Text of speech:
Since this graduation is being held in the shadow of a US election, it seemed to me that this would be an excellent time to discuss politics – or not!
Back in 1989, the United Astrology Congress was held in New Orleans. Just before the Congress started, there was a press conference, attended in part by the New Orleans Times Picayune. Carol and Rob were there, and I'm sure said great things about I don't remember what. However, in the midst of all the wonderful things said by the astrological representatives, one of the reporters asked a question along the lines of: if what you say is true, then why is astrology ridiculed by so many people, including scientists. It was at that moment that my Mars-Pluto rising stood up, and I made a statement to the effect that, one of the major problems with astrology is that astrologers themselves do not recognize that the status of astrology is a political issue, and that the position of astrologers in our society is completely analogous to the position of gay people before Stonewall.
My statement drew some rather pained looks from some of my esteemed elders. But I, unlike they, knew just how gay New Orleans Mardi Gras could be, so I actually appreciated the irony that the reporters probably understood my statement a little more clearly than some of the astrologers present.
So now, a nodal cycle later, I would like to examine the question: is the astrological community like the gay community before Stonewall, and, if so, what does this mean for the future of astrology?
Welcome from Enid Newberg, President
Witches, wizards, and muggles – a warm welcome to our celebration here at what we call Hogwarts West.
Test of speech
Gregory Bateson, an anthropologist, sociologist, and systems thinker, stated that meaning is found in the pattern that connects. In his book Mind and Nature, he states a “pattern may be changed or broken by addition, by repetition, by anything that will force you to a new perception of it, and these changes can never be predicted with absolute certainty because they have not yet happened.”
When you change the pattern that connects, you have learning, not just acquiring new facts. And new learning may take you to unexpected places. This is the goal of higher education and our goal at Kepler College. We follow the liberal studies tradition that gives its students not just new facts and figures, but skills that will sustain them in the future –habits of questioning and reconfiguring old patterns into something new and meaningful.
Reconfiguring patterns is not a comfortable or easy process. But right now, with the sudden and unexpected changes happening day by day, these skills are critical.
And the freedom that this type of education provides is that it gives you choice - Instead of accepting what others say or bowing to the pressures of conformity, you can consciously explore your options, decide what is important and what is not. Life is too short to be trapped by a litany of what other’s think or by your own internal comfort zones. Thank you for being here tonight as our graduates start the next phase of their lives and began to create new patterns for themselves.
At the risk of seeming to hammer too much on a theme, I am once again going to speak on the liberal arts at Kepler. This theme has been a constant of our public talks, and that is not likely to change in the near future. The reason for this is simple: there is a widespread misunderstanding in American education of what the term “liberal arts” means; and the level of this misunderstanding seems to be increasing rather than decreasing. However, on this occasion I am going to focus specifically on what the term “liberal arts” means at Kepler and tell you something of how it has been implemented and what the consequences of this are for astrology, astrologers, and those whose sympathies lie with astrology.
2007 Commencement Speech
by Enid Newberg, MA President, Kepler College
The title of this speech is rather audacious and certainly covers a broad territory. But it comes from an article in the Boston Globe written by Anthony Kronman, a professor of law at Yale University. It was an opinion piece written earlier this year entitled “Why are we here?” He was worried about the direction modern colleges are taking. He stated, “In a shift of historic importance, America's colleges and universities have largely abandoned the idea that life's most important question is an appropriate subject for the classroom. In doing so, they have betrayed their students by depriving them of the chance to explore it in an organized way.”
That raises the question of what colleges are for and why should any one go to college?
First of all, many congratulations to this year’s graduates for passing an extraordinarily rigorous and demanding course – and thanks to Kepler College’s founders who, in the last century, had an educational vision which is now being fulfilled.
This talk is about challenging boundaries. The boundary I wish to address is that between heaven and earth. What is it, I ask, about the sky, that excites human feelings about deity and soul? Is it, the excited shout of Pierre in Tolstoy’s War and Peace: ‘that’s me up there!’? I read this passage when I was sixteen and have wondered ever since what it means to be ‘me up there’. What does looking at the stars do to our minds? I want to address this problem partly by treading lightly around the views of some of our greatest philosophers.