On May 22, 2015, I was the preacher for the Baccalaureate Service for the 2015 graduates of New Brunswick Theological Seminary…an honor bestowed on me by the students. The purpose of education, I asserted, was For Freedom, and I asked the graduates, “So are you freer today than you were when you started down this road?” The story of the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace demonstrates not just gumption but true freedom: “We will not bow down!” they said. I wandered from the three boys to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Shakespeare’s Othello and the villainous “friend,” Iago; to James Baldwin and the Apostle Paul and then landed in a final blessing with Amanda Palmer’s “Ukulele Anthem.” All while I was dressed as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West (see the pic at the bottom of this post). Thank you to the students for letting me play like this. I loved weaving all these things together! And hope I perhaps said something worth hearing. Thank you!
- “Anger is the purest form of care.” — in David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words [Amazon]
- “But If Not” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- William Shakespeare, Othello
- “O, my soul’s joy!” Act II, Scene 1
- “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, / Is the immediate jewel of their souls.” Act III, Scene 3 (dead center for those who know Freytag’s Pyramid!)
- Read it! — The No Fear Shakespeare edition [Amazon]
- Watch it! — ”Othello”: The Laurence Fishburne, Kenneth Branagh production (dir. Oliver Parker)—DVD [Amazon]
- An essay I wrote on “Iago as Othello’s Shame” — I’m hoping to rewrite this, to show how Iago plays on Othello’s internalized racial oppression. Stay tuned. 🙂
- James Baldwin
- I took the quote from “Change the Narrative, Change Your Destiny: How James Baldwin Read His Way Out of Harlem and into Literary Greatness” — a blog post from Maria Popova at her astonishing!! blog, “Brain Pickings.” This particular post referenced a conversation on race between Baldwin and Margaret Meade. Popova provides a link to further discussion and to the book that resulted from Baldwin’s and Meade’s conversation. (Check Popova’s blog out, sign up for the blog. Consistently good stuff.)
- Here’s a PDF of “Sonny’s Blues”—a must read! Better yet, buy the book of his short stories,
Going to Meet the Man (Stories), which includes the story, “Sonny’s Blues.”
- “Ukulele Anthem” — by Amanda Palmer
- Lyrics [PDF]
- Palmer’s original post on the occasion of Presenting “Ukulele Anthem”–A Prescription for Life
- A YouTube clip of Amanda Palmer playing “Ukulele Anthem” Live at Occupy Wall Street 10/12/11
- Her book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help is fabulous. Get it. Read it. Live it.
I was hoping to put some pics from the Baccalaureate up. Sharon Watts snapped this one and sent it to me. It’s so wonderfully bad that I can’t help sharing it, but didn’t have the guts to put it up top! I look like the Wicked Witch of the West! I’m Elphaba!
“For Freedom” by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.