Satan’s Commencement Address

Tuesday, May 15, AD 2012

There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.

                                                                CS Lewis

As faithful readers of this blog know, Satan had been invited by Saint Sincerus, the 84th largest Catholic university in the nation, to deliver its commencement address.  Despite protests from the Catholic wing of the Catholic Church, Satan did in fact give the commencement address.   Here is the text:

Thank you. (loud applause) Thank you all very much. Thank you, Fr. Despereaux. Please, folks (continued applause), please be seated. A little restraint every now & then. . . (laughter).

Seriously, this is quite an honor for me. I can’t say an unexpected honor, as this invitation was in the cards for some time now. And this despite all the non-attention I’ve received from many of your Catholic intellectuals; wasn’t it your own Fr. Cheever in Ancient Near Eastern Studies who said in your student paper that I don’t exist? (laughter). He’s not alone in thinking that, though I take it that after we got to know each other a bit better last night he has a different take on things. Talk about an ashen countenance when I discussed my background! Suffice it to say that he knows a bit more about ancient mythology & sacrifice than he did before we spoke. It really is too bad he can’t be here today, as he’s much in my thoughts, as are all the fine academics at this institution. Much of the work you do is directly responsible for my being here today, & I am much pleased by it.

To honor the graduates of St. Sincerus, I will focus my remarks on the creative gifts God has so richly blessed you all with, as well as on your sacred responsibility to nurture those gifts, despite the heavy costs. As you know, you live in a world in which the majority of people seek to restrain, to control, & even to deny the creativity of the few. Isn’t it a sad irony that such a gift, which can help you to make & remake your world, & which is an expression of God’s image within you, so badly frightens the unimaginative?  I believe the patron of this school would be as pleased as I am with your attempts in recent years to use your creativity to produce such a life affirming environment here on campus, & would hope that you continue forward. “Fear not!” I can almost here him saying at this very moment, as he thinks about the work of your administration, faculty, & student organizations to make more people welcome here.

(loud applause from the members of the audience, who rise from their seats; shouts of “SSU! SSU!” break out)

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13 Responses to Satan’s Commencement Address

  • Nice satire / paradoy. Or perhaps it’s an actual reflection of reality?

    Good post!

  • Glad you noticed Tito! The inscription on the honorary degree is taken word for word, with a few minor modifications, from the honorary degree awarded by Notre Dame to Obama in 2009.

  • It would be funny if it weren’t so sadly close to reality. Can you provide a link to the inscription on the honorary degree that ND gave to Obama? I searched but couldn’t find it. Thanks!

  • Obama, nor any living soul is Satan; to say so is incredibly wrong. This lack of love to our neighbors, even our enemies and our President is not very catholic. Rumour and hate-mongering is a sin. I don’t understand your approach.
    You don’t like what he said, break it down, explain how the specifics goes against our faith and provide counter-arguments to each point. General statements of loathing and anger serve no real christian purpose, but simply to display anger and lack of control.
    Are there no points in the speech worhty of possitive discussion and to be ablle to use those positive discussion points as common ground to hold ligitmate and mature debate?
    Don’t you realize what the secular world is all about in the US? Freedom of the pursuit of happiness, to choose and of equality. We as catholics need to accept that, work with it if we are truly to be the conscience of the secular world. But we won’t be as effective with this approach. Instead, we must be inclusive and mature to provide debate with love, not hate in order to be a true part of the discussion.

  • No one said that Obama is Satan. The point of the article is, if a Catholic university had the chance to honor Satan himself, would they? I see no “general statements of loathing and anger” in the piece above. The points made in Obama’s speech at ND have been discussed at great length on the Internet. I hope you bother to do some research so you can read those discussions.

  • Thank you Sharon for saving me the effort.

