A 'reflection' without God has little meaning
Last Saturday I attended Youngstown State University's spring commencement, which I enjoyed thoroughly with the exception of the "reflection" -- a point in the ceremony where thanks and acknowledgment was given to a higher power, in this case, an unnamed spirit.
The invocation to a nameless force was an attempt to keep a tradition that lends solemnity to the occasion without disturbing the separation between church and state. This sort of compromise occurs in graduation ceremonies all over the country every year, and I happen to think that, while they are done with good intentions, they fail miserably to achieve their purposes.
While it is questionable whether prayer in a public school is tantamount to an establishment of religion by the state, I don't have a problem with removing prayer from public schools. Simple application of the Golden Rule, which is universal, leads me to believe that if my faith were in the minority, I would probably not appreciate being subjected to prayers to a god other than my own. I do not believe that all religions or worldviews have equal merit. However, the religion or worldview of each individual, true or false, is what gives identity and purpose to his life.
Prayers to a god other than that in whom the individual has placed his faith are, if not idolatrous, devoid of meaning. It is ironic that a reflection included in ceremonies in order to give deeper meaning to the occasion, when given to some anonymous force, has no meaning at all.
I suggest two options to those organizing these types of ceremonies. Have representatives of all the major world religions each perform a short invocation during the ceremony. That way, at least the vast majority of people in the audience will be able to participate in a meaningful reflection. Or remove the reflection entirely, and leave prayers to spirits, named and unnamed, to the private sphere.
MICHAEL J. MAZZELLA
Why should state GOP protect 17th District?
Will the 17th Congressional District remain intact? If anyone thinks the 17th District will not be split up, ask yourselves the following.
Why would a Republican-controlled state Senate and House of Representatives care about allowing the 17th Congressional District to remain a strong Democrat seat? Why would any of the five elected executive officeholders, governor, auditor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer -- all Republicans -- want to intercede on behalf of the 17th Congressional District?
The re-appointment board consists of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and a member of both houses, all Republican controlled.
This issue is not about Jim Traficant, who worked very hard in 1993 to see that the Mahoning Valley was in contention and should have received the DFAS Center, but rather about political reality.
The state of Ohio is a Republican-controlled state, and if a congressional district has to be sacrificed, the likely choice would be a strong Democratic district, i.e., the 17th District.
DENNIS S. VITT
X The writer is the former chair of the Mahoning County Republican Party.