My institution, Felician University, is a Franciscan-Catholic institution–in fact, it’s The Franciscan University of New Jersey (pre-eminent among all of the others here). In deference to that fact, our faculty meetings usually begin with a prayer, euphemistically called a “reflection,” but almost always oriented toward worship of the Judeo-Christian God. Having heard eight years of God talk, I decided to do something different for yesterday’s meeting of the faculty of Arts and Sciences. I decided to subject my colleagues to some good old-fashioned paganism, opening the meeting with the straightforwardly idolatrous seventh stanza of Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty.” (The Dean was away.)
It was my first “reflection” in my eight years at the institution. I even dressed up for the occasion: I wore my orange, black, and yellow AC/DC “For Those About to Rock” necktie. I had to check the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure that it was going to be sunny that day: would have been embarrassing as hell if it had rained. But no, it was a solemn and serene autumn day with a bit of lustre in the sky. At 1 pm, I called the meeting to order, cleared my throat, and invoked what seems to me a neglected deity at my institution.
The day becomes more solemn and sereneWhen noon is past; there is a harmonyIn autumn, and a lustre in its sky,Which through the summer is not heard or seen,As if it could not be, as if it had not been!Thus let thy power, which like the truthOf nature on my passive youthDescended, to my onward life supplyIts calm, to one who worships thee,And every form containing thee,Whom, SPIRIT fair, thy spells did bindTo fear himself, and love all human kind.
My colleagues were briefly puzzled. An awkward silence followed, accompanied by weak WTF smiles. I feel like I might subtly have over-emphasized the word “worships,” when a more moderate substitute for that word might have sufficed (e.g., “likes” or “upvotes”).
We then had a brisk half hour tutorial on the new D2L Brightspace Learning Management System (“Hi, we’re Desire2Learn. Our friends call us D2L. Our solutions help you make learning experiences better”). The meeting adjourned at 1:37 pm.
Chalk up another faux pas for Khawaja. Not the first. Or the last.