Archive for March, 2010
On Friday, March 26, my sister and I presented papers at the Eastern Regional meeting of ETS. I had mixed feelings about this meeting; the theme–Amish forgiveness–looked interesting, but not really up my academic alley. I had decided to give this paper at the last minute, and I wasn’t sure even heading into the week before the conference that I had something worth presenting.
But, Bekah was presenting and had no ride, so I was committed to going. The rest of our carpool bailed early in the week (homework and family reasons–pshaw!). I received the last of my PhD rejection letters on Monday. But by Thursday, I finished my paper and felt fairly confident to present it first thing Friday morning. I knew that several friends would be at the conference, so I was looking forward to an encouraging day.
We learned a ton about the Amish from Dr. Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College and Anabaptist expert. I was acquainted with the story of the Nickel Mines school shootings several years ago, but Dr. Kraybill expounded on the story and the tradition of grace and forgiveness in the Amish communities.
I was moved almost to tears when Dr. Kraybill explained that that same day some Amish, even the families who had lost daughters in the shootings, visited the parents and widow of the gunman, Charles Roberts. He said, "Those of you who are parents: imagine that your son had done something like that. The burden you would carry would be even worse than that of the parents of the victims." As an expectant father, this hit me hard. The idea of losing my son is hard enough, and I have never even held him or spoken to him. To imagine him killing someone else in cold blood–it sent chills down my spine. I think that parenthood is going to compound any emotions I experience tenfold: the highs will be higher than ever because I’ll be proud of him, and the lows will be a snake’s belly in the Grand Canyon when he fails. I think I’m just beginning to understand.
Also had some thoughts about the Amish generally that I didn’t get to run by Dr. Kraybill, but I want your thoughts. In the early days of the church (pre-313 CE), Christians largely found their identity in persecution, which makes sense given that they worshiped a crucified Messiah. After Christianity was legalized, Christians had to develop a new way of proving their fidelity. Since the government wasn’t making them suffer anymore, self-suffering–asceticism–arose. The Anabaptists were likewise persecuted in the early days of the Reformation by Catholic and Protestant alike; persecution was an integral part of community identity. When they migrated to America (mostly PA) in the 18th century, the institutional persecution ceased, so they had to find a new way of self-affliction: neo-asceticism, separation from the outside world. Do you think that this narrative have any truth to it?
Back to the conference…
When we received a final e-mail about the schedule, Bekah’s and my papers were marked on the roster as "entries, student paper competition." We hadn’t realized until then that it was a competition; we joked that we hoped neither of us would win, because the other would lose.
Both our presentations went well, with good questions and stimulating conversation. At the closing meeting, Dr. Yoder encouraged us not to jet right away. The chair announced that the region would be giving out "First Prize" and "Honorable Mention" awards in both undergraduate and graduate paper categories. We were surprised and pleased that each of us took first prize ($150) in his/her category. What a blessing and an encouragement!
I’m very proud of Bekah–I told the chairman, Matt Blackmon, that I am trying to stay one degree ahead of her at all times, and we both agreed that this would be a difficult task. Congrats, Bekah–I love you.
If you’d like to see the paper, I’ve posted it in the "Papers and Presentations" section. I still consider it a work in progress, so I would appreciate your comments, as always.
Last time, I discussed my helpful, yet less than ideal, experience at the SBL regional meeting. This update will be more personal.
The next year will involve many changes for me and Corrie.
This is the first online announcement, and the three of you who read ThinkHardThinkWell get to be the first e-recipients of the good news: we are expecting our first child, a son, in July. I am as happy as a tornado in a trailer park, as are our families (first grandchild, first great-grandchild, etc.).
We are also moving. I finished my master’s in December, and we’ve been praying about the next step. I applied to several fully funded PhD programs, and received rejection letters from all schools. The logic was that we planned to do Bible translation with Wycliffe, but if I could get a funded PhD in the short term, that would help me in my work and give me something to work with when we come back from the field (in 20 years, or whenever).
But God obviously shut that door. I’ll admit it was hard, but I’m not taking it too personally. I didn’t have my hopes too high, because I really had no sense of my qualifications relative to other applicants. It’s also just a hard year for funding–many schools took only one or two candidates because of finances.
So, the plan is to have the baby and move to Dallas sometime in the fall. In January, we will begin studies at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, on our way to becoming fully supported members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Our studies will take about 2 years, depending on how much I have to work. We will probably be sending out letters from time to time, so let me know if you’d like to be on our e-mail list.
