Lesson in Stature

Judging from my students’ papers, one of the most prominent journals in the field of biblical studies would be Bibliotheca Sacra, a publication of Dallas Theological Seminary — a source whose theology almost all of Seabury’s students would reject out of hand.

Why do they turn so frequently to BibSac for exegetical guidance, when they dissent so firmly from the authors’ presuppositions? Because BibSac got to the digital party early. The Journal of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, New Testament Studies, Novum Testamentum — the journals that Seabury students ought more consistently consult for interpretations more in keeping with their general theological outlook — all keep very low online profiles (most appear online only on a subscription/fee-per-view basis, and though our library carries subscriptions to them, students avoid the complications of searching from campus computers). Moreover, these more academically-prominent journals don’t show up in affordable packaged digital libraries, as BibSac does.

As a result, students who have no sympathy for the doctrine of biblical inerrancy opt to cite a journal written from the perspective of inerrantists, because it’s convenient. There’s a lesson in that — and it isn’t “forbid students to use a journal that espouses a different theological perspective from yours.”

Backstory In Motion

Today the students who were relocating my colleague’s office evacuated her more rapidly than we all anticipated, so they promptly turned their attention to me. (Photos tomorrow.) This came at an awkward moment since I had spent the morning not commenting-out papers, as I ought to have, but responding to Jay Rosen’s response to Kenneth Minogue’s commentary, “Journalism: Power Without Responsibility.” I wrote more than was fair to send Jay, and I may post some of that material tomorrow.

Then my estimable colleagues swept me up in the exciting turbulence of relocation, from which I extracted myself just in time to take my sweetheart out for a dinner date. Now we’re settling down with an Albert Campion DVD, and if I can stay awake till the end of the mystery, I will stop trying so to do shortly thereafter.

You Want This

If you’re a student serious about the academic side of your work, or a reader serious about keeping abreast of academic discourse, or just somebody who’s interested in cool ideas taking shape, you will want to register and play with CiteULike. (If I didn’t have to thank David for too many things already, I’d still be indebted to him for this one — thank you thank you thank you, and you too, Lisa, for telling him.)

If you register at the site, you can set up an account that associates your username with academic articles, books, theses, whatever, with bibliographic information and your notes on the work. It’s like an online, offboard version of a bibliographic program, free, and it evidently plays nicely with EndNotes. If the journal you rely on publishes its table of contents online, you can subscribe to tables-of-contents through watchlists or RSS, and you can establish a watchlist or RSS feed for any tags you imagine (so that if you have a watchlist for “hermeneutics” (as you should) and I tag an article “hermeneutics,” it comes to your RSS feed.). You can join a group for sharing reference material (Bibliobloggers, I’ve already staked out “NT-Interpretation,” and once that gets approved I’ll open one on the theological interpretation of Scripture. This may finally get me into the frame of mind that encourages tagging.

I can think of several students who should have established accounts before they reached the end of this post. If you think I might mean you, I probably do.

Moving Day

My Present Office

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

I had falling culpably behind in posting Pippa’s works to flickr, so this afternoon I uploaded several sketches and more polished pieces. I mentioned to Pippa that some of her sketches look as good as commercial comics, and she said, “Yes, but the trick is drawing the same character again.” We’ll have to pick one of her works to enter in the Seabury Spring Art Show — but which one?

Instead of selecting one of the images I just uploaded, though, I chose this picture of my office in its present condition. On Tuesday, supposedly, I’ll begin moving into the next office over. I’ve been reminded that many people manage their vocational lives just fine without offices at all, so it ill behooves me to complain about the scale of my quarters; still, having a distinctly larger space to work in will help me somewhat, at least, in some of the roles that Seabury expects of me. I’ll show you the new look when I move in.

Coincidence? I Don’t Think So

Thursday evening, when I returned from my Adult Ed gig with Margaret and Pippa, we went through an hour or so of thinking that I’d lost my wallet. As it turned out, Margaret did a third check in the car and found my wallet between the front seats — but for a while, we were girding ourselves to cancel all our credit cards, re-apply for my driver’s license, get a new library card, and manage without all the fortune-cookie slips that I’d been saving.