    Here is the text of the honorary degree awarded to Obama:

    “At the 164th Commencement The May Exercises The University of Notre Dame Confers the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on the 44th president of the United States, whose historic election opened a new era of hope in a country long divided by its history of slavery and racism. A community organizer who honed his advocacy for the poor, the marginalized and the worker in the streets of Chicago, he now organizes a larger community, bringing to the world stage a renewed American dedication to diplomacy and dialogue with all nations and religions committed to human rights and the global common good. Through his willingness to engage with those who disagree with him and encourage people of faith to bring their beliefs to the public debate, he is inspiring this nation to heal its divisions of religion, culture, race and politics in the audacious hope for a brighter tomorrow.

    On Barack H. Obama, Washington, District of Columbia”

    Time to clean your reading glasses Francodrummer since you missed my intent entirely. My point was that the same weasel words that Catholic colleges use when honoring complete pro-aborts like Obama could just as easily be twisted around to justify honoring anyone, even Satan. If you are truly interested in my thoughts on Notre Dame and Obama, there are quite a few posts by me on that subject on this blog.

    This would be a good one to start with:

  • Francodrummer says:

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 A.D. at 11:38am

    “Obama, nor any living soul is Satan; to say so is incredibly wrong.”

    I think the above is parody – as an analogy to current events.
    I think Satan is an angel who hates God and functions by entering into mortal souls.

    This idea is something that Catholics, who want to become closer to God by following and obeying Him, think of in examining their consciences. Of many instances written in Scripture,
    one is in John 13: 26 – 27.
    “Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’
    So he dipped the morsel and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.
    After he took the morsel, Satan entered him.

    Catholics are called to have courage in their love for God, and to be able to help others to distinguish between paths of good and evil. An act of love.

  • I can’t help but comment on the eerily similar theme and tenor of “Francodrummer’s” post and the satirical satan’s speech in the blog post. Along with your refusal to capitalize Catholic, it’s almost as if you were attempting to prove the author’s point for him. I know the devil has his apologists, but aren’t you taking it a bit far in your advocacy?

  • Yeah! “CE” You have got to love them!

    The rats have idolized Che for decades. I saw a post where some lovely progressive was wearing a Stalin tee-shirt.

    The Spiritual Works of Mercy:

    Admonish the sinner

    Instruct the ignorant

    Counsel the doubtful

    Comfort the sorrowful

    Bear wrongs patiently

    Forgive all injuries

    Pray for the living and the dead

    Progressives, assorted Obama-worshiping morons, and craven cretins contend that the first three items are “ancient religious hatred” and the rest are superfluous because they have this one world and they must make this one world a better place.

    Only thing is: Whatever they try fails.

  • Whatever your intended literary move was (satire, parody, comedy, irony, etc.), calling a human being “Satan” (as this article did) is just a few steps form the horrible witch burning and heretic burning that was for centuries of staple of our Catholic Church’s activity in the political realm. I wonder if people will keep reading this web site if you keep up this approach. Sadly, I suspect this sort of “humor” will make you even more popular, but revving up the mob has never been the saintly course of action. Blessed John Paul II could never stop talking about respecting the human dignity of all, even our enemies. For the sake of humility, I’ve said and written many such things, and even worse things, and will probably sin in worse than this five times more before this day ends. So, you have no reason to see me as an authority of any sort. But, even a horsefly can make you think.

  • “Whatever your intended literary move was (satire, parody, comedy, irony, etc.), calling a human being “Satan” (as this article did) is just a few steps form the horrible witch burning and heretic burning that was for centuries of staple of our Catholic Church’s activity in the political realm.”

    Your reading comprehension skills are on a par with your “Chick anti-Catholic comic” view of Church history. I did not call Obama Satan (he wouldn’t be competent enough for ever junior tempter status I suspect) but rather pointed out the type of mental contortions by which the powers that be at too many Catholic universities honor politicians who promote policies directly antithetical to the teaching of the Church.

    ” I wonder if people will keep reading this web site if you keep up this approach.”
    We have been going strong since 2008 and each year our readership increases.

    “Sadly, I suspect this sort of “humor” will make you even more popular”

    Nice way to spit on our readers. I am fairly tolerant about jibes aimed at me, but if you wish to comment on this blog I will not tolerate attacks on our readers.

