The Year of Religion, Transitions,
Construction, and a New Name
“The central questions of your life are largely yours to answer. More than any other
thing, your aspirations will determine what you become. Fickle fate can certainly mark
us for good or ill, but people largely live the scripts of their own writing. The ambitions
you form and the diligence with which you pursue them will define the substance of
your life. Success is not enough. A well-ordered life must be crowned by goodness and
Thomas K. Hearn Jr., May 18, 1998;
Charge to the Graduates, Wake Forest University Commencement
ake Forest designated 1997–1998 “The Year of Religion in American Life.”
Events began on September 4, when Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of
Bad Things Happen to Good People, delivered the opening convo-
cation speech. On October 16, Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, asked
the campus, “The twenty-first century is coming, but where are we going?” His
emphasis was on harmony and nonviolence. He was followed by Bill Moyers, Emmy
award-winning journalist, author, and commentator, who gave a speech, “Religion in
America: Reflections of a Long-time Observer and Participant,” at fall convocation
on November 19. The year featured special classes on religious themes, symposia on
religion in public life and in the media, a national conference on religion in higher
education sponsored by the Lilly Endowment, a film series, guest speakers, religious
leaders in residence, and a performance by whirling dervishes. The Book of Days, ­ 300-
to 400-word personal meditations on matters of faith and life by students, staff, and
faculty, was published in late September. An idea of Mary Gerardy, Assistant Vice
President of Student Life, and Ed Christman, University Chaplain, and produced by
the Year of Religion Steering Committee, it had an entry for every day the University
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