Agus Tornabene ’19
This last Monday, October 29th Dr. Boesen gave a sermon to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the death of Captain George Wayne Anderson. The Oracle does not publish all sermons, only those we feel are important and can be of interest to the wider Woodberry community. The lessons which Dr. Boesen drew from Capt. Anderson’s example are what make this particular sermon worth spreading.
It is our hope that students apply these lessons. What follow are some highlights of the sermon – intended to summarize for both readers in a hurry and Chapel-sleeping students, – but the full text can be found here.
“So it’s worth starting my message with a straightforward point: George Wayne
Anderson’s actions in the final weeks of his life were, from our perspective a century later, unusual – they give us something to think about. And it’s appropriate that we do that thinking here, in St. Andrew’s Chapel, during our weekly service. Anderson’s legacy is best considered here because it points us towards the message that we contemplate in this service every week. With his humble service to his men, Captain Anderson intoned a faint but unmistakable echo of a much greater Captain – the one we celebrate and worship every Sunday evening.”
“Let’s be honest: it is impossible to match the example of the perfect life that Jesus led. We all – faculty and students alike – live, work, and study at Woodberry Forest, at this time and at this place, with very real and meaningful day-to-day concerns and obligations —family and friends, honor and reputation, academics and careers, athletics and other activities—and these concerns and obligations are all worth our time and effort. But Anderson’s example helps us here – he helps us resolve the tension between our emphasis on achievement and Jesus’ example of service.”
“It seems unlikely that Anderson would have felt comfortable counting up his community service hours to ensure that he had satisfied a graduation requirement; he would have probably felt uneasy as a prefect at a school where third formers are required to wait tables more frequently than sixth formers; and he almost surely would have been repulsed by the idea of packing his resume to market himself in the current college admissions process. In each of these hypothetical cases, his almost allergic reaction to recognition for his service to others is foreign to our current preoccupation with visibility”
“In my view, we can derive two more enduring lessons from Anderson’s example. First, the moral of Anderson’s life story isn’t an either-or choice between humble service and ambitious achievement…Second, Anderson’s example shows us quite vividly that our lives must reach beyond the principles of the honor system he taught as a prefect – and the school rules included in Woodberry’s early version of today’s Blue Book. The honor system and our school rules both give us guardrails for our behavior … [but] this isn’t enough: guardrails can help you stay on the road, but they can’t tell you anything about your final destination”