    “So, you have no reason to see me as an authority of any sort. But, even a horsefly can make you think.”

    Yes, about how nice it would be to be rid of the horsefly.

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Hard Truths for Grads

Tuesday, May 8, AD 2012



Bret Stephens has an op ed in the Wall Street Journal of a graduation address that all graduates should hear but won’t:

Dear Class of 2012:

Allow me to be the first one not to congratulate you. Through exertions that—let’s be honest—were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree. Now you’re entering a lousy economy, courtesy of the very president whom you, as freshmen, voted for with such enthusiasm. Please spare us the self-pity about how tough it is to look for a job while living with your parents. They’re the ones who spent a fortune on your education only to get you back— return-to-sender, forwarding address unknown.

No doubt some of you have overcome real hardships or taken real degrees. A couple of years ago I hired a summer intern from West Point. She came to the office directly from weeks of field exercises in which she kept a bulletproof vest on at all times, even while sleeping. She writes brilliantly and is as self-effacing as she is accomplished. Now she’s in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

If you’re like that intern, please feel free to feel sorry for yourself. Just remember she doesn’t.

Unfortunately, dear graduates, chances are you’re nothing like her. And since you’re no longer children, at least officially, it’s time someone tells you the facts of life. The other facts.

Fact One is that, in our “knowledge-based” economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.

A few months ago, I interviewed a young man with an astonishingly high GPA from an Ivy League university and aspirations to write about Middle East politics. We got on the subject of the Suez Crisis of 1956. He was vaguely familiar with it. But he didn’t know who was president of the United States in 1956. And he didn’t know who succeeded that president.

Pop quiz, Class of ’12: Do you?

Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn’t to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think. Wrong. I routinely interview college students, mostly from top schools, and I notice that their brains are like old maps, with lots of blank spaces for the uncharted terrain. It’s not that they lack for motivation or IQ. It’s that they can’t connect the dots when they don’t know where the dots are in the first place.

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21 Responses to Hard Truths for Grads

  • Reminds me some of Dr Seuss’s graduation speech, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

    I’ve copied the text of this letter for future use. Thanks!

  • I agree with most all of this article. But he’s wrong on one thing: college *is* where you learn how to think. You should be learning facts there, as Stephens points out, but you should also be learning how to think.

    If you want to learn to surf, you can watch others do it, and get advice from people who know what they’re doing, but you also need to get out there and try and fail and try some more. It’s the same thing with learning how to think. Everyone should come out of college knowing how to think as an adult, a citizen, and a graduate of whatever major. You do that by actually thinking thoughts over and over again until the process becomes habit. The facts are essential, but they’re not simply to be learned for their own sake.

    If I knew how to think better I could probably say something about facts being the material cause and thinking the final cause, and phrase it properly and coherently. Too bad I don’t.

  • At law school we were told that the first year would teach us how to think like lawyers. (Shudder!) It didn’t happen in my case. I was bored silly reading hundreds of pages of case law each week, but that didn’t help me think like a lawyer. That feat was accomplished after several years of working as an attorney. I think education in general can help give us facts, but as far as teaching us how to think goes, I think the record is pretty poor, including Plato’s Socratic take-people-by-the-hand-and-lead-them-where-I-want-them-to-go “dialogues”. Education in this country has slacked on what it can do passably well historically, convey facts, and focused on “problem solving” that it does pretty poorly. It is not accidental that conveying facts requires some mastery of the material by the instructor while “teaching people how to think” usually requires mastery only of some of the current buzz words popular in educratese, at least from examples that I have witnessed.

  • The record for “teaching people how to think” is poor because it can’t be taught. You either can or you can’t.

    The only method I think is viable for expanding the thought capacity of the average person is a musical education. There is a school I know of in which the students have half of the school day devoted to a traditional curriculum and the other half dedicated to musical training. They have a 100% graduation and college placement rate (it is K-12). I think musical education and even listening to classical music (particularly Bach) has an effect on the brain that makes it more conducive to learning and pondering.

