At our homecoming grid classic I was attracted to an Old Grad type who was blocking my view of the field. Several contacts were made during the game, mostly by his elbows, but I established rapport—after the winning touchdown—when he embraced me and then helped find my glasses under the stands.

When that old boy pulled off jersey 66 in ’26 he lost not only his glory but his identity. Homecoming was the annual climax of his quest for community.

The pathetic Old Grad is a rare bird, but the species is plentiful in different plumage. There is the lodge member variant; in business men’s clubs the cultic backslap is the mark of the order. The most ominous mutation has the widest distribution; the Old Grad Patriot. At a political rally he cheers the American Way of Life with the Old Grad’s compulsive zeal. Secretly he yearns for a Big Game (with survivors, of course, to celebrate V-R day).

The Old Grad is an idolater. He seeks the meaning of life in communities which are only means in life. Loyalty to a group or a nation, made supreme, becomes a curse. Modern nationalism from the French Revolution to Hitler and Stalin has been a pseudo-religion feeding like a heavy-bellied vulture on the corpse of the Christian faith.

We dare not offer the American eagle that diet. To insist in the name of democracy that a man’s religious creed makes no difference if he is a “good American” is to make Americanism the sole creed that is religious. Christ’s disciple is a loyal citizen for conscience sake, but he has one Master to Whom alone he renders that which is God’s. Over all his loyalties is the cross he took up when he denied the world to follow Him. The citizen of heaven is not an “Old Grad” but a new creature!



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