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Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Each year I make a hobby during graduation season (May/June) of paying attention to college commencement speeches. We’ve covered quite a few here on Mbird over the years. It’s a rhetorical phenomenon that sheds light on philosophies of the world that are either long on law or lame optimism about human potential: Look inside yourself, follow your heart, failure is just a stepping stone to future success. Oh, the places you’ll…

Commencement 2012: Graduating to Humility

Commencement 2012: Graduating to Humility

A piece by Charles Wheelan that appeared in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago has been the go-to status update for the collective Class of 2012, many of who find themselves lamenting their impending commencement exercises. With unemployment still above 8 percent and college graduates leaving their alma maters with an average of $25,000 of loans, it seems as though any commencement address has an uphill battle ahead of it. Normally,…

Another Week Ends: Tom Wolfe, Royal Weddings, Unlikely Hospice Workers, Babylon Bee Book, New Marcionism, and More Loneliness

Another Week Ends: Tom Wolfe, Royal Weddings, Unlikely Hospice Workers, Babylon Bee Book, New Marcionism, and More Loneliness

1. As far as “theology of the cross” illustrations go, this one is unforgettable. A pastoral care initiative in a prison’s hospice wing, led entirely by fellow inmates, most of whom are convicted murderers serving a life sentence. Suleika Jaouad tells the story in this week’s New York Times Magazine, about the Pastoral Care Service Workers, a cohort of about two dozen inmates who have been trained and tested to provide end-of-life care for the…

The Humanity Of God: An Ascension Day Reflection

The Humanity Of God: An Ascension Day Reflection

Commencement season is almost over (there are some college graduations still happening, if you can believe it!). This year I learned of a tradition I didn’t know existed. Apparently a newly elected president’s first commencement address is usually given at Notre Dame. But Donald Trump broke with this convention, recently delivering his first commencement address at Liberty University. In my opinion, it was one of his better public addresses….

"What Doesn't Kill You Almost Kills You" -- Conan O'Brien

"What Doesn't Kill You Almost Kills You" -- Conan O'Brien

Today I will graduate from Yale University with a Master’s of Divinity degree. In the spirit of this season of graduations, I share with you this excerpt from Conan O’Brien’s speech at Dartmouth’s commencement last year: I learned a hard but profound lesson last year and I’d like to share it with you. In 2000, I told graduates ‘Don’t be afraid to fail.’ Well now I’m here to tell you that, though you should…

Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

It has been a Mockingbird tradition to highlight worthy graduation speeches amidst the vast sea of snoozers. As the spring commencement season approaches, I want to point out that Ed Helms, the actor who played Andy Bernard on The Office, will be giving a speech at Cornell University’s graduation on May 24. This is noteworthy because Andy Bernard, the sycophantic airhead with anger-management issues, always brags about how he went to…

No More Winning: Stephen Colbert on Love, Service, and Improv

No More Winning: Stephen Colbert on Love, Service, and Improv

We’ve gotten a lot of mileage over the years from graduation speeches. Perhaps because they tend to be so long on law and short on grace–i.e. full of exhortation rather than comfort–that when they’re good, they really stand out. Among our favorite “anti-commencement addresses” would have to be those by Bill Watterson, JK Rowling, Conan O’Brien, Jonathan Franzen and, of course, David Foster Wallace. With…

J.K. Rowling on the Fringe Benefits of Failure

J.K. Rowling on the Fringe Benefits of Failure

As I was searching the wonderful TED archive of talks the other day, I came across the address that author J.K Rowling gave at Harvard Commencement in 2008. (Aside – the TED site/community is a great resource IMO and very much worth your time). I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books and am only vaguely familiar with Rowling’s personal history as an impoverished single mother who became a mega-star author. But I was blown away by her…

Another Week Ends: (More) Addiction, Infidelity and Death, and Music to Get You Through It All

Another Week Ends: (More) Addiction, Infidelity and Death, and Music to Get You Through It All

1. This week, The NY Times made the astute observation that the new buzzword, “moment,” reflects something significant about the human condition. You need only glance at headlines to see how the word is being used—as far as media coverage goes, a “moment” is usually something trending, anything that garners fifteen minutes of fame. It could be a celebrity or a musical group; there are election moments and hurricane…

MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Monumental Grace of Sleep

MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Monumental Grace of Sleep

This wonderful reflection was written by Benjamin Self. I. The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be from the want of assiduity or perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock…and fish all day without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble. — Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”, 1819 Between 1959 and 1968—the year he was assassinated—Martin…

Jim Carrey and the Terrible Search for Fulfillment

Jim Carrey and the Terrible Search for Fulfillment

Every now and again, I think I’ve got all the plates spinning at once. I’ve done enough, and I can be satisfied. I strut down the grocery aisle like it’s a dance floor, giving nods and high-fives to strangers, like Heart’s “Barracuda” is my cool and easy life’s soundtrack. Then, suddenly, my son pitches a Grade-A Hissy Fit right there in the store because the cereal he wanted five minutes ago is not the cereal he wants now. In the midst of his…

PZ's Podcast: Shag (The Movie), Cimarron, The Sacraments Rightly Understood, Mirage Fighter, and What Actually Happens

PZ's Podcast: Shag (The Movie), Cimarron, The Sacraments Rightly Understood, Mirage Fighter, and What Actually Happens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSm1Ghy6gEo Episode 195: Shag (The Movie) That’s a great little movie, from 1989. But I’m afraid it’s going to get banned one of these days, by the Ministry of Truth. Right from the “get go”, there’s an image in it that’s distressing today. Which gives me a chance to talk Christianly about how to deal with distressing or upsetting material? Do you rid yourself of it by…