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Open Questions for Greg Graffin, Lifetime Acheivement in Cultural Humanism Award winner and all-around inspiring dude

By on Apr 28, 2008 in Music

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This past Saturday, April 26th, 2008, Greg Graffin, lead singer of Bad Religion, Phd in evolutionary biology, and generally inspiring dude received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy (Watch it here; Listen here.). Being the big fat nerd that I am, Adam and I headed to Boston to witness this blessed event.

The church(!) pews were filled with an odd assortment of mostly punk rock kids/adults, a few parents, and other middle age adults. The front pew was filled with Greg’s dad and his fiance. Sadly (well sad for the stalker in me), I couldn’t catch a glimpse of her. I did already know that they were getting hitched because Brett & Jay don’t seem to understand the peeping tom potential of their beloved myspace. But I digress …

The event began with introductions by the president of the Harvard Secular Society and the all important radio intros (it was being sponsored by and broadcast on NPR as well as on local tv). Then Greg came out, in a suit, along with the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard (seriously, how do you get that job?) who gave a long, mildly incoherent, nervous introduction to the award, Graffin, and why it was awarded to him. During this time, Greg stood in the middle of the altar looking awkward.

Students from the society then read leaders to Greg from his PhD advisor, Will Provine, his co-author of Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?: A Professor And a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity, Preston Jones, and Brett Gurewitz. Provine’s letter consisted of a story about how they didn’t expect Greg to finish his dissertation so quickly but he did … and not much else which was mildly amusing. The letter reading was a sweet touch though.

Finally, they presented Greg with the award and he came up to the podium and gave a very professor-ish lecture on the history of humanism. Frankly, it was a bit hard to pay attention to – especially considering we hadn’t got much sleep the night before and the fact that I didn’t have to take notes or write a paper on it (Grades are apparently quite the motivator. Who knew?).

After finishing his speech, Greg took off his suit jacket – proclaiming that he’d never played in a suit, rolled up his sleeves and played a few acoustic songs. He played: Highway off his solo album,Cold as Clay, Suffer off Bad Religion’s album Suffer, and Sorrow off Bad Religion’s album The Process of Belief.

After he finished playing, there was a Q&A session with the audience. Although I had a few questions in my head, I didn’t go up to ask them for a few reasons. Firstly, by that point, I was utterly exhausted and knew I had a 45 minute T ride preceding my collapse into bed. Secondly, I know how judgmental I am of the people who ask questions (especially the pretentious “i’m an aaartist music snobs” and that overweight red-headed dude who felt entitled to sit in the front row despite the fact that it had been roped off … for Greg’s family. Seriously, what a douche. Seee?)

Anyway, Adam and I spent much time discussing the questions we might have asked on the subway ride to the hotel so I thought I’d pose them here where they may live on in internet oblivion.

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