This morning, we were rousted from bed by a phone call at 8:30 (didn’t someone tell them it’s Saturday, the first day after term?) from MasterCard security, checking to see if we really had charged our dinner at a Mexican restaurant last night. Now, a couple of things: First, we hardly ever charge anything less expensive than four burritos; why did that attract MasterCard’s attention instead of, say, the loads of books we order from Amazon, or the birthday presents Margaret bought this week? They’re protecting us from the massive problem of burrito-based identity theft?

Second, how did they know that I had lost my wallet?

End of Term

Today was the last day of Epiphany Term here at Seabury. No classes next week, as I finish commenting on papers, grade final exams, move offices, prepare for Easter Term classes, work on upcoming presentations, and enjoy my copious free time with my favorite theology grad student in the whole cosmos.

Now, if N.C. State can hold on to beat Wake, and if (ideally) Duke can win the ACC Tournament, my weekend will have been perfect.

Snow Can’t Stop Her

Though Margaret’s flight was considerably delayed — throwing our exquisitely-timed plans off — she arrived safely. I had an Adult Ed gig in Park Ridge, so Pippa and I hopped into the car, drove out to O’Hare to pick Margaret up, and went from there to St. Mary’s.

Margaret and Pip waited in the rector’s office while I sketch the relation of the Nicene Creed to the Bible, and after the presentation we rolled home, delighted to be together again.

Dumb Snow

Evanston’s getting a spring snowfall this afternoon, a last-gasp-of-winter snowfall that serves mostly to try to cover up the lovely weather we had over the weekend, warm and sunny weather that betokens the inevitable return of spring. This snow doesn’t even look like regular winter snow — it recognizes its belated role, forestalling the rightful advance of the seasons just out of spite and cold-heartedness.

Plus — and this doesn’t affect my outlook on the weather at all — it’s delaying the flight that will bring my sweetheart back home to her family. The snow will be gone in hours, days at most; why must it indulge the puerile temptation to prolong my separation from Margaret?

Wednesday, Four Lent

After fretting, editing, rejecting, fasle-starting, staying up too late and getting up too grudgingly, I put together a few minutes’ worth of homily for this morning’s service. I’ll tuck it below the fold, as it were, in the extended portion of the entry.

Now, I have to mark out a heap of papers (I’ve already marked them, but I need to explain what my cryptic annotations mean, and what grade the paper amounts to), catch up on emails on which I’m culpably behind, catch up on certain other correspondence on which I’m criminally behind, and whip up a final exam for the New Testament class — at which point I’ll be pretty much done for the term, apart from grading the exams, determining final grades, and everything else. . . .
Continue reading “Wednesday, Four Lent”

Speaking of Improbability

I was given to understand that the odds of winning a free iTune were one in three, and the odds of winning a free bottle of soda were one in six — but I’ve gotten something like six consecutive “free soda” caps, and only a couple of free tunes since the promotion began.

I don’t want your soda, I want the [more probable] music!

Teaching Moment Dream

I woke up this morning in the midst of a dream that involved an end-of-year conversation with my first-year students (not this year’s students — they were the anonymous extras provided from Central Casting of the dreamworld). They were adopting a favorite moment from their Early Church History class as the theme for next year’s orientation. It seems that I’d been talking about the controversial ministry of some leader — Gregory of Nazianzus during his Constantinopolitan tenure, perhaps, or John Chrysostom. I described the impact of his ministry on civic life, using a sequence of four vivid nouns: “Riot! Rebellion! Something! Devastation!” [I don’t remember what the third element in the series was, just that there had to be four.] I then noted for the class, “You can expect that sort of response if you dare to work for truth and excellence in the church.”

Evidently the students in the dream had loved the idea of causing trouble by working for truth, so (to my surprise) they had made that their organizing motif. Wish I could remember that third noun — but apart from that it was a pretty gratifying dream.

Got There Second

Pippa and Si have inaugurated a marathon listening session for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by way of preparation for the upcoming Hitchhiker’s Guide movie, and it occurred to me that the Guide makes a plausible analogue to the Wikipedia (if you cut Douglas Adams a little slack for not getting absolutely every detail right). I figured I’d Google the combination, and the first few pages of results suggested (improbably) that I might be the first person to blog that comparison.

Plunging further into the results, though, I discovered that not only had the comparison occurred to somebody else who wrote it up online, but that my forerunner had gone one better by making the connection between the Hitchhiker’s Guide and the Encyclopedia Galactica (on one hand) and the Wikipedia and the print encyclopedias. Well done!