The Mace and Commencement 2018

Commencement 2018i

Professor Maria McKenna leaves stage after receiving AAUP award from Professor Kevin Staley

Every year I get to see a photo of myself carrying the mace into commencement, often with the commencement speaker immediately ahead of me in the procession.  See at the bottom of this entry for a photo of myself with Bob Shieffer (2014).  The following year I was photographed with Mitt Romney (2015).  In looking through the college’s Flikr account last night I was disappointed not see such a photo this year, or for that matter any of me carrying the mace.  This is why I was so pleased in looking more carefully through the photos to find this one of professors Kevin Staley and Maria McKenna leaving the platform shortly after Prof. Staley had given the annual AAUP award to Prof. McKenna.  I love this action photo of them exiting as in the background I return to the podium with the mace clearly visible to its left.

Commencement 2017i

Bob Shieffer, Commencement Speaker, 2014

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Thirteen Days in September

We are currently reading Lawrence Wright’s Thirteen Days in September: The Dramatic Story of the Struggle for Peace about the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel reached in 1978.  Wright as usual tells a good story.  In 2007 we had read his The Looming Tower:  Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

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To Light a Fire on the Earth

We are currently reading Bishop Robert Barron’s To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age.  The book is co-authored by John Allen.  We have read a couple of books by John Allen previously at table, but I believe this is our first encounter (at table reading) with the bishop.  Bishop Barron however was an honorary degree recipient at Saint Anselm College’s commencement ceremonies last May, and was the celebrant and homilist at the Sunday mass in the abbey church the following day.

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American Sweepstakes

A few days ago we began Kevin Flynn’s American Sweepstakes: How One Small State Bucked the Church, the Feds, and the Mob to Usher in the Lottery Age.  Given that the small state in question is our very own New Hampshire, the book makes for very engaging table reading.  We were surprised to read that college and abbey benefactor, Joseph Geisel [of Geisel Library fame], was the first to propose the modern sweepstakes in NH.  Another friend of the college, John King, was the governor who signed the sweepstakes bill into law in early 1963.  Some of the photos in the book are taken from the John King collection, from our very own New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP).  Governor King attended Saint Anselm College.

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Chiefs of Staff

Given all the news about chiefs of staff at the national level, and even regarding the appointment of a chief of staff for the president of Saint Anselm College, we have been reading a timely book at table, Chris Whipple’s The Gatekeepers:  How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.  The time frame is contemporary, beginning with H.R. Haldeman and through the end of Obama’s presidency.  The format is excellent for table-reading, and on occasion provides amusing advice for would be chiefs of staff.  “Never hang up on the first lady” [Don Regan apparently did this to Nancy Reagan] and “If people don’t like you – and love your boss – then you’ve done your job.”  [John Sununu on being George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff]

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Fifth Year Anniversary of Abbot Mark’s Election

In honor of the fifth year of Abbot Mark Cooper’s election as the fifth abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey, I thought I would repost the joyous video of the monastic community’s procession into the abbey church when it became public to all assembled (and all watching online) which monk of the community had been elected abbot:

Immediately after this service of thanksgiving, this community photo was taken:

Newly elected abbot and community

June 5, 2012 Saint Anselm Abbey


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Getting Religion

A few weeks back we started reading Kenneth Woodward’s Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.  Woodward was the longtime religion editor for Newsweek magazine.  The book makes for excellent table reading.  We had previously read another book of his, Making Saints, some twenty-five years ago.

I have had the pleasure of meeting more than one author of a book that we have read at table.  This week I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Woodward on campus.  By pure coincidence he was speaking here as part of an academic conference on The Year of the Evangelical.  I was actually the monk assigned to table reading, so both on Thursday evening and Friday noon, I read for the community from Woodward’s book, and then went down to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and had a conversation with the author about what he had written about the Berrigan brothers and Richard Neuhaus.

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