    On the other hand, having sounds (I refuse to call it music) made by gangasta thugs and gyrating whores pumped into your brain for hours every day will likely have the opposite effect.

  • “University of California researchers reported that college students temporarily raised their IQs while listening to a Mozart piano sonata before certain tasks. The music stimulated spatial intelligence prior to mathematical tasks, analysis, organizing, ”

    There you go. That’s why I have Mozart and Bach on continuously throughout the day, especially when I am working. I switch over to Beethoven when I want to feel something.

  • I am rather fond of ABBA. I shudder to think what that has done to my IQ! 🙂

  • I’m talking about teaching people the analytical methods used within a profession. I don’t think I’m being buzzwordy here either. An engineer, for example, learns how to approach an engineering problem in school. He also learns the facts of physics, and, yes, he learns a lot more at his first job. But he does (or should) develop a familiarity with the thinking that his profession requires.

    I also mentioned the thinking of a citizen and an adult. I’m not saying that a kid leaves college as an adult by any means. He should be exposed to the facts and develop the intellect sufficient for independent living in a modern society by the time he graduates college, though. He should have attained that level by the time he leaves high school, really, but we’ve got a lot of work to do before that’s true again. Does that make more sense?

  • And Donald, from the way you describe it, there’s no way that ABBA could have done as much damage to your thinking as being a lawyer did!

  • ABBA hurts my ears. Need some Bob Wills to ease the pain.

  • Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn’t to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think.

    If only that were true. Sadly, aside from technical degrees (which would be better served in trade schools), modern university education doesn’t teach you how to think, but what to think.

  • “And Donald, from the way you describe it, there’s no way that ABBA could have done as much damage to your thinking as being a lawyer did!”

    Res ipsa loquitur Pinky. 🙂

  • following the pedagogy of Jesus (Rabbi) and God the Father I would say the bottom line is Love– love of teaching, love of the subject and love of the student.

    also our Catechism shows us a method for teaching and learning:
    look to the literal sense first– what are the facts.
    then what are the other senses of what we are trying to learn– other applications and meaning through allegory, in whole context, and with consideration of long term, even the eschaton.

  • also I have to say from my own recent experience with college students, they are not as bad as the auther paints them to be… maybe a Newman Center just attracts “better” young people, but my impressions of current and recent grads is pretty good. Lots of responsible thoughtful and capable thinkers… not climbing in that hand-basket to hell, the ones I know are going to have a positive effect.

  • I just cringe at misspellings– esp. when I know better! “author”

  • I am an undergrad right now; I always hate articles like this because they really harsh my mellow. I like making believe I am intelligent and hard-working; I hate it when people point out I’m not.

  • It is worth recalling that classical education was based on the seven liberal arts. The Trivium (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric) trained people to think and speak clearly and convincingly; the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music) trained them to handle numbers – pure, extended, mobile and applied. In other words, it was about the acquisition of skills, or “arts,” rather than of knowledge.

    Not that I would go as far as Pascal, who could never understand why school children were taught Euclid’s theorems, “If they know the axioms, everything else is a matter of inference.”

  • Pascal thought that because when he was a prepubescent kid he figured out everything worth knowing about math on his own. His perspective’s a little different

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  • Ike

    Pascal is a great advertisement for home schooling. His essay on conics, published in 1640, when he was 16, would have earned him a Ph D today

    And then, when he was 32, he took up writing and produced the most brilliant satire in the French language, Lettres provinciales (Provincial Letters)

    Very few people are really first class at two, quite unrelated, things

  • I think it is ridiculous to say that people cannot learn to how think right simply because I go to a school which is a democratic school run by the students and staff (which are allowed in by the students) and we constantly deal with how we should think. The staff members basically act as experienced students who mentor the students. Most of the staff members brought into the school have been Catholic because they are the ones willing to treat the students as equals, there was an occasion when an Indian woman wanted to be a staff member and the school thought “at least than the parents wont whine about so many of the staff being Catholic but then we found out she to was Catholic.

  • The name of the school is ‘The New School’ it is situated in Newark Delaware please visit the web page.