Thank you President Krueger, for your generous welcome. And now I address you, regents, faculty, parents, and family here gathered, and especially the graduating class of 2019. We rejoice with you this day as things begin – a commencement is a beginning, an initiation, a start, an origin, the first step of things to come, things that commence from this point forward. We are all about origins, being a people who are not averse to the risks entailed in digging into the questions of origins – the origin of life in the medical sciences, the origin of the world in our theological formulations, the origins of the English language and the modern state, the origins of my personal psychology and my motivations to think the way I do, the origin of that wrinkle, that age spot, that ache in my aging bones. And today, that origin of a life outside of undergraduate education, the life that some call the real world, the life of vocation, the higher and honorable calling of being a wise and honorable and cultivated citizen, in your home, your family, your business, your church, your city and community, your state, your life that commences today, day one. Continue reading Honor, Star Wars, and You
President Krueger, honored guests, distinguished faculty, staff, and administrative colleagues, friends and family members, and most of all to you, the Concordia University Irvine graduating class of December 2017:
I stand here acutely aware of two things:
- I am the last thing standing between you graduates and your diplomas; and
- Because of item 1, it is extremely unlikely that you will remember anything I say here today.
I’ve been a member of Concordia’s faculty for more than 25 years. I’ve attended every commencement ceremony organized by the university during that time except one, and to be honest, I only really remember two graduation speeches: Continue reading Today You’re at Bree
This address was delivered by C.J. Armstrong at Concordia University Irvine’s graduation ceremony on May 7, 2016.
President Krueger, it is an honor to have been asked to deliver the commencement address this year. For this I thank you. And I repeat the welcome to our distinguished guests, our honorees, the regents of our university, my fellow faculty, the parents, family and friends of our graduates. But above all my hat is off to the Concordia University Irvine graduating class of 2016.
It’s a special honor for me because it wasn’t too long ago that my hat was on here, when I walked across this stage at the Bren Center, graduating from University of California, Irvine after a lengthy study of the greatest poet ever born on earth, Ovid, who died on this very day, give or take a month or two, one year shy of 2000 years ago. You know Ovid: he’s the poet who told all those wonderful mythological stories in the Metamorphoses about people turning to stone through divine retribution or bad luck, and even a couple who change from statues into real human people. You know, like the story of Pygmalion, who didn’t like any of the girls in his class so he made a statue of a woman and prayed to the gods that he might love someone like his ivory girl; he kissed the statue and it came to life. What a story!
I might ask, what does a classicist like me, someone who reads mythology and talks to dead guys like Ovid all day long, have to share with you graduates? Continue reading Turning Statues of Stone into Humans with Hearts
Concordia University Irvine’s Core Curriculum seeks an ambitious vision set forth in the words of Martin Luther: “to develop wise, honorable, and cultivated citizens.” One danger in running with a vision that’s so catchy is that the virtues these words espouse may eventually become confused, diluted, or even meaningless. The hazard is compounded when the word “honorable” enjoys center stage in that vision, a word that for many has eluded a simple definition distinguishable from a kind of vanilla “moral uprightness.” One purpose of this essay, then, is to seek whether clarity can be at least provisionally attained about what we mean by “honor.” To do this we will aim at a discrete delineation along the lines suggested by one core text, Cicero’s De Officiis (“On Obligations” or “On Duties”). Continue reading Negotiating Honor in Cicero’s De Officiis