An induction evening, New year 2017 | Netherhall House

“The explorer, in seeking to peer further into the darkest recesses, turned out his light.” *

“The drunk, having dropped his car keys, searched, and eventually found them beneath the street lamp. Happily, he concluded, keys are only ever lost under street lamps.” **

“The collector, after spending the whole day scanning the beach with his metal detector, looked at his findings and realised that only metal things litter the sand.” ***

*  *  *

Netherhall tries to offer another source of light to the students who come here. This other source of light is intended to be like the main light of a room rather than the light sitting on the desk. Not an intense, focused light for a narrow confine, but a light to live in and navigate our way around the room. It is the light under which we receive other people into our room.

It is not a mutually exclusive light: the main light provides the breadth whilst the desk light the depth.

Netherhall does not propose that the students that come here should redirect their attention from the first purpose of being here, that of studying for one’s degree. Instead we encourage students to allow a little more light to be shed on himself, his first concern, and on the people about him, his other first concern.

This little more light seeks to induce the begging of a question: what treasure do you lay up before you? Scraps of metal, as that is all your senses can perceive? Or virtue maturing to the fullness of life?

Begging the question, but not barrenly, as yet another question soliciting silence for its answer. No, the question is begged in order to present, as best as possible, a coherent answer. An answer can only be given if the listener wants to hear. But the listener will only want to hear if there is mutual trust and a wanted benefit.

Despite the many small annoyances of the building, the radiators, the water, always thinking one extra layer of clothes ahead, a quality participated in by all is that everyone forms some friendship. Everyone has someone to talk to and to confide in. There is no one in the house, who has no one else to whom he can speak to.

But about what? That the indefinite of the darkest recesses of my ‘life to come’ may begin to take on definite shape. Being forever open to any seemingly possible fundamental truths about the course of my life, remaining perennially indecisive, ends as a synonym for hopelessness.

Netherhall offers a set of keys, keys that fit the lock of man, keys that can get him home.

The text is from the the second term induction evening of the 2016-2017 academic year, given on Sunday 29th January 2017

*, **, *** : I cannot remember the quotes precisely, nor exactly where they came from, but I think they were from “The Sources of Christian Ethics” by Servais Pinckaers or “Scholastic Metaphysics” by Edward Feser.