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.

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.



Electronic Bibles for the Analog Wayfarer

From Oliver Smith at The Telegraph,

From today, all 148 rooms at the Hotel Indigo [in Newcastle, England] will contain a Kindle e-reader pre-loaded with a copy of the Bible. The hotel is claiming to be the first in Britain to offer such a service.

Guests are also permitted to download a copy of any other religious text – to the value of £5 or less – during their stay. Regular fiction books can also be purchased, with the costs added to guests’ bills.

Meet the people where they’re at, no matter where they’re at.

Bulgaria: Skeletons treated for vampirism found

Via Bulgaria: Skeletons treated for vampirism found at PhysOrg:

(AP) — Bulgarian archaeologists say they have unearthed centuries-old skeletons pinned down through their chests with iron rods — a practice believed to stop the dead from becoming vampires

According to Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the National History Museum in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, two skeletons from the Middle Ages were found in such a state last weekend near the Black Sea town of Sozopol.

He said Tuesday that corpses were regularly treated in such a way before being buried in some parts of Bulgaria, even until the beginning of the last century. Widespread superstition led to iron rods being hammered through the chest bones and hearts of those who did evil during their lifetimes for fear they would return after death to feast on the blood of the living.

Sounds a bit odd for a blog on tech, right.  But here’s what I wonder: how many of our seemingly awesome technologies will seem like these iron rods in a couple of centuries?


The Curious Read of “The Curious Timing of Mark Zuckerberg’s Wedding”

News of love, via The Atlantic Wire.

As you probably know by now, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg married his college sweetheart, Priscilla Chan, this weekend; just one day after becoming a billionaire 19 times over. The surprise backyard ceremony also happened to take place just days after she graduated from medical school, providing the perfect opportunity for the couple to officially launch the next chapter of their lives together.

Congrats to them. Very cool. And amidst such success for each of them, it has to be a really wonderful time.

But wait,


The Good Kind of Silence of the Lambs

In the Roman Catholic World, today is World Communications Day today, the day set aside by the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council for Catholics to reflect on the role of communications in the world. That was a novel idea in the 1960’s when they started it. But we probably spend some part of every day thinking about the way in communicating, if only to wonder why our cell phone isn’t connecting right.

Each year, the Pope releases a brief address that highlights a particular area of concern, such as the portrayal of women, the rise in pornography, or the role of the media in respect, truth, and communion. This morning, the Catholic Moral Theology blog published a piece I wrote on this year’s address, which focuses on silence. Silence, Pope Benedict suggests, is a necessary precondition for the success of the many necessary communication events we engage in.

It is an interesting suggestion, and worth reflecting on. But it’s something that in our talkative world is a bit like coffee: off-putting and bitter the first time you try it, but a revelation once you get past the first few sips.

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