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The Rt Rev Ronald Owen HALL

Doctor of Divinity
honoris causa

In standing up to speak on behalf of us both, Mr. Chancellor, I am obeying Sir Lindsay as well as our new Vice-Chancellor, whose welcome today I am honoured to share. When a Bishop faces the combined forces of two Vice-Chancellors, he is somewhat in the position of King George III of England when the Emperor of China wrote to him: 'Attend to these our august commands, and tremblingly obey'.

I find myself trembling indeed, but not with fear, so much as with a very different emotion: a dear affection for Lindsay Ride and a deeply felt belongingness to this University, which has not made us both members of its House of Lords.

Only hand in hand with Sir Lindsay can I bear the weight of these ornate garments with their suggestion of massive learning. What is so much minus in my account is balanced by what is so much plus his.

We have shared the past thirty years of the life of Hong Kong. He was before me in residence. I was before him as a visitor. We shared also the war years in China. My stomach quivers with remembered fear at the thought of his unwillingness to let the last train leave Kweilin. He appeared to enjoy risking being captured a second time, while he encouraged the Chinese defenders in front of the city.

For Sir Lindsay, in addition to being a man of letters, is also a man of action. Perhaps one special value of his own academic discipline is that it combines thought and action in a balanced combination. The medical man's test of truth is the healing of a person. Those involved in other academic disciplines would be well advised to make healing, the healing of society, the real test of their value as university teachers.

Church folk in Hong Kong are glad that the University has joined me with Sir Lindsay into membership in its Community of Learning. They are glad because of the long association of this University with the Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican Church of Hong Kong. The first public announcement of the conception of the University was at a Speech Day at St. Stephen's College, which later provided a large number of its first undergraduates. St. Johns College, then St. John's Hall, was the first hall of residence.

I had not been long in Hong Kong before I was out with Canon George Shee on the hills where St. John's College now stands, dreaming of something more like a college than a students' boarding house, popular as St. John's Hall was in those days, because of its accessibility to West Point.

St. John's College has taken a long time to mature, but tenders are now out for a second wing. I gather we may be asking to extend it still a little further. Being myself of small stature, I shrink from things unduly big. But I realize that the needs of the University may call for a college membership larger than the 250 which we have always considered the maximum, if real collegiate value was to be maintained.

You have given me an honorary Doctorate in Divinity, for which perhaps my only qualification is my desire to establish a Chair of Religion at St. John's College on the pattern of those associated with the Colleges of my first University. But for the recession in Hong Kong building, which has dominated the year 1965, this desire would have been on the way to fulfillment. I am now endeavouring to find other ways to provide the necessary endowment.

I hope this may prove a first step towards fulfilling Sir Lindsay Ride's proposal, made in his address to the 53rd Congregation of the University on November 16, 1960. Referring to the work of Robert Morrison and James Legge in promoting mutual understanding and appreciation of the deepest convictions of the East and of the West, he pressed the need for courses in the study of religion especially in the relation of religion to philosophy and to ultimate meaning in history and in personal relations.

There is one thing Sir Lindsay does not share with me and that is a gift for fraudulent bluff. I think the D.D. would, in my case, be better called a 'Doctorate in Deception'. I must come clean. I have less than two years academic study to my credit; 18 months wrestling with philosophy, and two months with theology. May I say to the younger members of the University this is not an example to follow, but an awful warning, to those who are tempted too soon to desert study for action.

I have no right to lower the standards of this community of scholars with my mountebank attitude to study. Yet I believe a philosophy based on the interplay of experience with the interpretation of experience, has its place in life's disciplines. I rejoiced when one of my Oxford associates, Professor John MacMurray, called his Gifford Lectures 'The Self as Agent', challenging those who still follow Descartes' basis 'I think, therefore I am' with his own view, 'I act, therefore I am'. Those who know his earliest book, 'Freedom in the Modern World, will realize that he has also used the deeper language of personal relations. 'I love, therefore I am'. There is no activity more personal, more essential to Being, than human love, human friendship, and human concern.

For this reason some of my happiest hours in Hong Kong have been from 9 p.m. to near midnight, round the table in my office discussing healing action in our society. The late Professor Robertson shared regularly in these deliberations, and in the actions that followed. More recently in a succession of younger members of the University faculty, often, alas, to prove only transients in our city, have shared with other Hong Kong citizens in a dialogue of experience and action in the Institute of Social Research.

In 1946, when Hong Kong was reordering its Government, some of us pressed for the inclusion of the Vice-Chancellor in the Legislative Council. It looks as if another way of achieving the relation of thought to action for the healing of our society may prove to be by a considerable range of consultation with manual workers as well as with academics, with white collar workers and merchants, in addition to the small circle of those now responsible for our Government.

The University is not limited to what goes on on the slopes of these dear hills. In its graduate members of the University is active in every part of the life of the city. Your concern here on this hillside must be always to ensure that graduate members of the University have been infected in their undergraduate days, by tone, temper, and practice, of a faculty with a deep and humane concern for mankind.

In conclusion I am going to be unfair to Sir Lindsay and claim there is one great difference between us. He is interested in the past, even in tombstones, or at least in the historic tombstones of Macao. I am more concerned with the future. Only the short spell of thirty-four years separate Hong Kong today from the twenty-first century. By then this beloved city will be one of the pillars in the new world order now waiting to be born; a world order which I believe will be at once disciplined and liberal.

God grant you in this University to be increasingly involved in the healing of our society, looking forward with confidence to that year of Our Lord when A.D. 2000 will be written not only on tombstones, but on the stately homes and leisure parks then being built for those of whom it is written 'They are not found in the seats of the learned, but they will maintain the fabric of the world and in the handy-work of their craft is their prayer'.

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