Please keep us in your prayers–baby, move, missions, money, insurance.
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
Next: ETS Conference with Bekah
Two weeks ago, I presented a paper on the biblical acrostics at the Mid-Atlantic Regional meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. I was very excited to attend this meeting; there were some good papers being presented, I wanted feedback on my paper, and I hoped to finally have my oft-thwarted coffee appointment with Art.
The meeting was largely a disappointment, for several reasons. The most important factor was that I obtained a pretty severe head-cold on Tuesday, and was home sick Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the papers I was interested in hearing were on Thursday, including Art’s. I was home asleep, trying desperately to recuperate enough to give my paper on Friday afternoon.
I did muster the strength to go on Friday. The plenary session with Kent Sparks was excellent, and I ran into Gary Schnittjer. Gary was encouraging as always, but wasn’t able to stay for my session–some lame excuse about having to pick up his daughter. My dad came, which was fun, and he took me out to lunch. But I was blowing my nose every ten seconds, couldn’t shake any hands, and didn’t really want to meet anyone or have conversations.
By the time 3:15 rolled around, I was ready to head home, but still had to give my paper in the last session. I tried to save my incredibly explosive nose-blowing for the rounds of applause before and after each presenter. Everyone was very kind and gracious to me, but no one had much feedback on my paper–I think hearing it was like drinking from the fire hose. Oh well.
The conference wasn’t nearly as well-attended as I had thought it would be. I guess the national SBL meetings are a bigger deal–I’ve never been.
I got home that evening feeling grateful to God that I had been able to present, but disappointed thinking of how things could have been different.
Next update: Two big announcements
I realize it’s been a few weeks since I’ve written here. A lot has happened in that time, so I have quite a few things to write about over the next few days. I’ll give it to you in small bite-sized chunks though.
* SBL Conference
* ETS Conference
* Two big personal announcements
Check back soon!
I love my drinks–hot, cold, hard, soft. When we went to Europe last year, we spent more money on drinks than on food–wines, ales, whiskey, cappuccino, etc. When it comes to hot drinks, I definitely consider myself to be more of a coffee person, but I enjoy teas as well.
I got hooked on coffee in college, and my addiction reached its nadir during my employment by Fourbucks Coffee Co. Two years ago my wife and I decided to kick the caffeine habit; we switched to two-thirds-caffeinated coffee in the morning, then a week later to one-third-caf–and then finally, we were down to decaf. We now life the happy, liberated life: able to drink coffee (or not drink it) whenever we like without regard to headaches, energy levels or sleeping patterns. Our health has improved, and I lost some weight and slept better.
Along with my growing coffee snobbery (freshly ground every morning in the French press), I noticed a disturbing pattern in my hot beverage consumption at work The coffee and teas at the office are terrible, and so the only option is hot chocolate, which has a ton of sugar. Searching for a low-calorie option, I remembered a certain herbal tea from my childhood: Good Earth Original. It’s a sweet and spicy blend, with chamomile as the strongest ingredient. Unable to find it at my grocery store, I purchased six boxes on Amazon for a great price.
When it arrived, I put the kettle on and eagerly tore off the (hassle-free) packaging. The sweet smells brought me back to afternoons and evenings at my childhood home on Broad Street, chatting with my mom and my friends. It was a way of holding onto something I had lost; smell is the sense most strongly tied to emotional memory–that’s what the deodorant commercials say, anyway….
When we had some friends over last Sunday, Melea really enjoyed Good Earth, so I gave her a box. She shared some with her friends at school, and I have been spreading it around work, so maybe we’re starting a tea-volution! (I know, that was cornier than the latest sugar tariff bill to pass in Congress.) It’s immensely satisfying to share an enjoyable treat with people you care about.
I just got official word that my paper has been accepted for the Eastern Regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on March 26 in Lancaster. I hope some of you can make it–ETS is always a lot of fun.
Title: “‘Your Mama Was a Hittite’: Torah Exegesis and the Matrilineal Principal in the Ezrahite Reforms.”
This paper will explore the apparent discrepancy between the text of Deu 21:10-14 and the matrilineal principle in Judaism as it manifested itself in the early post-exilic context. The expulsion of non-Jewish wives and children of Jewish men under Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s reforms is evidence of the development of the matrilineal principle during or prior to the exile. However, the Deuteronomic Code allows for the incorporation of non-Jewish captive wives into the Israelite community. This study will evaluate previously proposed explanations for this problem, and arrive at a provisional solution that will influence the interpretation of the post-exilic biblical texts as well as Second Temple literature.