Ends, Beginnings, and All Along the Ways: Invocation for Commencement

Last weekend was graduation here at Saint Joseph’s University. I was honored to be asked to give the invocation prayer at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 11.  All went well, as far as that sort of thing goes. (Can you really evaluate a prayer?)

Invocation photo

Melissa Kelly/Saint Joseph’s University

For me, the most compelling thing about the experience was the silence. Several thousand people were there, and yet there was so little to hear. For all the busyness of the day and of our lives, it is nice to have moments where we pause to quiet ourselves and attend to the depth of our experience, even for just a moment.  All the more powerful when it is in such a big group.

Perhaps these sorts of experiences are better left to memory. But I thought I’d post the prayer for those who might like to remember such things.

~~~~~

Holy and loving God,
    We ask you to be with us on this wonderful day;
    a day of transition and a day of transformation.

We ask you to be with us today
    just as you have been with us each and every step of the way.

Be with us as you have been with us each morning,
    as we bent our minds to the rigors of the classroom
    and struggled to navigate life with roommates.

Be with us as you have each noon
    sharing lives with friends over a meal;
    and grading papers and preparing lectures for students.

Be with us as you have been with us each afternoon,
   in the lab, parsing the secrets of creation;
   and at service sites, putting flesh on your call to justice.

Be with as you have each evening,
    training our bodies in practices and games;
   and working overtime to pay tuition bills.

Be with us as you have been with us each night,
    reading the next book and writing the next paper;
   and gathering to praise you in liturgy;

    lying awake, worrying about a son or daughter so far from home;
    and resting our minds and bodies for the days ahead.

Spirit of God—breath of life—continue to be with us today
   as we celebrate the many things we have accomplished together.

Bless this moment, and these lives we have woven
   and the lives that we begin today.

In your name, we pray.
    Amen.

Happy Birthday Rewiring Virtue!

© Caroline’s Cakes

A year ago, I was on sabbatical writing a couple of articles on technology ethics.  One of the great things about academia is the fact that people engage in serious conversation and are willing to put work into understanding one another’s perspectives. We write books and journal articles so that we can figure out how the heck the world works and—in my field—how to create a more human and just society.

The down side is that this conversation takes ages.  One of those articles still hasn’t been published yet.  The other only took 16 months to publish—and that was positively speedy.  The glacial pace drives me crazy.  So, I wanted to see if I could move the ideas and the conversation along a bit faster.  That’s why I started Rewiring Virtue. One year and 112 posts later, I think things have worked out pretty well.  I certainly have been able to do a lot of thinking and learning about the mediated life. And I’ve been fortunate that folks have found it interesting.

Thank you for being my conversation partners.

Google Doodles, Easter, and Cesar Chavez: Sometimes It’s About Competing Goods

(Warning: this is a long one. I just couldn’t get it in a short post. But the short version is that the argument that Google is anti-Christian doesn’t hold up in the light of reasonable moral analysis. In the end, there are simply times when actions that you don’t like turn out to be morally neutral or differently good.)

To say that public discourse in a religiously fraught country is difficult is an understatement. Anyone who is trying to live a publicly religious life in a diverse culture certainly knows this. As does anyone whose job connects even remotely to religion. Sunday, that meant Google, who raised a bit of ire when it posted a Doodle about Ceasar Chavez on Easter Sunday.

Now, here at Rewiring Virtue, I tend to stay away from issues that will really make people mad. There are lots of places online that people can go to vent their anger, so we don’t really need another one. That and—if I’m honest—I have a pretty thin skin, so I have tended to dig into issues where people haven’t necessarily made up their minds. That keeps the “light to heat” ratio more to my liking.

That being said, the whole controversy surrounding Sunday’s Google Doodle is too close a connection between religion, ethics, and technology for me to pass it over. I am going to assume that you already know about the controversy. (If not, check out the links in the previous sentence.) In the barest outline, some Christians were upset because Google Doodled about Cesar Chavez rather than Easter.  Most of the folks complaining feel that the Doodle is an intentional insult by Google against Christianity. To have any doodle aside from something about Easter on Easter is a slight that reveals an anti-Christian foundation at the center of the “don’t be evil” facade.

Hmmm…

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Christmas, Family, Media, and Music: 2012 and 1904

Just a quick interlude on this Christmas night. I hope that all of you have had a couple of nice days with your families (whether or not you celebrate the religious aspects of the day). We had a touch of snow last night on our way into Mass that made the evening as picturesque as could be.  Today was quiet, spent with family and friends.

Apparently, Netflix was down last night and this morning. As they put it at PhysOrg,

Families across the United States will have to rely on other sources of entertainment after Netflix’s video streaming service was hit by a Christmas Eve outage.

Rebecca Greenfield at  The Atlantic likely echoed the sentiment of many people when she wrote:

The service went down…during arguably one of the worst possible times ever, when many people stuck at home with their families would hope to seek a little refuge in some streaming movies.

So, wait, families don’t want to talk to one another?

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Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving, Love Actually Edition

Many things to give thanks for this year. Among them, the fact that no one at dinner even came close to answering the phone or checking messages. That alone made it feel like a sacred time.

Favorite piece of technology today? Instant read thermometer. I should probably know what temperatures feel like on a pork shoulder or turkey, but I’ve never been good at that.

Favorite technology of the season? Pretty much anything having to do with travel. Phones and videoconferencing are great. But nothing like being there face to face.

There is probably something to be said for the fact that cars have played a major factor in the atomization of American society, enabling us to leave birthplaces and families behind to strike out into the world alone. (Actually, Putnam has said some insightful stuff there.) Same for cell phones. But given where we are–both figuratively and literally–it is great to be able to maintain the ties, some sense of community, over the distances.

I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies, but the opening and closing scenes of Love Actually gets me every time. Joy and gratefulness among those greeting each other at the arrival terminal at Heathrow airport.

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving. Give them a squeeze to be sure the connection is solid.

A Modest Proposal for Fanboys

Omar Gallaga at CNN dreams the impossible dream for Apple vs. Samsung: A Peace Treaty.

WHEREAS, the respective Parties, the Apple Fanboys also known as “Apple Fanbois,” “Fanb0yz,” “iPhoners” or simply “The Mac Faithful,” among many other names and the Samsung Fanboys also known as “Apple H4terz,” “Galaxians” or “Androiders” seek a lasting peace, both online and off, and…

WHEREAS, online forums, queues for new products and technology blogs have become polluted with smack talk, useless feature comparisons and Photoshopped ads meant to deride and belittle each others device preference, and… Apple vs. Samsung: Tale of two countries The Number: Samsung the new Apple?

WHEREAS both sets of Parties recognize that a competitive market is both critical and necessary for continued technological innovation to benefit all, especially early adopters…NOW, THEREFORE, the Parties agree to abide by the agreements herein, enumerated in the terms of the articles set forth below:…

Pretty humorous—which is really the only way to react to the absurd behavior out there.

via Shawn King at The Loop.

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