Full text of Dr. Peter Kreeft’s speech titled ‘10 Lies of Contemporary Culture’ which was delivered as commencement address at Franciscan University of Steubenville on May 14, 2022. Dr. Kreeft is a leading Catholic apologist, philosophy professor, and author of over 100 books.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Dr. Peter Kreeft – Catholic apologist, philosophy professor, and author
Before I actually give you my commencement address, I’d like to sell it to you, by telling you that it’s going to be mercifully short.
Since our plethora of technological time-saving devices have robbed us of leisure time nowadays, I will do you the charitable deed of saving you a little time by summarizing in one short speech, what thousands of other commencement speakers have been telling you for the last generation or two.
I want to say 10 uncomfortable things about 10 comfortable ideas that they say you need to cultivate: identity, self esteem, service to the world, creativity, critical thinking, peace, justice, openness, love, and freedom. These are 10 nice, happy faced words.
But unlike most commencement speakers, I will not tell you happy lies about them.
FIRST, A WORD ABOUT LIES.
It’s a well-known platitude, especially in economics departments, that there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. As they also say, figures don’t lie, but liars figure.
But I think that principle should be expanded. I think there are four kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics, and commencement addresses.
I think most commencement addresses were inspired by the inventor of advertising, which is the world’s oldest profession. The one that was invented in the Garden of Eden by a Shapeshifter with many names, some of which are Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Astaroth, Baal, and Satan.
The first product of his advertising was an Apple. An icon of that product with the bite taken out of it is proudly displayed on many of his products today. He has chutzpah, because these are labels that shamelessly say ‘made in hell’.
His partner in sadism is Bill Gates, author of the world’s cleverest torture chamber, Microsoft Word.
Our Lord promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against Peter, son of Jonas, but He did not promise that the hell of gates would not prevail against Peter, son of Kreeft.
The word ‘advertising’ is itself an advertisement. It’s a weasel word. It’s a euphemism for lying, for no man-made product could ever be successfully sold to this ship of fools by simply telling the truth.
Most people think that the world’s oldest profession is prostitution, but that’s only one form of advertising. I know something about this form of advertising, for my job is to be an intellectual prostitute. That is a college professor.
I don’t sell my body for money. Nobody’d buy that. But I do sell my mind. Boston College is my pimp. Students pay my pimp. It’s called tuition, and my pimp pays me. It’s called salary. That’s what Socrates would say.
The business I work for is brains for hire. That’s why it’s called higher education.
But today there has been a miracle. I have been rendered incapable of lying for one day, just like Jim Carrey in the hilariously funny movie ‘Liar Liar’.
So I can lie today only if I tell the truth about lies. And therefore I will give you 10 common comfortable lies that my fellow advertisers and prostitutes have been telling you for many years in their commencement speeches.