Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Pompous and Circumstantial: Our Troubled World Needs Young People. and Their iPods

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Pompous and Circumstantial: Our Troubled World Needs Young People. and Their iPods

Article excerpt

This month I'll join with thousands of proud fathers across the country in celebrating our children's college graduation, a major milestone in a journey that will be marked by opportunities, challenges, and, hopefully, the ability to pay for their own food.

It will be an emotional event, one that my family has insisted must not be marred by me muttering "one down, one to go" as I sit in the audience. I'll have enough on my mind anyway, because my feet will be soaking wet from slushy sidewalks typical of your picturesque upstate New York college towns in late May. Contrary to weather systems in other regions, these towns have only three seasons:

* summer

* winter

* pneumonia

The proud grandparents will be there, as well as sundry relatives, including my wife's in-laws, a rowdy bunch of Republicans with whom I'm often accused of turning every gathering into a political free-for-all. I deny this, just as the Bush administration denies its shameless gutting of environmental protections, a fact I'll be sure to point out just before the "'pomp" or slightly after the "circumstance."

Our daughter has worked hard for this moment, tackling her studies with an intensity that can only come from trying to get everything done before the spring formal. She wrote her papers, made the grades, and, with her new degree in French and International Relations, she'll soon be ready to tackle any challenge the food service industry can throw at her.

Okay, that was a little harsh. Actually, she's been offered a job in environmental advocacy, a position she accepted only because, she assured me, the jobs in the high-paying field of religious publishing were already taken. The good news is that, despite her modest salary, she'll actually be in a higher tax bracket than, say, General Electric, a company that paid no taxes in three of the last four years. (Sorry. Just practicing for the relatives.)

I HAD HOPED to personally deliver this year's commencement address, engaging the young graduates with inspirational examples from my own life that have, at a minimum, qualified me for prizes with names like Nobel, Pulitzer, and Publishers Clearinghouse. But the college declined my offer, choosing instead a person of "known academic accomplishment," which I took as a cheap shot at my associate of arts degree. …

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