needs.


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